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Published 27-Jul-2000
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webDotWiz Online: 27-Jul-2000


  On the World Stage  

webDotWiz est en ligne le meilleur site sur le Internet. On-line webDotWiz er det beste stedet pa Internet (webDotWiz is the best site on the Internet). Well, webDotWiz wouldn't have been able to put this into French or Norwegian without the help of FreeTranslation.com. This is just the tool we should have had for school Latin!

At FreeTranslation.com you can translate from English to Spanish, French, German, Portugues, Italian or Norwegian. Or, you can translate Spanish, French or German to English, with a facility for entering any of these languages' special characters.

So if you've got e-pen friends in other countries and you'd like to learn some of their language or you just want to translate something from one of the available languages to English, the free translation site can come to your aid. If you're studying a language, you can check your assignment before handing it in for correction!

Another aspect of being part of a world wide community is getting used to the different time zones. We're all now accustomed to how the Net slows down after school's finished for the day. Well, that happens in other countries too and sometimes it's good to know when to avoid accessing a popular site when it's going to be particularly busy in its host country. Or if you're interested in joining a chat forum on a topic that interests you, you might need to check that the time given for the chat in GMT or Pacific Time is practical for you in Australia. WorldTime.org is one of several sites that can be used to check the time in other countries when you're online.

  Who's Out There?  

There'll be those readers who can remember the party line telephone system that used to be common in country areas. Several households would share the same line and each family had its own code telephone ring - 2 shorts and 2 longs would be the Jones', 3 shorts and 2 longs for the Smiths', and so on. An unscrupulous person though could listen in on any conversation by simply picking up the handset.

In some ways this is what happens as soon as you log on to the Internet: you become part of a public communications world-wide network and the rude listener on the party line becomes a malicious hacker on the Net who can not only listen but interfere with your computer. This type of hacker works with scanning software that firstly tries to find out the identification of your computer. This is made difficult because each time we log onto the Net our ISP assigns a different address for our computer. However, the longer we stay online the more vulnerable we are if the hacker can find a way to enter our computer.

Developers of browsers, email programs and file transfer programs, for example, already know this and build in security features to stop malicious intrusion. As well, you've probably heard of a site having a firewall (nothing to do with preventing chimney fires!) which protects a company's network from unlawful intrustion.

Now that more and more individual computers are online, many of which are small office/home office computers, it's imperative to protect the data on these systems, and more so if that computer is a member of a LAN. Apart from the inbuilt security mentioned above for the common Internet applications, more security is required and it's only recently a free sofware firewall has become available for individuals. One such firewall is ZoneAlarm which SoHo users are advised to install (Zonealarm is a 1.6Mb download from www.zonealarm.com and takes about 3Mb of disk space after installation).

After you install Zonealarm and you go online, a little popup appears whenever an application attempts to communicate across the Web. Obviously your mail and browser will be the first to trigger this message. Click "Yes" to allow them to work but watch for any alerts you receive about other applications.

You probably know that when online your computer doesn't pass that much information back. However there's much more than just requests for the pages you're browsing. You'll see what's passed up the line when you visit www.anonymizer.com/privacy/.

The next site to vist is http://grc.com/ to run the internet connection security analysis. Scroll down the page to the "Test My Shields" and "Probe My Ports" options. What you're looking for in the report is a "stealth status": for all intents and purposes your computer doesn't exist for scanner-hackers. The Shields Up! site also contains a good deal of background information on what the scanner-hackers are trying to do and what measures you can take to thwart their intrusion attempts.

  A Programmer's Delight  

The Australian CEO of a large computer company recently predicted that Australia would need about 150,000 information technology professionals by 2003. If you've got an interest in writing computer programs, then this week there are some sites for you to visit and get started. And the younger you are, the better!

First, though, you need to have access to a programming language. If you're using Windows 95, Microsoft included QBasic on the CD-ROM but it's not installed in a normal installation. QBasic is not a Windows programming language but it has all the essentials to get started. As well, there are plenty of examples online for downloading.

Another language available for free is Visual Basic Scripting which is installed with Internet Explorer. Now that about 80% of users are browsing with Internet Explorer, there's no harm in learning VBScript. Also, you'll be learning how to script HTML so you'll be gaining two skills at once.

To learn programming, it's best to learn from what others have done. And the best type of programs to learn from are games (programming has to be fun while you're young). So this week's list of sites has some for you to get started. Choose simple games such as noughts and crosses, hangman or pacman to look at.

webDotWiz Online will have some tutorial VBScript material soon, along with explanations of some sample games.

  MP3s, Lyrics, Sheet Music  

Among this week's sites, webDotWiz has included one which proclaims to be the home of Australian music. As well there are some free MP3 downloads.

Music teachers and musicians will find Sheet Music Online (www.sheetmusic1.com) a valuable resource. There are many others, including those specialising in particular music genres of a historical nature.

Top3.net has lyrics to all the current pop songs. If you've got a favourite group, band or singer, check out their site for lyrics of their songs. Led Zeppelin, for example, has a page devoted to their lyrics.

  Yeah, Write On  

Have you ever wondered if there was a simple word processor around somewhere? This thought has probably come to you while you've been sitting at your computer waiting for your office suite word processor to load with all its bells and whistles.

Yeah Write might be what you're looking for. It works from the perspective of what we're used to: the opening screen shows drawers of a filing cabinet containing folders where you store particular types of documents. Parents and students, especially those in years 4 to 10, are specially catered for with a "Kids Drawer" containing folders related to documents that students need for school assignments.

If you decide to work with the free version, each drawer contains folders for a diary, general documents, journals, letters (personal and business), memos and notes. When you begin a new letter, for example, you don't need to worry about how you're going to format it: Yeah Write gives you a template in which you fill in the sender's name, address, and so on. Yeah Write makes it straightforward to keep track of your documents by listing them in an index - no more thinking up names for files when you store on your disk.

When you download the program (www.yeahwrite.com) and install it, you choose which version you'll use: the free one or the fully functional one which you pay for ($US29). If you're not connected to the Net, you'll be glad to hear that the Yeah Write setup file is about 1Mb in size. So ask a friend who has Net access to download it for you and pass it on using a floppy.

If you have people sending you Word documents for perusal, you can read these using Microsoft's free Word97/2000 viewer (the download site is in this week's list of sites). If they're in RTF format, you'll be able to import them into Yeah Write. So if you decide to make Yeah Write your word processor, you can get on with your work, and if there's a need, still cope with the occasional Word document.

  webDotWiz Goodies  

A slow line is no fun and when you need some figures to quote to your service provider or telco to get the problem fixed, use the bandwidth speed tester at Computing Central. Run the test several times and on different days to build up your case.

Online shopping has been talked about in a couple of past columns. But webDotWiz has been remiss in not mentioning what length of delivery time you can expect from buying a product online. About a year ago, webDotWiz bought a couple of books from the US. The goods were air-freighted for a cost of $US10 (usually $US15) and delivery was given as 3-4 days for international orders. The goods actually arrived in Rushworth for pickup after 5 days and webDotWiz thought that was a reasonable delivery time. So if you're buying goods online, delivery times should be within days, not weeks.

Microsoft has released a service pack for Internet Explorer 5.01 which brings together all the security updates and patches made available over the last few months. Within a couple of days, Internet Explorer 5.5 was released. In this version Microsoft has made several changes; of particular interest are those which enable developers to write web pages that work better within Windows. Note that it's probably best to wait until your favourite computer magazine puts these updates on their cover CD rather than download them (unless you're fortunate to have a good fast line).

Windows Media Player 7 has been released too - it's about a 10Mb download though so it's best to wait for it to be available on a cover CD. It's only available currently as a download for Windows 98 and Windows 2000.

The week couldn't go by without giving you a game for download - the download site is in this week's list. Note that this is a shareware version so please abide by any payment requests as given by the author.

There are a couple of more sites for HTML tutorials. As well, webDotWiz is aiming to make available at webDotWiz Online some HTML template pages to get you started.

 
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