Saturday, January 29, 2011

6 tips to boost your browsing skills

You probably spend a good amount of your computing time within the confines of a web browser. But are you making the most of that time?

You're not if you are relying on the same old browser habits that you developed years ago. The good news: There are plenty of ways in which you can supercharge your web browsing without resorting to a bunch of tricks that you'll likely forget.

Discover caret browsing
One of the best-kept secrets of both Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox is the caret browsing feature. Caret browsing essentially makes web pages more keyboard friendly - and web surfing a lot more productive, particularly if you spend much time at all selecting and copying text or graphics from a website.

With caret browsing activated, a text cursor appears within any web page, and moving the cursor around and highlighting text and graphics are very similar to performing the same actions in a word processing document.

In caret mode, the Tab key moves you from one major section of a web page to another, and the Enter key will activate any link on which the cursor is positioned.

You can activate (and de-activate) caret browsing by simply pressing the F7 key in both IE and Firefox. Google's Chrome has a version of caret browsing that involves first selecting some text and then using the Shift and arrow keys to select more.

Launch into full screen
Most elements of web browsers - menus, toolbars, status bars, and the like - are useless clutter once you've landed on a page that you want to read. To get rid of the clutter, simply tap the F11 key. All of the major browsers will launch into 'full screen' mode, showing you just your web page and none of the browser controls you don't need.

Press F11 again to return to the browser's previous state.

With Internet Explorer, you can still access your menus with in full screen mode. Just use the keyboard shortcuts (Alt-F, Alt-E, and so on), and the menus will hover over the web page.

Outsmart ads
One of the biggest time-zappers while surfing the internet today is waiting for ads to load - or waiting for them to leave you alone so that you can get to the content you need.

You can get rid of most ads altogether in a couple of ways. First, if you're a Firefox user, head straight for Adblock Plus ( Install this plugin, and in no time bothersome ads will be a distant memory.

This plugin can't zap all ads, but it takes care of most of them. Chrome users also now have a beta version of Adblock plus ( that they can try.

If you're using IE, try Ad Muncher (, which is also compatible with most other browsers.

Use the keyboard
Think about the operations you perform repeatedly in your browser using the mouse. There are probably keyboard shortcuts for most of them that can save you a lot of time.

Do you frequently return to your home page, for example? Hold down the Alt key and tap Home (Alt-Home) Need to find something on a web page? Ctrl-F activates the Find box. Need a new tab? Ctrl-T takes care of it. And how about switching among open tabs? Ctrl-Tab does the trick. These tricks work in all of the major browsers.

Try a form filler
Web forms are everywhere these days, and most of them ask for the same information: your name, address, e-mail address, and perhaps your credit card if you're purchasing something.

Make short work of entering all of that information by enlisting the help of a form filler. The two best ones are LastPass ( and RoboForm (

Adopt multiple browsers
You might love IE. You may swear by Firefox. You may be intrigued by Chrome. Regardless of which browser you prefer, one of the other browsers likely has a feature (or a add-on) that will let you get your work done faster.

There's no reason these days not to be acquainted with all of the major web browsers. That would be IE, Firefox, and Chrome. They're all free. They all get along with one another when installed on the same computer.

And thanks to a diverse and talented development community, they all have add-ins or plugins that provide unique features that are not available on other browsers. Just spend some time at the Add-ons for Firefox page ( or the Google Chrome Add-ons site ( to get a taste of what's out there.

-- DPA

Friday, January 28, 2011

How to do without antivirus

Do you wish you could do without antivirus software? There are certainly plenty of good reasons not to like it. After all, antivirus programs invariably slow down your computer, annoy you with false positives or status pop-ups, and of course most of them cost money - often on a recurring, yearly basis.

But can you just say no to antivirus software and still stay safe? The short answer is 'yes' - if you adopt some security-savvy computing practices.

Know what you download
If you only use commercial software and never install programs you've downloaded from the internet or copied from a friend, then your main sources of concern for contracting a computer virus will come from websites and email. Common sense -- and following the guidelines below -- will protect you the rest of the way.

On the other hand, if you're addicted to free downloads, shareware, and 'warez' sites that purport to offer commercial software at no cost, then you have no viable option. You must install antivirus software -- and perhaps even use a couple of programs -- to make sure you don't fall victim to malicious software or phishing attacks.

Most people, however, run just the few programs that came with their PCs and don't venture into dangerous territory on the web. For them, the guidelines below will provide adequate protection.

Upgrade your browser
Today's browsers have a lot of security controls built in, and these tend to do a fine job of preventing phishing attacks or the automatic downloading of potentially malicious software. Antivirus tools add little to their already robust protections.

So if you want to be free of antivirus software, be sure to use to latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome, and keep those browsers up to date through your operating system's automatic update feature. Also, do not disable or alter the default security settings of the major browsers unless you know what you're doing.

If you attempt to access a website that's known to be harmful, most modern web browsers will warn you before the site is displayed on your screen. If you'd like to feel even more secure when you're surfing, consider installing the free McAfee SiteAdvisor tool (, which adds small site rating icons to your search results and a new browser button and optional search box to your browser. These controls together do a good job of alerting you to a potentially dangerous site before you reach it.

Clean email
Most of the generalised warnings you hear about virus-carrying email messages are misleading. You can't get a computer virus merely by receiving an email message. You would have to click on a link within the message that downloads a harmful file onto your PC, or you would have to open or run a malicious file attached to a message.

So don't do either one of those things if you receive an email message from someone you don't know. Combine that common sense approach with the latest patches or updates for your e-mail program of choice, and you should have no use for additional protection offered by a bloated security package.

You can add yet another level of security by configuring your email program so that it displays incoming messages as plain text. Doing so will turn off the display of graphics, which, when clicked, may unleash a virus-carrying file. If you use a traditional email client such as Outlook or Outlook Express, add a good spam-blocking like Cloudmark Desktop ( to your toolkit, and chances are very good that any potentially dangerous messages will get routed automatically to your Spam folder, where you will never see it.

Periodic scans
Just because you decide to run your PC without antivirus software doesn't mean you shouldn't check for viruses occasionally. You can do so, however, without installing anything if you stop in occasionally at one of the free online virus scanners.

Among them are Eset Online Scanner (, Avast Online Scanner (, and TrendMicro Online Scanner ( All of these allow you to initiate a system scan without installing a permanent antivirus package.

Go for security apps
If you don't like the idea of initiating a virus scan from a website or you just don't feel comfortable going without antivirus software, you can keep system slowdowns to a minimum and annoyance at bay by opting for one of the security applications that are known to be effective at detecting threats, relatively easy on system resources, and reasonably priced.

Titles that meet all of those criteria include Microsoft's Security Essentials ( - which is free - PC Tools' Spyware Doctor with Antivirus =(, and Norton Antivirus 2010 ( Each of these will provide the background scanning and on-demand protection that you might need, and each can be configured not to bug you unless absolutely necessary.

-- DPA

Entering Data in Excel

This tutorial covers basic information for entering data into an Excel spreadsheet. Click on the links below to read specific information.

1. Plan your spreadsheet - Before you start to type

2. How to Enter Data into a Spreadsheet - Doing the Excel three - step

3. Cells and cell references in Excel - Keeping track of where your data is going

4. Using AutoComplete to Enter Data - Getting help from Excel

5. Types of data in Excel - Labels, values and other data types

6. Getting around your spreadsheet quickly - Shortcut keys

7. Editing data in a cell - Updating data and fixing those mistakes

How to Use Excel - Excel Tutorials for Beginners

How to Use Excel is a Series of Excel Tutorials designed with the absolute beginner in mind. These tutorials will show you how to use Excel to produce a complete spreadsheet. The tutorials cover:

This article identifies the main parts of the Excel spreadsheet work area. There are links from each label to glossary items describing each part in greater detail.

Entering Data in Excel
This article covers the basics of how to enter data into an Excel spreadsheet. Items such as the importance of planning your spreadsheet before you enter data, widening columns, the types of data that can be entered, and editing cells to change data, are covered in this tutorial.

Basic Excel 2003 Spreadsheet Tutorial
The tutorial, as the name suggests, shows you how to create a basic spreadsheet in Excel 2003. Topics covered include entering data, creating simple formulas, and formatting a worksheet.
Excel Math
These articles cover how to carry out basic math operations in Microsoft Excel. If you want to know how to add, subtract, multiply, or divide numbers in Excel, these articles will show you how.

Excel Formulas Step by Step Tutorial
Formulas are a very important and a frequently used feature in Excel. This article uses a step by step example to show you how to create and use formulas in Excel.

SUM and AutoSUM Step by Step Tutorial
This step by step tutorial walks through how to use Excel's SUM function and the AutoSUM feature to perform spreadsheet calculations.

How to Use the Excel's Date Function
There are a number of date functions available in Excel. Depending on your needs, you can use a date function in Excel to return the current date, the current time, or the day of the week. This article covers the most commonly used date functions used in Excel.

How to Use Excel Formatting Features
There are a variety of formatting options available in Excel - conditional formatting, number formatting, text and general spreadsheet formatting techniques. This two part tutorial covers the basics of number formatting – adding commas, currency symbols, percent signs, and decimal spaces to cells in the worksheet, as well as changing cell colors, adding text formatting, and changing the alignment of text in cells.

Add / Delete Columns and Rows
It’s a rare occasion when a spreadsheet doesn’t need a change of layout before it is finished. When this happens in Excel, with a click of the mouse you can easily add that extra column or delete those unwanted rows.

How to Use the Excel Chart Wizard
A graph, or a chart as it is known in Microsoft Excel, is a visual representation of worksheet data. A chart often makes it easier to understand the data in a worksheet because users can easily pick out patterns and trends illustrated in the chart that are otherwise difficult to see. The quickest and easiest way to create a chart in Excel is to use the Chart Wizard. This step by step tutorial leads you through the four steps of using the Chart Wizard.

Excel Printing
Use the print options in Excel to print entire spreadsheets or just selected areas. The printing options can be accessed through a number of locations including the print button on the standard toolbar and several options under the File menu.
How to Widen Columns in Excel
Widening columns in Excel is one of the most commonly performed operations. This article will show you how to carry out this task easily.

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