Tips, tricks and tweaks for the internet

Features David Hayward Dec 6, 2012

David Hayward takes a look at this crazy internet thing

The internet: all powerful, all seeing, all knowing. Scary, wonderful, magical and downright dangerous in the wrong hands. When you stop to think about the internet it’s like some Machiavellian plot conceived by a James Bond super criminal in order to achieve world domination, or a CIA conspiracy to spy on the population of the world and feed them the information the secret governments only wishes us to see and know.

The internet, as viewed via the Opte Project, which maps routes between computers in a visual map, now resembles the brain activity of some ultra-demi-being. The plot is enough to inspire sci-fi writers to put pen to paper and create an epic masterpiece. To say it’s immense would be like saying that the universe is a pretty big place.

Therefore, here are our tips, tricks and tweaks for the internet, or at least a very small corner of it, where you can find all sorts of useful and freakishly odd goings on.

Facebook

Now at one billion users, this social networking phenomenon has become a part of many people’s daily lives - so much so that addiction and Facebook anger are credible sources of income for many clinics around the globe. Crazy stuff. Anyway, we think it looks boring! So why not spruce it up a bit?

If you’re using Firefox, simply locate ‘Stylish’ in the Add-Ons pages and install. Restart Firefox and log in to your Facebook Account. Click on the small ‘S’ button in your Firefox status bar, then click on ‘Find Styles for this Site’ to open a new tab with themes for Facebook. Here you can see previews of the different styles. Pick one you like, click to install it, and now whenever you fire up Facebook, you’ll get a more interesting theme, instead of the boring old blue and white.

Post an empty ‘What’s On Your Mind’

If you want to appear aloof, mysterious, or just plain weird, then consider posting a null character on your Facebook status page. To do that, click in the ‘What’s on your mind?’ section, then hold down Alt and type 0, 1, 7, 3. Click ‘Post’ and you’ll have nothing there...

Not sure why you would want to do this? Neither are we, but there you go.

Google Gravity

Google is full of strange titbits. Try this one on for size: click here and watch as the familiar Google search engine falls under the natural laws of gravity.

Click to hold a piece and chuck it around.  If you have a tablet, move it around to tip the objects over.

Epic Google

Feeling a little excessive? Want to see what happens when Google expands beyond the realms of your monitor? Then click here and watch as Google grows before your very eyes.

YouTube Disco

YouTube is pretty fab, not just for watching clips of kittens falling into toilets or people being attacked by camels, but for promoting the latest musical talent. YouTube Disco continues this trend for the musically inclined.

Head over to the YouTube Disco page, type in the artist you fancy listening to. Then click on ‘Disco!’

As well as picking a popular random song, from the likes of The Stone Roses, you can also click on the ‘Play top 100’ and YouTube will cycle through the selection for you.

YouTube Leanback

YouTube may be good for watching video when in front of your monitor, but it’s a pain for media PC. However, this project will make YouTube viewing on the big screen TV a little nicer.

Navigate on over to YouTube TV and use the keyboard arrow keys to scroll through the selection. Hit Enter to view your video - in glorious HD, of course.

YouTube XL

In addition to Leanback, YouTube also offers a super-sized version designed for mega-big living room tellies, the ones you usually see in tiny front rooms, burning the retinas of the assembled family. Click here to enjoy massive-screen entertainment, of a sort.

Child-friendly Internet

While the rest of us adults are happily surfing away, take a moment to think if what we’re looking at is viewable for children. Most of it isn’t, and not in a bad way: the occasional jibe on Facebook, the odd video on YouTube, which is perfectly fine for us, but may give a child nightmares. It’s a lot to consider, but there’s no need to totally isolate a child from the benefits the internet can provide.

Instead, make sure the 'safe search' facility is activated on all the search engines. It’s not perfect but plays a small part. You could also consider looking into what protection or parental controls the operating system you’re using offers. Microsoft has some advice, here

Most child protection informational sites give the same kind of help and advice, so follow it and see what best applies to you and your children.

Mind what you say

Fellow contributor Sarah Dobbs wrote a great article a while back on Twitter rants and the consequences of what happens when a tweeter goes off on one. Remember, pretty much everyone is able to view what you write, so during those moments of heated debate or political opinionated rants, take a moment to mull over your text before pressing the Enter key. Is what you’ve just typed likely to cause great offence? Will it initiate a string of events that causes emotional harm to others? Are you likely to have the SAS swing through your bedroom window in the dead of night? If the answer is a possibility, or a well defined yes, then delete. Don’t be a troll, and don’t offend just for offending sakes.

Don’t pirate

It’s an easy path to take. The latest movie has just been released, you see it in 1080p on a torrent site and the temptation is too great, so you hit the download button. Basically, our advice is - don’t. It’s not big or clever, and don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re hidden by roaming proxies or whatnot, because you’re not.

Don’t Delve Too Deep

As above, the temptation to dig deeper into the internet is far too great at times. The hidden web can be a dangerous place, filled with unscrupulous sorts who will target you if you make yourself known to them. On the other hand, the hidden web, as in the various forums, boards, databases and sorts can be a very informative place to visit; try out the likes of InfoMineWWW Virtual Library, CompletePlanet and InfoPlease to gain access to otherwise hidden internet content.

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