How do I decide which browser to use?
You may not have much choice on a phone or tablet but on a real computer you do and they all seem desperate for you
to use theirs. Internet Explorer used to be way ahead but that's all changed. I've hardly used it for years. Firefox
was my favourite for a while but now it's Chrome. It works pretty well and crucially synchronises all our bookmarks
across two computers, two tablets and two phones. I also use the Epic browser, based on Chrome, when I want unfiltered
results. Below are browser market share stastistics, Jan 2015, from W3shools (others have IE and Safari doing better
but the overall picture is similar). The trend is that Chrome has been gaining steadily and Internet Explorer declining.
I like the way Chrome and Firefox make it so easy to build up your own menus of favourite sites. Here's Chrome's top strip,
with plenty of tabs open and an extensive DIY bookmarks menu strip.
How can I improve my search results?
Use double quotes. Copper wire bars in Google gets
well over a million hits (anything containing all 3 words). "Copper wire
bars" in quotes gets around 20,000 - only pages with that
exact phrase. Put -ingots after it (a word with a leading minus
sign) and it drops to 13,000. If you are not sure about
spelling etc use OR, eg "color palette" OR "colour palette" gets many
more hits than either phrase alone.
In Google, remember that sponsored links at the top and right
are there because they paid to be, not because they matched your search
well. Eg search for a long discontinued camera and you'll get
sponsored links, none of which are actually offering that model
for sale. You should generally assume that sponsored links are
only for outfits trying to sell you something. Search for free
software and you'll get sponsored links from all sorts of odd sources
and one site offers free software such as Firefox via a mandatory
Use the best option for each search you make, eg in Google the
news or images options are useful and map based searches are becoming
excellent. I use viamichelin
to plan road trips round Europe, streetmap
for local UK maps,
find tyre sellers nearby and so on. On Google maps in many areas you
can click your way into street view, allowing you to travel
along a street as if you were there - the pic shows a bit of central London.
Mouseprice and Zoopla are other amazing sites - you can quickly see asking or sold prices for dwellings in any area.
How do I keep my Google list when searching?
The key is when you want to investigate a link in your Google search
results list do not click on it. Instead right
click on it (long press on a tablet) and
choose Open in New Tab. That way it comes up in another tab in
the same browser window. When you close that tab, your
Google list is still there, just as you left it. Ctrl left click
does the same thing but quicker. In all the modern browsers clicking a link with the middle
scroll wheel button opens it in a new tab too (or sometimes a new window in a badly
set up or designed browser). You can also close a tab by clicking
on it with the scroll wheel button.
How do I grab an image from a web page?
Make sure it's not copyright restricted, especially if your use is at
all commercial. Then tap the PrtScn (Print Screen) key to load what's
showing on the screen into memory (or Alt PrtScn for just the current
part screen window). Then run an application to receive the
image. A word processor will just about do, as you can crop and
resize the imported image. But a proper image processing application is
best. Eg in Photoshop Elements you choose File, New from
Clipboard, then crop to what you want, add text, resize or whatever and
save as a jpg, gif or png which can then be used in all sorts of ways.
Right clicking on an image then Save Image As is often an alternative.
There are also some excellent screen grabbers you have to pay a bit
for, eg the superb Faststone Capture (free back when I found it).
How do I change my home page?
Visit the page you want as your new home page (google.co.uk, bbc.co.uk
or whatever) then go to somewhere like Tools, Options,
General, Use Current. Some browsers can be set to load pages
from your last session or multiple tabbed home pages. The picture shows Chrome's multi home page option under Settings.
In the Settings area of your favourite browser you should also find an area that controls add-ins and plug-ins. These
can be useful of really annoying, eg toolbars you didn't ask for taking up valuable screen space.
How do I put a web address in an email or document?
Go to the site/page you want then click on the web page address to
highlight it. Then Edit Copy (or Ctrl C) to load it into memory. Go to
the email or document (or wherever you want to use the link) and
Edit Paste (Ctrl V) to insert it. Tap the space bar whilst at the end
of the link and it will turn blue/underlined in many applications and
take anyone to the web page with a click of the mouse. On a tablet you
long press for copy and paste.
What are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for?
Search me. Facebook seems to be a way for young people to tell the world in far too much detail what
they're doing in an endless quest to get more 'friends'. And it seems to have a very cavalier attitude
towards privacy. Instagram could be fun for ten minutes but I can't be bothered to sign up for a photo
site that says all images must be square - that doesn't fit reality. Twitter seems very
one-sided: you need to be Stephen Fry or Joan Rivers to get anyone to pay any attention to your tweets.
What are the best travel sites?
There are so many but ones I use a lot when looking for or planning holidays include:
- if a hotel has plenty of reviews and rates 4 or above it's going to be good
- this is a fascinating site, allowing individuals to offer rooms, flats or whatever. You
basically have to go by the reviews and I haven't used it yet but our grown up children both
got really good apartments, in Lisbon and Moscow, via airbnb. They've now got a very nice map-based
display - see the screengrab on the right.
- great for Europe especially, showing who flies where, what are cheaper days etc
- Kayak -
really good for longer haul flights, eg how can we get to Vietnam or Khao Lak? Sign up to get date flexibility.
The list on the right shows some summary results for a query for flights with one stop max between Heathrow
and Phuket next year.
- an interesting selection of holiday bargains but when you check some
of them (eg on Tripadvisor) you can see why they are being sold off cheap! But we did once
pay very little to travel down the Nile on a lovely little 6 cabin dahabiya thanks to Travelzoo.
I also always try to check out the climate - winds, humidity, sea
temperature etc, not merely air temperature and rainfall. But before
Luang Prabang in Laos I forgot to check on slash and burn smoke towards
the end of the dry season...
How can I increase the viewing area in the browser?
Most browsers respond to F11 to switch between normal view (where they
occupy a lot of your screen space) and full screen view (where the
website gets the full screen area). This is particularly important with
modern laptops with their wide but horribly shallow
screens. Great for watching movies but not ideal for most other things.
New versions of browsers tend to take less screen depth for themselves
than older ones. On tablets and phones browsers tend to hide the top area when it's not in use.
How can I find favourite websites quickly?
You can always put favourite sites in your favourites or bookmarks list
- make sure you make subfolders to keep them tidy. But I like having my
real favourites in a personalised toolbar. Internet Explorer makes this
quite difficult but it's dead easy with Chrome or Firefox. Below is a portion of my
personal toolbar, with lots of sites under the folders and to the right are
extra bookmark folders: