Stuff 101
Last updated 08/02/01

The stuff on here

Stuff 102

 

Hey, all thoughts expressed here are right cause they are mine.  Yes, sarcasm is used in here and No, I am not telling you everything you need to know about these subjects.

If you find any of my links on here happen to die, let me know so I can fix them!  

 
Creating web pages  
Creating web pages is getting more popular and actually easier.  Most people are afraid of trying to make a web page and yet it is as easy as making a Document in Word or Word Perfect.  Heck, both of those have the ability to export documents to HTML.

Start off by getting a Graphical Web Browser.  There are many out there that are free or cheap.  The graphical ones let you see your webpage as you create it instead of making you learn <b><font color="#FF0000" size="6">&nbsp; HTML Code</font>

There are basically 2 things in a web page.  Text and Graphics.  Both of these can be placed  anywhere on your page.  Both Text and Graphics can be aligned easily in 3 different zones; Left, Center, and Right.  You can also use tables to help position and format stuff

  left

center

right   

The table also can be moved around to the left, center, and right.

With tables, you can

change colors and backgrounds depending on what browser your audience is using.

It is not always easy to always figure what some times they can both look the same.  Best way to tell is move your mouse over the area in question and you will see the cursor change to an arrow for non text stuff.

(this is a picture, not text)

 

Windows 95/98 

There are some lesser documented programs that tell you stuff about you windows setup.  WARNING  These programs also offer the power to really screw up your computer so use these with extreme caution!!! 

MSCONFIG - This program shows you what programs are loaded or ran during the start up phase of your computer.  This can help you answer the question "Why is my computer booting so slowly?" and you can also see if a virus or trojan horse program is loading.  To run:  start --> run --> msconfig <enter>

MSINFO32 - This program tells you all the juicy details about your computer but not always in plain english.  Check out the TOOL menu on this program.  System File Checker is a program that will tell you if your Windows 9x files have changed or have been deleted.  This can also restore those system files.  To run:  start--> programs --> accessories --> system tools --> system information

NETWATCH - A Security must!!  This program will tell you who has connected to you computer either on your local network or the internet.  If you are sharing folders or files, this lets you see real time what they are looking at.  This program does not run if you do not have printer/file sharing enabled.  To run:  start--> programs --> accessories --> system tools --> Net Watcher

 

Protect yourself on the net
"Honesty is the best policy" - Well, who ever said that has never used the internet.  The internet is just part of the information age, were data is passed from computer to computer... and we really can't say who is getting the data and who is spying on it.  When it comes to the internet, my policy is "Don't believe everything you read" (which by default means not to believe what I am saying, huh?)
My point on this is, when a web page or program asks you for personal information, you are NOT obligated in ANYWAY to provide it.  When you get those annoying phone calls at home during dinner and they ask you questions, you don't tell them anything; same thing here.  If you want to be truthful, then you risk someone you do not know getting personal information about you that they can use against you.
Did you know that there are companies that pay top dollar (legally) for your name, address, phone number, what you buy, what you like, what you do not like, anything about you?  Nope, we do not get that money, but websites will sell their lists of information to these companies who then sell it to telemarketing or direct mail sales... then your phone rings off the hook and your mail box fills with junk.  No Fear:  the honest website will post a privacy policy or something similar to let you know they will keep your stuff confidential.  They might try to send ya some stuff from their company, but often you get the option to get it or not

Name:
Address:
City:
State:
Email :
SS# :
Phone #:
Credit Card #:

Did you know that there are thieves out there that would love to get their hands on your credit card info, or your mom's maiden name, or your SS# with address?  They need less and less info to steal your identity long enough to steal $$$ from practically anywhere... and YOU are stuck trying to fix it. No Fear:  you can use credit cards on the internet safely.  Secure Websites are becoming more standard and safe.  Make sure your browser is in encryption mode, usually shown with a lock symbol on the bottom row of your browser.  Netscape shows for non-secure pages and for secure ones.  Microsoft's IE shows no symbol for not secure, but for secure ones.  (NO, 1 is not better than another, just different icons)

I wish I could say this is 100% safe, but to be honest, nothing is.  Crooks will pic your pocket, stand over your shoulder at ATMs, eves drop on your calls, fake call you pretending to be someone else, hack into computers to get your information.  As it stands, computers and the internet actually offer the most security when both sides, you and the website you buy from, are using encryption.  Oh yea, also the bad guys put up fake sites that look like the real ones to get your info also...

Internet Security
  PEOPLE BEWARE!!!  The internet is only as secure as the people who use it.  I am not talking about credit cards and Online purchases, I am talking about YOU logging on to the internet, checking your email, surfing to a web page, and chatting with your friends.  All sounds pretty simple, that's about all you can use the internet for, huh?  Well, unfortunately most of the internet world is connecting with Microsoft Windows.  This operating system was designed to help home users run programs at home and easily share data on networks.  The trade off that no one mentions is that in order to be easy, there has to be a lack of security.  
So you say "I am a nobody with nothing on my computer, no one will hack me"???  Sorry but on the internet, all computers look alike.  All computers are assigned an IP address ( 123.21.32.124 ) and there is nothing to make your computer look different from any others.  Plus, hackers look for people like that who think they would not be hacked cause they tend to not have any security measures.  So, just as someone likes to spray paint their graffiti on a wall or bridge, they would have just as much fun destroying your computer.

When you put your computer on a network at home or work, you can log into other computers and share data. This is accomplished with "File and Printer Sharing", an option you have to set in Network Properties (right click on network neighborhood --> Properties)  After you have turned on File Sharing, you have to go onto your hard drive and select folders to be shares.  When you do this, set a password on that folder, other wise it is a wide open door for a hacker to get onto your system.

Do you have a network neighborhood icon on your desk top?  This means that your computer is setup for networking.  Double click on the icon and you will see an "Entire Network" icon and you might see an icon with your computer's name on it.  If you see the icon with your computer's name on it, double click that icon to see what you are advertising to the network is on your computer.

PROTECT YOURSELF
You can monitor what is happening on your computer to keep some of the hackers out.  I really like to have graph/meter type programs that show me the activity going on over the internet while I am on line.  Then I can see that if there is activity going on in the meter when I am doing nothing, it is possible there is a virus or hacker in my computer.  I shut off the connection to the internet (turn off modem or DSL switch) and try to detect the problem.  Some good programs to have:

  •  Net Watcher ( start --> programs --> accessories --> system tools --> net watcher)  This program is useful to see who connects to your computer and is included with Windows 95/98.  It lists your computer and shares you might have.
  • DUNMon - This program creates a graph of your modem activity and shows you how fast you are sending and receiving information over your modem.  I like the older version 1.0b3 as it is really simple, but there are updates at www.southdown.co.uk/users/jgrieve/ or you can download is by clicking here (dunmon.zip 755kb)
  • AnalogX NetStat Live - Another graph/meter program but this works with any network connection (NIC, DSL, Cable) and is very configurable.  Check them out at their website:  http://www.analogx.com/
Firewalls - firewall programs are getting affordable and more available.  McAfee and Symantec both have programs for sale that will protect you computer from the internet hackers.  Zone Labs is offering a free firewall program that is getting good reviews.  I currently have a copy of Symantec Norton Internet Security 2000 and have seen it protect me from some unauthorized scans.

The XRouter Pro MIH-130 Internet Sharing SwitchRouters - Routers are like hubs or switches with some security built in to them.  A hub takes a signal and sends it to all the ports in your hub, really good for setting up networks and sharing data and usually requires no configuration.  A Switch is like a hub accept it learns where the computers are and sends the data to the specific port of the computer, thus making it faster (and typically more expensive) than hubs.  Switches can sometimes need to configured but that is rather easy for the novice.  A Router actually looks at the data and figures out where to send it.  With a router, you can keep data from going someplace or send it specifically some where, more securely than a switch.  Routers do need to be configured and unless you are familiar with networking you could have troubles setting up and maintaining your router.  You end up paying a little more for these also.  There are many DSL/Cable modem Routers hitting the market now.  Make sure you know what you need before getting one.  I found a Router comparison chart that helped me figure out what I wanted.

Setting up the hardware

This is the typical home network with a modem connection to the internet. A hub/switch is present so you can share printers and files with all of the computers on the network.  Typically, only 1 computer will have access to the internet unless you have an internet sharing program on the computer with the modem.  (This also gives the internet access to the computers so think security!!)
OPTION 1:

You can add a Router between your modem and your network replacing your hub/switch giving all computers attached to the router access to the internet.  (This also gives the internet access to all the computers so think security!!)

OPTION 2:

You can get a Router with the modem built in.  This can replace both you modem and your hub.  This can also provide access to the internet from all of the computers attached to the router.  (This also gives the internet access to all the computers so think security!!)

Virus Scanners - With hundreds of new viruses coming out every month, no one is safe anymore with out a virus scanner.  Viruses can now come at you thru your web browser, email, and even chat rooms.

  • EMAIL - If you ever receive an attachment in your email box, be VERY careful before running it.  Attachments that could do damage can end with .exe, .com, .bat, .htm, .vb to list a few. Most of the time these programs have to be ran before they can infect you system.  The simple fix is do not run the attachment and delete it from your system.  This include all those cute games you might get from your buddies.  Now there are viruses that take advantage of Macros and can run just by opening the email, and you can not protect your self from that.  If you are asked "Do you want to run the macro" then I would suggest NO.  Some viruses can also spread themselves with your email program by sending the virus to everyone in you address book.  SO, this means that your computer sent your friends a virus, and your friends trusting that you would not send out a virus run the programs and get infected.
  • WEB BROWSERS - Yep, that's right, this program you are running now can be instructed to run programs that can read data, send data to another computer, or even destroy data on your hard drive.  Check in the Preferences or Internet Options of your browser settings to be sure they set safely.
  • CHAT ROOMS - Can you believe this?  Some how they have figured out ways to transmit a virus thru IRC and ICQ programs and probably many others.  

Now do not get too anxious.  There is another type of virus, I like to call the good samaritan virus, that is actually a HOAX.  This is where someone makes up an email with a fake warning in it about a virus.  They then send it out onto the internet to who ever they know and it gets passed around.  You get it in your mail box, want to help the internet community by passing it on, but you are then falling into the trap making you the actually virus.  While this does not trash your system, it add more traffic to the internet slowing down other signals and takes up space in your email server. 

This is just as bad as those emails that make claims

  • Send this email 10 people and you will have instant luck
  • Send this email to everyone you know or your computer will be trashed
  • This email is a test from Bill Gates and he will personally send you $100