Behind the spinning hourglass

50 %
50 %
Information about Behind the spinning hourglass

Published on October 3, 2007

Author: Alfanso


Behind the spinning hourglass: The deepest, darkest secrets of your PC's Internet applications:  Behind the spinning hourglass: The deepest, darkest secrets of your PC's Internet applications a presentation by Patrick Douglas Crispen Notes for presenters: Tools used to create this presentation:  Notes for presenters: Tools used to create this presentation This presentation was created using Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 on both Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Professional. All screen movies in this presentation were created using TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio (available for US$299 retail/US$149 education at The movies were exported as animated GIFs in Camtasia Studio and then edited in Macromedia Fireworks MX 2004 (available for US$299 retail/US$99 education at The edited animated GIFs were imported using PowerPoint’s Insert > Picture > From File… command. Most of the screen captures in this presentation were created using either the Print Screen or Alt + Print Screen commands in Windows 2000 and/or XP. The few screen captures that needed editing (like the James Hatfield cartoon) were edited in Macromedia Fireworks MX 2004. Notes for presenters: Hints about animated GIFs in PPT:  Notes for presenters: Hints about animated GIFs in PPT The latest version of PowerPoint—PowerPoint 2003—only plays looping animated GIFs.  In non-looping animated GIFs, PowerPoint 2003 only displays the first frame.  [PowerPoint 2003 hasn't deployed wide yet, but when it does this could become a HUGE problem for faculty and tech staff.] Solution: In a graphics program like Macromedia Fireworks, change all of your non-looping animated GIFs so that they loop at least once, but change the timing of the last frame so that it is so long it never gets back to frame 1. [In this presentation, I set the last frame of each animated GIF to 99.99 seconds (9999/100)] PowerPoint 2002 (a.k.a. PowerPoint XP) and PowerPoint 2003 sometimes ignore the timing of the first frame of your animated GIFs.  Solution: If you are going to delay the start of an animated GIF in PowerPoint by setting the timing inside the GIF itself, in your graphics program duplicate frame 1, set the timing of (original) frame 1 to 1/100ths of a second, and set the timing of the second frame (the duplicate of frame 1) to the desired delay. [In this presentation, I set the delay on frame two to five seconds (500/100)] Notes for presenters: About the audience:  Notes for presenters: About the audience This presentation talks about the most popular PC-based Internet clients used in America’s classrooms: Microsoft Internet Explorer, AOL Instant Messenger, Real Networks’ RealOne Player, Adobe Acrobat, etc. I recognize that the term “most popular” does not necessarily mean “best.” Many of the most popular classroom Internet clients have significant flaws, flaws that are fixed in other, alternative Internet clients. HOWEVER, since most American educators don’t have the time or, in many cases, the administrative permissions to download, install, and configure a new web browser, IM client, or streaming audio player, this presentation shows educators how to overcome the limitations inherent in many of the most popular Internet programs found in America’s classrooms. That I have omitted your favorite Internet client from this presentation is not a sign that I don’t value you as a human being. I am perfectly aware that smart, beautiful people like you long ago abandoned IE, AIM, RealOne and their ilk. The majority of educators still use these programs in their classrooms, however, and that’s the audience for which this presentation is intended. Our goals::  Our goals: Discover some really cool Internet Explorer shortcuts. Find out how to easily organize your Internet Explorer favorites list Play around with Internet Explorer’s hidden links bar. Find out what Bookmarklets are and how to use them. Learn how to make emergency backups of your favorites list and even convert that list into a simple web page. Our goals::  Our goals: See how to configure AIM to do what you want it to do. Learn about a tool that lets you send IMs to pretty much everyone, regardless of what IM client they’re using. Discover why (and how) you should update your version of Java. Find out why (and how) you should disable the Windows Messenger Service. Learn two ways to “steal” text from Acrobat. Do all of this in ENGLISH! Some really cool Internet Explorer shortcuts:  Some really cool Internet Explorer shortcuts Image source: Baby got back!:  Baby got back! Want to go back to the page you were just looking at in Internet Explorer? Just press the backspace key. Image source: Page down/up:  Page down/up To scroll down a really long web page in Internet Explorer, just press the spacebar. To scroll up, press the shift key and the spacebar. Image source: Minimize and maximize:  Minimize and maximize To toggle between Internet Explorer’s minimized and maximized (full-screen) views, just double-click on IE’s title bar. Supersize:  Supersize Pressing the F11 key in Internet Explorer puts you into something called “kiosk mode” that’s like the maximized view on steroids. It hides (most of) the toolbars and expands the web page so that it fills the entire screen. You can hide the top toolbar by right-clicking on it and choosing Auto-hide. To exit kiosk mode, just press F11 again. Uh-oh, here comes my spouse!:  Uh-oh, here comes my spouse! Let’s pretend you’re visiting a web site you ought not to be visiting and someone walks in on you. What should you do? Alt + F4 (or Ctrl + W) closes the topmost open window on your screen. This is a great way to kill pop-ups too! Be careful! If you hit Alt + F4 too many times, you’ll close everything—including Windows! The mother-in-law key:  The mother-in-law key If you have a BUNCH of open windows and want to minimize all of them at once, press and hold the Windows key and the letter M. The Windows key is that key with the flag on it to the left of your spacebar. Like Alt + F4, Win + M is actually a Windows shortcut so it works everywhere in Windows regardless of what programs you have open. Once your mother-in-law leaves, you can maximize all those windows again by pressing Windows + Shift + M. Auto-prefix and -suffix:  Auto-prefix and -suffix To open a company’s homepage in Internet Explorer 5 or later, you don’t actually have to key in that company’s complete web address. Instead, just type the company’s name (like google or microsoft or GM) in IE’s address bar and then press the Ctrl and Enter keys. There’s no place like home:  There’s no place like home Your home page is the first page you see when you launch Internet Explorer. Your home page can be any web page you want and you can change it at any time. Just go to Tools > Internet Options and key in a new URL in the Home page box. You knew this already, right? Change your homepage:  Change your homepage Well, there’s an even quicker way to change your home page: Go to the page you want to be your new home page. Click and hold your left mouse button on the small, blue Internet Explorer icon in IE’s address bar. Drag that icon to your home button and let go. IE will ask you if you’d like to set that page as your home page. Sweet, sweet nothings:  Sweet, sweet nothings So, what’s my IE home page? A blank screen! Why? When I launch IE, I usually have a destination in mind and don’t appreciate being linkjacked by another site. If your homepage isn’t blank (and you haven’t tweaked your settings in Tools > Internet Options > Connections), every time you launch IE it will try to connect to the Internet and download your home page. There is something Zen-like about a blank home page. How can you make your homepage blank? Just change it to about:blank The power of the shortcut icon:  The power of the shortcut icon That little IE shortcut icon we talked about a couple of slides ago is like a favorite on steroids. Drag the shortcut icon down to the body of the page to reload that page. Drag and drop the shortcut icon into another program like Word or PowerPoint to copy and paste the URL. Drag the icon to your desktop to make a shortcut to that particular page. Favorites:  Favorites What normal people call “bookmarks,” Internet Explorer calls “favorites.” You might want to remember this—we’re going to be talking about favorites a LOT today. Remember: favorites=bookmarks (and favorites list=bookmarks list) Here are four (of many) ways to make a favorite: Favorites > Add to Favorites Right-click on a hyperlink and choose Add to Favorites... Ctrl + D Drag the shortcut icon to the favorites list and drop it somewhere inside of the list. Organize your Internet Explorer favorites list:  Organize your Internet Explorer favorites list Is this a list or a book by Gibbon?:  Is this a list or a book by Gibbon? Tell the truth: Is your Internet Explorer favorites list neat and organized… or is it an absolutely unorganized mess taking up column after column on your screen? Don’t feel too bad. Most favorites lists resemble Russian novels. The problem is that no one has ever bothered to show us how (or why) to clean up and organize our favorites lists. Editing your favorites list:  Editing your favorites list Microsoft hasn’t helped matters much. Most everyone knows that you can (kind of) clean up your favorites list by going to Favorites > Organize Favorites… Organize Favorites:  Organize Favorites This opens the Organize Favorites window where you can: Create subfolders. Rename favorites. Move a favorite into a subfolder. Delete a favorite. Organize Favorites? ICK!:  Organize Favorites? ICK! I’m not a big fan of the Organize Favorites window. It’s too slow. Its default size is WAY too small. You can only work with one favorite at a time (so, if you have a mess of favorites to organize, using the Organize Favorites window will take just short of forever). Fortunately, there’s a better, simpler, faster, and more powerful way to organize your favorites. Windows to the rescue!:  Windows to the rescue! Your favorites list is actually a (somewhat) hidden folder on your computer. All of your favorites are just text files inside of that hidden folder. In Windows 95, 98, 98SE, and ME, you can find your favorites folder in C:\Windows\Favorites In Windows 2000 and XP, your Favorites folder is kind of buried. Look for it in C:\Documents and Settings\loginname\Favorites (replacing loginname with your Windows user name). Finding your Favorites folder:  Finding your Favorites folder For example, on the Windows XP computer I used to create this PowerPoint Presentation, my loginname is “Administrator”. So my favorites list is in C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Favorites Organizing your Favorites folder:  Organizing your Favorites folder Your Favorites folder works just like any other folder in Windows. If you know simple Windows file management—how to rename files, create folders, drag and drop files into folders—you’re good to go! Renaming a favorite:  Renaming a favorite To rename a favorite, single-click on it with your left mouse button and then press the F2 key. Key in the new name and then press enter. You can also right-click on a particular favorite and choose rename. Creating a subfolder:  Creating a subfolder To create a new subfolder, right-click and choose New > Folder. Key in the folder’s name and then press enter. That’s it! Moving favorites into subfolders:  Moving favorites into subfolders To move a favorite into a subfolder: Click and hold your left mouse button on the favorite. Drag the favorite so that it is on top of the folder into which you’d like to put it. Let go of your mouse button. Why organize?:  Why organize? By organizing your favorites into subfolders—and even sub-subfolders—you make your favorites list a LOT easier to navigate. For example, on my work computer, I have well over 200 favorites in my favorites list. [Don’t tell my boss!] Here’s what my C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Favorites folder looks like Notice the subfolders and even the sub-subfolders And here’s what my favorites list looks like in Internet Explorer::  And here’s what my favorites list looks like in Internet Explorer: Alphabetizing your favorites list:  Alphabetizing your favorites list To alphabetize your favorites list Open the list in Internet Explorer Right-click somewhere on the list Choose Sort by Name You may have to do this in each of your favorites list’s subfolders as well. Oh, and this same trick also works on your PC’s Start menu. You still with me?:  You still with me? Mmm… buttons.:  Mmm… buttons. You know how Internet Explorer has back, forward, stop, and home buttons up at the top of the screen? Did you know that built into IE is a special button bar you can use to create your own custom buttons that load particular web pages, open folders, or even launch applications like bookmarklets? Links:  Links Smushed over on the right side of your IE address bar is something called “Links.” If you are like most Internet users, you’ve never even noticed it. Trust me. It’s there. And it’s going to change the way you use Internet Explorer. The links pull-down list:  The links pull-down list Click on the >> to the right of the word “Links” and a drop-down menu of web sites appears. That’s cool, I guess. But if you change just one simple setting in IE, the links bar becomes MUCH more useful. Unlock the toolbars:  Unlock the toolbars Go to View > Toolbars and select “Lock the Toolbars.” Oddly enough, this unlocks the toolbars… which is exactly what we want to do. If everything works according to plan, the next time you go to View > Toolbars you’ll notice there is no longer a checkbox next to “Lock the Toolbars.” Moving the links bar:  Moving the links bar Click and hold your left mouse button on the word “Links,” drag down, and then let go of your mouse button. This changes the Links from a pull-down list to a horizontal bar. And this is where the real fun begins. Favorites v. links:  Favorites v. links If you’re like most people, your favorites list contains three types of sites: Sites like your webmail account and your favorite online news site that you visit at least once a day. Sites like your bank or favorite magazine site that you visit once a week or so. Sites you’ve visited once, bookmarked, and have never visited again. The last two types of sites absolutely belong on your favorites list. BUT, you’re going to be a LOT happier if you move (or copy) your daily sites from your favorites list to your links bar. Why use the links bar?:  Why use the links bar? Instead of having to hunt down your daily sites inside of your ever-growing favorites list, the links bar lets you create one-click buttons for those sites at the top of your Internet Explorer window. For example, you’ve already seen what my favorites list looks like. Here’s what my links bar looks like: My links bar in action:  My links bar in action Customizing the links bar:  Customizing the links bar To add a favorite to your links bar Drag the web page's icon from the Address bar directly to the links bar. Drag any link from a web page, your Favorites bar, or your desktop onto the links bar. To remove a shortcut from your links bar, right-click on the shortcut and choose Delete. To rearrange shortcuts on your links bar, just drag the shortcut to a new place on your links bar. And, don’t forget, your links folder is located inside of your Favorites folder, so you can edit it there too. Enhance IE with bookmarklets!:  Enhance IE with bookmarklets! What are bookmarklets:  What are bookmarklets You already know that favorites (or “bookmarks”) save the addresses of your favorite web sites so that you don’t have to retype the addresses. Favorites are great, but they don’t really do much more than mark a place on the Internet that you would like to revisit. What are bookmarklets?:  What are bookmarklets? Imagine if there was a way to make a favorite that is more than just a placeholder, one that could Tell you when a web page was last updated. Let you highlight some text on a page and then automatically email that text to your friends and colleagues. Search Google or Yahoo or Roget’s Thesaurus or hundreds of other resources without even having to visit those sites. You can do all that and more with something called “bookmarklets.” Bookmarklets are tiny little JavaScript applications that Netscape and Internet Explorer treat like bookmarks or favorites. Instead of taking you to a web page, however, bookmarklets actually do things. Lemony fresh!:  Lemony fresh! For example, to add a bookmarklet that shows you the time and date a page was last updated Go to Browse to the “page freshness” bookmarklet Add it to your favorites list (ignore the warning—bookmarklets are quite safe) Open your favorites list and click on the page freshness link. That’s it. Here’s what that whole process looks like in semi-real/PowerPoint time: Adding a bookmarklet:  Adding a bookmarklet More fun:  More fun We’ve only just scratched the surface of what you can do with bookmarklets. Hop on over to and take a look at all of the free bookmarklets that are available. There’s even a free tool that lets you create your own personalized bookmarklets. Backup (and, if you want, export) your favorites list:  Backup (and, if you want, export) your favorites list Backing up your favorites list:  Backing up your favorites list Once you’ve got your favorites list (and links bar) organized, it’s a good idea to make a weekly backup copy of it just in case your computer accidentally blows up. Fortunately, backing up your favorites list couldn’t be simpler. Backing up your favorites list:  Backing up your favorites list Just copy your entire Favorites folder to a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, or Zip disk. In Win9X, backup your C:\Windows\Favorites folder. In Win2K/XP, backup your C:\Documents and Settings\loginname\Favorites folder. That’s all there is to it!:  That’s all there is to it! Sharing your favorites list:  Sharing your favorites list Remember how your favorites list is really nothing more than a hidden folder on your computer? How can you share your (newly organized) favorites list with your friends? You could let your friends use your computer, but that isn’t practical. You could zip up your favorites folder and email it to your friends as an attachment. Better still, you can convert your favorites list into a single web page that you can post online or attach to an email. Here’s how: Exporting your favorites list:  Exporting your favorites list In Internet Explorer, go to File > Import and Export… Import/Export Wizard:  Import/Export Wizard This opens Internet Explorer’s little-known Import/Export Wizard. Just follow the on-screen prompts and export your favorites list. So, what happened?:  So, what happened? Internet Explorer converts your entire favorites folder and its content into a single HTML file (a.k.a., “web page”). You can Double-click on the file and view it in IE. Post it to your web site. Email it to your friends. And your original favorites list remains unmolested. Tame AIM!:  Tame AIM! What is instant messaging?:  What is instant messaging? Instant messaging (sometimes called “IM,” “IMing,” or “messenging” [sic]) is the ability to Easily see whether a chosen friend or co-worker is connected to the Internet and, if they are, Exchange text messages with them. Instant messaging differs from ordinary e-mail in that the messages are delivered immediately, making dialog much easier. You like me! You really like me!:  You like me! You really like me! Millions of people send instant messages (or “IMs”) to their friends every day. Why is IM so popular? It’s free. It’s absurdly simple. AOL Instant Messenger:  AOL Instant Messenger There are a gazillion different IM programs out there. The 800 pound gorilla is AOL’s free AOL Instant Messenger (or “AIM”). Just go to, create a free AIM account, and download the free AIM software (or use the AIM Express web interface). AIM’s installation aftermath:  AIM’s installation aftermath Unfortunately, when you install AIM, it does some pretty uncool things: It tries to make your homepage. It adds an AOL Broadband link at the top of your Start menu, to your desktop, and to both your IE links bar and favorites list. Finally, it configures itself so that AIM automatically launches every time your start windows. Nuke those AOL Broadband links, make sure your homepage hasn’t been changed, and then… Configure AIM:  Configure AIM In the bottom right corner of your AIM window is a preferences button. Look for the yellow wrench. Click on it. Kill the autostart:  Kill the autostart In the Sign On/Off Category: Uncheck “Start AIM when Windows Starts.” Uncheck “Show AIM Today window at sign on.” Nuke the sounds:  Nuke the sounds If the “do-do-doot” sound of new AIM messages scares the living heck out of you, go to the IM/Chat Category and click on the Sounds button. Play a sound? Uh, NO!:  Play a sound? Uh, NO! Uncheck all three “Play a sound” checkboxes and then click on the OK button. Other AIM preferences:  Other AIM preferences You can change who can contact you in the Privacy category. You can kill the stock and news tickers in the Stock Ticker and News Ticker categories. You can change your screen font and window color in the Font category. And, of course, you can change your buddy icon in the Buddy Icons category. The IM problem:  The IM problem Even after you’ve tweaked AIM to do what you want it to do, there’s still a problem: You can only send IMs to people who use the same IM program as you. For example, AIM users can’t send IMs to people on Yahoo Messenger and vice versa. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for people to have several IM programs on their PCs. So… If you use IM a lot, check out Trillian Basic:  If you use IM a lot, check out Trillian Basic Image source: Trillian Basic to the rescue:  Trillian Basic to the rescue Trillian Basic is a free IM client that supports AOL Instant Messenger MSN Messenger Yahoo Messenger mIRC ICQ Launch Trillian and you can IM with all of your friends regardless of which IM client they use. How do I get Trillian Basic?:  How do I get Trillian Basic? Go to and search for “trillian”. DON’T click on the “Fast Download” link which will install both Trillian AND Kontiki’s P2P software on your computer. Instead, click on the plain old “Download Now” link. How do I get Trillian Basic?:  How do I get Trillian Basic? Or, better still, go to There’s a professional version for US$25, but stick with the free, “basic” version for now. When you install Trillian, it will automatically import your buddies lists from all of your IM accounts. Update Your Java:  Update Your Java Image source: I love coffee, I love tea…:  I love coffee, I love tea… Java is a large island in the Malay archipelago just south of Borneo. Actually, it is a platform-independent, object-oriented, compiled programming language created by Sun Microsystems. Programmers write Java programs—called “applets”—that automatically download from the web and run on your computer. Image source: For example, there’s a free Java applet on the web called “AirportMonitor” that lets you track all inbound and outbound flights at LAX (and a few other airports). Like most Java applets, just visit the appropriate web site and the applet automatically loads in your web browser. And this might take a while. Is Java safe?:  Is Java safe? Remember how I said that Java applets automatically download from the web and run on your computer? Does that scare you? Considering the number of viruses and Trojan horses out there, do we really want downloaded Java applets auto-executing on our computers? It depends. Playing inside the sandbox:  Playing inside the sandbox Java applets run in something called a “sandbox” (actually it’s called the “Java RunTime Environment”). The sandbox is just a special zone on your computer fenced off from your operating system and other applications. In theory, Java applets can’t get outside of the sandbox and damage your computer. In theory. Java flavors:  Java flavors The problem is that there are two major “flavors” of Java: Microsoft’s (which you already have if you have a PC) and Sun’s (which you don’t have). In Microsoft’s version of Java, the sandbox is better known as “Windows.” Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But, it is not an exaggeration to say that Window’s Java has some pretty significant security holes in the wall between the sandbox and the OS. And that’s a bad thing. A few problems with MSJVM:  A few problems with MSJVM Even worse, Microsoft’s Java Virtual Machine (the software on PCs that runs Java applets) is Buggy, Proprietary, and Not long for this world. Why update your Java?:  Why update your Java? Sun’s version is Newer, Safer, and Official. Microsoft will stop supporting their JVM version on September 30th, 2004. Microsoft recommends that, after 9/30, you lock down Microsoft Internet Explorer security zones so that the MSJVM works only with trusted sites. Here comes the Sun!:  Here comes the Sun! A better solution is to hop on over to, click on the “Get It Now” button, and automatically download and install Sun’s official Java software. Here comes the Sun!:  Here comes the Sun! Sun’s free Java software is available for the PC, Mac, Linux, and (obviously) Sun Solaris. You’ll be asked to reboot once the software is installed. Then what?:  Then what? Once you upgrade to Sun’s Java do you need to uninstall Microsoft’s Java Virtual Machine? Nope! Sun’s Java changes your computer’s file associations so that Microsoft’s JVM is abandoned in place. And that’s perfectly fine. Turn off Windows Messenger:  Turn off Windows Messenger Message for you, sir!:  Message for you, sir! Windows comes with two different messenger programs: MSN Messenger, which you can use to send instant messages to your friends. Windows Messenger, which mainframe and network administrators can use to broadcast emergency text messages to all users. Bad Messenger!:  Bad Messenger! MSN Messenger, the one you use to IM with your friends, is perfectly fine. Windows Messenger, however, can be a tool of pure evil, especially on Windows XP or 2000. Windows Messenger Service can be used by unscrupulous spammers to send you an untraceable pop-up message even if your Internet Explorer is closed. Even worse, a hacker can use the Windows Messenger Service to break into your computer and do all sort of nasty things "including installing programs, viewing, changing or deleting data, or creating new accounts with full privileges." Mmm… spam!:  Mmm… spam! Did you ever get a pop-up message that looks like this thing on the right? That’s a Windows Messenger spam! What’s the solution? SHOOT THE MESSENGER! shootthemessenger.htm: shootthemessenger.htm Steve Gibson has a free, 22 kilobyte file you can download that lets you enable and disable the Windows Messenger service with one click. Microsoft plans to disable the Windows Messenger Service in XP Service Pack 2. Remember::  Remember: MSN Messenger (the IM program) = GOOD. Windows Messenger (the network tool that’s been co-opted by marketeers and hackers) = BAD! Image source: And for our last trick of the day: How to “steal” text in Acrobat:  And for our last trick of the day: How to “steal” text in Acrobat PDFs and Acrobat:  PDFs and Acrobat PDF files (a.k.a., “Adobe Acrobat files”) preserve the layout and appearance of an original document and, with Adobe's free Acrobat reader, can be viewed on almost any type of computer imaginable—PCs, Macs, *nix boxes, handhelds, etc. To learn how to create your own PDF files, check out the June 5th and June 12th, 2003, Tourbus posts at “Stealing” text:  “Stealing” text Adobe’s free Acrobat reader (now simply called “Adobe Reader”) has two built-in tools that you can use to cut-and-paste text from a PDF file into another document provided the author of the PDF file hasn’t disabled content copying or extraction: The snapshot tool takes a photograph of the text you highlight. The select text tool copies and pastes the text you highlight. Acrobat’s text-stealing tools:  Acrobat’s text-stealing tools How the tools work:  How the tools work Both tools work similarly: Click on a particular tool at the top of your Acrobat window (just beneath your links bar). Highlight the text you want to copy. This copies the text to your PC’s internal clipboard. Open the program into which you’d like to paste the text, and then choose Edit > Paste. Because the snapshot tool takes a picture, you won’t be able to edit the text inside of that picture. But you can edit the text you copy using the select text tool. The snapshot tool in action:  The snapshot tool in action The select text tool in action:  The select text tool in action That’s all, folks!:  That’s all, folks!

Add a comment

Related presentations