The Microsoft Network for Dummies


Microsoft is taking the online world by storm with the newest version of its popular online service, The Microsoft Network. The Microsoft Network For Dummies, 2nd Edition, is your friendly, easy-to-follow guide to this new online wonderland. You'll find explanations and step-by-step instructions for accessing its features and services, all presented in a plain-English style that doesn't require a degree in computer science to understand.


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Microsoft is taking the online world by storm with the newest version of its popular online service, The Microsoft Network. The Microsoft Network For Dummies, 2nd Edition, is your friendly, easy-to-follow guide to this new online wonderland. You'll find explanations and step-by-step instructions for accessing its features and services, all presented in a plain-English style that doesn't require a degree in computer science to understand.

Inside, find helpful advice on how to

  • Exchange messages with friends and associates by using electronic mail
  • Meet people and share ideas through bulletin boards and online chat rooms
  • Find a comprehensive glossary of online jargon and buzzwords, plus directories of the most interesting places to visit on The Microsoft Network and Internet
  • Download megabytes of free software
  • Surf the Internet, including the World Wide Web, Usenet newsgroups, and Internet e-mail
  • Visit exciting new sites from The Microsoft Network, such as Disney's Daily Blast and MSNBC
  • Customize your daily electronic newspaper
  • Plus, Doug's Lists of Top Ten Tips for The Microsoft Network:
    • The Microsoft Network commandments
    • Ten safety tips for kids online
    • Ten things that often go wrong
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764501609
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/1997
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition description: 2ND
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.45 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Table of Contents


About This Book
How to Use This Book
What You Don't Need to Read
Foolish Assumptions
How This Book is Organized
Part I: Welcome to the New Microsoft Network
Part II: The Sites and Sounds of MSN
Part III: Reach Out and Electronically Touch Someone
Part IV: Great Stuff to Do on The Microsoft Network
Part V: Internet Excursions
Part VI: Customizing Your MSN Journey
Part VII: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go From Here

Part I: Welcome to the New Microsoft Network

Chapter 1: Introducing The Microsoft Network
What The Microsoft Network Is
What Can You Do with The Microsoft Network?
What The Microsoft Network Is Not
What You Get with The Microsoft Network
Online news and information
Electronic mail
Bulletin board systems
Online chat
Downloading files
Essential services
The Internet
Chapter 2: Signing Up and Getting Connected
What You Need to Use The Microsoft Network
Signing Up
Connecting to MSN after You Join
Changing Your Password
Checking Your Bill
Disabling Call Waiting
Chapter 3: Getting Around The Microsoft Network
The MSN Program Viewer
Oh, the Places You'll Go!
The MSN home pages
Using the menus
Follow the links
Yes, you can go back
Reloading a Page
Stopping a Long Download
Leaving the Program Viewer
Chapter 4: Shortcuts and Time-Savers
Playing Favorites
Adding a page to Favorites
Going to one of your favorite places
Using Favorites folders
Organizing your Favorites
Saving a Picture
Finding Text on a Page
Printing a Page
Saving a Page
Making the Text Bigger
Using the MSN Quick View Menu
Chapter 5: Help! I Can't Get Online!
Summoning Help
Answering Common Questions
Searching for Help
Using the MSN Support Newsgroups
Asking for Help

Part II: The Sites and Sounds of MSN

Chapter 6: Surfing the News at MSNBC
Tuning In to MSNBC
Getting around MSNBC
Reading a story
Creating a Personal Front Page
News Alert
Setting up News Alert
Turning off News Alert
News Offline: News in Your Inbox
Downloading and installing News Offline
Personalizing News Offline
Reading the news
Changing the update frequency
Using the screen saver
Chapter 7: Other Great Shows On Stage at MSN
Channel 2: Entertainment, Pop Culture, and Games
Hard Rock Live
Star Trek: Continuum
Entertainment Tonight
Spike's World
Internet Gaming Zone
Nelson's World
Pen Pals
Channel 3: Adventure, Knowledge, and Discovery
Project: Watchfire
Mungo Park
Mama Planet
Retrospect 360
Channel 4: Home, Self, and Wealth
Forever Cool
Great Stuff
Money Insider
Disney's Family.Com
Channel 5: Music, Media, and Attitude
One Click Away
This is Not a Test
On Air
Duckman Presents
Spoken World
Almost TV
Channel 6: Kids, Friends, and Fun
Disney's Daily Blast
The Chat Box
Chapter 8: The Bare Essentials
Accessing Essentials
What Are the Essentials?
Local Info
Personal Finance
Computers & Software
Arts & Entertainment
People and Business Finder
MSN International
MSN Classic & Custom Page
Chapter 9: Finding Stuff on The Microsoft Network
Searching by Keyword
Browsing MSN Categories
Checking the Calendar

Part III: Reach Out and Electronically Touch Someone

Chapter 10: Using MSN Electronic Mail
Starting Microsoft Internet Mail
Sending Electronic Mail
Using the Address Book
Adding a name to the Address Book
Using an address from the Address Book
Changing and deleting Address Book entries
Checking your message for spelling errors
Sending Attachments
Adding an attachment
Changing the encoding scheme
Adding a signature
Receiving Electronic Mail
Saving an Attachment as a File
Using HTML Formatting
Internet Mail Keyboard Shortcuts
Using Internet Mail Folders
Creating a new folder
Moving messages to another folder
Chapter 11: Can We Talk? (Or, Chatting Online)
The Green Chat
Starting Microsoft Chat
Understanding the Chat Window
Sending a Message
See You in the Funny Papers
Getting Emotional
Getting Personal
Setting your Personal Information profile
Getting a member's profile
Ignoring Obnoxious Users
Having It Your Way
Changing your image
A change of scenery
Changing Rooms
Using Macros
Creating a macro
Using a macro
Chapter 12: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Getting Into a Forum
What Are All Those Buttons?
Using Bulletin Boards
Welcome to Microsoft Internet News
Accessing a Bulletin Board
Reading Threads
Reading an Article
Replying to an Article
Writing a New Article
Adding a Signature
Dealing with Attachments
Adding Formatting To Your Articles
Using Forum File Libraries

Part IV: Great Stuff to Do on The Microsoft Network

Chapter 13: Managing Your Investments with Microsoft Investor
Getting Started with Microsoft Investor
Getting Stock Quotes
Getting a quote if you already know the symbol
What if I don't know the symbol?
Charting a stock's performance
Managing Your Portfolio
Setting up an account
Buying a stock or mutual fund
Selling a stock or mutual fund
Charting your account
More detail for financial gurus
Backing up
Chapter 14: Planning a Vacation with Microsoft Expedia
Signing Up
Signing In (After You Have Signed Up)
Creating an Itinerary
We Can Fly!
Booking a Room
Renting a Car
Chapter 15: Shopping at the Plaza
Welcome to the Plaza
American Greetings
AtOnce Software
The Scandinavian Pavilion
Tower Records
Let's Go Shopping
Chapter 16: Car Shopping with CarPoint
Welcome to CarPoint
Checking Out a New Car
Take a Look Inside
How Much Car Can I Afford?
Buying a Car Through CarPoint

Part V: Internet Excursions

Chapter 17: What Is the Internet?
What Is the lnternet?
Boring Internet History You Can Skip
Just How Big Is The Internet?
What Does the Internet Have to Offer?
lnternet e-mail
Mailing lists
Usenet newsgroups
File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
World Wide Web (WWW)
How Much of the Internet Can You Access from MSN?
Understanding Internet Addresses
Warning: The Internet May Make You Blush
Chapter 18: Surfing the Web
Exploring the Web from the MSN Program Viewer
Starting Internet Explorer
Making Sense of the Internet Explorer Screen
Following the Links
Going Directly to a Web Page
Searching the Web
Changing Your Web Start Page
Quick Links
Accessing Quick Links
Creating your own Quick Links
Chapter 19: Web Sites You Shouldn't Miss
Serious Web Directories
Computer Companies
Other computer companies on the Web
Government Stuff
The White House
The Library of Congress
The Smithsonian Institution
Other Government Sites
Fun and Generally Weird Pages
Games Domain
Internet Anagram Server
The Dilbert Zone
Shakespearean Insult Server
The Late Show with David Letterman
Chapter 20: Check Out the Newsgroups
What is a Newsgroup?
What is Usenet?
How Newsgroups are Organized
Basic Usenet newsgroups
Regional newsgroups
Alternative and other newsgroups
Accessing Internet Newsgroups
Reading Article Threads
Reading an Article
Replying to an Article
Writing a New Article
Dealing with Attachments
Obtaining Full Access to Internet Newsgroups

Part VI: Customizing Your MSN Journey

Chapter 21: Opting for Options
What's With All the Options?
Saluting the General Options
Cajoling the Connection Options
Striving with Security Options
Arguing with the Advanced Options
Chapter 22: Exercising Your Parental Controls
About Internet Ratings
Limitations of Internet Ratings
Activating Content Advisor
Dealing with Unrated Sites

Part VII: The Part of Tens

Chapter 23: Ten Things That Often Go Wrong
I Don't Have the Latest and Greatest MSN!
I Can't Get Connected!
I Forgot My Password!
I Received a Weird Error Message
The MSN Program Viewer Window Disappeared!
I Can't Find a File I Downloaded!
I Was Disconnected in the Middle of a Two-Hour Download with Only Ten Minutes to Go!
I Can't Find My Favorite Web Page!
I'm Still Stuck
I've Started a Nuclear War
Chapter 24: Ten Microsoft Network Commandments
I. Thou Shalt Treat Thy Network Neighbor As Thou Wouldst Thyself Be Treated
II. Thou Shalt Not Allow Thy Children to Use MSN Unsupervised
III. Thou Shalt Not Abuse HTML Formatting
IV. Thou Shalt Not Upload Anything Thou Dost Not Have Permission to Upload
V. Thou Shalt Not Inquire as to Personal Information
VI. Thou Shalt Not Spam
VII. Thou Shalt Not Forget to Check Bulletin Boards Upon Which Thou Hast Posted Articles
VIII. Thou Shalt Not Flame Thy Neighbor
IX. Thou Shalt Register Thy Shareware
X. Remember Thy Password, and Keep It a Secret
Chapter 25: Ten Safety Tips for Kids on the 'Net
Do Not Believe People Are Who They Say They Are
Never Give Out Your Address, Phone Number, Real Last Name, or Credit Card Number
Never Pretend to Be Someone You're Not
Save Inappropriate E-Mail to a File
Save Inappropriate Chat to a File
Watch Your Language
Don't Obsess
Report Inappropriate Behavior to an Adult
If You Feel Uncomfortable, Leave
Parents: Be Involved with Your Kids' Online Activities
Good Terms to Know


Book Registration Information

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First Chapter

Chapter 21
Opting for Options

In This Chapter

  • Understanding Internet Explorer options
  • Changing option settings

You use the MSN Properties dialog box to set the myriad of preference options that affect the way the MSN Program Viewer browses The Microsoft Network and the World Wide Web. Of course, you can't use this command to pick your real preferences, such as playing golf instead of toiling with your computer. But you can do stuff that's almost as much fun, such as changing the colors used to display links you've already visited, or changing the amount of disk space MSN uses to store downloaded graphics.

Note: I am aware that for some people golf is a more frustrating pastime than using their computers. For others, golf is more boring than reading the MSN online help. If you're one of those poor, unenlightened souls who think golf is more boring, feel free to substitute your favorite non-golf pastime.

What's With All the Options?

There are two ways to get to the Internet Properties dialog box:

  • Point the mouse at the OnMSN icon that appears in the top-left corner of the MSN Program Viewer window, and then choose Internet Properties from the menu that appears.
  • Click the down arrow that appears next to the OnMSN icon to reveal the full Internet toolbar, and then click the Internet Explorer icon (the funny looking e).

Either way, you'll be rewarded with the Internet Properties dialog box that has four tabs: General, Connection, Security, and Advanced. To switch from one tab to another, just click the tab label at the top of the dialog box.

Here's the lowdown on the four tabs that appear in the Options dialog box:

  • General: Contains options that affect the general operation of the MSN Program Viewer.
  • Connection: Indicates which dial-up connection to use to establish the connection to MSN.
  • Security: Enables you to indicate if you want to be warned before doing something that may jeopardize your computer's security, and enables you to filter out pages with questionable content.
  • Advanced: Contains options that just didn't fit anywhere else.

To set any of these options, follow this general procedure:

  1. Point to the OnMSN icon and choose the Internet Properties command from the menu that appears.

    Or click the Internet Explorer icon in the Internet toolbar. Either way, the Internet Properties dialog box appears.

  2. Click the tab that contains the option you want to set.

    If you're not sure which tab to click, just cycle through them all until you find what you're looking for.

  3. Set the options however you want.

    Most of the options are check boxes that you click to select or deselect. Some options require that you select a choice from a drop-down list, and some have the audacity to require you to actually type something as a proof of your keyboard proficiency.

  4. Repeat Step 3 until you've exhausted your options, or you're just exhausted.
  5. Click OK.

    You're done!

Saluting the General Options

These options started out as Private options, but quickly re-upped and now, after years of dedicated service, have been promoted to the rank of General. You'd better snap-to whenever you call up these options, shown in Figure 21-1.

The following list enumerates the General options:

  • Multimedia: Enables you to indicate whether graphics, sounds, and video should be automatically downloaded whenever a page is displayed. Disabling any or all of these options improves the MSN performance but robs you of the spectacular effects of pictures, sounds, and animations. You'll probably find that MSN is all but unusable if you disable pictures because MSN pages tend to present their information using pictures. On the other hand, disabling sounds and videos can be a big timesaver and won't diminish the usefulness of MSN much.
  • Colors: Enables you to set the colors to use for text and background.
  • Links: Enables you to change the color used to display links you've already visited and links you haven't yet traversed.
  • Toolbar: In the full-fledged Internet Explorer program, these options enable you to control the appearance of the toolbar. For the MSN Program Viewer -- which is really just a special version of Internet Explorer -- Microsoft doesn't want you fiddling with these options. As a result, they are grayed out.

Cajoling the Connection Options

The Connection options, shown in Figure 21-2, enable you to specify which dial-up connection is used to connect to the Internet. You may find yourself turning to this tab frequently if you have more than one Internet provider and you often switch from one to another. You'll also turn to this tab if you decide to change providers.

If you have not yet created a dial-up connection for your Internet provider, click the Add button. This launches a Wizard that creates a connection for you. Just follow the steps through the Wizard to create the connection. You need to make up a name for the new connection you are creating (any name will do), and you must supply the phone number for the connection. When you have created the new connection, it automatically becomes the default connection used to connect to MSN.

If your Internet Service Provider charges you by the hour for connect time, consider checking the Disconnect If Idle For option. With this option selected, if you accidentally walk away from your computer without disconnecting from MSN, the MSN Program Viewer automatically disconnects after a certain amount of time. The default time setting is 20 minutes, which seems about right to me.

If your computer is connected to a local area network and you access the Internet through the network, you may need to configure a proxy server. If so, click the Proxy Server check box and then click the Change proxy settings button and enter the proxy settings. (These settings will be supplied to you by your network administrator.)

Striving with Security Options

Figure 21-3 shows the Security options, which are designed to protect you from Internet sites with offensive content, protect your privacy, and to warn you about potential security problems.

The following three security features are covered by the Security options:

  • Content Advisor: This is the feature that enables you to screen out Internet sites which have potentially offensive content. It is covered in more detail in Chapter 22.
  • Certificates: These are the best method of ensuring secure communications between two Web sites. Certificates are specially encoded documents that are like identification badges. They are exchanged by the two Web sites. The certificates can guarantee that the computer you are connected to is who it claims to be, and vice versa.
  • Active Content: These features enable you to select Microsoft's hot new ActiveX technology, which enables Web designers to fill their pages with all sorts of interesting new controls. If you want to visit pages that use ActiveX, select all of these options. Because more and more Web sites -- including most of the MSN pages -- rely on ActiveX, deselecting these options results in frequent and annoying warning messages. I suggest you select these options. You can also choose to enable or disable Java programs, which are a different way of creating interesting Web pages. You should probably leave this setting enabled.

Arguing with the Advanced Options

The Advanced options, shown in Figure 21-4, enable you to set several options that govern the MSN Program Viewer operation.

Among the options found with the Advanced options are:

  • Warnings: Notify you whenever certain actions are about to occur, such as sending information over an unsecured line. Most of these warnings are annoying, so you'll probably end up deselecting these sooner or later.
  • Temporary files: Enable you to manage the temporary files that are downloaded by MSN to your hard disk. By default, MSN will pick a default size that depends on the size of your hard drive. On my computer, with a 5GB hard drive, the default setting is 2 percent. The more disk space you allocate to MSN, the less often MSN is forced to download files that you've already seen. This means that MSN will seem to run faster. Of course, the tradeoff is that increasing the amount of disk space MSN can use decreases the amount of free disk space on your computer.

    To change the temporary files options, click the Settings button, which summons the Settings dialog box shown in Figure 21-5. Adjust the temporary files settings and then click OK.

    If your hard disk runs out of free space, you can empty the Temporary Internet Files folder by clicking the Empty Folder button. When you empty this folder, you will notice delays as Internet Explorer downloads files that were previously stored on your disk. But you will regain the disk space that was used by these files.

  • Show Friendly URLs: This option affects how the MSN Program Viewer displays Web addresses in the Internet toolbar. If this option is selected, MSN abbreviates URLs by eliminating the portions of the address that refer to the current page. This usually shortens the URLs and makes them easier to read. For example, suppose you are currently viewing a page whose URL is, and the page has a link to With Show Friendly URLs selected, the URL is displayed as simply goodstuff.htm.
  • Highlight links when clicked: With this option enabled, MSN draws a box using dashed lines around a link when you click it. This is a fairly inconsequential option, so don't bother changing it.
  • Use smooth scrolling: You may have noticed that MSN scrolls its windows differently than most other applications. MSN uses an animated effect that makes scrolling appear smoother. On slower computers, you may want to deselect this option to improve performance.
  • Use Style Sheets: Style sheets are a new Internet feature that Web authors can use to create splashy Web pages. By all means leave this option selected.
  • Enable Java JIT compiler: This is another option you should leave selected. It enables Web pages that have special scripts called Java programs to run more efficiently.
  • Enable Java logging: If you are a Java expert, you can use this option to enable the Java log, which records all Java activity.
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