Q. When I download a file from the Internet, I'm usually presented with a choice of locations from which I can download. I usually pick the one that's closest to where I live, but most of the time it seems like a very slow download. Is there an advantage to choosing distant location?
A. If you're planning to download from a location that's close to you during Internet rush hour -- and Internet rush hour is primarily during the evening hours -- it can be to your advantage to select a site in another part of the world. For example, when it's early evening in your area, it could be mid-day in Japan, when traffic to the download site from that area might be slower.
While there's no guarantee this will work, it's often the case that you can download faster from a site located half way around the world than you can locally. Better living through technology.
Q. I've heard that whenever I visit a Web site, my address is recorded somewhere on the site. How much can somebody learn about me from this information?
A. When you visit any Web site, you are leaving a trail of cyber breadcrumbs behind you in the form of your IP (Internet Protocol) address. Your IP address is a string of numbers separated by periods, e.g. 218.104.22.168. How much information is obtainable depends where you get your IP address. Never get your IP address from a man selling them from the back of a '62 Chevy with Elvis paintings and jumbo shrimp. However, if you dial into an ISP (Internet Service Provider), you are typically assigned a dynamic IP address that will only reveal the identity of your ISP -- for example, that you're accessing from America Online or JiffyNet. Permanent IP addresses are assigned by large companies to employees with full-time connections. These IP addresses could be used to identify both the company and the individual user, but not what you had for breakfast or what's green, fuzzy, and growing in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator.
Q. Is there a quick way to send the address of a Web page to a friend? I'm using AOL.
A. You can easily send the URL (Uniform Resource Locator or Web address) of a Web page you're viewing by pressing Ctrl + M to open a new email message window. Next, drag the Favorite icon from the title bar of the window with the Web page you're viewing into the email window. This will copy the Web address into your email message which you can then send to one or more recipients.
Q. I need to install a joystick so my kids can play games. How do I do that?
A. Just follow these seven simple steps and your kids will be jumping for joy:
1. Shut down your computer.
2. Find the joystick port. It's usually located on the sound card, just above or below the audio connections on the back of your computer.
3. Plug the joystick into the port.
4. Restart your computer. When it's fully booted and you're looking at your Windows Desktop, select Start > Settings > Control Panel.
5. Open the Game Controller icon and select the General tab.
6. Click the Add button and select your joystick from the list displayed. It might appear by name or you might need to select the kind of joystick it is, such as a two-button, four-button, or flight yoke.
7. Once you've made your selection, click OK and you're done.
Mr. Modem's Web Sites of the Week:
America Remembers 9-11
Hosted by CNN.com, this site is a repository of remembrances associated with September 11, 2001. Categories include "The Events," "The Cleanup," "Fighting Terrorism," and "A Changed World." The "Faces of 9-11" section not only includes portraits of the victims, but word and visual profiles of the many heroes, as well.
Farmers Market Locator
If roughage is your life, click on the U.S. map to locate the farmer's markets in your area for the freshest veggies anywhere.
This site covers everything from televised cigarette ads to Saturday morning
commercials, from Superman to Maude. Remember Cal Worthington and his dog Spot or kids' shows like Winky Dink or the '70s Zoom? Loaded with video and audio clips, at TV Party you'll find all the gossip, scandal, song, dance, and drama of television from the 40s through the 80s. Reality TV, eat your heart out!
(Would you like prompt, personal responses to your computer questions, plus easy-to-understand tips, virus alerts, Web sites, hoax warnings and more? Mr. Modem's weekly newsletter delivers! For additional information, visit www.MrModem.com.)