By Leo Laporte
Date: Mar 22, 2002
Tips, tricks, and solutions to your computer problems. Leo Laporte, high-energy host of TechTV's Call for Help and The ScreenSavers, shares his wit and wisdom in this entertaining book for tech enthusiasts. Poor Leo's 2002 Computer Almanac includes Windows, Mac, and Web tips each week; Leo's answers to viewer questions; "For Geeks Only" advanced projects; and advice for protecting the safety, security, and privacy of users and data.
LEO'S ESSAY: A LEVER TO MOVE THE WORLD
The ancient Greek scientist, Archimedes, once said, "Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the Earth." Today, you have that lever: the personal computer.
A lever amplifies the power of human muscle to accomplish otherwise impossible tasks. The computer amplifies the human mind to give it undreamt-of power and scope. With your computer you can converse with people all over the world. You can find nearly any nugget of information with just a few browser clicks. You can create works of art and enjoy the creations of others.
But nothing this powerful and complex comes without a price. In this case, the price is study. You wouldn't expect to pick up a violin and play it without practicing. You shouldn't expect to master the PC without spending some time learning how it works.
Fortunately, the computer is much easier to learn than the violinand it doesn't sound quite so much like a screeching cat when you first start out. Begin by picking one program to master. New computers come with dozens of programs. Trying to learn them all at once would be like trying to learn a dozen foreign languages at the same time. Choose software in which you are interested and will likely use a lot, maybe a word processor or a home finance program. Start by skimming through the manual. Become comfortable with the basics, and then return to the manual to learn more advanced techniques. You might want to pick up a book or two to supplement the manual. You don't need to learn how to do everything. Just focus on the tasks you need the most. You don't have to know everything about the program; you just need to know how to use it to do what you want.
When you're proficient with one program, extending what you know to other programs will be easy. In time, you'll be a master of the computer, and with mastery comes power.
Reporters once asked Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, how she managed to make such a difference. She said that she couldn't have done it without e-mail. With the help of a computer, every individual has the power to change the world. Now go out and do your stuff.
FRIDAY, MARCH 1
Q: How do I run Java files?
A: That's a simple question with a complicated answer.
Java is a programming language that is widely used on the Internet, chiefly because Java programs can run unmodified on nearly any computer. Java does require some support software to work on your system, but chances are good you already have everything you need.
All versions of Netscape Navigator and versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer before 6.0 support Java right out of the box. You can run any Java program embedded in a Web page just by opening that page. All Macintosh computers come with Java support, too.
Unfortunately, Microsoft no longer provides Java support in Windows XP or versions of Internet Explorer 6 or later. If you're using XP and you visit a Web page with an embedded Java program, one of two things will happen. If the Web page has been updated to support the Java Plug-in standard, the browser will automatically download the files it needs. The Java program won't run on Web sites that still use the <applet> tag. In that case, you'll have to download the support files by hand.
You can get the necessary Java Runtime Environment, or JRE, for Windows XP free from Sun Microsystems at java.sun.com/j2se/1.3/jre/download-windows.html. It's a little over 5MB, but you need to download and install it only once.
The JRE also is required to run standalone Java applications on your computer. If you're using a program written in Java, it probably came with a JRE. If not, the program's documentation should explain how to download and install the additional files you need.
When the JRE is installed, you can run Java applications from the DOS prompt by typing java followed by the name of the java class file you wish to run. You also can use a program called Java Runner for Windows. It's free from www.programfiles.com/index.asp?ID=8050.
SATURDAY, MARCH 2
FOR GEEKS ONLY
Today's multi-gigahertz microprocessors run hot. Really hot. So hot, in fact, that they can burn themselves out in a matter of seconds unless they're properly cooled. (We know because it's happened to us.)
Be sure the fans on your computer are working. Check them from time to time for signs of wear, and clean out any dust that could reduce their efficiency.
When installing a new processor, don't forget to install a fan and heatsink. Be sure the fan has a good thermal connection to the processor. And always use a fan designed for the right processor. Using a fan designed for a Pentium on an Athlon can crack the processor.
For lots more information in CPU cooling, visit HardOCP at www.hardocp.com/cooling.html.
SUNDAY, MARCH 3
Regular maintenance of your hard drive is important for the reliability of your system. That's why Windows makes it easy to access the three most important maintenance programs. Double-click My Computer, then right-click your hard drive and select Properties from the pop-up menu. Click the Tools tab; you see Error Checking, Backup, and Defragmentation.
Let's start with Backup. That's the one thing everyone should do every day. You don't need to back up the whole hard drive, just personal stuff like your checkbook, Internet bookmarks, and your great American novel.
You should also perform a weekly error check on the hard drive. Windows uses a program called Scandisk to find and repair mistakes in your directories. It's best to catch these early. Every month or so, run the thorough version of Scandisk to catch any flaws on the disk itself.
The final utility, Defragmentation, is less important. After months of use, the files on your hard drive can get disorganized. Defrag reorganizes them for faster access. You needn't run Defrag more than a few times a year.
MONDAY, MARCH 4
Q: I periodically received warnings from Windows 98 telling me that I have Not enough stacks. What are stacks and how do I ensure a full complement?
A: Programs use stacks as temporary data storage. When a program runs out of stacks, it can generate an error. In most cases, you can't do anything to fix the problemit's up to the software publisher to fix the bug in its program.
This raises an important issue. Computer users are often misled by program error messages into thinking there's something they can do to make things better. In fact, most of the time the message only means something to the programmer, if that.
If a program crashes, save your work, restart Windows, and hope it doesn't happen again. If the same program crashes frequently, check with the publisher to see if it offers an update. Sometimes it helps to re-install the program.
Error messages should really read Something unexpected has happened and I can't go on. Awfully sorry about that. Please don't blame yourself.
That'll be the day.
TUESDAY, MARCH 5
Firewall software is an important weapon in your security arsenal. It keeps the bad guys from using the Internet to break into your computer.
If you're running Mac OS X, you already have built-in firewall capabilities. The easiest way to turn the firewall on is to download a script called Brickhouse from personalpages.tds.net/~brianhill/brickhouse.html. It's $25 shareware. For other versions of Mac OS, I recommend Intego's NetBarrier ($60 from www.intego.com) or Sustainable Softworks' IPNetSentry ($35 from www.sustworks.com).
The Michelangelo virus activates tomorrow. This would be a good time to update your antivirus software (even though, as we'll learn tomorrow, Michelangelo isn't much of a threat any more).
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6
TODAY IN COMPUTER HISTORY
In 1992, hysteria swept over the planet as newspapers, magazines, and television networks proclaimed that on March 6, the birth date of Renaissance artist Michelangelo, up to one quarter of American hard drives would be completely erased. This was the birth of the Michelangelo virus.
The media frenzy started through a coincidence. In January of 1992, one computer manufacturer claimed it had inadvertently distributed 500 PCs carrying the virus while another computer company issued a press release stating that from that point on it would bundle antivirus software with every PC it sold. The two events were completely unrelated, but apparently it was a slow news day and reporters tried to make a story out of it. By the time March 5 rolled around, the fever pitch had reached Y2K proportions. Even the respectable Wall Street Journal carried the headline "Deadly Virus Set to Wreak Havoc Tomorrow."
Why did the media go nuts? For one thing, John McAfee, the man behind McAfee Anti-Virus, told reporters that an estimated five million computers worldwide could lose their hard drives on account of the Michelangelo virus. (Take note that there were a lot of other ballooned predictions from other people.) As you can imagine, McAfee's prediction boosted his company's sales significantly.
When March 6 came, the virus struck only about 10,000 computers. Many members of the media claimed it would have affected far more if not for their reporting.
Webmasters, you can keep your Web site up to date with FTP Voyager for Windows. Its synchronization feature will update your Web pages automatically at the same time every day. FTP Voyager is $40 from www.ftpvoyager.com.
THURSDAY, MARCH 7
What if your kitchen trash can asked you "Are you sure?" every time you tried to take out the garbage? If you're tired of getting the third degree every time you drag a file to the Windows Recycle Bin, here's how to turn off the warning permanently:
Right-click the Recycle Bin and select Properties.
Uncheck the Display Delete Confirmation Dialog box.
FRIDAY, MARCH 8
Q: I installed a game correctly, but when I click the icon to play the game I get this message: Needs DirectX 7.0 or later. What should I do?
A: DirectX is a set of tools and services Microsoft Windows provides for games and other demanding multimedia applications.
DirectX comes with all current versions of Windows, but some games require a newer version. You should be able to find a copy on the game's installation disc. If not, download the latest version for free from Microsoft at www.microsoft.com/directx.
SATURDAY, MARCH 9
FOR GEEKS ONLY
John "maddog" Hall is the executive director of Linux International (www.li.org), an open-source advocacy organization. He travels around the world speaking about the benefits of open-source, collaboratively created software, and has written such books as Linux for Dummies. He also happens to be the godfather of Linux inventor Linus Torvalds' children.
In a 1999 interview with IBM, Hall spelled out what people can do to become open-source freedom fighters. Here are his ideas:
- Use it.
- Tell your congressman about it.
- Review documentation.
- Join a user group.
- Tell your local government about it.
- Start a user group.
- Talk to your neighbor about it.
- Install it in your local library.
Hall adds, "We should all be Linux advocates, all the time. OK, you are allowed time off to eat, sleep, and go to an occasional movie, and you don't have to wear Linux underwear like I do..."
If you're curious, the nickname "maddog" is a Unix login name that originated during a time when Hall had a little trouble controlling his temper. By all accounts he's mellowed out, but the name remains.
SUNDAY, MARCH 10
One way to protect yourself while surfing the Web is to crank up your security settings. In Internet Explorer, click Tools, Internet Options, select the Security tab, and drag the slider to High. If the slider isn't visible, press the Default Level button to restore it.
Setting your security level to High disables features that the unscrupulous could exploit, but it also decreases your browser's functionality. For most users the Medium security is adequate.
Web-savvy users, try the Custom Level button to adjust the security for various elements such as ActiveX controls and cookies.
MONDAY, MARCH 11
Q: Does constantly shutting down via the power button hurt the computer?
A: The safest way to shut down a computer is to give it the Shut Down command. In Windows this involves using the Start menu. (Yes, I know that makes no sense at all, but if they made computers easy to use, a whole lot of people like me would be out of a job!) Select Shut Down, and click OK. Most late-model PCs shut themselves off at this point.
If your computer doesn't turn itself off when you Shut Down, it's okay to use the power button when you see the "OK to shut down" message, but not before.
Power down a Macintosh computer by selecting Shut Down from the Finder's Special menu; with OS 8x and above, press the Power button on the keyboard to bring up the Shut Down dialog. Really old Macs have to be shut off manually.
People often wonder if it's better to turn off the computer or leave it on all night. I say turn your system off if you're not going to be using it for more than a few hours. It saves energy and doesn't harm the computer.
TUESDAY, MARCH 12
The Network Utility program found in your Mac OS X Applications/Utilities folder offers many useful network diagnostic tools, including Ping. To give it a try, open Network Utility and click the Ping tab. Windows users can open a command-line window and type PING <server name> to do the same thing.
Ping is used to troubleshoot an Internet connection. It sends a signal to a remote system, waits for acknowledgment, and shows how long the round trip took.
You can use this information in several ways:
Ping the IP address of a machine on your LAN to see if your network hardware is working.
Ping a server by name, as in yahoo.com, to see if your Internet name resolution, or DNS, works. If you can see a numeric address but not a word-based address, your DNS settings are likely wrong.
Ping a server to see how responsive it is. If it takes more than 500 milliseconds round trip, the remote server or the Internet itself is slow. If you see considerable packet loss, you have a poor connection.
Traceroute is Ping on steroids. It returns the names of the servers through which your packet traveled to reach its destination and how long each leg of the trip took. It's fun to see the places your data passes through on the way to its destination, and it can be useful information for diagnosing an Internet slowdown.
To reboot is to restart the computer. Rebooting the computer often is the first step in attempting to fix an otherwise healthy computer that is exhibiting random or minor malfunctions (that is, it's unusually slow, freezing frequently, or stuttering).
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13
Navigating Web sites that use frames can be confusing, especially if you'd like to send a link to someone or bookmark a page from a framed site. This is why Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator both allow users to open a framed page in a new window:
Open any Web page with frames in either Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. (My Web page is a good example: www.leoville.com. There are two frames there, a navigation bar on the left and a content frame on the right).
Right-click any link inside the navigation frame and choose Open Frame in New Window from the menu.
The linked page appears in its own browser window, without the other frame.
If your browser is missing this handy feature, upgrade to the latest version.
THURSDAY, MARCH 14
If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel (like the Microsoft Intellimouse), try these scroll wheel + keystroke combinations in Internet Explorer:
Ctrl+scroll up/downIncrease and decrease text size
Shift+scroll up/downMove back and forward through previously visited Web pages (like the Back and Forward buttons on the browser's toolbar)
Move the scroll wheel while pressing a mouse buttonSlow scroll up or down
These mouse key combinations work in many other Microsoft programs, too. Try them and see!
FRIDAY, MARCH 15
Q: I do not want my name to appear on the e-mails I send, only my e-mail address. Can you explain the procedure for making sure my e-mail address is the only personal information on my e-mails?
A: The exact steps for doing this depend on which e-mail program you use. In general, you need to clear the name field in the e-mail account options.
If you use Microsoft's Outlook, select Accounts from the Tools menu and double-click the e-mail account you want to change. Click the General tab. In the User Information area, enter your e-mail address in the Name field. (Outlook requires something in that field.)
In Outlook Express, select Accounts from the Tools menu and do the same thing. Outlook Express allows a blank Name field, however, so you can just clear it.
SATURDAY, MARCH 16
FOR GEEKS ONLY
One of the unique things about Linux and Unix is the ability to spread work across multiple consoles. It might seem a trivial matter, especially when you come from a Windows-style environment. I mean, what use could having multiple consoles provide?
A console, in its basic definition, is simply a monitor and keyboard, analogous to the phrase terminal. In Linux you have what are termed virtual consoles (or console for short). A virtual console is another workstation or desktop (for you Windows and Mac OS people) to work in.
There is a great advantage when you run multiple programs in command-line mode. You can have several processes running, each on its own console. It helps keep you organized.
Accessing the Consoles
In most Linux distributions, the default number of consoles is set to four. You can access the consoles by pressing down on the Alt key and pressing one of several F keys (F1 through F7). For example, if you have two consoles, you would press Alt+F1 and Alt+F2 to access the consoles.
From within the X Window System, commonly known as X Window, add the Ctrl key as well to exit out of X Window and into another console.
To re-enter X Window from a command-line console, use the Alt+F7 key combination. If you go back to the console where you launched X Window, all you get is the script from the X server launch, not the actual X Window desktop.
SUNDAY, MARCH 17 (ST. PATRICK'S DAY)
If you've recently visited a Web site but can't remember the Web address or URL, AOL can help you access it quickly. The AOL browser stores URLs for Web sites you've visited.
In the center of your toolbar where you enter the Web address, there's a pull-down menu on the right side (look for the down arrow). In AOL 5.0, the pull-down menu is on the left side. Click on that, and you'll see all the addresses listed. Click on an address and it will take you to that site.
If your list is getting too cluttered, you might want to clear it and start over:
Click My AOL in your toolbar.
Scroll down to Preferences.
Click Clear History Now.
MONDAY, MARCH 18
Q: I use CompuServe, and cartoons I download come as ART files. My e-mail friends say they can't read them. Can I convert these ART files to GIFs or JPGs?
A: When you visit a Web site on CompuServe (and its cousin, America Online), images on the page are compressed into a proprietary format called ART. The online services do this to save space on their servers and to speed up loading times. The compressed images don't look nearly as good as the originalsWeb designers really hate thatand, as you've discovered, you might not be able to share ART files with friends who don't use AOL or CompuServe.
You can require CompuServe and AOL to use standard graphics formats by selecting WWW in your program's Preferences and unchecking the Use Compressed Images option. Your Web pages might load a tad slower, but the images are a lot clearer and easier to share.
To add insult to injury, when you save these graphic images from within AOL or CompuServe, they're saved in ART format, even though the filename extension says GIF or JPG.
Windows users can convert ART files using Internet Explorer 4 or later. Open the ART file in Explorer, right-click it, select Save Picture As and choose BMP in the Save As Type box. Then save the file. Convert the resulting .BMP file to JPEG using the Imaging program in the Start, Programs, Accessories folder.
According to AOL, no Macintosh programs can convert the ART format into a more common form.
TUESDAY, MARCH 19
To change your desktop wallpaper in OS X, follow these steps:
Click the Desktop to make the Finder active.
Select Preferences under the Finder menu.
Change the wallpaper by pressing the Select Picture button.
By default, this opens the Desktop Pictures folder in the Library directory, but you can browse to anywhere on your computer to find a suitable JPEG or PICT file.
Incidentally, you can also use PDF files as desktop wallpapera good idea if you have any text in the image. A preview opens so you can look at your pictures before selecting one.
A LAN (Local Area Network) is a group of computers in relatively close proximity (for example, in the same office or in the same building) that are on the same network. If the computers are spread out geographically, it's called a WAN (Wide Area Network).
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20
Some versions of Netscape come with a pesky little feature intended to notify you when a new update of the Netscape browser becomes available for download. But all it seems to do is annoy people who'd rather update their browser themselves.
Follow these steps to turn it off:
Select Edit, Preferences.
Double-click Advanced and select SmartUpdate.
Uncheck the SmartUpdate field.
THURSDAY, MARCH 21
Do you know how full your hard drive is? To find out
Double-click the My Computer icon.
Right-click the C: drive.
Repeat for other drives and partitions (D:, E:, and so on).
A colorful pie chart shows you how much space you have left. If your hard drive is getting bloated, shed some weight by deleting unnecessary files accumulated through normal computer usage.
FRIDAY, MARCH 22
Q: Is it possible to get Windows 95, 98, or 2000 in Spanish?
A: Claro que sié! Microsoft offers Windows in 31 languages, including Spanish. You might have a little trouble finding non-English versions of Windows in retail stores, so buy online at a site such as World Language Resources (www.worldlanguage.com, 800-900-8803).
International versions of Windows have the same features as the U.S. version with one exception: no Web TV software. If you have a TV tuner card in your computer, you'll have to find the software for it somewhere else.
For Spanish language support, visit Microsoft Mexico at www.microsoft.com/mexico. You also can find many books about Windows in Spanish.
SATURDAY, MARCH 23
FOR GEEKS ONLY
One TechTV viewer wanted to know if he could use an old machine as a dedicated MP3 jukebox for his car. Absolutely. We found a DOS-based MP3 player called DAMP (www.damp-mp3.co.uk/) that's perfect for the job. DOS is preferable to Windows because it's faster, smaller, and doesn't have to be shut down before you turn off the ignition.
For more information about playing MP3s in your car, visit www.mp3car.com/.
SUNDAY, MARCH 24
You also can ask companies to stop collecting information about you. Members of the Network Advertising Initiative, including the biggest Internet advertising agencies, DoubleClick and Engage, have agreed to offer a single opt-out form to make it easier for consumers to protect their privacy. You can find the form at www.networkadvertising.org.
The Center for Democracy and Technology has also launched Operation Opt-Out to make it easier for people to get off mailing lists. Visit opt-out.cdt.org for more information. And whenever you you fill out an online form, be sure to uncheck the box requesting information from advertisers. Unless, of course, you like to hear from marketers.
MONDAY, MARCH 25
Q: I accidentally deleted a program without uninstalling it. How do I remove it from the Add/Remove Programs list? It is really driving me crazy.
A: On Windows systems it's always best to remove software by using either the uninstaller that came with the program or the Add/Remove Programs control panel. If you merely delete the program's folder, you leave parts of the program strewn around your hard drive, wasting space and causing problems.
Furthermore, as you've noticed, the program's uninstall entry stays in the Add/Remove Programs control panel, even though selecting it results in an error. To remove the useless uninstall entry, use TweakUI.
Download TweakUI free from www.winmag.com/downloads. After you install it, open the Control Panels folder in My Computer, double-click TweakUI, click the Add/Remove tab, and then delete the obsolete entry.
Be careful with the Remove button, though. If you delete the Add/Remove Programs entry for an existing program, you might not be able to uninstall it later.
TUESDAY, MARCH 26
Want to know what's running in the background on OS X? Open the ProcessViewer. It's in the Utilities folder inside your Applications folder.
You can see each process running, its owner (the person or process that launched it), its ID, and how much memory and CPU time it takes up. Click the More Info triangle at the bottom and get, yes, more info, including how much total processor time it has used.
TODAY IN COMPUTER HISTORY
On March 26, 1993, Apple announced that it would license to five other companies the use of its Newton (Apple's hand-held computer) technology. This represented the first time that Apple released a license, thus allowing the opportunity for "clones."
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27
Five Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Web Surfing
Here are a few simple tricks that I guarantee will greatly quicken your Web searching when using Internet Explorer. For many of these tricks to work, you must be using Internet Explorer 6 or later. If you're still using IE 5, download and install Web Accessories for Internet Explorer. You can find a copy at www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/previous/webaccess.
There's a way to use the best search engine in the world, Google, from the convenience of the IE address box. Just be sure you've installed Web Accessories before implementing this golden trick.
After following these steps, you'll be able to type goo plus a search term in your Address window to perform a Google search, no matter where you are on the Web.
Go to Google and create a bogus search for searchstring.
Now, click the Quicksearch.exe item in your Links toolbar (again, it'll be there only if you installed Microsoft Web Accessories).
Click the New button.
Type goo in the Shortcut window.
Select Custom URL in the Search windows.
Paste the Google URL into the URL window.
Edit the URL, replacing searchstring with %s.
Click the Try It button to try your custom search. If it works, click OK, and then click Save to add the search to your Quick Search list.
When the search completes, copy the long URL in the Address window. It should look something like this: http://www.google.com/search?q=searchstring.
So, you're reading a Web page about new Toyota cars and want to learn more about a particular model from other sources on the Internet. If you have Web Accessories installed, highlight the word or phrase on which you want to search for more information, right-click the mouse, and choose Web Search. The selected words will immediately be entered into a default search engine. (Microsoft stripped this capability, called Smart Tags, out of IE 6 and Windows XP after considerable criticism. By the time you read this, they'll probably have put it back. It still works with IE5 when you've installed Web Accessories.)
If you have a very slow Internet connection, you might want to prevent pictures from loading into your browser to speed the page loading process. Open the Links toolbar and choose Toggle Images.exe. No images will load until you run the executable again.
If you don't have Web Accessories installed, you can do the same thing by first choosing Tools, Internet Options, and then clicking on the Advanced tab. Scroll down to the Multimedia portion of the list, and uncheck the Show Pictures box.
You also might want to uncheck Play Animations and Play Video if you suffer from a very slow connection. You can always turn them back on when duty calls.
It amazes me how many people still type in www, .com, and most ridiculous of all http:// when trying to get to a Web page. In most cases, you don't need to type that extra baggage. For example, if you're going to the TechTV Web site, all you need to do is type TechTV in the address box and press Ctrl+Enter. The http://, www, and .com will be added automatically. This doesn't work for .org, .net, and so on.
If you have a slow Internet connection and, your intention when logging on is to head straight for a different site, you might consider getting rid of your home page so you don't need to wait for it to load. Go to Tools, Internet Options, and click the Blank button in the Home Page section. Click Apply, and Internet Explorer will load more quickly from then on.
THURSDAY, MARCH 28
A driver is a small program that tells Windows how to use a specific device. Whenever you add a new piece of hardware, such as a sound card, to your PC, you need to install a corresponding driver in order to use the device.
Drivers are frequently updated to eliminate bugs and improve performance. To download and install a new or updated driver, follow these steps:
Connect to the Internet.
Right-click My Computer.
Click the tab marked Device Manager. (In Windows 2000 and XP select the Hardware tab, and then click the Device Manager button.)
Double-click a listed device; a new window opens.
Click Drivers to find out what drivers you currently have installed on your computer.
Click Update Driver and Windows checks to see if you have the latest driver. If there's a newer driver available, it's usually a good idea to upgrade.
You also can find updated versions of drivers by visiting hardware manufacturers' Web sites.
FRIDAY, MARCH 29
Q: How can I remove a screensaver from the Display Properties list?
A: Windows shows a list of available screen savers in the Display control panel. To choose a screensaver, go to Start, choose Settings, and select Control Panel. Double-click the Display control panel and click the Screensaver tab.
Windows scans the Windows directory and its subfolders for files that end in .SCR and generates a list of screensavers.
To eliminate a screen saver from the list, find the associated .SCR file and delete it. Better yet, change the file extension from .SCR to .SCR.OLD. It will disappear from the list. To return it to the list, remove the .OLD.
Sometimes the .SCR file has a different name from the screen saver itself. Before you delete or rename a .SCR file, right-click on it and select Properties. The full screensaver name is listed next to Description.
SATURDAY, MARCH 30
FOR GEEKS ONLY
Windows users who are moving to Linux often wonder how to get programs to start up automatically when the computer is turned on. Linux provides plenty of places where you can start your own programs. The technique you choose depends on when in the boot process you want the program to run. For example, you can launch processes before any users have logged in by adding a line to the rc (run command) scripts. Or wait until X is running by putting the command in a window manager's startup folder. Here are a few useful techniques for getting your own processes to start automatically.
Tame the Daemons
Daemons and other processes that need to run the entire time the machine is on should be started at bootupeven before any user has logged in. As usual, there's more than one way to do that. On Red Hat systems, turn common daemons on and off by logging in as root and running ntsysv at the command line. If you're running X, you can use tksysv. Both programs can start or stop common services like Web servers, print services, cron, and so on.
Add It By Hand
If the program or service you want to start isn't in the default ntsysv list, you can add it by hand to /etc/rc.d/rc.local. This shell script runs after the other init scripts but before any users have logged in. This is where you'd commonly start a firewall or proxy server.
Start with the Command Line
You can also start a program when the command line shell is started. To start a program for all users, modify the /etc/profile script. (If you're not using bash as your shell, you should read the man pages for the shell you do use to see what configuration files it checks when it starts up. Use the command man <shell name> to read the manual pages for that shell. For example, tcsh checks the /etc/csh.cshrc and /etc/csh.login files instead of /etc/profile.)
A Startup Program for Every User
There's a startup program for each user, too. In the bash shell, modify the user's ~/.bashrc file. (Note that tcsh uses the ~/.tcshrc file.) You'd most commonly use these files to add command line aliases, modify prompts, and the like, but any shell command can be placed there.
SUNDAY, MARCH 31
If you're tired of missing telephone calls while you're online, you might want to try Internet call waiting. Services such as Internet Call Manager (www.internetcallmanager.com), BuzMe (www.buzme.com), and Pagoo (www.pagoo.com) act as personal receptionists while you're online. BuzMe has an intuitive design and offers a call-management system with Caller ID, unlimited disk space for voice mail, and the retrieval of messages over a phone. It's only $5.95 per month.
One caveat: BuzMe automatically discontinues your voice messaging service with your telephone company. Because BuzMe's messaging service works through your PC, you don't receive phone messages unless you're dialed-up 24 hours a day or have an answering machine.
Pagoo advertises that they offer Internet call waiting, but what they really offer is an online messaging service. If a call comes through while you're online, Pagoo's software picks up the call. Seconds later, you can play the voice message on your computer. You are alerted to the call instantly, but you don't have the option to answer the call. It's only $4.95 a month.
Internet Call Manager works much like the others, but it offers a free trial so you can see if you like the idea before you sign up for the $5.95 a month service.
In all three cases you'll incur additional charges from your local phone company to add call-forwarding services to your line.
SEARCH THE INVISIBLE WEB
By Tom Merritt and Martin Sargent
Huge portions of the Internet are invisible to most search engines.
Some folks call this the invisible Web. Don't confuse the invisible Web with HTML pages that don't get indexed by the major engines. You can still find these pages by using specialty search engines sucha Artcyclopedia.com and Lawcrawler.com. We include a list of these at the end of this feature.
Search engines rely on programs called spiders, which only index HTML pages. Spiders can't index CGI scripts, PDF files, or information in databases. Various sources estimate you can find about 500 times more information in databases than in normal search engines.
These sites gather together online databases. You can't actually search the databases, but you can pinpoint just the databases you need:
Direct Search (gwis2.circ.gwu.edu/~gprice/direct.htm), compiled by Gary Price of George Washington University, is a great resource for databases and for more information on the invisible Web.
InvisibleWeb.com (www.invisibleweb.com) was created by Intelliseek, maker of BullsEye search software and ProFusion.
DATABASE SEARCH ENGINE
ProFusion (www.profusion.com) from Intelliseek searches more than 1,000 information sources, including the invisible Web. It works by formatting your search criteria to meet the specific requirements of each data source. Check out its features:
Automatically searches across multiple sources and categorizes the results.
Suggests alternative searches based on information it has learned.
Allows searches by category, or by source within a category.
Enables you to automate searches and enables alerts when search results change.
Does not require specialized search skills.
SPECIALTY SEARCH ENGINES
Yahoo! and Google aren't always the best tools for finding information on a particular topic. Here's a partial list of some excellent specialty search engines that can help you find exactly what you're looking for.
Artcyclopedia (www.artcyclopedia.com) is an amazing site. Artcyclopedia offers a database of works by 7,500 artists from the world's art museums and image archives.
FlightSearch.com (www.flightsearch.com) has everything from aviation pictures and products to information on flight disasters.
There are several decent computer gaming directories on the Web, but these are the most helpful:
Go to SecureRoot (www.secureroot.com) and search more than 15,000 URLs for information about hacking, cracking, encryption, and anarchy.
Are you a software developer? Want to learn more about programming? SourceBank (www.devx.com/sourcebank) has the goods.
Find postings from the Web's many job-listing sites on FlipDog (www.flipdog.com).
Find everything from learning techniques to buying tackle on FishSearch.com (www.fishsearch.com).
Trouble with the fuzz? Find legal information using these legal-oriented search engines:
Feeling some symptoms? You might know about WebMD, but to broaden your search try a medical search engine. These specialty search engines find documents about particular conditions and medical issues:
FinancialFind.com (www.financialfind.com) provides a comprehensive directory of financial information on the Internet.
MuseumStuff (www.museumstuff.com) has all you need to know about thousands of museums worldwide, nicely parceled into categories.
Moreover (www.moreover.com) is perhaps the best specialty search engine in any category. Moreover serves up headlines from more than 1,800 sources. Most important, the headlines retrieved are up to date.
OneWorld.net (www.oneworld.net) offers information on human rights and environmental issues worldwide.
Uncle Sam (www.google.com/unclesam) is your source for everything .gov. It's still the same Google you've grown to love, but results are limited to U.S. government Web pages.
There are scores of comparison-shopping sites, but MySimon.com (www.mysimon.com) is the best. It finds the best price from some 1,600 online merchants.
If you want downloadable software, try these sites:
Search engines such as Google can't access much of the information hidden in documents and databases. To find this information, use a search engine that specializes in this Deep Web.
You might want to try a service by BrightPlanet called LexiBot (www.lexibot.com). BrightPlanet claims that LexiBot can get at the roughly 550 billion documents in the Deep Web. According to BrightPlanet, regular search engines can find only 1 billion documents.
With 500 times more information to retrieve, LexiBot isn't too easy to master. The first time you take it for a test spin you might be confused. That's okay, because you have 30 days to play with it before you have to shell out $90.
Tom Merritt is Executive Web Producer at TechTV. Martin Sargent is a writer and guest host at TechTV.