Helpful Support

Readers of this column have asked me why I chose to use a dialup connection instead of something faster. My answer was that it was an economic decision, but all has changed recently. I found a dsl service that compared favorably to the subscriptions I had, so I made the switch last month. And that switch may—or may not affect readers of this column. Until now, I have focused on websites that are accessible to anyone at any speed. And with my faster connection, I bring you site reviews that may leave present dialup customers wanting a faster connection. I’ll do my best to maintain a balance so that dialup users don’t feel totally left out of the ever-changing Internet environment.

Google Maps . Everyone is talking about Google Maps these days. And Google has much to brag about, in my estimation. Instead of plodding my way through that “other online map service,” I used Google Maps recently to find my way to a location in LaPorte following the back roads. I had the choice of looking at a regular, plotted map or a topographical, satellite view of the route. Pretty neat. The two views gave me something solid, in context, to make my way to my destination easily. Between Google Maps and a cell phone, there is no need for anyone to lose their way along the highways and byways. There is much to explore at the site, from familiar neighborhoods to more global views. Once you use Google Maps, most likely you won’t want to return to “that other online map service.”

Windows One Care . Microsoft is testing a new product that supposedly will be built in to its next upgrade of Windows (after XP). For a limited time, those interested in the beta version can sign up to give it a try. The program is supposed to supply an automatic computer maintenance/fixing/bug removal/optimizer so that we users no longer have to worry about scheduling our defrags (you DO defrag your hard drive weekly, don’t you?); or uploading updates for spyware, adware, malware, etc. All the regular computer maintenance that people tend to ignore will be done by this program. Or at least, that’s the general plan. I signed up to be a beta user and I believe the program will be available in a few weeks. I’ll let you know in a future column what I think of it. Or, go ahead and get yourself on the list of beta-users. You’ll need an MSN Passport account—if you have an Hotmail account, then you already have that account.

Patrick Crispen’s Powerpoint Tutorials . I get Patrick Crispen’s version of the Internet Tourbus/Netsquirrel weekly as an e-newsletter. It gives me lots of good, easy-to-digest technical information about using computers. Patrick has put together a large series of free tutorials that may be of interest to you. Some of these include instructions for taming Adobe Reader, Real Player, and Internet Explorer—tweaking them to your liking and making them run faster. Other tutorials include Advanced Searching Tips, Guidelines for Good Web Design, Troubleshooting for a Healthy Computer, and many more. The tutorials offer an alternative to using instructional books, and they’re free. In future columns, I’ll tell you about more free tutorials that you can find on the Internet.

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~ by IndianaDunesPoet on December 6, 2005.

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