Tag Archives: free

The Novice’s Guide to the Internet and Computing pt.5

Different rules apply to different browsers and nations. I can only speak from personal experience. I use proxies for two reasons, by passing web filters, and getting around bans from forums I’ve trolled. Everything you do on the Internet leaves little clues behind that all point vaguely in your direction. Every search shows your interest or affliction, every website leaves your filthy foot prints on it’s white carpet, everywhere you go you leave a steaming lump of offal called an IP address.

“Trolling” is what fishermen do when they allow their bait to trail behind the moving boat until some gullible fish takes the bait.

Now most people have a dynamic IP and have no real reason to use a proxy except to cover their illegal activities. At least that’s the way it was 10 or so years ago before everyone got broadband. Now you still have a dynamic IP more than likely, but it’s probably only apt to change about once a month or sometimes once every three months like mine is. Now there are still very few real reasons to use a proxy for the average user, but never-the-less I’ll cover some real ones.

Chances are good that if you work at a company that requires it’s employees to use a computer to do menial tasks that require accessing a webpage and you tried to go to your favorite sites instead, you’ve encountered something similar to the Barracuda web filter. Web filters are like firewalls and in many cases are firewalls that keep you from going on MySpace and Facebook during work hours. The things these filters block are normally updated by one giant list at some cold server room with the additional list kept by your System Administrator. Now your System Administrator seems like a cool guy on the smoke breaks, but he probably won’t unban Facebook or MySpace so you can network instead of doing menial tasks. That’s where a simple web proxy comes into play.

I would advise you of my super secret web proxies, but I don’t want my enormous fanbase going and getting my proxies blocked, so just do a search for “web proxy” on google or Altavista or whatever you are using these days. Just don’t be upset when they release your IP to the Feds with all your search history exposed for the world to see. That’s right, I think. try out the new thing! IXQUICK!

IxQuick is a foreigner’s anonymous metasearch engine. It doesn’t store IP addresses even on anonymous users.

Your IP address is linked to you by your ISP and can (normally with a warrant) be used to find you!

Web proxies are well and good enough on their own, but what I really want you to know about is real proxy use. I would like to recommend portable Tor for this guide as it’s already set up, can be carried around on a thumbdrive and uses the Tor network to proxify you. Tor by itself is complicated enough for me not to want to explain it at all, but rest assured you can find plenty of info about it on their download site.

Go to WhatismyIP.com and it will inform you of your IP of course.

I am going to assume you are using my browser of choice, Firefox, for the rest of this tutorial, but just understand that you set up proxy values in Internet Explorer through “Tools”>”Internet Options”>”Connections”>”Lan Settings”.

Open up Firefox, click on “Tools”>”Options” then click on the tabs (it may be under “general” or “advanced” depending on the version) until you see “Connection Settings”. Click on the “Connection Settings” button and you should see a few settings to choose from. 1. Direct Connection to the Internet 2. Auto-Detect proxy Settings for this Network and the real winner 3. Manual Proxy Configuration.

Proxy setup in firefox

Proxy setup in firefox

Select the third option and the options beneath will light up and become editable. In the first box labeled “HTTP Proxy:” Enter in 127.0.0.1 and port 8118 then hit “OK” Now run Portable Tor. Once portable Tor is connected and running try going to WhatismyIP.com again and see the difference. If it’s still the same than something went wrong, go back and try again. When you get tired of browsing through Tor you can go back into the settings again and change the connection back to number 1. Direct Connection to the Internet and click OK again. You will now be back to normal.

There are thousands of proxies available online some free, some pay. I won’t list any here, but a quick search on goo…er...Ixquick.com should get you the info you want right away. All you need to use the public proxies is change the 127.0.0.1 with their IP address and change the port with their port number. When you see their IP it may be listed as something like “64.15.0.0:80” well the IP is the 64.15.0.0 and the port is the 80. That’s what the “:” designates. The default proxy port is 8080 port 80 is the default HTTP port, or the one which websites are served to and through.

Now my Internet ninjas, go forth and be peaceful. try not to do anything that you need a proxy to hide behind and try not to get fired for using the Internet for personal reasons. One more good idea is not to access anything personal through a proxy, you never know who runs the proxy after all.

Be sure to check out parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this series.

The Novice’s Guide to Computing and the Internet pt.3

Every traveler needs their essentials when traveling in a strange land and the Internet is no exception. There are all kinds of programs and all kinds of files that a “newb” might not be aware of even when the rest of the population knows them so well they can barely exist without them. These are going to be the most commonly needed applications that no one has installed for you or your browser shrugged it’s shoulders at.
Compressed files serve an incredible niche in the virtual world. Think of them as little suitcases crammed as tightly full of clothes as they can be, while 7zip is the fat lady sitting on top forcing the lid to close. Not only does compression put all those “clothes” in the case, but it actually manages to fold them in such a way as to make them take up less space, so now you have more clothing(data) taking up less space and all in one neat little package. Organize your backups, unclutter your hard drive, increase upload speeds, decrease download times. Use compression!
I mention 7zip above, but it is by no means the only compression software out there, but it is one of the best. Another good one to try if you can handle the nag screen is WinRAR which in it’s defense I still use through the context menu on my 64bit XP machine and have used it for years with no complaints.

What’s a “Context menu”? It’s the menu that pops up when you right-click on a file.

7zip can unpack 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR,  ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, DEB, DMG, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MSI, NSIS, RAR, RPM, UDF, WIM, XAR and Z files, but it can only compress in the most convenient formats of 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR. I happen to like compressing to RAR myself, so I wouldn’t mind having WinRAR on any of my boxes. WinRAR only compresses to RAR and ZIP and can unpack CAB, ARJ, LZH, TAR, GZ and TAR.GZ, BZ2 and TAR.BZ2, ACE, UUE, JAR (Java Archive), ISO (ISO9660 – CD image),7Z, Z (Unix compress).

A compressed file is normally called an “archive”

Spend any reasonable amount of time on the Internet and eventually you will come across at least one of these file types, more than likely a RAR, ZIP or 7z file as they are the most common compressions with Windows. Windows XP and newer can actually handle .ZIP on it’s own.
Ok. Ok, so you just downloaded a fresh “Movie.7z” and used one of the programs listed above to extract it and you double-click on the little “movie.avi” file and super huge and bulky Windows Media Player comes plopping and plodding up on your screen 35 seconds later. It tries to load the movie, but no avail. It needs your permission to get some codec or something. ehhh….
Go and get a real media player for your machine. I use 3 different ones. KM Player, Winamp and Gom All three are highly customizable, easy to use and between KM Player and Gom you should be able to play any video that can be thrown at you, if it’s even remotely playable. Winamp is dependant on codec packs generally, but KM Player will install it’s codecs for Winamp to use if you let it. Winamp is also a pretty awesome MP3 player in it’s own right. If you combine it with something like DFX the sound is simply amazing. Maybe you like Windows Media Player 11 or 12 or10 or whatever number it is now. Try out the Combined Community Codec Pack to get your videos playing, but please for the sake of your computer at least try out Media Player Classic.

So now you can make compressed files and play video files on your computer using some of the better media players but what if you want your own DVDs to be backed up on your computer? Well that’s not a problem if you followed along with my 2nd guide.
Your going to need a DVD or CD that you want to make the image from, a DVD-ROM and that amazing little piece of software ImgBurn. Place your disk in your disk drive and open ImgBurn. This time you will want to pick “Create an Image from a Disc”, pick the disk drive as the source and then make sure the destination is where you want it to be. Hit the little icons at the bottom and blammo you have an image of your disc a little while later.
You now have the knowledge available to you to create a backup of your personal movie or music collection, bit for bit, compress them to an archive. Extract them from the archive using the context menu and burn the Image file back onto a blank disk or mount them using Daemon tools.

Please make sure to read Parts 1 and 2 of this series.

The Novice’s Guide to Computing and the Internet Part 2.

A very common issue for a novice computer user is coming across a file and having no idea what it is or how to use it. I remember the first time I saw an image file and how much of a loop it threw me for. I feel it’s important to get a good explanation of what a disc image is and exactly how it’s used and why it’s used. A Disc image is like a snapshot of the disc in it’s current state. Every blank spot, bad sector and data sector is mapped out exactly as it is on the disc the original image came from enabling you to make a perfect duplicate.

There are plenty of reasons to have image files on hand. Backups are a very common use of disc imaging, but creating a disc image is something to tackle later on. First let’s figure out some of the more common image types and learn to burn them to disc and even mount them in virtual drives.There are tons of different programs used to make images of discs, but more than likely you will see either .ISO or .BIN .CUE as they are fairly universal standards.

Let’s begin with a hypothetical situation. You have had a home video DVD sent to you through email as a disc image file. The file is called “Family_reunion.ISO” and you would like to watch it, but….What do you do with this .ISO? Well you probably want to watch this one in the DVD player out in the living room so it would make sense to burn it to an actual DVD, especially since Cousin Pete added in all the fancy menus and such to make it easier to navigate. You’re going to need a DVD burner first off and second a DVD player that will play the home made DVD, not all of them will. Third you need a decent burning software that can handle image burning. I suggest ImgBurn , it’s free, it’s simple and it get’s the job done.

Load your blank into the DVD burner on your PC, load up Imgburn, pick “write image file to disc” choose the source, which in this example is “Family_reunion.ISO” and click the thing at the bottom that looks like a CD on a piece of paper with an arrow pointing toward a CD by itself. A few minutes later you should have a complete new DVD with all the video and menus Cousin Pete put on the image to begin with.

Now let’s skip the hypothetical and get straight to the point. You have an .ISO file and don’t want to burn a disc, but want to run it anyway. Go and download Daemon tools and install it being mindful of any extra packaged toolbars and home page changes. I use Firefox so I let Daemon’s homepage stay on my copy of Internet Explorer. Once installed you should see a little lightning bolt icon in your task bar. Right click on that icon and choose “mount image” then pick the location of your image and bam. You have a DVD or CD in the drive. Open “My Computer” and double-click the new drive. It should function as a normal disk drive would. You’ll notice an increased load on your hard drive though.

Most images are handled in the same way as .ISO images are handled, but .BIN and .CUE files are a little different. .CUE is like a map to different locations on the disk, while .BIN is the disc itself. Now you will mount the .CUE files and also use them to burn images to disc.

While this tutorial won’t work for every instance it should work in at least 90%. A few more of the commonly encountered image files along with the program that created them follow in this handy list from Wikipedia:

Alcohol 120%

.mds

CloneCD

.ccd

CloneDVD

.dvd

CDRWIN

.cue

Daemon Tools

.sav

DiscJuggler

.cdi

MagicISO

.uif

Nero Burning ROM

.nrg

Power ISO

.daa

Be sure to check out part 1 of  The Novice guide to internet and computing .

Passing Time at My Boring Job #3

wwiTV has a list of free internet TV organized by country and genre. My favorite is the USA horror movie channel. The movies have expired copyrights so it’s all legal and legitimate.

Passing Time at My Boring Job #2

Gekisen is a flash card game like Magic the Gathering or something similar. It took me about two or three times to understand what I was doing, but once I got the hang of it it occupied more than a few hours that week.