Check out our bi-weekly Net perspective. Our goal is to make these columns useful for our readers whether they be novice or pro, while still offering a fun to read column. Feel free to let us know what Internet resources you find useful in your personal, educational, or business life - it might just end up in one of our columns!
In honor of Christopher Columbus, the navigator whom some sixteenth century reporter deemed (but not accurately) the discoverer of America, we submit to you some of the latest applications and sites to 'navigate' the World Wide Web.
The latest (and greatest?) advance for navigating the Internet is applications from the browser giants: Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 and Netscape's Communicator 4.0. Though from different developers, the two programs offer similar upgrades to their previous incarnations. These include: integrated audio and video conferencing tools, email and newsgroup modules, streaming audio & video capabilities, and "push" technology which promises to deliver information the user desire straight to the desktop.
So, should you upgrade today? It depends. For home users with modem connections the built-in features of these new browsers cannot be fully utilized. However, for businesses and users with fast Internet connections (like cable modem users) the new browsers offer some really cool features.
If you want to upgrade your browser, you can download the applications from Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) or Netscape (www.netscape.com). Internet Explorer is free; if you prefer to avoid the one-hour download time you can order a CD-ROM on-line for $4.95. The downloaded version of Communicator is an evaluation copy; you can purchase it online or in most retail stores that sell software for $39-$49.
Our recommendation: try both and see which you like. But if you do upgrade, make sure you have patience to endure any bugs and crashes that could occur. Of course we know you will have already backed up your data, right?
Perhaps you want to learn more about the nature and geography of Cyberspace? You can find an eclectic list of resources at "The Geography of Cyberspace" (www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/casa/martin/geography_of_cyberspace.html). Perhaps a bit geekish, but if you want to learn more about how computers connect to make up the Internet, this is a site you might want to surf. Another site we recommend is An Atlas of Cyberspaces (www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/casa/martin/atlas/atlas.html). This site can help you visualize and comprehend the new digital landscape through different cybermaps. Pretty cool stuff for a rainy day.
Trying to navigate your home computer? Use the Internet for answers. Maybe you can't get your modem or CD-ROM drive working at home. Click on some of these sites to get fixes, patches and answers. The Microsoft Knowledge Base (ftp.microsoft.com) can help you with operating system, applications and Internet problems. The Tech Support Guy (www.cermak.com/techguy) can answer all your stupid - and smart - questions for free. If you need answers to certain product questions take a look at support-help.com.
Navigating the world? There are hundreds of map resources on the 'net. Some sites to check out include Magellan Geographix Map.Com (www.maps.com) with maps of over 650 cities, countries and regions around the world. At MapQuest (www.mapquest.com) you can explore interactive maps for over three million cities and towns worldwide plus generate detailed door-to-door driving. Worldtime (www.worldtime.com) shows an interactive world atlas with information on local time and public holidays for all countries.
A couple of sites to aid in navigating the Web are Snap!Online (www.snap.com) and One4.Com (www.one4.com). Snap!Online has links to news, sports, entertainment and other items you might find interesting. This site is a service of CNET (www.cnet.com) which provides information on computers, technology and the Internet. You may have seen their television programs. We recommend their review of the browser wars at CNET's site (www.cnet.com/Content/Reviews/Compare/Browsers4/). This might help you decide if/when you should upgrade your browser.
For those surfers who are frustrated by the lack of local web sites devoted to the region, fret no more. One4.Com is a site devoted to the Western New York Region - hence the "one4.com" representing the zip codes related to our region. In the four months since its debut, this site has become more refined and focused. We can't wait to watch its development. Of course, for local Internet sites don't forget to check out the Buffalo Free-Net (bfn.org) and our own WNY Web (www.wnyweb.com).
Finally, about this Columbus guy. If you're really curious take a look at an article "Examining the Reputation of Christopher Columbus" (www.hartford-hwp.com/taino/docs/columbus.html) which discusses the myth of this navigator. Oh well, we shouldn't complain - it is another holiday.
Finally, we want to continue to help you utilize the Internet in your life. Let us know what you're interested in and we'll check it out. You can email us, firstname.lastname@example.org , or fax us, (716) 853-1350 and let us know what's happening on the Internet in WNY or any computing related activities you're involved with.