Well, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been hard at work on a set of videos explaining how to use your PC, the Internet and so on. I’m nearly finished – just putting the finishing touches on now. It’s really exciting – watching them is almost like me actually showing you in person exactly how to do everything! They’re not going to be generally advertised for a couple of months yet – but we should have the first batch in a week or two. I’ll let you know as soon as we get them. I’m planning a really cracking offer only for ‘insiders’ like you… only until they’re officially launched. (Watch this space)
Anyway, this month you can read all about Google’s latest new gadget, one small snag of Avira anti-virus (but don’t worry, it is small) and how to use tabs when browsing the web… and why on earth you’d want to. In fact, you’ll find one free video, just by reading below…
Mini-article – Using tabs in web browsing Once or twice before, I’ve mentioned about using tabs when browsing the web. Tabs let you have two web pages open at once – in the same window. But I’ve never really gone into detail – or made it clear why you’d want to!
There are two ways to use tabs in Internet Explorer (though you can only use tabs in the most recent version of Internet Explorer). The first is if you are reading a webpage and want to follow a link – but you want it to open in a different tab. Point at the link as normal, but press the right, instead of the left, mouse button. Then select ‘Open in New Tab’ from the menu that pops up. Alternatively, you can use the middle mouse button – you know the wheel on the mouse? That’s also a button. Press it down while pointing at a link and it’ll open it in a new tab. or hold ctrl on the keyboard and press the left mouse button.
The other way is to open the tab first, then type the web address you want in the address bar as normal. To do this, point the mouse at the very short tab at the top, just to the right of the one that you’re currently using. It’ll open a completely new tab.
If you’re reading up on something on the web, for example about a holiday, you often find you come across links you want to click on to read more. Or if you’re reading an online newspaper, you might see several article titles on the front page and want to read all of them. You could click on the first one, read it, come back, then select the next one and so on. But if you’re like me, you might lose track of where you’re up to and which ones you wanted to read. Instead, you can scan the first page, opening all the articles you want to read properly in new tabs. Then you can read each page, one at a time, closing each one as you finish it. If part way through one, it mentions another article or page you want to read, just open that in another tab and it’ll be there waiting for you when you finish the current one.
You can even use it if you want to, say, watch a video on www.youtube.com but it’s taking a while to download and you want to look at another web page while it downloads.
See it all done
It’s a bit hard to understand exactly how to do it (and why you’d want to) without seeing it. So, since I’ve been working on making videos over the last couple of months, I’ve made you a special video showing you how it all works: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/tabsvideo.htm. It’s about 5 minutes long.
You have to be connected to the internet while you watch the video, and if you don’t have broadband it’ll be quite slow – but if you have broadband it should play nice and smoothly.
Website of the month – Google Chrome
The big news over the last month is that Google have launched their own web browser, Google Chrome – an alternative to Internet Explorer. Now, there are already other programs you could use, but Google are well enough known that this one might really catch on. So I’ve given it a try and here are my thoughts:
- For now, it’s a ‘beta’ version – that means it’s at the final stages of testing – letting the public try it out. But Google aren’t saying it’s completely finished.
- The design of it looks a lot like Windows Vista – which means it looks a bit odd if you’re running XP. It still works, though, and it takes up less room with the buttons than Internet Explorer, leaving more room for the actual webpage.
- If you use tabs (see the article above) there’s some clever technical jiggery-pokery. It seems to work the same way as in Internet Explorer, but if one tab crashes, the others can carry on. Or even if one tab starts going slowly, it doesn’t affect the others, unlike in Internet Explorer.
- It has ‘incognito mode’ – which stops your computer from recording what webpages you’ve visited. Useful if you’re using a shared PC or you don’t want your other half to know you’ve just bought her some expensive jewellery from a website (don’t jump to any conclusions, Julie, if you’re reading this). On a less savoury note, I suppose it would also mean your other half wouldn’t know if you’d just bought someone else some expensive jewellery.
- One of my personal favourite improvements, they’ve combined the search box and the address box. One of the most common questions I’d get asked is ‘I’ve put the web address in and it comes up with not found – what’s going on?’ and it would turn out they’d typed the web address in the search box instead of the search box. It sometimes works – but not always, which made it even more confusing. But with the two boxes combined, it’s fine. If you type in a web address, it takes you to it. If you type in something else, it searches for it. At last!
- When you first start Chrome, you get a screen listing the webpages you use the most. You can just click on one of those to go straight to it, with no typing. Or you use a box on the right to search only the pages you’ve visited in the past, if you can remember looking at a web page but can’t remember what it was called. Nifty.
- At the moment Chrome is so new that there are still a few bugs in it (for example, if you try our website www.helpfulbooks.co.uk on it, it’ll probably be a bit skew-whiff). So you might want to wait a while before trying it out – give Google a few months and I’m sure they’ll fix the bugs. Unless you fancy giving it a try – it doesn’t take Internet Explorer off your computer, so you can still use that if you prefer.
If you’d like to try Google Chrome, go to www.google.co.uk, click on more, then even more and then on Google Chrome, about half way down on the left. Then follow the instructions.
I’m using the Avira anti-virus program you recommended and when it updates its virus definitions, I get a window telling me about the professional version and that at the moment I’m not protected against spyware. Am I doing something wrong?
No – this is a quirk of Avira. Since it’s free, they make their money by advertising a fancier version – which isn’t free. You can just select OK at the bottom and the window goes away. In my view it’s a small price to pay for free anti-virus protection. Don’t worry that you aren’t protected – if you have Windows Defender to go with Avira as I recommended back in September then that’s protecting you against spyware.
Word to the Wise – beta
As I mentioned above, Google Chrome is a beta version. That means it’s not a completely finished version. When a company have a program that they think is finished, they give it to professional testers. That’s called an alpha version. They fix anything they find, then make it available to the general public to try out – sometimes using a time limited version. That’s called a beta version. They fix any problems the public find, then release it as ‘finished’. Usually, I’d say avoid a beta version – wait until it’s finished. Google Chrome is ok, though, for two reasons: One, you still have Internet Explorer on your PC, so you could always switch back. And two, Google have a habit of leaving something at the beta stage for ages – even years. So it might not be officially ‘finished’ for a long time.
Phew – plenty for this month!
I’ll let you know in a week or two when the videos are ready – watch out for the email, even if you don’t feel like ordering them, because I might see if I can slip in another free helpful video, whether you choose to order or not.
Bye for now,
All the above © Tim Wakeling 2008