Computer and internet briefs
How fast is your Internet connection? To test the true speed of your modem, ISDN line or cable connection, surf over to Speakeasy.net (http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/). There you can have the site test your internet speed and compare it to the speed that others obtain with similar hookups. Just click a server when you arrive at the site. Make sure that no other programs are accessing the internet when you run a test.
Why not change the image on your Windows desktop? It's easy to do. Go to your Windows desktop, right-click, and select Properties from the pop-up menu. In the resulting Display Properties dialogue box, click the Desktop tab. In the Background box, click the list of background images one by one to see what they look like. When you find one that appeals to you, select it, and click the Apply button. You can always change back to your old desktop image by reversing these steps.
There's an easy way to avoid hassles when attaching a peripheral such as a printer or scanner to your Windows XP system. Install the driver software that came with the peripheral before you plug the device into your computer. That way, when Windows indicates that it has detected a new device, you can simply have it search for the software. The Windows New Hardware wizard will usually find the proper software itself. You'll run into problems more often if you attempt to install the driver software after attaching the device.
Like free stuff? You'll find some of the best, no-strings-attached freebies listed at The Free Site (http://www.thefreesite.com/). Everything on the site is free. You'll find a lot of computer-related freebies, but there are plenty of other things as well, including newsletters, web space, and business cards.
There's a wealth of information stored on internet newsgroups, but few people know how to mine it. You can use Google Groups, but another good option is Boardreader.com (http://www.boardreader.com).
Boardreader limits itself to indexing Usenet newsgroups - collections of internet-based discussion threads on topics ranging from atavism to zoology. There's lots of misinformation on internet newsgroups, but when you're searching for public opinion on topics of interest to you, they're an excellent place to start. ( dpa )