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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....




Tips For The Web
October 14th, 1999

This past week I got two e-mail messages from strangers in different parts of the country, both asking if I remembered someone and/or knew their current whereabouts. These e-mail messages had nothing to do with this column or this magazine. Indeed, I don't even know if the writers are among the blessed (those who get to use Macs). These messages came to me because of the internet. In each case the writer was trying to trace a family member for significant reasons. Let me qualify right up front that if I had actually known either of the people being sought, or knew where they were, I would not have given that information out to the writers of the e-mails. I would however, have contacted the person I knew and passed the query along.

As it was, I did not know either person. What I was able to do was scan and e-mail one person's picture from my high school yearbook and suggest that the writer contact the chairman of our upcoming (mumble, mumble) high school reunion. That individual has lived her whole life in the town where I went to high school and she may well have information that I don't have. In the case of the second individual being sought I suggested that the writer contact my twin who lives in the part of the state where the sought after family member was last known to be. My sister then scanned pages from the area phone books that listed the appropriate surnames and sent them to the person making the inquiry.

The reason these two strangers contacted me with their questions is because I am registered with a couple of high school alumni internet sites along with the year I graduated. I assume each of these folks wrote me because they found me on those sites. I don't know each of you feel about being accessible to others in this manner, but there are a lot of good, sound reasons to be part of such a list, not the least of which is the change for old friends to find you. This whole situation, combined with the excellent series of articles The Mac Observer has been running about the changes in our culture due to computers, reminded me that we don't always know what is even out there on the internet or built into our machines for our use and benefit. This is particularly true if one is fairly new to this whole environment. I am going to review some of the things I have discovered or found over the last several years that I find to be helpful or interesting. Some of them have been covered in previous columns but bare repeating. I hope you find them to be useful.

Did You Know That:

You can get free e-mail addresses? When I first started using the internet I was aware of only one way that my household could have more than one e-mail address. That was to belong to AOL which allowed up to 5 addresses on each account. That meant that if my daughter and I both wanted to have e-mail it was AOL or pay for separate e-mail accounts with other providers. I don't really know when free e-mail accounts became available, but I discovered them about 4 years ago.

There are several good reasons for having one of these addresses other than to allow each household member to have their own address and password. One major one is that you can change your internet provider without changing the e-mail address that you use. That didn't seem like a big deal to me until recently. The internet provider I have used since the beginning was wonderful and I loved the address I had. However, a couple of months ago they sold their company. My e-mail address will soon no longer be valid. Another factor is that I don't like the provider they sold to and I plan to change providers before the time runs out for mail sent to my old address to be forwarded to the new one. (Why don't I like the new provider you ask. Well, I'll just tell you and at the same time pass along a hint to providers. I will not do business with any organization that treats me like I am stupid based solely on the fact that I don't know the technical side of how my computer works. Guess what, I don't need to know. That is why all the technical support people have jobs, so get over it.) Where was I? Oh yes, I am going to have to back track a lot to change listings and registrations to a new address. Another good reason is privacy. There are times when you may not want to give your primary address to someone or to a particular organization. If you have a Yahoo.com e-mail address and someone starts hassling you, you can easily delete that account and create another. It is much more difficult to get a new e-mail address with your primary carrier. If you work outside your home there is a third reason for having a free e-mail account. Many of the free e-mail accounts allow you the option of accessing other accounts. Therefore, I can read home e-mail from my office. In keeping with this concept the following list represents some of the sites that offer free e-mail addresses. This is not an endorsement of any of these providers. The only one I have actually used is Yahoo. If you are interested in getting an additional address you will find directions at the home page of any of these addresses.

www.yahoo.com

www.hotmail.com

www.email.com

www.amazon.com

www.angelfire.com

www.cnet.com

www.altavista.com

www.juno.com

www.getmessage.com

www.prontomail.com

www.rocketmail.com

www.lycos.com

I also found sites listed for other countries. I was not able to access these sites, but if you are interested check them out.

AseanMAIL serves Asian countries.

Asigncityweb provides service with alternate languages.

England Email serves the British Isles.

Postmaster at www.postmaster.co.uk/ serves European cities.

www.zipmail.com.br/ serves Brazil.

sebMails.com at www.webmails.com/cgi_bin/index.cgi provides services in English and French.

ythis.com at www.ythis.com/email.htm provides services in multiple languages.

Did You Know That:

You can greatly narrow your internet searches by modifying the way you submit your query. For those who do not have a computer that will run Sherlock, searching the Internet can be frustrating when you get back so many results that are not what you are looking for. To get sites that are very specific to a topic such as the 1999 World Series you should enclose the words in quote marks, i.e., "1999 World Series". You will probably still get things that you don't want, but you will get a lot less of them. Sometimes you want to find out something about a particular thing or place but you don't know the exact name of it. For instance if you want the Hotel St. Marie in New Orleans you have to be absolutely sure the name is Hotel St. Marie to use the technique above. If you don't know if it is Hotel St. Marie or the St. Marie Hotel then you can narrow your search using the + sign, i.e., hotel+marie+new+orleans. If you want to read more about this subject I suggest my column from March 3, 1999.

Did You Know That:

You can stop a page that is downloading? This is particularly helpful if you have a slow machine. There are numerous reasons for wanting to stop a page from downloading, not the least is that you realize you have the wrong site. Look at the top of your screen and find the stop button and click on it once. In Netscape and Internet Explorer, the Stop button looks like a Stop sign. You can also push Command-Period (that's the key with the apple logo and/or the pretzel looking symbol and the period key pushed at the same time).

Did You Know That:

If your Mac is frozen, the mouse cursor will not move and keyboard shortcuts will not work either. One of the first things to check is to see if the mouse has been unplugged. If the cord from your keyboard to your computer is secure, restart the computer. You can do this for most Macs by holding down the Control and Command (the one with the apple on it) keys with one hand and push the start button on the top right part of the keyboard with the other. If that will not work you will have to physically turn the machine off with the on/off switch, then back on.

If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.


Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.


Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.


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