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MSN the Everyday Web

Overview

E-mail. Car shopping. Airline tickets. Stock quotes. News from Tokyo. With "MSN Every Day!", readers discover exactly where to go on the Microsoft Network (MSN) to learn more and do more on the Web. This fun, easy-to-use guide shows new users of MSN over 100 things they can do right now — everything from checking horoscopes and participating in live chats to getting a copy of a credit report, planning a trip, or buying real estate. It's written by a noted Internet author and Microsoft insider who makes it easy to...

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Overview

E-mail. Car shopping. Airline tickets. Stock quotes. News from Tokyo. With "MSN Every Day!", readers discover exactly where to go on the Microsoft Network (MSN) to learn more and do more on the Web. This fun, easy-to-use guide shows new users of MSN over 100 things they can do right now — everything from checking horoscopes and participating in live chats to getting a copy of a credit report, planning a trip, or buying real estate. It's written by a noted Internet author and Microsoft insider who makes it easy to learn the ropes. From the simple to the exotic, for work and for play, "MSN Every Day!" demonstrates the rich possibilities on line.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
Gradually, Microsoft's MSN has evolved into a remarkably broad, remarkably useful family of web services. It's got dozens of nooks and crannies you might not discover on your own -- but with MSN: The Everyday Web, they're all in plain sight.

This simple book is ideal for beginners and comes with a copy of the free MSN Explorer software that Microsoft provides to help users personalize and manage MSN's web services. Like MSN itself, it's task focused. A "Know What's Going On" chapter covers everything from MSNBC news to entertainment gossip to homework help. A "Play and Have Fun" chapter covers everything from TV listings to Microsoft's premium online games. (Bet you didn't know MSN hosts photos of your town from space: Bill Gates is watching!) A "Get a Personal Life" chapter covers love and marriage, online matchmaking, planning your wedding, and raising your kids.

You'll find chapters on MSN's resources for health and fitness, car and home buying, careers, hobbies, and communications -- everything from greeting cards and Hotmail to instant messaging and getting your own free home page. Almost all of MSN's services are free, and this is a remarkably inexpensive guide to making the most of them.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735611405
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press
  • Publication date: 1/6/2001
  • Series: EU-Independent Series
  • Edition description: BK&CD-ROM
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 7.35 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 4.Know What's Going On
  • Check Up-to-Date News Headlines
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Keep Track of Appointments and Birthdays
    • More to Try
    • Explore
  • Read Top Columnists
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Get a Restaurant’s Phone Number
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Take a 360-Degree Tour of Las Vegas
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Get Homework Help
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Find Out What’s in Major Magazines
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Learn Which Movies Your Favorite Stars Will Be in Next
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Find Out About a Country
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Look Up Your Favorite Historical Figure
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Research a Project
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Research a College
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore
  • Find Out How Cars Work
    • More to Try
    • See Also
    • Explore

4 Know What’s Going On

The Internet contains the greatest collection of human knowledge ever assembled, and most of it is out there and available just for the asking. In this chapter, we’ll explore the ways in which MSN provides you with easy access to vast amounts of news and information. We’ll show you how to use MSN as an alternative to your paper encyclopedia and newspaper, the TV news, and much more. And it’s not all serious stuff—we’ll have some fun talking about movies, gossip, and fantastic vacations, too.

Check Up-to-Date News Headlines

Back before the Internet and 24-hour cable TV news coverage, folks were accustomed to getting all their news from newspapers, radio, and daily TV news shows. If a big story happened during the day, most people didn’t know about it until they heard it during drive-time on the radio or saw it on the evening news. Those days are gone forever. Now the news is ready when you want it, not when someone else decides it’s time to dole it out to you. And although there’s a lot more news on TV than there used to be, you can’t beat the Internet for finding out what’s going on in the world.

In this section, we’ll explore how you can get news from MSN. The main source for news on MSN is MSNBC, which is a cable TV network as well as the most popular news Web site in the world. We’ll also look at other news sources available from MSN, including MSN Slate. Read on and get the news!

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic from the MSN home page, click News in the list of channels on the left side of the screen. Or click the Address bar, type MSN News, and press the Enter key. This takes you to the MSNBC News home page customized for MSN users.
  2. Click on any of the summary paragraphs to read the full story.
  3. MSNBC classifies stories in various categories. To see other headlines, click International News or U.S. News in the top bar. You’ll see headlines in those categories.
  4. Click Special Reports to look at in-depth reporting on particular topics.

More to Try

The MSNBC page that MSN offers is a customized edition that looks and works like most other MSN pages. MSNBC supplies much more on its own Web site if you want to explore the news in depth. Click the MSNBC logo on the left to see the full MSNBC home page. From there, you can use MSNBC links to find out about sports, business, health, technology, and other news categories. Many of the stories include video and sound clips. Some even provide interactive charts and calculators—after all, this is the Web, not TV!

Slate, another MSN service, provides a unique feature that lets you see the hot news from top newspapers around the country. This gives you a great perspective on what topics are being discussed across the land. To see how this works, click the Address bar, type Slate, and press the Enter key to go the Slate home page. Then click the different options on the top bar to see different news headlines within Slate.

When you’ve sampled Slate, go back to the MSNBC home page and see what’s going on there. Some of the stories on MSNBC include links to video. Click these links to see special reports on breaking stories, world news reports, and lots more. Like any online video, this works best if you have a fast connection to the Internet.

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One of the features of MSNBC lets you know about breaking stories as they happen whenever you’re connected to the Internet. The News Alert feature installs a small icon next to the clock on the Windows taskbar, which is normally at the bottom of your screen. When big news happens, the icon, which looks like a target, starts flashing. You can then click on the target to see the headline.

If you spend a lot of time reading e-mail, you might prefer to have MSN E-Mail Extra deliver news straight to your inbox. Choose from a wide variety of e-mail newsletters, including Today’s News Headlines, NBC Meet the Press, and The Week in Pictures.

To sign up for News Alert or E-Mail Extra, click Cool Tools at the bottom of the MSNBC home page and follow the instructions.

See Also

You can get personalized news content from MSNBC—see "Personalize MSNBC" in Chapter 2. If you’re passionate about the political news and want to talk about it, check out "Discuss Politics on a Message Board" in Chapter 15. And if you’re tired of the whole news thing and just want to watch something mindless on TV, see "Check TV Listings" in Chapter 6.

Explore

Maybe you like the Today show on NBC but don’t have time to sit there for the whole two hours. You can use MSN to watch just the segments you’re interested in. From the MSNBC home page, click Today show in the upper left. You can then look at just the part of the show you want.

Keep Track of Appointments and Birthdays

If you carry a personal organizer, you know how chaotic your life would be if you ever lost it. That’s true whether you use a traditional paper organizer or a high-tech tool like a Pocket PC or Data Rover. These invaluable companions keep track of where you’re supposed to be, at what time, and for what purpose, along with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your family, friends, favorite restaurants, doctors, and other contacts. They even remind you when it’s your mother-in-law’s birthday—the high-tech ones are especially good at that.

As technology advances, you can find smaller, lighter, and cheaper personal organizers. These gadgets are great; they let you take MSN with you wherever you go. But if you haven’t gotten yours yet, wouldn’t it be nice if your desktop computer—wherever your desktop happened to be that day—could offer the same convenience without your having to carry anything around?

MSN Calendar is a great Web-based appointment tracker, task reminder, and never-forgetful knower of special days. Because it’s built into MSN, it’s simple to access from your computer as you’re sitting in your office, your family room, your sister’s house, or your hotel room. In this section, we’ll take a look at a typical day in the life of an MSN Calendar and the person it works for.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic, click My Calendar on the My Stuff bar on the left side of the screen. You can also access MSN Calendar from the MSN home page by clicking the Calendar link near the top of the screen.
  2. If this is the first time you have used MSN Calendar, you might be asked to accept a terms of service agreement and to enter your sign-in information.
  3. After you enter the necessary information, the calendar displays today’s schedule, which is equipped with a left and right arrow for moving back and forward in time. On the right, you can click tabs to view your calendar by day, week, month, or year.
  4. (Image Unavailable)

  5. Let’s add tomorrow’s appointments to drive the carpool at 7:30 A.M., get a haircut at noon, and go to a meeting at 7:00 in the evening. Click Add New Appointment to get started.
  6. On the Add New Appointment screen, fill in the description (carpool), location (recreation center), and category (Personal).
  7. In the Dates section, fill in the date, time, and duration of the carpool .appointment.
  8. Because you drive the carpool every weekday, we can make it a repeating appointment. We’ll specify that this appointment takes place every weekday from now until the middle of September. Click the + next to Repeat, then click the option next to Repeat Every and check the boxes for Monday through Friday.
  9. To set the end date for the repeating carpool appointment, click the Repeat until option and choose September 15.
  10. To go on to the next new appointment, click Save and Add Another.
  11. Enter the next appointment, and keep following the steps just described until you’ve scheduled the carpool, haircut, and meeting. That’s it! Now all you have to do is show up.

More to Try

If you like to have a paper copy of your schedule, you can print it by clicking Printer-Friendly Version. Your schedule will be printed using the current daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly view.

A truly useful secretary can help you remember important personal events, and MSN Calendar does a fine job of reminding you about birthdays and anniversaries. You can, for example, use it to schedule a dinner party and invite the guests at the same time. Just enter the appropriate information in the Invites and Reminder sections of the Add New Appointment screen. To send invitations, enter the e-mail addresses of the people you want to invite. Each invitee will receive an e-mail and can click a link to the calendar entry. Your guests can then use MSN to let you know whether they’re coming. With very little effort, you can schedule an event, invite the participants, and track their RSVPs.

If you want, you can set the Calendar to automatically send an e-mail reminder the day of the appointment or up to one week before. This service isn’t so important for the carpool, but it can come in handy when you need to remember special days. For example, after you’ve entered June 2 as Louis and Jennifer’s anniversary, click Reminders to have MSN send you an e-mail reminder one week before that date. That will give you plenty of time to send them a gift.

Besides scheduling your time, MSN Calendar can also help keep your task list organized. Click Tasks to see what you have to do and when you have to have it done. You can sort tasks by several different categories, and you can also print out tasks list.

Explore

For a calendar to be really useful, it should include national and religious holidays. For example, if you’re in charge of planning your hobby group’s annual convention next spring, you need to know when Passover and Easter will be, and you’ll see that the hockey game scheduled for the third Monday in January will be an afternoon affair because it’s Martin Luther King Day. Click Options on the MSN Calendar top bar and then click the Calendar link to see a list of country-specific and religious holidays you can add to your calendar with a single click.

Read Top Columnists

You probably wouldn’t be too keen on returning to a restaurant that only had one or two items on the menu. You also would probably not patronize a shoe store that sold only one style. In the same spirit, when you visit MSN, you can pick from among dozens of columnists and top writers when you’re looking for commentary, expert opinions, and amusing gossip.

If you’re a political junkie, imagine seeing a table of contents with commentaries from the likes of Molly Ivins, Arianna Huffington, George Will, William F. Buckley, and William Safire. If you’re more interested in show biz, you might prefer Liz Smith, Neil Travis, and Jeanette Walls. Whatever your favorite subject, MSN collects the best and brightest columnists, editorials, reviews, and gossip from U.S. and international publications and supplies links to them in a single page.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic, click the Address bar, type MSN Slate Links, and press the Enter key. This will take you to the list of links to columns.
  2. (Image Unavailable)

  3. Notice the links are divided into Print Pundits, Gossip Pundits, TV Pundits, International Papers, and Critics. Wow, that’s a lot of pundits. Let’s see what they have to say.
  4. To find a political columnist, look under Print Pundits and click the one you tend to agree with—or disagree with, depending on how you want to feel after you read it.

More to Try

After you’ve had your fill of political editorials, check out the latest from art, books, movies, television, theater, and music critics around the country. See what Rolling Stone says about the latest Neil Young CD, or read a New York Times Book Review of Tom Clancy’s latest novel.

You can check out links to major newspapers and magazines from around the world as well. The Jerusalem Post, Moscow Times, and Le Monde all have opinions about the U. S. elections, and you can read them. These papers put an entirely different spin on American political campaigns and their candidates. You have to bone up on your French if you want to read Le Monde.

See Also

It’s always useful to check reviews before shopping, and you can use Slate’s links before buying CDs, books, or DVDs. Also check out "Buy a CD" in Chapter 5.

Explore

Although the line between political stories and gossip is often fuzzy, you’ll find certain things only in the celebrity gossip columns. Liz Smith and Army Archerd rarely mention the candidates for political office, except to name restaurants where they were seen, but they are great sources for news about Madonna and her new love or the latest Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman film project. A lot of the fun in reading celebrity gossip is comparing what the sources say in Washington, New York, and Los Angeles. The Slate Links page offers a convenient list for you to contrast what’s being reported on both coasts and in between.

MSN and Slate have already made it easy for you to choose from an extensive menu of columnists. You can make it even easier by getting Slate headlines delivered fresh and hot to your inbox daily. As a Slate subscriber, you can get your favorite features automatically delivered to you via e-mail. To find out about Slate’s e-mail options, click E-mail Services at the bottom of the Slate home page.

Get a Restaurant’s Phone Number

Even though the Internet is big and almost all-knowing, some businesses don’t have a Web site—yet. Because you’re a modern person using MSN to live the Web lifestyle, you might think to dismiss a company like this as hopelessly old fashioned, while choosing another, more forward-thinking establishment. But what do you do when your extended family is about to hit town, your favorite family-style Italian restaurant has no Web site, and you need to be reminded of the restaurant hours? You just accept the inconvenience and call them on the phone so that you can find out when they’re open and make a reservation at their famous "Frank Sinatra" table.

But wait, you can still use the Internet to save the day! MSN provides a quick and easy way to look up the number without having to remember where you put the telephone book or which city, exactly, the restaurant is in. In this section, we’ll see how MSN’s version of the yellow pages works.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic from the MSN home page, click Yellow Pages under Local Lookups on the right. Or click the Address bar, type MSN Yellow Pages, and press the Enter key. This takes you to the MSN Yellow Pages home page.
  2. Type the name of the restaurant in the Search for box.
  3. Under Location, click the City option.
  4. In the City box, type the name of the city the restaurant is in. If you don’t know—say you’re searching for your old favorite after it has moved to who-knows-where—just take a guess, or leave the box blank.
  5. Click the choose a state drop-down list, and select a state.
  6. Click Go. MSN will display the name, address, and phone number of the restaurant, along with a link to an Expedia map, in case you need one.

More to Try

That was easy! But when you call, maybe you’ll find out that every table in the restaurant is booked until 10:30 PM. MSN can help here, too. MSN Yellow Pages lets you search by category and business type to find the phone number of other Italian restaurants nearby. Under the Refine search section on the search results page, click the type option next to the search box to search for a business by its type instead of its name.

See Also

You can use MSN Yellow Pages to help plan a date (see Chapter 13), looking up phone numbers for the restaurant, theater, or wherever else you’re going. And as you might expect, MSN has a White Pages directory that lets you look for an old friend or a long-lost family member. See "Look Up a Phone Number" in Chapter 3. We go through a more extensive Yellow Pages search in Chapter 5, in "Look Up Roofing Companies in the Yellow Pages."

Explore

If your cranky brother decides he doesn’t feel like Italian food, you can browse through other cuisines in the Related categories list on the left side of Yellow Pages search. If you’re not sure how to get there once you’ve decided on a place, click Map and find your way. Also on the left of the screen, you might find a link to the appropriate City Guide so that you can look at reviews and menus. If all else fails, you can always order the food to go and have a great dinner at your own table. You’ll have to clean up, though.

Take a 360-Degree Tour of Las Vegas

MSN is full of great pictures, and you have probably looked at movie trailers or other videos on the Web. But did you know you can find pictures on MSN that actually let you look up and down streets, sidewalks, and mountains, in all directions? It’s amazing but true. Expedia includes a collection of these magic pictures, called 360-Degree Tours, that show you famous places around the globe. In this section, we’ll take a 360-degree tour of the lights on the Las Vegas Strip.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic, click the Address bar, type MSN 360 Tour, and press the Enter key. This takes you to the 360º Tours page on Expedia.
  2. Under North America, click Las Vegas, Nevada to start the tour of our favorite gaudy destination. You might be asked to install and run the surround video software.
  3. To stop the picture from moving, click anywhere on the picture.
  4. (Image Unavailable)

  5. To take the tour, click any of the numbers under the picture. When you do, the picture zips along to show you a new view, and the description changes to tell you what you’re looking at.
  6. Click a few more numbers to get the whole tour. Are you getting a sudden urge to stay up all night and gamble?
  7. You can move the picture yourself, without using the numbers. To do this, click directly on the picture and drag in the direction you want the picture to go. As you do, the picture scoots around to follow the mouse movement. When you stop moving the mouse, the picture stops moving too.

More to Try

As you can see from the list on the screen, there are lots of other places you can tour. Choose from the great cities of the world, including Paris, Prague, London, and Hong Kong; amazing journeys like the Serengeti Plain, Dominica, and Stonehenge; and remarkable views such as Machu Picchu Inca ruins, Bryce Canyon, and the Australian Outback.

Of course, since all these trips are fast and free, you don’t have to choose just one or two. You can take all of them and still be home for dinner.

Want to show a 360º Tour to a friend, or maybe give your spouse a hint about a trip you’d like to take? Click Send this page to a friend to create a new e-mail message with a link to this page already included. Just address the e-mail and send it off to see whether your friend can take a hint.

See Also

After looking at pictures of all these wonderful places, you may be tempted to arrange a vacation on the spot. See "Plan a Vacation" in Chapter 13 to help you with that, or simply click the links right on the 360º Tours page under the Plan this trip section to get started.

To help figure out just how much you can afford to spend on your vacation, you might need to read "Evaluate Your Debt" in Chapter 7. If you just can’t afford that trip right now, you can still sample the local flavor by using MSN to tune in to a radio station from the place you want to visit. See "Listen to a Radio Station" in Chapter 6.

If you have taken a vacation and fallen in love with your destination, you can use MSN to help find a new job so that you can relocate there permanently. Chapter 11 will help you: see "Look for a New Job," "Tune Up Your Resume," and "Learn How to Market Yourself." Once you have the job, read "Find a Home to Buy" in Chapter 10.

Explore

Expedia offers lots of great services to vacationers, including those who are starting their travels from the comfort of a computer. To learn more about Expedia, go to the Expedia home page. You can get directly to the Expedia home page by entering MSN Expedia in the Address bar.

Get Homework Help

The Internet is a great boon for trivia buffs and other lovers of useless facts. You can find out the name of the kid actor who played Spoon Boy in The Matrix, the average annual rainfall in Seattle, or which team won last night’s hockey playoff game. You can also accomplish more noble tasks like finishing your science homework or starting your report on the United States system of government, which this section will help you do.

MSN has done a terrific job of organizing reference tools, study ideas, and general curriculum topics, so you can spend less time looking things up and more time completing the assignments. Let’s get going on that science homework before Mom notices you haven’t done it yet.

Try It

  1. To go directly to help with homework, click the Address bar, type MSN Homework, and press the Enter key. This takes you to the Homework page on Encarta.
  2. Click the Encarta Enquire box, type photosynthesis, and click Go to get a list of Encarta articles on that topic.
  3. Now do your homework! No TV until you’re finished!

More to Try

Now that science is done, it’s time to start that government report. You can browse the topics in Encarta’s homework Web directory. On the Homework page, click the Homework Web Directory link. From the Homework Web Directory page, you can click a category, a subcategory, and then the corresponding Web links. For the government report, you can click the Social Studies category and then click the Government and Law subcategory.

To find reference material, click Reference in the drop-down list under Go To Encarta and then click Go. From the Encarta Reference page, you can search Encarta’s encyclopedia, world English dictionary, and atlas. Of course, you’ll have plenty of time to do that after you read all about the hockey playoffs.

See Also

If you’re past the time in your life when you learn mainly to earn a grade, MSN provides ample opportunities to enrich your knowledge of the world around you. You can check out "Read News About Women and Sports" (Chapter 12), "Find Out How Cars Work" (in this chapter), and "Find Anything on the Internet" (Chapter 3) for details about any topic, such as the results of the latest elections or facts about how the Justice Department and the Immigration Service dealt with the Elian Gonzalez custody case.

Explore

Before you start writing your report, but after you’ve checked the hockey scores, you can explore the links on the Encarta Homework page. Some of the homework resources can include ways to improve your writing, how to do more work in less time, and how to get better grades.

Find Out What’s in Major Magazines

MSN is a paradise for news junkies. In addition to Microsoft news sources like MSNBC and Slate, you can use MSN to find out what’s in newsmagazines that include Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report. You get a more complete picture by comparing the spin on the same stories in, for example, The New Yorker and New Republic.

Slate produces a thumbnail table of contents from the major news publications each week. A single article compiled by the editorial staff highlights the stories in various online magazines, complete with pictures of the magazine covers and links to the articles themselves. MSN delivers an entire newsstand to your computer desktop. Now if only you could download a cup of cappuccino to go with it, you would be all set.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic, click the Address bar, type MSN Other Magazines, and press the Enter key. This takes you to Slate’s in other magazines page.
  2. (Image Unavailable)

  3. To read the magazine summaries, simply scroll down and look for the ones that interest you.
  4. To read a full story, click one of the links that appears on this page.

More to Try

If you’re reading an in other magazines summary that you want to share, you can send it to someone by clicking E-mail icon at the top of the article. Or, if you want to save it to an online storage site, you can click Save icon. To comment on the article or to see the comments of others, click Post a Message or Read Messages near the bottom of the screen. And if you want to see the in other magazines archives dating all the way back to 1996—did they even have computers then?—click utilities on the Slate menu bar, then click More In Other Magazines from the list.

See Also

To continue your conversations about politics, see "Discuss Politics on a Message Board" in Chapter 15. You can read your local news via the personalized MSN home page (see "Add Local News and Weather" in Chapter 2) or search the Internet for more information about something funny you read in The New Yorker (Chapter 3, "Find Anything on the Internet").

Explore

To find out more about the week’s top news stories, click briefing on the Slate menu bar and choose the week/the spin from the list. If you want to see the Slate readers’ forum, click best of the fray from the same list. And if you decide you love Slate so much you want a cool T-shirt with the Slate logo, click Slate Store at the bottom of the screen to make your selection.

Learn Which Movies Your Favorite Stars Will Be in Next

Will David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson ever complete a big-screen X-Files kiss? How can actor Mandy Patinkin follow up his incomparable role as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride? What animated story will open big for Disney next summer? If questions like these are high on your list of vital information, you’ll be thrilled to know that MSN presents an E! Online feature called The Dotted Line, which spotlights celebrity news and rumors.

Movie and TV lovers will have a great time reading this gossip column, which is updated weekly, to find out the juiciest details on Hollywood casting calls. Now you can always be up-to-date about who’s directing what, which actor will be appearing in an exciting new movie, and just exactly when "coming soon" really is.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic from the MSN home page, click Entertainment in the list of channels on the left side of the screen. Or click the Address bar, type MSN Entertainment, and press the Enter key. This takes you to the MSN Entertainment home page.
  2. On the left, click The Dotted Line under gossip columns to go to E! Online’s The Dotted Line.
  3. Read the gossip! Click on any of the links to find out more about a star or movie.
  4. To see columns from previous weeks, click more dotted line at the bottom of the screen. Don’t forget to get back to work eventually.

More to Try

You can visit several other sites by clicking the links on the top bar on The Dotted Line page. These links offer cool information from MSN Entertainment about Books, Movies, TV, and Music. Click the link for Celebs to find headlines, feature stories, and interviews with stars like Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. The News link provides answers to many questions about the rich and famous.

For even more gossip, click The Scoop on the left side. This takes you to Jeannette Walls’ column on MSNBC.

See Also

After you learn what your favorite stars are up to, maybe you can chat online with them. Check out "Chat with a Star" in Chapter 6. To get movie news delivered to you directly, read "Subscribe to an MSN Entertainment Newsletter" in Chapter 6. If you’re not up for a movie but just want to see what’s on TV, see "Check TV Listings," also in Chapter 6.

Explore

From The Dotted Line page, click the E! Online link on the left to visit the huge Web site for the E! Entertainment network. There you’ll find enormous amounts of news, gossip, pictures, program listings, reviews, and other features to keep you away from TV and movies while you read about TV and movies.

Find Out About a Country

If you’ve already graduated from school, you might believe you’ll never want to use MSN to find out about a country. After all, you probably wrote the last of those geography reports in ninth grade or thereabouts. But there are lots of other reasons to research foreign lands besides grades for social studies. If you’re going on vacation to Curaçao, you’ll probably want to know a little bit more about it than the fact that it has a liqueur named after it and it’s the birthplace of major league baseball player Andruw Jones. In this section, we’ll use MSN to see what else we can discover about the place.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic from the MSN home page, click Learning & Research in the list of channels on the left side of the screen. This takes you to MSN’s Encarta home page.
  2. Type curacao—you don’t have to make the fancy "ç"—in the Encarta Enquire box, and click Go.
  3. From the results page, click the link for Curaçao. Notice that Encarta does make the fancy "ç". After all, it’s an encyclopedia, so it has to be accurate.
  4. (Image Unavailable)

More to Try

Before you travel to Curaçao, you probably want to know more about the capital city of Willemstad and the conversion rate for the guilder (also called the florin), the official currency. Of course, if you’re writing a report for school, the details about the island’s population are probably what you’re looking for.

Encarta offers many more useful tidbits for you. Click the Netherlands Antilles link to get information about Curaçao’s island group. The tiny map picture on the right links to a regional map showing the entire Netherlands Antilles. Be sure to click the media items to see pictures and movies of the island.

(Image Unavailable)

See Also

Going on vacation to a tropical island—even a laid-back one—requires some planning. You should certainly read "Plan a Vacation" in Chapter 13. You might also want to read "Travel with Your PC" (also in Chapter 13), although you may not want to tell your traveling companion about that one. Finally, you might want to study "Buy a CD" or "See the Bestselling Books" (Chapter 5) to make your trip even more relaxing. And after you return, you might have to read "Start a Diet" or "Improve Your Fitness with Exercise" (Chapter 8, and sorry about that).

Explore

Under Go To Encarta, click Reference in the drop-down list and then click Go. This takes you to the Encarta Reference page. To find out more about South America or almost any other place on earth, click the appropriate option in the Atlas drop-down list and click Go.

Look Up Your Favorite Historical Figure

"Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?" is a line from a sonnet that makes many women and men shiver, although for different reasons. The writing of William Shakespeare is acclaimed around the world for its beauty and insight into the soul. While many of us recognize famous lines from Shakespeare’s plays and poems, we probably don’t know much about the life and times of The Bard himself. If you believe history is more than "…a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," as Shakespeare also wrote, using Encarta is a great way to find out about Shakespeare’s life and work.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic from the MSN home page, click Learning & Research in the list of channels on the left side of the screen. This takes you to MSN’s Encarta home page.
  2. Type Shakespeare into the Encarta Enquire box and click Go.
  3. From the results page, click the link for Shakespeare to go to the main Encarta article about Shakespeare. This article offers lots of information about Shakespeare and the works he created.

More to Try

The Shakespeare article is divided into an introduction, a section about his life, and a section detailing his work. You can view and print each section separately. The text of the article includes links you can click if you want to find out more about Queen Elizabeth I or Sir Francis Bacon. You can use the drop-down outline at the top of the article to go directly to the section you’re interested in.

Because Encarta is a multimedia encyclopedia, the article is accompanied by links (displayed on the right side of the screen) to audio clips of famous lines and photographs from theatrical productions. The Shakespeare article also links to recommended books and Web sites for further reading, in case you want to know which play gave us the often-quoted "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." (It’s Hamlet.)

You’ll find many other links you can follow to learn more about the writings of Shakespeare. There are links that show you a picture of the Globe Theatre and tell you about other Renaissance poets. You can search an online version of the Complete Works of Shakespeare for your favorite line or in case you want to read along with Richard Dreyfuss in the movie The Goodbye Girl as he prepares for his role as Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York."

See Also

Do you want to see one of the dozens of movies based on Shakespeare’s plays? Read "Go Out and Get a Video" in Chapter 13. Or even better, read "Plan a Date" (also Chapter 13) to help yourself arrange to see a local theatrical production of Shakespeare. You can join a Web community that discusses Shakespearean writing; see "Connect with Others Who Feel the Way You Do" in Chapter 15. Or use Shakespeare’s inspiration to publish; read "Submit Your Poems to the Poetry Bulletin Board" in Chapter 12. "Plan a Vacation" (Chapter 13) can help get you to the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Remember, "All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

Explore

Shakespeare’s writings have not only had a profound effect on theater, they have accurately chronicled human interactions throughout history. Because of Julius Caesar, we now know to "beware the ides of March" and that "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." We can use this knowledge as a springboard to find out more about the Roman Empire and what really happened on March XV. Were there really feuds as bloody and tragic as that of the Montagues and Capulets? Was Shylock a typical citizen of Venice? You can use MSN Encarta as a window into the history that Shakespeare describes so vividly. After all, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon ‘em." Hey, who said that?

Research a Project

Earlier in this chapter, we looked at an Encarta topic called "Get Homework Help." In this section, we’ll explore a related but more general idea: the ability to get information about any project you’re working on, whether for school, work, or hobby.

To demonstrate the power of Encarta’s reference library, we’re going to be amateur (or maybe even professional) astronomers looking for information about the planet Saturn. Let’s get our heads in the clouds and begin.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic, click the Address bar, type MSN Astronomy, and press the Enter key. This takes you to Encarta’s article about astronomy.
  2. On the right, click The Solar System. You should see the heading Planets and Their Satellites a couple of paragraphs down on the screen.
  3. Under Planets and Their Satellites, click Saturn to go to its article.
  4. (Image Unavailable)

  5. The Saturn article contains a huge amount of information about this ringed planet. Let’s find out more about the satellites, or moons, of Saturn, just in case we might want to gaze at them from the surface when we visit there someday.
  6. Click the drop-down list next to Outline to see the sections of the Saturn article. Choose the last part, Satellites.
  7. The satellite section of the Saturn article includes lots of information about the 18 known moons of Saturn. As you look through the article, notice that many words are linked to other articles or definitions on Encarta. For example, you can click on Plate Tectonics to jump to a section that explains that topic. Clicking is sure a lot easier than the old days when we had to lug down volume after volume of an encyclopedia to look up cross-reference material.

More to Try

With its vast array of material, Encarta can satisfy your most information-hungry project or hobby needs. The Saturn article contains information about the giant planet’s interior, atmosphere, and its famous rings. You can go directly to any of those sections using the outline drop-down list at the top of the article. After reading about Saturn’s atmosphere, temperature, and gravity, we may want to rethink that vacation.

Like many Encarta articles, this one contains pictures as well as text. To see views of Saturn, click one of the small photos on the right side.

(Image Unavailable)

You can capture an Encarta article on paper if you need to read it while you’re away from your computer. Just click the Print section link that appears at the top of each article to see a version that is suitable for printing.

If you need more information about the ringed planet, look at the links positioned to the right of the article. The Related Items section includes books, educational products, and other materials you can get to learn more about your subject. For fresh information that hasn’t made it into the encyclopedia yet, see News and Updates. And to get access to results of research posted on the Internet that isn’t part of Encarta, check out the Internet Sites section for links to the best Web sites about Saturn. Among the cool sites you’ll find is one that tracks the Cassini spacecraft on its amazing seven-year journey from Earth to Saturn.

See Also

While you’re looking for information about your project, be sure to see "Find Anything on the Internet" in Chapter 3. You can help yourself locate a video about Saturn or any other topic by reading the "Go Out and Get a Video" section of Chapter 13. And if you’re more interested in Saturn cars than the planet, see "Buy a New Car" in Chapter 9.

Explore

The in-depth Saturn article is just a small part of the knowledge Encarta offers about the solar system. There are complete articles about the sun, comets and asteroids, and other topics. And of course, Encarta can tell you much more about astronomy, including information about planets outside our solar system. Use the Encarta home page to search for any topic.

Research a College

High school students and their parents spend long hours discussing the merits and defects of specific institutions of higher learning. Figuring out which college to attend is a decision affected by choice of major, availability of scholarships and financial aid, climate, and, in many cases, proximity to the student’s favorite recreational activities. The task is further complicated by admission requirements, athletic activities, and housing issues. No wonder some families start worrying about college while their little ones are still in diapers.

We’re happy to report that MSN has streamlined the process for exploring colleges. Working with MSN, the prestigious Princeton Review has created a nifty college search service. This section will show you how to use MSN to help your college-bound son or daughter—if you don’t have one, just pretend—look for the right school.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic, click the Address bar, type MSN College, and press the Enter key. This takes you to The Princeton Review’s college search.
  2. To look for a specific school, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Drake University, type the school’s name into the Find A College box and click Go. You’ll see a results page listing all the schools that match what you typed.
  3. Click the link for the school you’re interested in. Gasp when you see the tuition.

More to Try

If you and your college-seeker aren’t yet sure which school you’re interested in, you can use the Encarta College page to search for schools by various criteria. Click Basic under Other Search Options to search by incoming test scores and grades, cost, location, and other criteria. Or use the Advanced search to include more criteria, such as fields of study, class size, and student services. You can search for schools by the percentage of freshmen who return for their sophomore year, while your son may be more interested in the percentage of students who join fraternities.

If your daughter is seeking a career designing thrill rides, she can look for a school that provides good engineering classes as well as proximity to great roller coasters, although the roller coaster search is unfortunately not part of the information provided by The Princeton Review. You can specify several different criteria at once, so a single search can find colleges that offer mechanical engineering, significant financial aid for freshmen, Division I sports, and a beach within an hour’s drive.

When you see each college’s entry, you’ll find it includes a summary, contact information, links to the school’s Web site, and a quick look at fundamentals, such as costs, financial aid, academics, student services, and campus life.

See Also

Be sure to read Chapter 13 to see how to plan a vacation that includes a trip to visit your kid. Your child may want to read Chapter 9 to learn how to find a used car to take to school. And if your child chooses a private university, you should spend time on MSN MoneyCentral, which is described in Chapter 7, or read "Check the Winning Lottery Numbers" in Chapter 6.

Explore

The MSN College page has many more options available for aspiring college students. Your child can learn about college admission tests and study online with courses designed to maximize performance on SATs and ACTs. Once you and your young scholar select a college, you can submit an application directly to the school online from MSN. Unfortunately, this process won’t directly help improve high school grades; see the section "Get Homework Help" earlier in this chapter for that.

Whether you’re feeling extreme pride in your offspring’s achievements or empty nest loneliness because of your suddenly quiet surroundings, you might want to start a Web community for your family. Your online community is the perfect place for sharing news, photos, and calendars of family events. Your college student can use it to post messages asking you for money. To learn more about creating a community, click People & Chat on the Navigation bar, and then look for the Family Sites or Web Communities links on the page.

Find Out How Cars Work

Way back a long time ago, when Mazda used rotary engines in its cars, the company had a cute commercial comparing the sounds made by regular piston engines with its cars’ smooth rotary hum. More recently, Volkswagen says that its cars contain something called Turbonium. If those facts are the extent of your knowledge about how cars work, this section is for you.

MSN CarPoint offers all sorts of car information, including ways to find and buy a car. But if you want to learn exactly how a gasoline combustion engine works, you can read about it in Encarta. You depend on your car to get you around, and now you can finally figure out what makes it go.

Try It

  1. To go directly to this topic from the MSN home page, click Learning & Research in the list of channels on the left side of the screen. This takes you to MSN’s Encarta home page.
  2. Type automobile into the Encarta Enquire box, and click Go.
  3. You will see several links on the results page. Click the first Automobile link. The extensive Encarta article will tell you everything you want to know about how cars work and more. After you read it, you might even feel like changing your oil.

More to Try

As with other Encarta articles, you can read the whole thing or use the handy drop-down list outline at the top of the page to jump directly to the section you’re interested in. You can click the links along the right side of the article to move through it easily. There are lots more links in the article text, so you can read the story about why cars got smaller, for example, in an accompanying article.

As usual on MSN, you’ll find great pictures linked to the article. They’re listed along the right side under Media Items. You can click to see pictures such as a diagram comparing disc and drum brakes, and a photo of a Model T.

(Image Unavailable)

See Also

Now that you know how cars work, you can spend some quality time on MSN CarPoint looking into new or used cars. Chapter 9 is all about using CarPoint. You can check out the Web communities that feature car talk and jump right into the discussions. See "Connect with Others Who Feel the Way You Do" in Chapter 15. And you can read "Check Up-to-Date News Headlines" (in this chapter) to help you find out about gas prices and air bag safety.

Explore

If history fascinates you, a diversion like Encarta can lead to many fine hours of encyclopedia surfing on MSN. You can follow up on the lives of Henry Ford or Gottlieb Daimler by clicking links to them or simply by searching for them from the MSN Encarta page. You can find terrific articles about the future of the automobile industry, including alternative fuel sources and innovative design and manufacturing. If you’re tired of reading about the industry, you can use MSN to rent Tucker, the movie based on the life of car maverick Preston Tucker.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 Introducing MSN Explorer 1
2 Personalize MSN 7
3 Search the Vast Internet 15
4 Know What's Going On 25
5 Go Shopping 55
6 Play and Have Fun 73
7 Manage Your Finances 101
8 Stay Healthy 129
9 Take Care of Your Car 141
10 Make the Most of Your Home 153
11 Enhance Your Career 165
12 Enjoy Your Hobbies 173
13 Go Out and About 191
14 Get a (Personal) Life! 211
15 Keep in Touch 223
Appendix 245
Index 257
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