Q. Is there any way to stop a document from printing once it starts? Sometimes I accidentally click the Print button by mistake and waste a lot of paper in the process.
A. I just hate it when that happens, but there's an easy way to bail out and save the rain forests in the process: Click Start > Settings > Printers or double-click the little printer icon in the Systray, beneath the time display. When the Printers window opens, double-click the icon for your printer and the Print Queue will appear with a list of your print jobs. Right-click the job you want to stop and select Cancel Printing, which will cause that job to disappear from the list. If it's a large print job, your printer may print out a few more pages before it stops, since those pages are already "spooled" or ready to print.
Q. I'd like to be able to visit Web sites anonymously. Can you suggest the best way to do that?
A. Even your question was submitted anonymously, but rest assured questions from witnesses under federal protection are always welcome. A service known as The Anonymizer (www.anonymizer.com) makes you invisible while surfing. You surf the Web through the Anonymizer which prevents sites from tracking your online explorations. Normally, you would have to start your surfing at the Anonymizer Web site, but if you download the free Anonymizer Privacy Toolbar, you'll have an on-off switch located within Internet Explorer so you can become invisible at the click of a button.
Q. I've been reading about something called Boolean operators and I know they have to do with searching for information on the Internet. Every time I've seen an explanation, I don't understand it. Can you help?
A. Occasionally called Boolean "expressions," these nifty little words are "qualifiers" that when used with keywords, can broaden or narrow a search engine query. FUBOs (frequently used Boolean operators) include AND, OR, and NOT, IF, THEN and EXCEPT. For example, searching for "tuna AND Charlie" narrows the search. Searching for "tuna NOT Charlie" broadens the search; or "pets NOT snakes" will return references to pets, but excluding references to snakes as pets. At least that's the theory. For more information, read the "Boolean Searches" article in the Mr. Modem Online Library at www.MrModem.com
Mr. M's Geekspeak Translator: Spider
To harvest information about the Web's zillions of pages, a search engine uses special software robots, called spiders, to catalog the words found on Web sites. The process of a spider looking at pages and building its lists is called spidering or Web crawling.
When spiders have digested all the Web page information they can, rather than storing a list of all the words and the URLs, the words in the index are "weighted." The idea is to give increasing values to words that represent the main ideas on a page. Each commercial search engine has a different formula for assigning weight to the words in its index, which is one of the reasons that a search for the same word using different search engines will produce different results, with the pages presented in different order.
Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:
Crash Test Results
Information from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that evaluates the risk of various injuries for particular models of automobiles. Search by clicking on the make of the car you're interested in and then scrolling to find your model and year in the color-coded chart. Most models also include data on death rate, head injury, collision claims, and other cheery topics.
The best of libraries, news, dictionaries, thesauruseseses, encyclopedias, maps and more, all gathered in one convenient -- er, um, well, spot, on the Web. Hint: If the Web site text is too small to read, click View > Text Size and increase the size of the letters.
Operation Dear Abby
Send a personal message to men and women in the U.S. military or read what others have sent. Originally created to send holiday greetings, you can now send messages to troops stationed in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world. Founded by Dear Abby in association with the U.S. Dept. of Defense, supporters include the AARP and Larry King.
(For prompt, personal answers to your computer questions, subscribe to Mr. Modem's weekly newsletter at www.MrModem.com. Read Mr. Modem's column each month in "Smart Computing" magazine. For a free issue, visit www.MrModem.com and click the "Smart Computing/Mr. Modem" logo.)