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FastNet brought a flurry of questions, and here are some answers
technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
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FastNet brought a flurry of questions, and here are some answers

Bit Player for Feb. 14, 1999

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1999, The Syracuse Newspapers

When I wrote about FastNet99 last week, I left something out.

FastNet99 is a free Windows program that speeds things up when you're on the Internet. Take a look at last week's article to learn more about FastNet99 and to find out how you can get it

Last week I told you FastNet99 speeded up your Web surfing and was both free and easy to use. All those things are true. But FastNet99 isn't a beginner's program, so if you took your first dive into Internet downloading last week and got dunked in the cold waters of FastNet99, I offer my apologies. This week I'll try to explain some of the things that newcomers told me they found confusing about FastNet99.

I'll also tell you as briefly as possible what to do when you download something. I've written extensively about this, so you should look for step-by-step instructions in my articles on downloading.

Let's talk about downloads first. Always right click the download link (the thing that is underlined) so that you can choose "Save as" from the menu that opens. ALWAYS DO THIS. After you click the "Save as" choice, Windows will ask you do make two fairly simple choices: Where do you want the file to go, and what name should the file have?

I think many of you are getting tripped up here. The little window you're looking at is a "browse" window. You can do all sorts of things in this window. Practice some of the things that can be done using a test download. (Use my site and do some test downloads. I won't mind.)

One thing you can do is create a new folder. Just click the tiny icon at the top of the browse window -- the one that has a starburst in its upper corner -- then type a proper name for the folder you just created. It's easy. Practice it. Click the folder and press the Delete key to get rid of it. And, yes, tell Windows it's OK to delete it when it asks you.

Why create a new folder? To put your download file in. You don't want downloads going just any old place. Once you've created that folder (call it "Download" and make me happy), double click it to enter it. Now look down at the name Windows is going to give the file you are downloading. If you don't like the name or can't make sense of it, type another name -- but don't change the file extension. (Most users can't change the extension. But if you're downloading a Zip file and have never encountered a Zip file before, Windows is SO dumb that it will actually let you change the extension -- the three letters after the period -- to something other than "zip," and that ruins the file, more or less.)

And as for Zip files, Microsoft needs its head examined. Selling Windows without giving Windows users a way to deal with Zip files is like selling cars without giving drivers a way to deal with the dark. (An old Windows joke: How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: None. They just change the standard to "dark.") A Zip file is a collection of many files compressed into a single downloadable file. The Zip method wasn't invented by Microsoft engineers and couldn't even be bought by them (it's not for sale), which is why you need an unzipper of your own. Get Zip Magic from or WinZip from

Whew! We haven't even started talking about Fastnet99 yet this week and we're running out of space, all because of the outrageous complexity of downloads. So let's get right to it.

FastNet99 has a lot of options -- too many options, maybe. Basically, there are only three things to do when you install FastNet99:

First, tell it where your Favorites are. These are files that store pointers to Web sites. If you're not using Internet Explorer, tell FastNet99 where your Bookmarks are. (It probably already knows.) A lot of you wrote to me and said you got lost right there, probably because you don't know about the Browse button right there in the little FastNet99 window. Go ahead. Click it. You won't hurt anything. You can cruise around your hard drive. Look in the Windows folder for a folder called Favorites and click it. Then click OK.

Second, tell FastNet99 to go out and get the IP numbers for the sites listed in your Favorites or your Bookmarks. Just click the appropriate button.

Third, when FastNet99 is done it probably will show you a list of sites that don't have numbered addresses. It will ask if it should delete them. ALWAYS ANSWER YES. Get rid of the bad entries.

That's all. You don't have to deal with any other parts of FastNet99. Just leave them alone. They're fluff. Run FastNet99 at least once a week. Make Favorites or Bookmarks for every site you think you'll want to return to, and let FastNet99 speed up your journey.

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