Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Quick Tips

JANUARY 4, 1999: 

  • Don't download and install software you don't really need. Unnecessary extra software will only slow down your system and eat up hard drive space.

  • Monitor children carefully. The Net is like a big city. There's all sorts of great stuff for kids, but you don't want them wandering all over town on their own. Programs like Net Nanny can automatically block much objectionable content.

  • Be polite when you deal with others online. It's the right thing to do, and besides, you never know who's on the other end.

  • Be tolerant. People of all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors use the Internet. You will not agree with many of them. That's OK. They don't agree with you, either.

  • On the Internet no one knows you're a dog, but they can track where you are. Every time you send mail, post a message to Usenet or log into a chat room, you can be traced right back to your computer. Even your browsing habits are logged. Unless you take advanced precautions, you are not anonymous. Behave accordingly.

  • Do not give out personal information in public areas. This is particularly important for kids. Many people prefer to use a nickname (also called "screen names" or "handles") online.

  • Buy a quality anti-virus program and keep it updated. This is an absolute must if you ever trade files with school computers or download from Usenet.

  • Don't be scared by dire warnings like the ones above. Sure, there are risks, but real danger is rare. Common sense will get you through most potential trouble spots.

  • Don't forward seemingly dire warnings you may get by e-mail or see on a message board. Most likely they are a joke. You'll be the punchline. The real pros are all over new threats in a heartbeat.

  • Visit the online edition of the Chronicle at http://www.auschron.com. There you'll be able to click on all of the links in this article and go directly to the featured sites.

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