Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Topics relating to The Internet in general, including issues around security, usage, manners and more.

Are my accesses of Google Docs recorded? For how long?

Being given access to a Google Docs document associates your email address with the right to read the document. Does it matter? And how long is this association?

Are reverse phone number sites legitimate?

Reverse phone number lookup services can be good. They might not be able to find unlisted numbers and should offer a refund.

Are there any issues listening to streaming music over the internet?

With faster connections being the norm, it's quite possible to listen to streaming audio over the internet for long periods of time. But should you?

Are there any legitimate uses for peer-to-peer file sharing programs?

P2P programs have a bad reputation because of the content they're often used with. But P2P technology is legal and useful for legal purposes as well.

Are there any legitimate work-at-home sites?

Legitimate work-at-home sites probably do exist. Finding them is the trick. However, you may want to look at making money online in a different way.

Are there now public links to everything in my Dropbox?

Dropbox recently announced that you could send a web-accessible public link to anything anywhere in your Dropbox. I'll look at the security implications.

Can I block all animation in web advertisements?

Blocking ad animations is tricky because there are so many formats an advertiser can use to display the animation. You may need to vote with your feet.

Can I fake the DNS ip lookup to test my website?

In case you need to test your website, there are ways that you can fake the DNS IP lookup to be able to do so. We'll take a look at how that's done.

Can I retrieve a message I submitted via a web form?

There isn't a concept of a "sent mail folder" when filling out forms on a web page, so there is nothing to retrieve.

Can I save programs I download from the Internet?

When purchasing software in a store you get a box and a CD or DVD. If you download your software you should take extra steps to save your purchase.

Can Internet Explorer's History be undeleted?

We'll look at a few ways that might be possible, but unlikely, to undelete the History.

Can my IP address be linked to an illegal site without my knowledge?

There are assorted ways that an IP address might be linked to or associated with an illegal or malicious web site. I'll look at some of the scenarios.

Can my ISP help me prove I didn't post comments to a forum after I was hacked?

Getting an ISP to help in tracking internet activity is difficult, as internet providers adhere to strict privacy guidelines. There may be other options.

Can web sites monitor my Google searches?

Web sites get a lot of information from your Google searches, but that doesn't mean that web sites can monitor every Google search you do.

Choosing an ISP: How do I choose a good ISP?

Choosing an ISP can be difficult. ISPs definitely vary in level of service and quality. If the internet is important to you, so is choosing the right ISP.

Do I need Internet Explorer and Outlook Express updates if I use Firefox and Thunderbird?

Does everything I do on the internet download, or just when I save a file?

What constitutes a download depends on why you are trying to define it. Are you concerned with the files that end up on your computer or with the bandwidth being used?

Does https hide email addresses in Hotmail?

Https encrypts your data without knowing what it is: that includes email, banking information, or any type of data.

Free Downloads: are they safer if I download directly to CD or DVD?

Free downloads are a lucrative way to get games, programs, and other things at no cost. But sometimes free downloads carry a very heavy cost in the form of spyware, viruses and more.

From where can I legally download mp3 files?

Legally downloading music files gets surprisingly complex. There are many sources, both legal and not, and they're difficult to distinguish.

HTML font size: why can't I increase it on some web pages?

The HTML font size in a page's encoding can get in the way of things like "view larger". There are ways to bypass this bad HTML font size setting.

How can I keep the images I post on the web from being copied?

How can I prove that a photo was stolen from my original?

Digital photos often include information which may help establish their origin, but it's information that's also easily altered or removed.

How can I view large web pages without having to scroll right and left?

Many web pages are designed to a minimum width which is often wider than some older screens or settings. There are a few alternatives.

How can my website make money?

Making a little money from your website isn't all that hard, however making lots of money requires a lot of hard work.

How can on-line forum members realize it's me using two different accounts?

How did my friend's phone number get posted on a porn site?

It's not unheard of for kids or not-such-good-friends to post someone's number as a prank or perhaps it was just a mistake: but what can you do?

How do I backup games I've downloaded and installed?

When downloading software from the internet you should choose "Save" to keep a copy of your download. If you haven't, I'll look at how to save anyway.

How do I block floating ads on webpages?

You can block floating ads from websites with your hosts file, but you should first consider if that is really a good idea.

How do I block porn?

Blocking pornography isn't always as simple as we'd like. However OpenDNS provides one of the easier solutions, particularly for an entire network.

How do I clear history from my Google search?

When you visit the Google search engine and start typing, you'll likely see a dropdown list of search terms. Those might be history, or something else.

How do I clear my search history in IE 7?

Sometimes you just want to clear what you've searched for from the browser's history. These steps clear that information in Internet Explorer 7.

How do I connect to the internet while traveling abroad?

Connecting to the internet while traveling can be difficult, but not insurmountable. Connecting to the internet while traveling will, however, require a few extra precautions.

How do I delete and reinstall Microsoft Internet Explorer?

How do I delete items I've been to using Google?

Follow these steps to delete your browser's history.

How do I delete this Microsoft Passport?

How do I exclude irrelevant yet matching pages from a search?

It depends on where you're doing your search. Different search engines have different approaches to specifying "negative matches."

How do I get my files back from a closed upload site?

When megaupload.com was taken offline, many users' files were rendered inaccessible. If a service provider goes away, it's clear that you can lose your data.

How do I get rid of Download Accelerator remnants that are preventing me from downloading files?

I am not a fan of download accelerators for many, many different reasons. Sometimes, they are a means for putting more advertising in front of your face!

How do I get rid of this pop-up ad?

Pop-up ads show on webpages using a variety of technologies and may obscure the link that turns it off. There are a few immediate things to look for.

How do I go back to plain http for Google Plus?

It should be completely transparent. Without knowing exactly why you consider it to be annoying, I'm going to recommend that you leave it set.

How do I keep my web access safe from sniffing?

Your web access can be easily sniffed when you're in a public WiFi hotspot. Logins on web sites that don't use https are vulnerable to sniffing. We'll look at one technique to avoid this.

How do I know what to believe on the internet?

Deception online is trivially easy with today's technologies. There's more snake-oil on the internet than ever before - how do you know what's legit?

How do I remove my email address from a malicious blog post?

How do I retrieve old places visited and websites?

Your internet browser's history function is where you can retrieve old websites and places visited.

How do I search multiple sites of my own choice?

It is not necessarily simple to do this, but personal searches can be set up with Google's CSE (Custom Search Engine) function.

How do I securely share sensitive electronic documents with my attorney?

Sharing sensitive documents over the internet is both common and commonly done wrong. I'll look at the pitfalls and alternatives.

How do download accelerators work?

Download accelerators use a number of techniques to make downloads appear faster and more resilient. I'll cover the most common ways accelerators work.

How do you keep track of new mentions of yourself on the internet?

There are many tools to search for interesting keywords. Combined them with an RSS reader and you can easily stay up to date on topics you care about.

How does my friend always know when I'm online?

Many applications that you run and even some websites that you visit can inadvertently expose your online status to your friends.

How much can I trust information on the internet?

Technical information on the internet can be updated quickly, so it can be more current than textbooks, but you need to carefully analyze the sources.

How should I make my files accessible via the internet?

The internet is everywhere and yet - using it to access your own files isn't as obvious as you might like. I'll look at some options.

I get 'Error Could not execute main' on startup - how can I fix it?

I keep hearing about Paypal problems. Should I avoid Paypal?

Paypal is perhaps the largest online payment processing service. With that size come issues and problems. Should you avoid Paypal because of them?

IE's click sound: how do I turn that off?

IE (Internet Explorer) is frequently configured to make a "clicking" sound when you move from page to page. Here's how to turn IE's click sound off, or change it.

Internet explorer opens with a white screen and the letters dy in the upper left corner. How do I get rid of that?

If odd things happen when you start Internet Explorer, one of the first places to look is spyware.

Is an https connection really all that safe?

https is an important part of keeping your data safe, but it's only a part. It's important to understand what it means and what it doesn't mean.

Is anonymous web surfing possible? If so, can't the 'bad guys' use it too?

Anonymous web surfing is quite possible, with the aid of an anonymization service. There are several implications to anonymous web surfing, though. One is that anyone can use it.

Is downloading .torrent files without downloading the files they point to a problem?

Torrent files by themselves are pretty benign. It's the files they point to that may hold copyrights and legal implications.

Is there an easy way to share photos with my family that's free?

Sharing files with family and friends is made easy with Dropbox.

Just what is PDF format, how do I view it, and why do people use it?

PDF format allows documents to be viewed across many different types of computers and operating systems, and look the same everywhere.

MWSBAR.dll - What is it, and why is it generating an error?

mwsbar.dll is a toolbar for Internet Explorer commonly part of "My Web Search". Getting rid of mwsbar.dll, or references to it, isn't terribly difficult.

Must my mail server have a specific name?

On Kids, Parents and the Internet

An old problem finds a home on new technology: cyber bullying and other internet related harassment seems to be on the rise. What's a parent to do?

Searching Effectively

The ability to search well is a key skill that can make the internet a much more useful resource. I'll cover basics as well as a couple of tricks.

Should I dump my wired ISP for cellular broadband?

Should I switch to Firefox?

Depending on how secure your computer already is, you may or may not want to switch to Firefox as an internet browser.

Someone I met in chat is threatening me - am I safe on my computer?

Being harassed or bullied online is frighteningly common. While threats are rarely carried out by these cowards, it can still be very unsettling.

Survey Pop Ups - Annoying Ad or Even More Annoying Spyware?

Survey's popping up on a website could be the result of programming on that site - or something more sinister.

There's a porn star on the internet with my name, what should I do?

It's not uncommon for more than one person to have the same name. What do you do if you don't approve of what the other person does?

Toolbars in Internet Explorer: how do I get rid of them?

Toolbars in Internet Explorer can be handy, but each means less room for web pages. We look at steps to get rid of most toolbars in Internet Explorer.

What are Root Certificates, and why do I need to update them?

Root certificates are a critical part of how encrypted connections like https validate the site you're connecting to. Updates happen periodically.

What are my high speed internet options?

What are those strange folders in my Temporary Internet Files?

What do I need to know about the DNS vulnerability?

A vulnerability has been discovered in the DNS servers providing a critical part of internet infrastructure. It's easy to test and easy to work around.

What is Internet Connection Sharing?

Internet Connection Sharing connects multiple computers to the internet through a single computer. Internet Connection Sharing is much like a router.

What is TCP/IP v6?

TCP/IP currently has a limit of 4 billion IP addresses, and that's not enough. IPv6 blows away this limitation.

What is a "questionable" or "suspicious" website?

Avoiding websites that are questionable or suspicious is common advice from internet security gurus - but just what does that mean?

What is contextual advertising, and how does it affect my privacy?

Contextual advertising uses on-site clues and additional information to place ads that are likely to be useful to site visitors, or to you.

What would you recommend for a small business to provide ftp to clients?

Small business use of FTP can make a lot of sense, but it's not something you want to host yourself in most cases. I'll give a recommendation.

What's 'akamai', and why is my firewall alerting me about it?

What's a "torrent"?

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing technology.

What's a good inexpensive VoIP solution for people in the US to call me overseas?

A good inexpensive VoIP can be hooked up in several ways to a fast internet connection. We look at a few popular VoIP services.

What's an ebook, how do I get it and what do I do with it?

Ebooks are a popular publishing mechanism that allow you to purchase and instantly download a book to your computer. We'll look at what and how.

What's so special about a "permalink"?

'Permalink' is a term that's become more visible in recent years with the rise of blogs and blogging software. But what does 'permalink' really mean?

What's the best way to publish an email chronicle?

One great use of the internet is historical preservation. There are several ways to post an email chronicle, but each requires a little work.

What's with the [number] that gets added to some of my downloads?

Your browser may add a number to your downloaded file name to avoid collisions if you download the a file of the same name more than once.

Why am I not getting the upload speeds I expect?

Why are there so many odd certificates listed in my browser?

Understanding certificates in your browser is tricky and deleting them not recommended. They are "by definition" supposed to be secure.

Why aren't illegal sites easier to track down?

With all of today's technology, one would think that it would be easy to track down the owners of "illegal" sites. It's much more complicated than that.

Why did I not get the download I wanted?

The download you want may be surrounded by often misleading offers of ... more downloads. It's incredibly important to know which one you really want.

Why did my PDF print with two additional pages of pornography?

One of the very first things that I would be concerned about is your print-to-PDF technology. I'd be concerned that it was downloaded from a questionable site.

Why do I get disconnected before I finish composing my message?

Many web services have inactivity time outs that will log you out after a while. I'll look at why, how, and why typing might not count as activity.

Why do I need an ISP?

When you connect to your ISP you are connecting directly to the internet. You can bypass your ISP, if you like, but only to choose another ISP to do the same.

Why do so many companies use "Hidden URLs"?

Link encoding can take on many forms, some of which are normal while others can be manipulated to deceive. I'll look at what you need to watch out for.

Why does my streaming radio station stop after several hours?

Streaming audio over the Internet is an easy way to enjoy music and other programs. Streaming audio can, however, expose flaws in some media players.

Why does my video flicker?

Video flicker can happen for various reasons when viewing on-line videos. I'll look at some issues viewing video on-line, including video flicker.

Why does the URL change when I go to some pages?

Why doesn't 'Back' always work when I surf the web?

Occasionally 'Back' won't work, and will simply land you back where you were, effectively doing nothing. There are reasons, and there workarounds.

Why doesn't my click in a search result go directly to the destination?

Clicking a link on a search engine's results page will take you to the site listed, but often through a not-so-obvious path. I'll explain.

Will BitTorrent harm my computer?

BitTorrent, the peer-to-peer file sharing technology, is often suspect in computer problems. It's not BitTorrent at fault, but the files being shared.