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Published 25-Oct-2001
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webWiz Online is published fortnightly, usually a fortnight before publication in print in The Waranga News.
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© webWiz Online 2000-1



  A New Experience  

Excitement abounds whenever Microsoft releases a new operating system for the PC. Well, that's the picture the marketing people paint for us. On this occasion, however, don't rush out to be one of the first.

Without getting too technical, Windows XP is a completely new operating sytem for the home user who has used Windows 95, 98 or Me. XP comes from Microsoft's NT (New Technology) line of operating systems, designed specifically to comply with strict commercial requirements. When NT was first released, keen gamers were demoralised when the in-built security of NT didn't allow games programs to willy-nilly access various parts of computer hardware to speed up a game, as had been the case under DOS (remember that?).

So before rushing to install Windows XP, check you've got plenty of memory (512Mb is a good figure; memory is cheap), ample disk space (1.5Gb; Windows 9x/Me only uses about 300-400Mb), and a fast processor. In a word, next time you're online check what's required for XP at www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/ready/. In particular, ensure your printer and soundcard are supported.

  Phone Lines & Modems  

In the pre-PC era of computing, it used to be that when you intended to install a modem, you'd contact Telecom (as Telstra was then known), a Telecom engineer would come to your premises to ensure there was a spare telephone line, you'd install the modem and then an engineer would test the line for you. This engineer would call you with the results of the test and give you a number to call him back on if there were any problems.

At the time of writing, webWiz is still waiting to find out what's happened to his phone line after it went dead for four hours about a month ago and connection speed has dropped from a consistent 24000 or 26400 to 12000, 14400 or 19200 at best. Click here for a log of connect speeds endured by webWiz over this past month.

To find out what speed you connect at, just hover your mouse over the icon of two computer screens that appears at the bottom right of your screen (they flash when data is uploading/downloading). Note that your modem, when it's negotiating the line speed with the modem at your ISP, usually will be optimisitic and connect at the highest possible speed. Internet users with an external modem will usually note the flashing lights change some time later when the modem decides that a lower speed is more practical.

  Zipping Files  

Being able to pack together a number of files into one single file was extrememly important back in the days when the floppy disk was the main means of transferring files from one computer to another.

Programs such as WinZip, a very popular shareware utility, still have their use. Firstly, it's simple to make a backup of your important data - highlight the files, right-click and use the "Add to Zip" on the popup menu. WinZip then compresses the files you've chosen and packs them into a file with extension ".zip". If you choose your files wisely, you should be able to then copy the zip file to a floppy.

WinZip can also be useful when mailing attachments, even it's just a single file. If the receiver clicks on the zip attachment, no harm can be done by a rogue virus.

  Scumware  

The marketeers (sic) are at it again! Unknown to the user who downloads and installs free software such as KaZaA, eZula, Gator, or Surf+ , an application called TopText is also installed behind the scenes. TopText defaces the text of a web page you're viewing for the purposes of advertising.

If by chance you've been infected, follow the steps at www.funs.co.uk/virus/ to eliminate TopText. webWiz is a firm believer in Ad-Aware, a free spyware and removal program and runs it every week or two just to be sure.

  Where's the Apostrophe?  

It's not webWiz's intention to confuse the Waranga News' proofreaders with these couple of paragraphs but it can be fun, if you're so inclined, to watch out for the misuse of quotation marks and the apostrophe.

The best places to look for apostrophe mistakes, such as "Menu's here", are in advertising, on shop-front windows and signs outside shops or service stations. Some writers get carried away with the use of quoation marks, perhaps the worst being when they write "alleged". More examples are included in this week's sites list.

  webSnippets  

The Archives Wayback Machine is a project to store about 10 billion web pages from 1996 to the present. The site will be useful for those carrying out research when other search engines can't find relevant documents. For those who just want to know what sites have shaped the Web over the past few years, visit the Web Pioneers collection.

ABC Online has put together an extensive page dealing with the fire ant, its history and the eradication program that's underway in Queensland. By the way, ABC Online News has been redesigned to cater for expansion and enable users easier access to all the different areas at ABC Online.

 
 

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