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Internet Annoyances : How to Fix the Most Annoying Things about Going Online (Annoyances)

by Preston Gralla
??(5 customer reviews)
Paperback: Thursday, January 20, 2005 (O'Reilly Media, Inc.)
List Price: $24.95
?? Price: $13.80
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description
What began as an intrepid U.S. Government initiative in the early 1970's has turned into a global way of life. Indeed, with more than 500 million current users (and counting), the Internet has revolutionized the way societies function the world over. From dating and shopping online, to conducting informational research, to communicating via email, today seemingly everyone uses the Internet for one purpose or another. How, then, can something so vast and powerful be defiled by something as trivial as spam? It's true. The fact remains that despite the leading-edge technological sophistication fueling the Net, there are still many related annoyances that complicate and tarnish the Internet experience. And it doesn't matter if you're a homemaker in search of a fresh chicken recipe, or a civil engineer researching plans for a new skyscraper, the problems are the same. Internet Annoyances understands the universal nature of the Internet and strives to make its use as stress-free as possible. This insightful guide shows you how to overcome the most annoying Internet-related quirks, bugs, and hassles. You'll learn how to make a seamless connection, thwart would-be hackers, ensure greater security while surfing, eliminate pop-up ads, maximize online services, conduct more effective Google searches, better utilize digital media (music and video), and much more. In addition, Internet Annoyances discusses how to design and host a personal web site something once thought of as only possible for the technically gifted. Topics like blogs, domain names, setup, HTML, fonts, and graphics and are all dissected and analyzed for easy consumption. Unlike other books on the subject, Internet Annoyances assumes readers already possess a working knowledge of the Internet. By fully recognizing the experience level of today's Internet culture, author Preston Galla is able to cut immediately to the chase and not waste time on the more obvious points. Internet Annoyances, therefore, is a quick read that presents succinct solutions for the many glitches that still populate the Internet experience.

Reader Reviews

Sometimes the Internet Makes Me Go &*%^*&*&&^%!, Friday, September 02, 2005

How many times have you gone online to only get frustrated? Web sites do not work the way you think they should. How many times have you had problems with your computer or wireless connection, and have no idea why? Do you have a website and often wonder who is linking to you? Does your email client drive you batty? It is these things and more that drive Internet Annoyances (256 Pages, O'Reilly, 2005, ISBN ) by Preston Gralla.

Laid out like a text book, Gralla attempts to cover a wide range of topics in a condensed space. For the most part, he succeeds. Where I get lost is that it is such a whirlwind that jumps from one topic to another, which can be disconcerting. But you know what? That's OK, because there is a lot to be aware of, especially as technology matures. The book satisfied my need to learn at least one new think from a book, and I learned a few. What did I learn? Extra ways to protect a wireless router that I was not aware of. I learned how to find hidden products on E-Bay (the book does not mention that sellers are also now taking advantage of this human error trick. Gralla also does a good job, at a high level, of covering pop-ups, spam, instant messaging and more.

While this book is not on my "must read" recommendation list, you will not be disappointed if you buy it. And it is also a good book to pass along to people looking for quick guidance. This means it will not make you an expert, but will open you to new knowledge and experiences.

The Scorecard

Par on an Average Par 4

Internet Annoyances, Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Format: Paperback, 239pp
U.S. $24.95 / CAN. $36.95

Anyone who has been surfing the Internet knows that around every corner there is always something new and exciting. "Internet Annoyances" is one of those things, a cyberspace goldmine book that is loaded with far too many tips and tricks for Internet travelers to mention here. Preston Gralla is an author of more than 30 books about the Internet and computing, as well he was the founding editor of PC/Computing. He helped establish ZDNet online service and now he shares these experiences in this fascinating book.

Preston Gralla spent years collecting emails about annoying issues that Internet users have complained about and turned these problems into solutions. This book is organized into 10 chapters covering various aspects of computering problems and their solutions: Email and Spam, Making the Connection, Wireless, Web Hosting / Design and Blogs, Browsers, AOL, Instant Messaging, Searching Annoyances, Security, and Shopping / Auction annoyances. This book is deigned for you to flip about looking for those computer annoyances that irritate you the most. Of course, if you have a specific problem you can easily find a solution in the well-organized Index at the back of the book.

The pages are loaded with tons of screen shots identifying the specific topics, along with the problem stated and "The Fix" where you will be led systematic in a correction process that is easy to follow. Along with the screenshots, there are many highlighted features of both manufacturers programs and links to many free programs. A lot of the time these work just as well, if not better than those you have to pay for do. To take you a bit farther there are periodic "tip" boxes that help explain why you need to do this certain action, thus helping you learn more about the Internet and its various aspects of use. For instance, in the Security chapter you are given warnings and solutions about how to "Block Snooping Neighbours", "Spoofed Emails", "Phishing Expeditions", and of course a great section on Adware and Spyware, Trojans / Worms and Viruses. In the Shopping and Auction chapter you will learn about the various frauds such as identity theft and how to prevent it, faster form filling, and many Ebay tips.

Anyone who has a wireless setup at home, or for those who travel and use public WIFI access, Chapter 3: Wireless Annoyances is a must read. This section leads you into safe surfing and gives you step-by-step tips on how to secure your system from hackers and how to stop "BANDWIDTH VAMPIRES". You will also learn how to boost your signals, extend your wireless range, and find those hotspots while on the road.

This book is great for those who are just heading out on their first adventure into the World Wide Web, and for those who want to take their adventures to the next level. As the author points out, "Don't expect to read this book straight through from cover-to-cover. It's best to jump around, first solving those annoyances that annoy you the most, then discovering other annoyances you can head off at the pass." It pays to be aware out there on the World Wide Web, and this book does just that for you.

some annoyances are dangerous, Thursday, February 24, 2005

For most of us, a huge value of our computers is being able to hook to the Internet. This once science fictional dream has now become an everyday reality. Alas, as this book mentions, such a reality also includes many annoying problems.

One way to read this book is to divide those annoyances into two groups. The first group is the little things, like tweaking the various Microsoft Office products. The second group of annoyances can be more troublesome. Like viruses/worms and spam. Malware.

Consider spam. The universal scourge. The book has a good, quick discussion of the main antispam techniques, like Bayesians or hashing. Plus advice that is a little cynical, but realistic. Like how the Can Spam act has largely proved useless. Or how you should not use naughty words in your outgoing email, to minimise chances of it being tagged as spam by your recipient's email provider.

Hotspots are also discussed heavily, due to their popularity and often insecure mode of operation. There is a great danger of someone running a packet sniffer. So your key communications should use https, if you are engaged in sensitive matters, like using your credit card. But the book does not go into how a phisher could launch a deadlier man in the middle attack. Where she replaces the hot spot device with her own, or subverts the device's software. Then, she runs a pocket universe, where she might have copied the websites of various banks, and she directs http queries to those banks to her fake websites [pharms]. This method totally negates https. Granted, it is technically quite hard to do and so is still somewhat uncommon. But the book should warn of it, if you want to stay ahead of the curve.

Another outstanding Annoyances book..., Thursday, February 10, 2005

I recently had the chance to read and review the book Internet Annoyances by Preston Gralla (O'Reilly). All I can say is that I'm really getting hooked on this Annoyances series. Internet Annoyances is no exception...

Chapter List:
Chapter 1 - Email and Spam Annoyances: General Email Annoyances; Spam; Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express; Gmail; Eudora 6
Chapter 2 - Making The Connection Annoyances: General Connection Annoyances; Broadband: Cable and DSL Connections; Routers and Home Networks
Chapter 3 - Wireless Annoyances: Home Wireless Networks and Routers; Cell Phones and the Net; WiFi Security; HotSpots
Chapter 4 - Web Hosting, Design, and Blog Annoyances: Domain and Hosting Hassles; Design and Maintenance Help; Blogging
Chapter 5 - Browser Annoyances: Pop-Ups, Ads, and Flash; Favorites and Bookmarks; Working the Interface; Speedups and Shortcuts; Cookies
Chapter 6 - AOL Annoyances: General AOL Annoyances; Email
Chapter 7 - IM Annoyances: General Instant Messaging Annoyances; AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Windows Messenger; Yahoo! Messenger; ICQ
Chapter 8 - Searching Annoyances: General Search Annoyances; Government and the Law; Google; Amazon; eBay; Yahoo!
Chapter 9 - Security Annoyances: General Security Annoyances; Spyware; Trojans, Worms, and Viruses; Firewalls
Chapter 10 - Shopping and Auction Annoyances: General Shopping Annoyances; eBay Annoyances; Amazon Annoyances

As you can see, this book covers quite a bit of ground. Each chapter/subsection consists of a number of annoyances in the form of "questions" from readers or contributors. Imagine a weekly newspaper Q&A column and you get the idea. Gralla then answers the question in a straight-forward, understandable way that often includes a liberal dose of humor. What's even better is that he often includes links to websites that offer some unique service or twist on the subject (like using Teoma as a search engine for tech subjects) or a lead to a piece of software that will dramatically change the way you do something (like the Asterisk Key utility to show you the passwords behind the asterisks in a password field). And sometimes its just letting you know that *does* have a 1-800 number for customer service where you can speak to a real person (1-800-201-7575).

You won't necessarily learn something from every tip included in the book. You may even skip entire chapters (don't ask me questions about the AOL chapter, OK?). But that's OK and to be expected. Odds are that you'll pick up at least 10 - 20 tips or tricks that will make the whole book worth every penny you spend on it. Just the fact I don't have to continue to see IE launched as a quarter-size window any more was worth the price of admission for me!

Great stuff here, and a recommended read...

Outstanding selection of helpful hints, Friday, January 28, 2005

This is an outstanding selection of hints and tips for everything from fighting spam, to blocking popups, blogging, searching, buying, and a host of other activities on the Internet. The book has around 300 annoyances, each with an explanation of the problem and a solution. The annoyances, and the explanations, are all in play english for laymen.

Some of these hints are given several pages to play out. One particularly good one discusses the selection of a web hosting service. There is even a table with prices, storage sizes, bandwidth amounts, and more. It's great information presented in an easy to use form. Other hints, like the explanation of why you can't return a TV that is greater than 27 inches, seem out of place. But those are few and far between.

There are a number of books out there for Internet users looking for helpful hints. This is the best one I have seen so far. The writing is engaging, the content is great.

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