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Generation Y

generation y

The rise of any co-culture is dependent on the social norms of a particular time period. Nowadays, the main source of recreation and study is the Internet. A hub for both entertainment and business, the Internet attracts millions of users daily. Many of these people belong to the Net Generation or Generation Y. Even though Generation Y is often misunderstood by older generations, they deeply value relationships and community.

Understanding the Status of the Net Generation

People in Generation Y, having matured during the information revolution of the late Eighties and early Nineties, are viewed as young because many of them still reside with their parents. If they are working , they tend to have low-leadership roles and do not have much on-the-job responsibilities.

Some people think that this generation holds fewer authority roles in the workplace and, as a result, makes less money. Generation Y is also an individualistic culture, since most of its members are aware of their status as Millenials. Other dominant cultures, like Baby Boomers and Generation X, judge the substance and relevancy of Generation Y.

Older members of society often categorize younger adults as being impetuous because they do not conform easily to groupthink. Generation Y is viewed as having thrill seekers who do not hold themselves accountable for their actions. Generation Y makes decisions based mainly on their group climate, which is known as the digital age.

The Effect of Media Communications in the Digital Age

During Web-based times, everything moves quickly, which makes Generation Y rush to solve problems. Lack of rational thought and impetuousness are stereotypical qualities of Generation Y that have been perpetuated by media communications in the Twenty-first Century.

Another perceived characteristic of Generation Y is obsession. Many people believe that this generation is obsessed with computers, the Internet, and other forms of electronic technology. From Facebook to Twitter, there are many online services that cater to this co-culture. Older generations find Generation Y preoccupied with digital tools, such as email, cell phones, and the World Wide Web.

The Solution to Stereotyping Millenials

The only way to stem the tide of generation stereotyping is to increase communication between co-cultures. This will reduce negative elements, such as prejudice and distrust. If people talk and listen, they can make interpersonal communication better. Feedback will flow easily along channels from the elderly to the young. Everyone will learn to appreciate differences.

Generation Y has often been described as immature, irrational, and obsessive. These stereotypes are based on false impressions fueled by the media or mass communication. People who live all over the world participate in selective perception of Generation Y.

Because of the rapidly advancing digital culture, Generation Y not only grows up faster, but also learns how to use technology earlier. Other co-cultures will better understand Generation Y, once they acknowledge these differences without fear or prejudice. Through active, interpersonal communication, the entire global community will be able to appreciate Generation Y.

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How Searching the Web Affects Long-term Brain Functioning

As technology becomes more and more integrated into daily life, parents and teachers worry that it is causing people to lose their ability to think. Will people have less able long term memories if they can instantly recall data via their iPhone? Will people lose their spatial awareness if they can program their GPS devices to direct them everywhere?

Two recent studies focused on Internet searching behavior shed light on the subject. Taken together, they show that while extended use of new technologies definitely affects the brain, the effect is neither negative nor positive. The human brain has always learned from and adapted to new circumstances. More important to long-term brain behaviors and abilities is the interaction between an Internet search and the user’s goal.

Searching the Internet to Learn

Researchers at Penn State have sought to define Internet search behavior in terms of a learning model. People have different learning reasons for searching the Internet at different times, and thus different brain functioning. In their study, “Using the taxonomy of cognitive learning to model online searching,” (Elsevier, June 2009) Jensen et al. asked participants to complete Internet searches designed to access specific low to high levels of learning – remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.

The Task Determines the Search Behavior

Researchers tracked “number of queries, query length, unique terms, number of topics, session duration, [and] number of result pages viewed” for each of 476 searching tasks to determine whether different learning goals resulted in different types of searches. When participants were applying and analyzing they used more search terms, stayed online longer, and found more sources of information than when remembering and understanding. This difference is not entirely unexpected since applying and organizing are higher level tasks than remembering and understanding.

Interestingly, evaluating and creating (the highest level tasks) looked similar to remembering and understanding in terms of online searching behavior. The researchers hypothesize that when users evaluate or create, they look for facts in their online searches. They then rely on their own intellect, creativity, and decision making skills to complete the tasks offline.

The Penn State study showed that people’s behavior varies according to the task at hand. Thus, people are adapting new technologies to their own unique purposes rather than blindly following links. At UCLA’s Center for Aging, Dr. Gary Small and his colleagues proved that not only does only behavior vary, but brain patterns can vary as well.

Online Searching Activates the Brain

In “Your Brain on Google: Patterns of Cerebral Activation during Internet Searching,” (American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, February 2009), Small et al. reported that conducting online searches activates all of the same brain functioning as reading plus some more. The researchers performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) on subjects age 55-75 while they did two different tasks – searching the Internet for information requested by the researchers and reading a text about the same information.

Both tasks activated brain regions controlling language, reading, memory and visual functioning. For half of the subjects in the study, the Internet was a relatively unfamiliar experience. The other half of the subjects were considered experienced Internet users. For the experienced Internet users only, the search for information activity also activated areas of the brain controlling decision making and complex reasoning.

Seniors can use the Internet to Problem Solve

Just as in the Penn State study, users were not simply pointing and clicking, but using the Internet to augment a problem solving process. The authors cautiously attribute the results to the specific nature of the Internet and suggest that it may be helpful for aging adults to learn to use the Internet in order to alter their brains’ abilities to problem solve.

These studies point to the fact that new technologies are neither brain destroying nor brain enhancing. Rather, it is the task that matters. Searching to learn, expanding one’s horizons, stretching one’s intellect, and trying unfamiliar tasks exercise the brain whether they are done online or with traditional tools like encyclopedias and newspapers.

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Advantages Of Metro Ethernet over T1 or T3 (DS3)

metro ethernet
More and more business operations of modern days rely on the Internet connectivity. The resource hungry technologies that play an integral role in today's businesses have made it inevitable to embrace the newer and more advanced methods of connectivity between operational sites. The speed of business and the reliability of data transfers have become most important factors of business operation thus requiring the implementation of better connectivity modes over WAN.

Though a large amount of carrier bandwidth is available at decent prices, the metropolitan connectivity is affected by last mile delay. This has a significant impact on the overall operation of the WAN. An easy and cost effective transition to Metro Ethernet could address this issue. Metro Ethernet is a carrier Ethernet technology that is built in accordance with the WAN (Wide Area Network) implementation requirements and at the same time compatible with Ethernet used by the end systems. This Carrier Ethernet technology is provisioned for MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) connectively and hence the name Metro Ethernet.

Metro Ethernet Advantages

Speed issues with T1 and T3 lines: The main advantage of the Metro Ethernet over a T1 or T3 line is the carrier speed. Generally, T1 lines run at a fixed speed of 1.5 Mbps, which could further be increased by bonding several lines together to a maximum speed of 12Mbps. While better speeds could be achieved by bonding more T1 lines, it turns out to be very expensive by the time 10Mbps speed is achieved. A better and cost effective solution would be a T3 (Ds3) line with about 45Mbps over a fiber-optic cable.

Metro Ethernet when provisioned over a fiber optic cable could provide a flexible variation of speeds equivalent to 10Mbps (Ethernet), 100Mbps (Fast Ethernet) and 10,000Mbps (Gigabit Ethernet). With such flexibility, Metro Ethernet further makes it desirable with lower costs in comparison to lease lines with T1 or T3 as the Metro Ethernet providers tend to have nationwide backbones and local fibers dedicated to the metropolitan areas.

ME as a cost effective solution: Apart from the high speed advantages, Metro Ethernet also provides better and cost effective solutions to lower bandwidth requirements with the Ethernet over Copper (EoC). As the name suggests, the Ethernet over Copper is similar to T1 lines provisioned over multiple copper pairs but with a different modulation technology. The unique modulation of the EoC aids a more efficient packet transmission over lesser distances. Ethernet over Copper lines can be obtained at different transmission rates from 1Mbps to 50Mbps, generally charged per Mbps.

Metro Ethernet Availability: Another advantage of the Metro Ethernet is the availability as other lease line connectivity modes like T1 and T3 are dependent on the phone lines provided but the telecom companies. Though it is rare to experience a downtime in lease line connectivity, any little down time could be disastrous to a large business or even a time sensitive small business.

Metro Ethernet Limitations

Though the Metro Ethernet lines can be obtained and operated at much lesser costs than T1 and T3 lines with equivalent speeds, it could be more profitable to keep T1 lines at a place where Metro Ethernet lines are yet to venture especially for lower speed requirements. This is due to the fact that the availability of Metro Ethernet connectivity is limited to availability of fiber-optic cables while the T1 and T3 connectivity could be achieved anywhere with a valid phone line.

However, if a higher bandwidth is required, Metro Ethernet could be very effective both in the sense of total cost and availability. Hence a time sensitive and bandwidth hungry business would need Metro Ethernet connectivity, especially when the existing T1 and T3 lease line maintenance costs are crawling upwards due to bundling of lines.

Gmail - Google's Email


Gmail Conversations

Let's say that someone emails you, you email them back, they email you again all using the reply field in your email. All of these emails will be saved together as one conversation. When you click on one of the emails you will see all three. On the left side of the screen is a link that says "Expand All".

Click on this to open all the emails in a conversation. Click on "Collapse All" to close all the emails in a conversation except the one you want to read. When a new email is received that is part of the conversation the whole conversation is moved to the top of the Inbox.

Gmail Labels

Labels are kind of like folders in other email programs, but not quite. With other email programs you can create folders to move your email messages to so you can organize them a little better. Labels can be used the same way but there is a big difference. You can label something and still keep it in your Inbox.

When you label something you can then archive it. When something is archived it is no longer seen from the Inbox. If you want to view all emails with that label then you click on the link for the label found on the left hand column of the page. All emails with that label can be seen from this link, even those that are also in the Inbox. An email can have more than one label if you want it to.

To create a label click on the "Settings" link on the top, right of the page. On the Settings page click on "Labels". You'll see a box called "Create a new label". Put in the name of your label here and click "Create".

To add a label to an email go back to your inbox and check the box next to the email you want to add the label to. You'll see a drop down box above where your email are listed. The box currently says "More Actions" in it. Pull down the menu and click on the label name that you want to use. You'll see the name of the label show up right before the Subject title of your email.

To archive this email and remove it from your Inbox make sure the check box next to the email is checked and click on the "Archive" box.

Gmail Filters

A filter is a way to have a label automatically added to an email when it comes in or to have the email be archived before it ever hits your Inbox. This is great if you belong to an email group and you don't want it overstuffing your Inbox with emails or if you just like to have your emails stay organized and out of your Inbox.

At the top of the page is a small link that says "Create a filter", click on this. The other way to get to this same page is to click on "Settings" and then on "Create a filter", they both take you to the same page. Fill out your search criteria and click on "Next Step". On the next page you can choose which filter, if any, you want to add to these emails. You can also choose whether or not you want the email to show up in your Inbox or not. You can also have the email deleted before you even see it. Then click "Create Filter".

Sign Up For Gmail

Gmail has a lot more to offer but these are the main features. To sign up for Gmail go to the Gmail Homepage. If you can't sign up for Gmail from there send me your email address and I will send you a Gmail invite.

Proper Behavior for Online Employers and Virtual Workers

virtual workers behavior

One area where offline and online environments intersect is human behavior. Though most Internet users enjoy, if not value, anonymity, this does not negate the essence of showing good behavior when socializing online.

Technical glitches excepted, it is perceived rude to ignore an email sent by someone you already know, or to leave a chat mate waiting for your reply without saying "Bye" or without informing her/him that you have to do something else.

It is also not nice to join a site forum or a chat room and attack fellow chatters with racist, insensitive, and hurtful comments. In the work context, proper behavior for online employers and telecommuting workers requires professionalism, open communication, and respect.

What does it mean to be professional?

Being professional can help an online applicant secure a job offer. It can also lead to more work and other potential opportunities. Professionalism is observed when an online worker does and finishes a task at a given time. Ideally, such judicious competence underlines the need for submitting quality work.

There are those, however, who forgo quality in exchange for meeting a deadline. A worker then needs to be careful in doing her/his online job to avoid tarnishing not just the kind of product s/he delivers, but her/his name as well. If completing it conflicts with a personal errand, s/he knows what to prioritize. Otherwise, it is better that s/he inform or negotiate with the employer to give her/him a modified deadline.

A professional online employer, on the other hand, does not post fraudulent ads on job sites. S/He has a legitimate business identity and offers a potential employee a good reward and benefits scheme. Exploiting workers is not part of her/his value system and business ethics. For instance, many online ads for freelance writers offer a measly payment.

This shows that people who paid for these posts think that writing articles is easy. But serious writers often do research and spend time rewriting and editing their work before submitting the final one. Thus, offering less than a dollar to $10 per article is deemed unfair, if not exploitative.

Why open communication is necessary

Being able to talk to one's boss while doing a job makes communication an integral element in maintaining a good online work relationship. The lines should always be open for the good of both parties.

This aids transparency and helps build trust. Emails, phone calls, chats, and every other medium that can facilitate the communication process are important. Questions, suggestions, and anything else related to work that needs to be resolved can only be addressed through open and honest communication.

Importance of respect

Being a professional and able to communicate involves respect. Respect entails valuing the time and resources that both employer and worker can offer each other. This also plays a crucial role most particularly in handling differences. Both parties should use words that they would not regret expressing.

Online communication does have its own nuances. Consequently, misunderstandings can happen. Both parties then should be mindful of the words they use. In cases of serious disagreements, it is still vital to settle issues before either party decides to terminate the relationship.

Good behavior knows no boundaries

Professionalism, open communication, and respect are all important in creating and maintaining good online work relationships. These not only ensure trust and a good name for both employers and workers, but they also preserve human dignity even in the virtual realm.

Advantages and Issues of Having Home-based Online Jobs

Similar to the real world, finding the right online work and doing it are not easy feats. Unlike offline, however, many online jobs could be done at home. Employers across the globe provide these opportunities. Several companies, as well as universities with distance learning programs, have been outsourcing jobs to and contracting workers from local communities and developing countries.

home based job

Call centers, computer firms, and small enterprises, among others, employ online workers. Positions range from customer care agents, website builders, transcribers, and content writers to curriculum developers, tutors, researchers, and virtual assistants. Doing online work from home then could mean telecommuting or marketing and supervising a business.

Advantages of telecommuting

Working from home allows parents to have an income while taking care of their children. It allows professionals to be their own boss. For full-time employees and students, the Internet can also provide them part-time jobs that they can do at night and during weekends, such as online writing, data encoding, and answering customer calls.

Certainly, online jobs help struggling workers to earn extra cash. These also provide them some control over when and where they like to work. Of course, how to do the job depends on what it is about and its requirements.

Issues of doing online jobs at home

In spite of its advantages, doing online work at home also has its risks and drawbacks:
  • Low compensation and zero benefits
Though they provide money and occasional promotion, online jobs rarely offer a high salary. They also do not have a benefits package that is typically given to office or company employees. Such package may include health insurance, subsidized tuition, paid vacation leaves, and other non-cash rewards.
  • Erratic work time and inadequate rest
The time allotted for work is influenced by other concerns. Stay-at-home parents still have to do house chores. Others run errands for loved ones. Unless one prefers doing his/her job beyond regular work hours or is more productive at night, not a few online workers stay awake until midnight or until early morning. Some even sacrifice their weekends to complete a task or to meet a deadline. The lack of sleep takes a toll on their health, even among insomniacs, as it can lead to poor concentration, depression, and weight problems.
  • Absence of or minimal legal protection for online workers (and online employers too)
Unless both employer and worker value their relationship that is mostly based on trust, the lack of a regulating and monitoring body to set online work standards makes either party vulnerable to cheating and exploitation. No institutional mechanism is set up to receive and process complaints about online work arrangements.
This is especially true at the national level even if the country is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Nonetheless, there are a few sites that have policies on settling employer-worker disputes which may result in the termination of either party's subscription or membership privileges depending on the nature of the offense.

Weighing options

Certainly, the virtual world is as imperfect as the people who created it. It is also as imperfect as the real world. It is best then that online employers, telecommuting employees, and virtual job applicants be aware of the pros and cons of engaging in a web-based work relationship.

Keep Your Kids Safe

The internet is a wonderful place, but it has it's dark side. There are stalkers, pornographers, thieves and all manner of evil people lurking everywhere, just like in real life. People who want to steal your money, corrupt your morals, bend your ethics or worse, people who want to target your children.
computer using

Your kids are not safe on the internet. Not at all. Don't even think they are safe for a moment. There are dangers lurking everywhere, and if you let your kids run wild they will get hurt.

What can you do? First, get educated. Unfortunately, there are not a whole lot of books available on the subject. You MUST educate yourself for your kid's sake.

You also need to equip your computer with one of the special filters so that your children cannot venture into inappropriate areas. There are several available including Cyber Patrol and Net Nanny.

If your browser includes any built-in filters then turn them on by all means! If you use AOL, be sure to go through all of the parental controls carefully and turn off everything that might cause trouble. Also check the major search engines - many of them have the ability to turn on a "child safe" mode. If so, turn these on also.
aol logo

Most importantly, talk to your children. Explain to them what's happening and what to avoid. Let them know the dangers. Get them to tell you when undesirable things (such as pornographic spam emails) appear.

And watch them. Monitor their activities directly (by being with them and helping them surf the web) and indirectly (by checking their cookie files, browser caches and history lists). You might consider placing the computer in a common room such as the family room, or at least in a place that is visible from where you normally are at. This way you can watch over your children as they work and play on the computers.

Make sure you tell your children some simple rules, always explaining the reasons behind everything. Especially stress that they are not to give out any information about themselves to anyone on-line. This includes their name, age, phone number or anything else. Stress this over and over.

Monitor the time spent on the internet. Beware of excessive time spent on the internet by any children.

Also monitor what you children are looking at when you are not around. You can do this by checking the browser cache, examining the history folder, looking in the recycle bin and so forth.

If you are going to allow your kids to get on the internet, then this is the only responsible thing to do.

The Internet Brings People Together

One of the great things about the internet is how it is bringing together people. The internet is the greatest communication media in the history of mankind, and as such it is allowing people to communicate who in the past would never even have dreamed of talking.

internet connection

The philosophy that I follow is to use the internet to find new friends, build up relationships and enjoy talking with others all over the world. It's amazing that such barriers as race, religion and sex just seem to fall apart the more people talk. And the internet is definitely blurring those lines.

Currently I am a member of a number of email groups. What these do is allow me to create a single message and send it to everyone on the list. This is not spam, as everyone on the list has agreed to receive messages from everyone else. It is important, as always with this kind of communications, to stay on topic. If you do you can find yourself in some fascinating conversations with hundreds or even thousands of people at a time.

For example, I sent out an email to one of my lists (a social club kind of group) asking what would be a good present for my kid. I got back dozens of responses and it helped me get a great present.

Newsgroups are another good way to communicate, although they are not as good as email lists. I've found that newsgroups tend to get clogged with spam and off-topic junk very quickly, sometimes to the point where they are useless. However, if you can find a group with some strong contributors, you can really begin to understand what an internet community is all about.

Another good way to use the internet for communication is message boards. These do tend to fill up with spam sometimes, but they are great places to have a discussion. I believe that all webrings should include a message board so that webring members can communicate. After all, everyone who has joined presumably has a common interest already, so why not add a little community spirit?

By adding email groups, message boards, webrings and similar things to your web site, you can increase your traffic greatly. This is because people have a new reason to visit your site - to get involved in your community. By creating or joining web communities, you can also gain customers and a few friends.

One of the great things about the Internet is it brings people together. People who would normally never even come close to communicating are now chatting, emailing and talking every day. My wife is a member of numerous discussion groups in which she's helping others solve family crisises, trading recipes, signing guestbooks and sending e-cards.

If you really want to be part of a group of great people, I suggest you check out Random Acts Of Kindness. This is a great group of people who enjoy talking with and helping each other. The concept is simple: just perform one act of kindess each day, randomly. This could be as simple as singing a guestbook or two, or sending an ecard or whatever else you can think of. RAOK also has half a dozen webrings you can join, and numerous other activities going on all of the time.

Another great group is Misker's Den-izens. These people are great! Nice, down-to-earth people who just want to share friendship.

brings people together

These are just two examples of the many, many social groups on the web. Others include Inner Dreams, Netdudes, Phenomenal Women of the web, Sisters of the Golden Moon and many, many others. Be assured that there will be one or more groups on the Internet for you.

If you want to start your own group, you can add many different things to your own web site. People who sign up for your list will be able to send messages to everyone else on the list. It's a great way to have a group discussion, although it can create a heck of a lot of email traffic.

You will almost certainly want to add a message board to your web site. You can visit http://www.insidetheweb.com/ for some excellent services. Both services are highly customizable, easy-to-use and fast.

Another site you absolutely must check out is http://www.bravenet.com/, which includes an incredible number of services and things to plug into your web sites. You can create message boards, forums, chat rooms, guestbooks or mail lists, among other things.

You can, of course, start lurking in your favorite newsgroups, then start posting information. Be careful here about SPAM, as many newsgroups will report you to your ISP at the merest hint of advertising. A simple one or two line signature on your newsgroup posts directing people to your web site is all the advertising you should do.

Look through the resources that I've mentioned in this article and make your own decision. It takes some work to be a member of a group, and it takes even more work to create your own. But the rewards in terms of satisfaction and traffic to your site can be huge.


If you spend any time at all watching the news lately you should know something about computer viruses. They are getting pretty scarey lately, with some real bad ones on the loose. It's almost enough to unplug your computer and swear off the internet forever.


Don't do that. There are ways to protect yourself. And if you do connect to the internet in any way (or get files from an outside source) YOU MUST INSTALL ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE ON YOUR COMPUTER. In addition, you must keep the virus definitions up to date.

To buy some anti-virus software, check out some sites with suggestions and choose one of the programs offered. I prefer Norton Anti-virus - it's one of the best all-around solutions.

In addition to purchasing an anti-virus program, it would be a good idea to periodically check out the virus research sites. By reading through these on a regular basis (once a month perhaps), you will gain a better understanding of what is going on and how to protect yourself.

A very good place to start is the Symantec Anti-Virus Research Center (SARC for short). This site always has great information as well as a full blown, online virus encyclopaedia. When you visit this site for the first time, be sure and subscribe to their monthly newsletter.

Another good site to check out is Content Technologies. These guys create software which scans emails and web pages for undesirable words and phrases as well as viruses. I've found their site (under Threatlab) is a great place to get data about the most recent virus threats. They also have a newsletter which is great for keeping up to date.

The site run by McAfee also has great information, and they also send out periodic newsletters to your email. Register for their service (it's free) in order to gain access to their online database.

An excellent site to visit once a month or so is the Microsoft Security site at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/default.asp. If you use Microsoft products at all you should subscribe to the security bulletin and visit this site occasionally. This will help you plug the security holes in your Microsoft products as soon as patches are released.

And, of course, the best advice is to beware of opening emails and files (executables) from unknown sources. If you follow this practice, read materials from the above sites regularly, install and regularly update your anti-virus softeware, than you should be fine.

What's So Special About the Internet?

In this article I'm going to give you a special secret - a secret and tip so powerful, so life-changing that you will never be the same. Read on and learn. The internet (which includes the world wide web, email, newsgroups, discussion lists and many other things) will change the world. I'll go even further - the internet is the biggest change to human society since the wheel was invented.


But wait a minute? The internet is just about surfing around, looking at stuff, chatting with people, and maybe buying something now and then. Isn't it? What's so special about that? I mean, couldn't we always talk to people, buy something and go to the mall and window shop? The internet doesn't change anything, right?

Wrong. Think about it for a minute. You are now connected to literally everyone (potentially at least) on the entire planet. Currently (and this statistic changes daily) you can directly communicate with over 300,000,000 people! In a few years this may top a billion, all available almost instantly!

Never before in human history have so many people had the opportunity to talk to one another.

It gets even better. The other day I surfed to a web site which was in another language. It was in Italian. Normally, say if this was a book, I would have moved on and read something else, but the site looked interesting. So I pulled up a dandy translation tool and within a few minutes I had a decent translation of the page! I could now communicate with someone with whom I didn't even share a common language. That's fantasic!

I needed to write an article on relationships and marriage and I wanted some data. Years ago this would have required going to a library, searching through magazines and books for articles that I wanted. Not these days. I put in my request to a search engine and, after a few tries to get the proper search, I had exactly the references that I needed to complete my article. What would have required perhaps days took less than ten minutes!

You need another example? I needed to buy a CD for my wife. The CD was not easy to find, and I dreaded the search. Using the proper search engines I was able to find what I wanted within minutes, and in less time than it takes me to heat a TV dinner I had the CD ordered and on it's way to my house.

In my field I often need expert consultants very quickly. A machine is down or our email system stops working and I need an answer NOW. Just a quick jump onto the internet, post to the right newsgroups and discussion lists, and in a short time I have exactly what I need.

Wow. I could go on and on. The internet gives you (and everyone) incredible power and control over your environment. And that's the incredible secret and the tip of a lifetime.

You can use the internet in any way that you see fit. You have at your fingertips such an incredible tool that there is, for the first time in history, almost nothing to stand in your way. You've got a product to sell, using the internet you can let people know (without spamming of course) and sell it for little or no cost. You've got an opinion which needs to be told, you can post it to a newsgroup.

You want to tell the entire world about what a great person you are, you can just create a web site and submit it to the search engines. You can even add pictures, sound and movies if you want!

Maybe you want to start a company! You can do it for very little cost without even renting an office on the internet. Maybe you've even got a closet full of old paperback books that you are never going to read - go to an auction site, post their descriptions, and most likely you will find someone who wants to buy them.

You like to talk? Find a chat room and have at it. You like to write poetry? You can easily find a hundred places that will publish it - and if you can't, you can publish it yourself.

For the first time in history, you can do anything that you want from your apartment or your house. Take advantage of this opportunity and the world is yours to enjoy.

Privacy On The Internet

So you think you're pretty safe on the internet? You've got your firewall to protect against hackers, you've got your antivirus software installed and up-to-date, and you are doing backups regularly.

You're safe, right?

Depends upon how you define safe.

Yes, you've done the critical, most important things to protect yourself from the obvious dangers. If you've done the things listed in the first paragraph, you should pat yourself on the back, because you are better protected than 90% of the people on the internet.

internet privacy

However, there is another danger that has been surfacing in the news lately, and it is a much more subtle, insidious monster. This is the danger to your privacy.

All right, why do you care about this? It's actually very important. Let's say you are using one of those grocery programs where you get a card which you use every time you go shopping. You get a discount and the store gets to better understand you're buying habits. Fair exchange, right?

If that's as far as it went, all would be fine. But look at the ugly possibilities. This data could be sold to advertisers (it is actually incredibly valuable). Worse yet, if you were, let's say, being sued, the data could be used in a court of law against you. After all, the store has recorded your transactions. The items purchased, dates, times and so forth. If your wife was divorcing you, she could prove you were an alcoholic if the store's records showed you purchasing lots of beer and liquor.

On the internet it gets even more alarming. If you are anything like me, the web is so convenient that you are doing literally everything from the comfort of your chair. I use the internet yellow pages to find phone numbers, mapping sites to give me directions, shopping sites to make purchases, and hundreds of other sites to make life easier.

On top of that, I use AllAdvantage to make a little extra money and I surf using Yahoo as my start page. I belong to hundreds of webrings. I use the web to sign up for credit cards and to pay my bills.

All of this is recorded. Underneath it all is a system of cookies, web bugs, log files, and databases that, if put all together, could give someone quite a picture of, well, me. Or at least what I've been doing on the web.

Theoretically (at least for now), someone could get the records from DoubleClick and similar advertisers and combine that with the records from the pay-to-surf program and know exactly my surfing habits.

All of this data could be used, in theory at least, in a court of law (although they would have to prove it was actually ME using the computer at the time). It could be used: - by employers before making a hiring decision (we don't like people who surf the Time Magazine site as they are a competitor, for example), - insurance companies before granting insurance (you have been using that very convenient medical site to record all of your prescriptions, haven't you?) - Credit card companies before granting credit (and you thought the credit bureau's were scary - imagine if they had access to literally everything you've done on the web). - by prospective dates (hey, now that's a service you could make a fortune off of - check out your dates surfing habits before meeting him or her. Imagine what you could find out...) - by the police to determine guilt (fairly obvious) - by the courts to prove or disprove a case (your honor, the records show he surfed those sites on the following dates, thus proving he had an interest in ...)

Let your imagination run wild. It could ALL happen.

Okay, now I've got you good and scared. What do you do?

First of all, don't panic. Most of this information is not yet available (and may never be available) in any form that anyone could easily use. In addition, there is some (but not enough) legal protection against quite a bit of this kind of thing.

Second, start getting educated on internet privacy. Just go to your favorite search engine and type in "internet privacy". You'll get a few good articles to read.

Third, read the privacy policies on the various web sites that you visit before you fill out their forms and use their services. How are they going to use this data?

Forth, get a good cookie manager program. Sometimes you do want cookies and sometimes you don't. The options in all of the browsers simply do not give you enough control, so you need a cookie manager to get that control.

You may also want to look at ad blocking software. The product I recommend is Norton Internet Security 2000 (check out the cookie article above for more information).

We are planning on writing several more articles on internet privacy over the next few months. This is an important issue and it is only going to get worse and more complicated as time goes on.

Research On the Internet

The internet and the world wide web is far and away the greatest single achievement for improving research abilities in the history of mankind. Some things that I will never do again because I can do them better, faster and more completely on the internet include:

- Using a library (well, unless it was to find something that was available nowhere else)

- scanning the white pages

- trying to find something in the yellow pages

- checking the classified section of a newspaper

- subscribing to a paper magazine

- owning a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica (and replacing it every 5 years!)

- Using a hardcopy dictionary

- Trying to find out how to get to a place with a paper map

- calling directory assistance to get a phone number

The list goes on and on. Why would anyone, for example, keep a phone book handy? The thing is out-of-date before it is printed. It's large and difficult to store. It fills our landfills with trash. It can be difficult to find what you want. On the other hand, on the internet you can just go to any number of the phone directory sites, enter a name and get a phone number back. Always up-to-date, not stored in your apartment and it does not fill up our trashcans with still more paper.

Man, the problem is not a lack of sites providing research tools. The problem is there are so many places to get research done that it's hard to find what you want.

Where to start? Just start surfing. Check out http://www.britannica.com for your encyclopedia. Then go to http://www.dictionary.com/ for your dictionary. I like http://www.yellowpages.com/ for the yellow pages. Sites like http://www.yahoo.com and http://www.excite.com are also great places to start looking for things.