When I first got on the World-Wide-Web, my "bookmark" list quickly became way too long. However, as I became more proficient at using my web-browser, I found myself returning to several of these sites over and over again. I often recommend these "utility" sites to others.
- I'm sort of a Zip+4 fanatic. The last three times I have moved, I made sure to call the Post Office to find out what my new Zip+4 would be. When I made a 'Net-friend who worked for the Post Office, I found that they have a home-page and, if you follow the appropriate links, they have a form you can fill out to tell you what your Zip+4-code is. Try it! It's kinda' neat and its at http://www.usps.gov/ncsc/lookups/lookup_zip+4.html.
- Now, I've got the "bug" -- I like to look up things. At first I found a site called WhoWhere ( http://www.whowhere.com/ ) which let me look up e-mail addresses. Then, another search site came to my attention ( http://www.switchboard.com/ ) which let me look up snail-mail addresses. Other search sites were popping up all over the Web to help people find friends, family members, and such. But, my favorite of the moment is AnyWho. They can be found at http://www.anywho.com/.
- And, of course, what would a "links page" be without a link to the first, and still the best, web index -- Yahoo! There are many other web index pages but Yahoo still manages to do it with some style and flair. It's still my favorite at, as if you didn't know, http://www.yahoo.com/.
- But then, if I can't find it on Yahoo, I have to revert to a "search engine." Again there are many to choose from and the one I like certainly wasn't the first but I still like it the best. My favorite search engine is Alta Vista at http://www.altavista.com/. AltaVista's advanced search capabilities are so far above and beyond what any other search engine can do that it is my number one favorite. On the other hand, if I'm doing a simple, easy search, for reasons I do not yet understand, Google ( http://www.google.com/ ) seems a tad bit better at finding relevant matches and bubbling them up to the top of their results pages that I find myself using it with some regularity.
- I have always been enchanted, entranced, and enthralled by maps. Yes, maps -- from the first simple city street map of West Covina, CA that by dad bought at the local gas station to the detailed topographical maps of Westchester, OH that I bought while teaching at the U.S. Geological Survey in Washington D.C. So, you might be able to understand my enrapturement when I found MapQuest at http://www.mapquest.com/. One of their newest features will let you get an actual aerial photographs of the location you are currently mapping. They will even give you directions to help you plan a trip between two cities in the U.S. There are, now, many mapping services on the Web. But, MapQuest is still the best. Check it out!
- Have you ever seen or heard about someone doing so stupid and inane that you have to wonder if they're still on the planet? Maybe they aren't! You might be able to find out by seeing if they've won a Darwin Award. A quote direct from the Web-site says that a Darwin Award is awarded to "commemorate those who improve our gene pool ... by removing themselves from it in really stupid ways." Award presentations take place at http://www.darwinawards.com/. You really won't believe how stupid some people can be.
- When someone told me that there was a flight simulator game built into MicroSoft's Excel '97 spreadsheet program, my first reaction was pure disbelief. I had to ask myself why any company would bloat the size of a business program they sold by hiding a game in the middle of it. But, then I followed the directions on my notebook computer and couldn't believe what I was seeing. As I researched a bit further, I found out that it's a fairly common practice. Then I found the Easter Egg Archive (why these hidden features are called Easter Eggs, I have no clue) at http://www.eeggs.com/ where you can find all sorts of surprises in some of your favorite software packages. Then, maybe you could take a stab at answering the question "why?"
- I tend to watch movies for their entertainment value. Rarely do I expend the effort to try to analyze the details of the plot, wonder why someone was cast in a certain role, deride a script for lack of any real content, or any number of other aspects of a film or video. But, one day (again as I was surfing through the channels on the cable TV), I stumbled upon one of those murder/mystery series shows that caught my attention. The basic plot was that a murder had taken place killing the star of the movie. While investigating the crime, the detective was watching the "dailies" and noticed that in one take, one of the characters had a pen in their pocket. But, in the next sequence in the same scene, it was gone. I found out that this "problem" had a name -- continuity -- and there was always a director of continuity on every film. Of course, I had to go to the 'Net to find out if there was a Web-site. And, there were several. One I liked is called "Movies Mistakes" and can be found at http://www.movie-mistakes.com. I think there really are some people who have a little too much time on their hands. :-)
- Have you ever wondered how a particular Web-site looked a year or two ago? Well, have you? You might be able to see it by jumping into your "Wayback Machine" and surfing over to http://www.archive.org/. It is sort of interesting and you may want to check it out.
And one of my favorite topics, one that comes up over and over again on every mailing list I belong to and every USENET news group that I read is of course Net Etiquette or, more commonly, netiquette.
If someone on a mailing list, news group, chat room -- any Internet public communication forum -- has told you to "get a clue," or (more nicely) to read up on 'Netiquette, I have a list of places to "find a clue" or locate relevant information below. Please, please, please be a responsible 'Netizen and follow the guidelines of common 'Netiquette when you communicate with others on the Internet!
- Getting Started: Netiquette
- How Many Internet Mail List Subscribers Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?
- Master the Basics: Netiquette
- Mini Case Studies of Dysfunctional Human Behaviour on the Net
- The Natural Life Cycle of Mailing Lists
- Netiquette Home Page
- Using Technology with Knoewledge, Understanding, and Courtesy
- RFC 1855: Netiquette Guidelines
Have you ever received an e-mail that offered something that sounded "too good to be true?" Or one of those messages that one of your "friends" forwarded to you that told you to also forward the note to "everybody you knew on the 'Net?" Well, guess what ... ?
It wasn't "true" and you call that a "friend?"
These types of messages are often referred to as "urban legends." Urban (i.e. modern, Internet) Legends (just what it says) are almost always somebody's idea of a joke. Some of them have a past basis in reality but have been embellished or exaggerated way beyond their original intent. But, most of the time, they are just plain, flat-out figments of someone's fertile imagination. Please, please, please before you forward some fantastic-sounding story or warning to everyone in your address book, take the time to look it up and determine if it is an Urban Legend or not. There are several links below to help you out.
- The AFU & Urban Legends Archive:
- Archive of Urban Legends, Myths and Netlore
- Break the Chain: Stop Junk E-Mail and Misinformation
- Crimes of Persuasion: Schemes, scams, frauds.
- The Hoaxkill service: Let's get rid of hoaxes now!
- Internet ScamBusters
- McAfee - Virus Hoaxes
- Symantec Security Updates - Hoax Page
- Truth About Computer Virus Myths & Hoaxes
- Urban Legends and Myths