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There's No Place Like the Home Page

Posted by Somebody's Mother on 2:42 PM in , ,
I've recently been asked by the Sherbrooke Record to continue my columns but slanted toward older, novice users of technology. Here's my first column.

Welcome to a new and slanted toward technology version of the original Somebody’s Mother column. As a middle aged Mom type who loves gadgets, computers, the Internet, cell phones and all kinds of electronic toys, I hope to introduce you to some of the ways that technology can keep you informed, keep you connected, and yes, keep you entertained.

Since there’s no place like home, I thought it might be best to kick this series of columns off with the home page, that place that your computer goes to when you click into the Internet and get ready to dive into the cyber-universe. Many different websites will compete to get you to pick their site to be your home page. This only makes sense as the web page developers sell advertising space and they want you to get their message. While much of the Internet may be accessed free of charge (it reminds me of the old days of getting TV stations for free with bunny-eared antennas), advertising is what makes the Internet go and websites like Google, Yahoo, Facebook and My Space want you to click on their site as opposed to anybody else’s.

You can use a home page for a variety of purposes. Many people have a plain old Google search page as their home page but a home page can do a lot more for you than give you access to the world’s most popular search engine. You can get the latest news headlines, your horoscope, local weather, entertainment news, currency exchange rates, your favourite comic strip and so much more. If you have stocks and can figure out what your stock symbols are, you can have updates as soon as you turn your computer on. You can have the weather of all the cities that your family members and friends live in. As Canadians, we like to know about weather.

Putting a home page together is very easy and one of my favourite ways of procrastinating more important tasks is picking a new theme or background for my home page. Years ago, I chose Yahoo as my home page because it offered all the goodies that I just mentioned plus the possibility of picking seasonal themes. Google now offers the same possibilities at iGoogle.com. In fact with iGoogle, if you’re the kind of person who likes variety, you can have a different theme every day. There are people out there who apparently have more time for procrastinating than I do and they upload their latest designs. iGoogle allows you to pick Theme of the Day so that with little effort on your part, you get a snazzy page that someone has worked hard to produce. Once you’ve picked your content, there’s options for creating a colour scheme or if you’re an avid sports fan, you can even pick your favourite team’s colours. My own Yahoo home page sports a yellow and blue beach scene with colourful sailboats.

If you can click a box to check it off, you can make your own home page with the content that interests you. Have a look at both iGoogle and Yahoo and see which you like better. Very cleverly, iGoogle has its most popular content in a big blue box at the top of the page with boxes for you to check off. You can pick which city you want to get your weather for, and yes, Sherbrooke is one of them. If you would like to try Yahoo, you can simple Google…or Yahoo My Yahoo and if you click on “I’m New Here”, it will guide you in setting up the page.

One of the advantages of the computer and the Internet is that there are many options for setting things up in the way that it is most convenient and pleasant for you so don’t be shy. Finally, once you’ve done all the work to set up your page the way you want to, go into your browser’s menu (whether it is Explorer, Firefox or the Mac Safari) and set your new page as your home page. The easiest way to do this is to go to the Help menu and search Home Page in the help menu index. It should give you easy step by step instructions on how to make the current page that you’re working on your home page. Good luck and have fun.

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