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ARE WE HAVING FUN YET

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Many people ask me, "How can you find all the good stuff on the Internet?" Your choices may seem endless. In fact, the largest new customer base for online services today is intelligent, but not necessarily computer-savvy. The phrase, "Where do you want to go today?" is more than an advertising slogan. There is so much information on the Web that finding the 'stuff' you are interested in can be a challenge. Well? Where DO you want to go?
With your destination in mind, launch any search engine (most Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, provide one on their home pages) by typing in the keyword(s) of your topic. For example, just type "Search" into a search engine window and press "Start" or "Go". The engine will engage a 'web crawler' to 'fetch' any web links available. The amount could be anywhere from one to thousands. It is important that you realize that some parties place invisible HTML (HyperText Markup Language) tags, or handles, on their web pages so that they can be grabbed more easily. So, while you may receive links to search engine sites, you may also receive links that invite you to purchase the services of companies that help your web site get LISTED in search engines. You may also receive links that invite you to "search" for explicit content!
This can be confusing. A new search engine, at "http://www.northernlight.com" provides your search results grouped by categories like "Celebrities" and "Commercial Sites". For example, the word "passport" could yield results from national and foreign passport agencies as well as references to a "free passport to International Cuisine" from Butterball, the turkey people. Northern Light creates a set of folders into which your thousands of 'hits' are filtered, simplifying your search.
Along with looking for information through search engines, you can let information find YOU. Several online communities like Yahoo and Tripod allow you to create a 'personal start page' with the news headlines, stock market information, sporting news, showbiz/gossip, technology, horoscopes, humor links, and a search engine window right there, on the page itself. News sites like cnn.com and many ISPs also offer this service for free. This way, from the time you go online, you will have links to the information you want every day. The degree of content control varies from site to site, so look around for a start page program that's right for you.
This personal 'start page' is not meant to be accessible by the general surfing public; some require password authentication before they can be viewed. Your registration for these start pages means that your personal information will doubtless become part of a database. Most online companies do not share this information, and those that do, offer you the option to keep your information out of advertisers' hands.
I use the Internet Explorer and Netscape browsers as examples because they are the most common and I have personal experience with them. Depending upon the versions of Explorer or Netscape you use, your application may differ in layout. A "browser" is any program that enables you to translate the HTML code into documents, pictures, sounds, and video. Your browser may have other commands for these functions; if you are unsure of exactly how to perform them, click on the 'Help' button and follow instructions.
To make your start page, look for the 'Internet Options' under Tools in Internet Explorer or 'Preferences' under Edit in Netscape. In Explorer, the General tab will appear with a field titled 'Home page' first. Type the URL (Uniform Resource Locator, or address), like "http://www.startpage.net" or select 'Use Current' if you are already on that page. Be sure to click 'apply', then 'ok'. In Netscape, elect to have Navigator start with 'Home Page', then type in the URL of your start page in the next field. If you have already navigated to the page, click 'Use Current Page'. Click 'ok'. The use of the term 'home page' in some browsers can be misleading, but as I have stated, these are not PERSONAL HOME PAGES. Let's talk about those next time around!
Anita Davis is a longtime Virgin Islands resident who now resides in Georgia. She is currently with MindSpring's Technical Support staff. Your questions and suggestions are welcome! Send email to Anita at [email protected]

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