To lie or keep in hiding, as for some evil reason.  To move or go in a mean, stealthy manner.

Wednesday November 17, 1999

WebSkulker Newsletter
Skulkers in the night, exchanging web sites

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WebSkulker wonders about their sanity

This site offers completely free full-service nationwide dialup Internet access -- including POP3-based email and an NNTP news server -- with no strings attached.  In our 10/27/99 issue we mentioned the free dialup service from Alta Vista, but that is no comparison.  The Alta Vista one and others like it (e.g. NetZero) take over part of your screen for a window where you are forced to look at ads whenever you are online, and they don't offer many services.  FreeWWWeb has no ads except on their home web page and offers the same services as the average $19.95 per month ISP.

FreeWWWeb has been in business for several years.  They used to claim that their service was free, but new subscribers had to buy a software package for a price that WebSkulker forgets, but was enough to pay for a fair number of months of traditional service.  A friend of ours bought that software and has been using the service for a while and seems happy with it.  They now even give away the software for free, or let you use the Windows dialup networking and web browsers you already have.  Seriously, FreeWWWeb is totally free in every respect.

This doesn't, of course, make any sense as a business model.  They claim their revenue comes from advertising on their web site and they ask you to set their site as the home page in your browser.  The instructions actually say you must do that, or get disconnected.  WebSkulker signed up for an account, dialed in, did not go to their web site at all, yet did not get disconnected.  But even if you had to look at their web site at the beginning of a browsing session, how would that make them any money?  No one pays attention to online ads.  So who knows why FreeWWWeb is doing this, and frankly who cares.  Take advantage of it as long as it's available!

Three notes about signing up for their service:  (1) They ask for your credit card number, but give a long and reasonable explanation about why they need it and a strict promise that nothing will be charged to it.  (2) At one point they invite you to download their software, but you don't need to do that if you want to use the browser and email program you have now.  See the instructions at:  (3) They ask for your area code and give you a local dialup number to put into your dialup networking entry.  If you travel, remember to look at their web site first for a list of dialup numbers around the country.  It is easy to override the dialup networking number when you dial in from a different city.

Two notes for AOL users:  (1) FreeWWWeb is a good way for you to experiment with a normal ISP.  Once you figure it out, perhaps you will be willing to give up your training wheels.  (2) If you want to keep AOL, you can save $12 per month by using FreeWWWeb and AOL together.  AOL has a special plan called "bring your own access" that costs only $9.95 per month.  This gives the full set of AOL services except that you can't dial into their numbers.  This is intended for people who already have Internet access via an Ethernet network at work, in a dorm, etc.  WebSkulker doesn't see any reason why you couldn't dial into FreeWWWeb's system and then use it to connect to AOL at the lower price.  If this works for you, go to AOL keyword BILLING to change your account.

Skulking for device drivers

Jr. Skulker Frank Telles suggested the first site as a place to find device drivers.  "The Driver Guide was created to make finding driver updates a whole lot easier. With the help of thousands of our members, we have compiled a database of drivers and resources that is by far the most comprehensive on the Web."

WebSkulker suggests the second site if your system is unstable and you think the problem might be a device driver.  This is the official Microsoft Hardware Compatibility List and shows pretty much every PC hardware device on the market that Microsoft has tested in their labs.  For each brand and model, it shows whether Microsoft considers the device to be compatible with Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT (including the special DEC Alpha version), and Windows 2000.  Click on the name of a device, and a window will pop up showing the status of Microsoft's testing.  Sometimes the device is directly supported by drivers built in to the operating system, sometimes a specific version of the manufacturer's driver is indicated.  Some drivers can be downloaded directly from this list, and these are indicated by a tiny floppy disk icon.

Skulkers can watch TV around the world

Jr. Skulker Maureen suggested this site as an easy to use and comprehensive list of radio and television stations around the world that broadcast live over the Internet.  She likes this better than the more famous sites of this type because there is nothing to wade through, just the lists.  This site is located in France and the language is French, but it just doesn't matter.

If you do need something translated into English, remember the Alta Vista translation site which we mentioned in our 9/30/99 issue

Even skulkers can be hypnotized by this

Jr. Skulker Jenny Ann submitted this site. After the Java applet starts, press the "Open Display Window" and "Start Display" buttons, then stare intently at your screen.

This made WebSkulker laugh

Submitted by Jr. Skulker Arnold Freeman

What out for these new viruses:

Gives you a 7 Inch Hard Drive with NO memory.

Makes a new hard drive out of an old floppy.

Sucks all the memory out of your computer, then emails everyone about what it did.

Saves your data, but forgets where it is stored.

Quits after two bytes.

Your 300 MB hard drive suddenly shrinks to 100 MB, then slowly expands to 200 MB.

Deletes all old files.

Disks can no longer be inserted.

TITANIC VIRUS (A strain of the Lewinsky Virus)
Your whole computer goes down (but I think "we go on").

Everything in your computer goes Goofy

Screws up your RAM but your processor doesn't care.

Only attacks minor files.

Terminates some files, leaves, but IT WILL BE BAAAAACK.

Re-formats your hard drive into a 3.5 inch floppy, then discards it through Windows.


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