Apr 29, 2008

Making the most of time online

This is a bit of a preview of the future articles I will write. Hopefully it will give you a heads up on what will be useful or interesting to you when I write it.

So it is easy to think that being online is recreational and occasionally informative, and most people consider time here fairly non-constructive. This is what I want to remedy, even as I type up this entry I am doing several other things so I can get the most of my time. The goal here is spend as little time doing the same things you did last time you were online, and more time doing new things that help us grow.

Most people I know either use Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Macintosh Safari as a browser. The browser is the window that you use to go to web pages and there are dozens of different ones you can use, but Id stick with either Firefox or Internet Explorer(IE). Personally I recommend Firefox because it has less security vulnerabilities, more versatility, and more user support. Which ever you use the biggest key to getting the most out of it is tabbed browsing. Tabs let you have multiple websites open in one window. This is nice because you don't have to switch between windows as much, and you can monitor the status of one page while looking at another. Here is a picture of my browser right now, well a minute ago while I was reading an article. (I am still learning how to photo edit so bear with me)

I know its kinda small, website limitation. Anyhow, I highlighted the important parts of my browser. I use linux so Im not quite sure how IE looks, but I know it is pretty similar(Ill remedy that later). By tweaking my browser and using extensions(for firefox) or addons(for IE) I have really improved on how efficient I am online. One important thing to remember is this key term: "Screen Real Estate". This is the space on your screen and it can get eaten up VERY quickly if you are not careful. If you use up too much of your browsers space on things you dont use then you have less space to view websites with. That is all I am covering on browsers for now, I will detail all the cool things to do with fire fox later, and eventually for IE(although I might outsource that to another blog lol). Firefox is so diverse I will probably break it up into two or three posts.

It is one thing to be able to find what you want to find on the internet, but it is a whole other story when the content you find fascinating comes to you! There are several ways this can be done. Stumbleupon is an extension that uses an algorithm to figure out what you like and brings you content based on that. It brings you to random pages that you can then rate as "I like it" or "I don't like it" and it learns what you like very quickly. Stumbleupon is one of many "Web 2.0" platforms on the internet. Web 2.0 refers to content organized by the audience and not by the creators. There are other good platforms too such as Digg.com, Delicious, Netscape, and Reddit. I will go over these and more as they tend to focus on different topics, although they stay general enough to maintain interest for just about anyone. Lastly I will go over RSS or "Really Simple Syndication". This is the best way to keep an eye on websites or blogs that you like without having to manually check them. It works as a sort of internet paperboy, and not all websites have an RSS feed. When a website that has an RSS feed publishes new material their feed is updated. On our end an "RSS Reader" updates the feeds it has when it starts up and at intervals thereafter. The reader shows us what is new and what we haven't seen yet on the feeds we are subscribed to. As you go through the articles they are removed from your feed, this way the same things don't keep showing up again and again and new things come in as they are published. A reader can be either an extension of your browser or an external program installed on your computer. I am using the Newsfox extension now, but plan on switching to Mozilla Thunderbird because it is also a mail client(like MS outlook).

Finding what you want

The first place people, myself included, to find things on the internet is Google. But if that doesn't turn up results right away it is easy to waste a ton of time trying to find what you want. I will cover some Google strategies (like opening all results in new tabs and using operators) so that you can find stuff quickly! If you are really good, you can even download music from Google... Other good sources for what you want are forums. These are places people post back and fourth to and are infamous for being bickering or whining, but thats ok. Knowing what forums are likely to contain either the information you want or the a link to it is very useful. Also, when other people have been seeking the same thing, they will often post a question on where to find it on a forum. If you can find that question, there may be an answer to your liking, and if you still haven't found it posting a question yourself may be the best route. Other good sources for info will be covered too.

I will cover other little ways to save time like using a mail client to retrieve email instead of your browser, which is useful if you use a laptop and don't always have Wifi near by. Mail Clients are also nice because they can retrieve mail from many accounts, saving you time from checking them all. Most also serve as a scheduler, calender, and address book. Currently I use Evolution, but most people use Outlook, and I will be switching to Thunderbird soon. I will also cover ways of keeping in touch with people here, available social networking sites, and messaging.

Hope to get going soon, come back again some time!

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