Saturday, June 13, 2009

10 Internet Explorer 8 tips for you!

Internet Explorer 8 does virtually everything you need straight from the box, but with these IE8 tips and tweaks you can make it work in ways you never thought possible.

1. Personalize the title bar

By default the title bar – the top-most part of the screen – displays the title of the web page followed by a piece of text that says something like, "Internet Explorer provided by…" Few people know that you can change this to whatever you like, for example on my copy of IE8 it says "Mater's IE8 – the best browser by far."

To make this change you need to edit the Windows registry, something you should approach with caution. Whenever you edit the registry, you should take a backup of your system first in case something goes wrong, and make sure you close all Internet Explorer windows.

If you've got Windows XP, press Start, then select Run and type regedit and hit Return.

For Windows Vista and Windows 7, type regedit into Start and press Return.

Once the Registry Editor has started up, press the + sign next to HKEY_ CURRENT_USER, then double click on Software > Microsoft > Internet Explorer > Main. With Main still highlighted you'll see a long list of values on the right-hand side.

Right click on any white space in the right hand pane, and select New > String Value, call it Window Title and press Return. Now double-click the registry entry, type anything you like in Value Data box and press OK.

Close the Registry Editor and start IE8 and you should see your text in the title bar.

2. Maximize screen space

The menu bar in Internet Explorer (File, Edit, Tools and so on) is useful but takes up valuable space on your screen. Many people don't realize that you can remove it and bring it back easily when needed.

If it's already showing, select View > Toolbar and click on Menu Bar to uncheck it. You can now bring it back at will by pressing the Alt key.

3. Search faster

Most search engines have a facility to provide search suggestions or recommendations based on the keyword you type into the search box. You can invoke this useful feature from any page by typing a question mark, followed by a space, followed by your search terms into the address box (where you would normally type the web address) – but don't press Return.

You then see a list of the most common searches, which may help you find what you were looking for. For example, if I want fancy dress costumes, I could type ? Fancy dress into the web address box and see a list of suggestions of what to search for.

4. Save paper and ink when printing

If you want to print a page, but don't want all the images on the page to waste your ink, you can use the developer tools to get rid of them. To activate the feature, press F12 on any web page and you'll see a new window open up.

Select the Images menu item and press Disable Images to switch off all images on the page, something that can speed up printing if you're only interested in the text content. If you select View Alt Text from the same menu item, it displays text describing the images instead.

Also try selecting View > Link Paths. You can see all of the links, and select them easily for copying to the clipboard.

5. Browse more easily on netbooks

If you're viewing a website on a tiny netbook screen, make the page bigger by pressing the F11 key. This switches IE8 into full-screen mode, removing all trace of the browser and letting the web page occupy the entire screen. If you move your mouse near the top of the screen, the missing parts of the screen reappear temporarily. Get back to normal by pressing F11 again.

If you have a web page that you want to display in full screen all of the time, create a shortcut to IE on your desktop, right-click it and select Properties. Then after "iexplore.exe" in the target box (after the closing quote mark), type –k followed by a space followed by the web address.

For example, if I wanted to view my Office Live Workspace in full screen mode I would put "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" –k

Then whenever I clicked on the shortcut, it would open Internet Explorer at that web address, in full-screen mode.

6. Edit header and footer on printouts

IE8 gives you some control over what appears in the header and footer of printouts. Choose File > Page Setup (if the File menu is not shown, press Alt once).

In the Headers and Footers section you can select text to appear on the left, middle and right of the printout, such as the web address, page title, page number, total number of pages, or a custom value where you can enter whatever you like.

7. Launch a site using InPrivate Browsing mode

InPrivate Browsing is a new mode in Internet Explorer 8 that removes all traces of your browsing, including history, temporary files and log-in data. But if you don't want to constantly turn this feature off and on, you can create a shortcut to launch just a specific website with InPrivate mode activated.

To do this, create a shortcut as described above, append –private followed by a space, followed by the web address of the site you want to access, for example -private

Now when you double-click this shortcut, it loads up with InPrivate mode switched on every time.

8. Master your add-ons

IE8 introduced the concept of Accelerators, a feature that enables you to perform a number of useful functions just by highlighting a piece of text on a web page. Although IE8 comes with a standard set of accelerators preinstalled, you can find many more (and also other add-ons such as web slices, visual searches and plug-ins) at

However, the more you install the more crowded you will find your accelerator menus becoming. You can control them by going to Tools > Manage Add-ons. You'll see a list of all currently-loaded add-ons by default but you can change this to show all add-ons by pressing the button under Show.

On the far right you'll see the Load time column (you may need to re-size the window to see it). Click on the Load time column header to sort by the time each add-on takes to load. This way you can see which add-ons are slowing down your browser's start-up time, and by disabling these you can speed things up. To disable any add-on, click on it and press the Disable button.

9. Increase your download limit

By default Internet Explorer limits you to two simultaneous downloads to ensure that your bandwidth is used as effectively as possible. However, with very fast connections becoming more common, you might prefer to increase the number of downloads you can have running at the same time.

Microsoft has provided a simple wizard to increase the download limit to 10. Visit and click Fix this problem.

10. Solve any problem

If you're having trouble with Internet Explorer 8 crashing, it could be due to a problem with one of your add-ons. Running the browser with all addons switched off can help you check if this is the case, and may get you back in control of your browser to fix it.

You may also find that IE loads up much quicker without add-ons switched on, and may be quicker generally. If this is the case, refer to tip 8 for suggestions on how to find offending add-ons that are slowing you down. You can add a prefix to your Internet Explorer shortcut to enable it to open in a sterile mode, free of add-ons and settings that may cause conflicts.

First, create a new shortcut for Internet Explorer (or amend your existing shortcut) by right-clicking on it and selecting Properties, then add –extoff after "iexplore.exe" in the target box. Alternatively, if you're using Windows XP press Start > Run, enter iexplore –extoff into the box and press Return; if you're using Windows Vista or Windows 7, press Start then type iexplore –extoff into the search box and press Return.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

10 things you should know about Skype

You've seen the posters, and the words 'free calls' remain etched into the memory as you wonder gripping your current contract-damn handset, whether you should get in on the action.

Before you consider taking the plunge into the world that is Skype, here are 10 things we think you should know about it.

1) How does it work?

Founded by the people that brought you the once file-to-file sharing network marvel that was Kazaa, Skype is a VoIP application easily download-able to your desktop PC or in the case of a Skype-friendly mobile like the iPhone, through the Apple iTunes Store. Using your current internet connection, all you have to do is grab your headset with microphone, hit the green button, and you are ready to call people across the world for free.

2) It's free, well mostly

Chatting to a fellow Skype user whether through your computer or Skype-enabled device will set you back the pricey sum of nothing. But before you dump your contract phone, it will cost you a small fee to talk to someone who is not on Skype. You can own local numbers in a host of countries, with your calls to the number charged at the same rate as calls to fixed lines in your own country. Services like SkypeIn and SkypeOut are the route to contacting people on their existing mobile numbers or land-line numbers. It may sound silly, but ensure you know enough people on Skype to fully embrace the service.

3) Skyping all over the world

Essentially what is great about Skype is being able to talk to your long distant relatives in Oz without the pain of the long-distance charge. That is however not the case for every country. Skype is built on a closed protocol which translated means all equipment used is made by the company but also means that a country like China bans the use of Skype. Having recently refused the allowance of WiFi handsets, over fears users would add internet phone services such as Skype to make calls, unofficially it was claimed that it was because they could not track calls. So if you got mates in China you are hoping to talk to for free you may need to think again.

4) Skype devices

Along with Skype sitting on your toolbar on your PC, mobile network provider 3 provides a series of Skype phone handsets, while the PSP via its Wi-Fi connection can also be used for your free calling. Rumors that Skype could be moving to the DSi have been fierce with the Nintendo calming they did not want to develop a mobile service which required a monthly contract. Also available as an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch, it has proved one of their most popular downloads surpassing more than one million downloads, that's six downloads every second and a clear sign of its popularity.

5) Skype plug-ins

Much like the Apple's App Store, Skype has its own place to add more life to your Skype life and make it more than just a place to chat freely. Built with open developer API, it is a free-for-all for those who want to create plug-ins and a-d ons for Skype and go on sale to other users. So if you fancy a spot of chess with your pal in the Ukraine or chilling out to some tunes on, simply head to the Skype Extras store and take a browse.

6) Skype mobiles
If you pick up a one of the Skype mobiles you are essentially getting the best of both worlds. As the users of Skype blossoms into their millions, you can contact them for free while still retaining some of the more familiar mobile phone usability.

Allowing you to make Skype phone calls and use the instant messaging service for free, video calling however is not yet supported. ASUS have recently revealed their EEE Videophone, which is not quite a mobile but fully supports face-to-face calling if you need it. If you don't fancy buying a 3 Skype phone, simply pay up a nominal fee for a 3 sim to use on a compatible unlocked handset, download the application and you are on your way to free call heaven.

7) Video chatting

25% of Skype-to-Skype phone calls include video, and it is one of the features which extend its popularity to the likes of talk show colossal Oprah Winfrey using it on one of her shows. With your web cam connected, hit the green button and then the web cam button and you are on your way to conducting business from overseas, or showing off your latest party trick. It is clearly a great way to cut the cost of paying out for a video conferencing set-up at work and the quality of the feedback is one of the best around.

8) Skype means business

Skype has a genuine presence in the world of business, and it is valued so much by some companies that it has been known to be used to hold job interviews. Solving the dilemma of an overseas candidate having to travel half the side of the globe to be grilled for an hour can be evaded as the video calling via Skype is simplicity in itself, providing slightly grainy but nonetheless a refreshingly clear picture to show off your best job-winning skills to your prospective employee.

9) Skype Messenger

Proof that there is more to Skype than phone calls, the Skype Messenger is also a free service from your PC and from Skype-enabled devices. Considerably one of the most effective and easy to use messengers around, simply build up you contact list and then begin to drag and drop people into your existing chats. Chat history is saved in a way which it is easy to refer back to, while file transferring is a simple drag and drop away from your conversation. Skype also allows you to download videos from sites Daily Motion and Met-cafe so you can chat, watch a video and file share all in the same window.

10) Free forever?

For the time being, yes it is but mobile network providers are all too aware of the growing prominence of the VoIP application and how it may affect their business. With the new roaming regulation in effect since July, some of the major mobile phone manufacturers are wondering whether the service of Skype and your standard mobile phone connection should be paid separately, with Nokia's recent announcement to pre-install their N97 handsets with Skype forcing 02 and Orange to block the sale of the phone through their networks. The likelihood of paying for both services seems unlikely, but not impossible, so while it's still free we suggest you get the most out of this VoIP wonder.

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