Sometimes simple tricks are the ones that work out best

The other day I made a site visit to help someone who had been complaining for weeks
that her Internet access was just too slow--despite having the fast modem I had
recommended to her as well as a clean telephone line.

She was even using a brand of PC I had recommended, so I knew the serial port was fast
enough, as I have the same kind of Internet connection.

It was time for a hands-on test to see if hardware and software were working up to par.
I took along a notebook PC in case I needed to test the phone line with familiar
equipment, a few diagnostic utilities and spare copies of a few browsers.

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether a user has bad equipment, bad software or just a
different personal preference. As it turned out, her slow-access problem was very easy to

All I had to do was watch her run an on-line session. She was accessing the same World
Wide Web sites frequently in her work, each time waiting impatiently through the time it
took to load all the pretty pictures.

She said she was feeling quite annoyed with Web site designers for building in fancy
graphics that did nothing but delay her in finding what she needed.

The solution? I shut off the auto-graphics-load feature on her browser--she didn't even
know it was there.

I had disabled that auto-load feature so long ago on my browsers that it had become
automatic to turn it back on for the few occasions when I did need to see a pageful of
graphics--so automatic, in fact, that it never occurred to me everyone else might not have
done the same thing.

Perhaps some users in your office are complaining about their slow Net access. It might
well be slow modems or overloaded servers, but don't forget to check the obvious. Every
Net surfer ought to be aware of how to shut off those complex color images for faster
access times.

Here's how. Depending on your browser, locate the Auto Load Image or a similar option
in one of the pull-down menus--look under Options or View. Turn off the option. On 99 We
sites out of 100, you won't miss much by never waiting around to load the graphics.

That's hardly an earth-shaking hint for power users, and I hope I haven't insulted my
long-time readers by mentioning it, but somebody has to point out these things to new or
infrequent surfers.

As I've often said, being a power user sometimes just means making the most of what
resources you have.

John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with
computers since the early 1960s. He welcomes mail from readers. Write to him care of
Government Computer News, 8601 Georgia Ave., Suite 300, Silver Spring, Md. 20910.

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