"Christians and the Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 1, No. 5:  February 4, 2000.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact
Barry Traver at cati@traver.org.  Permission is hereby granted,
however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1)
no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.

To subscribe, write to cati@traver.org, including "Subscribe to
CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real
name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent.  (To be
removed from the emailing list, also write to cati@traver.org,
but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)
_______________________________________________________________
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. MORE ON WEBRINGS, CHRISTIAN AND OTHERWISE
2. AMERICA ONLINE (AOL):  BRIGHT SIDE, DARK SIDE
3. MORE ON EMAIL ETIQUETTE:  PROTECTING PEOPLE'S PRIVACY
4. SOME MORE COMPUTER MAGAZINES ONLINE
5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER
________________________________________________________________
1. MORE ON WEBRINGS, CHRISTIAN AND OTHERWISE
In the previous issue of CATI, we introduced Webrings.  Here's
how the online TechEncyclopedia (a helpful glossary of computer
terms you'll find at http://www.techweb.com/encyclopedia/ )
defines "Webring":  "A navigation system that links related Web
sites together.  Each ring links sites that pertain to a
particular topic."
It's sort of a "circle of friends," with each Web site linking
to the "Previous" and to the "Next" friend (or Web site) in the
circle.  You can usually also choose to view the entire "List"
of sites in the Webring.  Once you find one site that is part
of a Webring, you have the opportunity to explore other sites
in that same Webring.  (The other sites, of course, may be
good, bad, or indifferent, but at least they should be related
in topic or viewpoint.)
The best starting place to learn more about Webrings is a Web
site simply called Webring (the headquarters for Webrings):
 http://www.webring.org/
The site contains a useful Directory of Webrings in all kinds
of categories, including "arts and humanities," "business and
economy," "computers," "entertainment," "health," "Internet,"
"recreation and sports," "society and culture," and, of course,
"miscellaneous":
 http://www.webring.org/#ringworld
You'll find "religion" under "society and culture":
 http://www.webring.org/ringworld/soc/religion.html
Needless to say, you'll find many different kinds of religious
viewpoints included in the list (such as Buddhism, Hinduism,
Judaism, Roman Catholicism, and even witchcraft!), but you'll
also find some Webrings representing evangelical Protestantism.
If you use the Webring Directory, you will need to use it with
caution and discretion.
In the "religious" area of the Webring Directory, I found many
Webrings that did NOT impress me, but I did find the following
five Webrings that may be of interest to CATI subscribers:
Doctrine of Grace Webring
 http://nav.webring.org/hub?ring=doctrineofgrace;list
This particular Webring is composed of 33 sites, some of which
are better than others, but worthwhile investigating.  There is
some overlap with the Reformed Webring (see below). 
Orthodox Presbyterian Church Webring
 http://nav.webring.org/hub?ring=opc;list
There are 14 sites here, mostly of individual OPC congregations,
although you'll also find here JoyPals, a site mentioned in the
previous issue of CATI.  Of special interest to OPC members.
PCA Presbyterian Church in America Ring
 http://nav.webring.org/hub?ring=pcaring;list
There are 22 sites here, mostly (or entirely?) of individual
PCA congregations.  Of special interest to PCA members.
Reformed Women Serving Christ
 http://nav.webring.org/hub?ring=refwomen;list
The 12 sites in this Webring were mentioned in the article "A
Christian Webring:  Reformed Women Serving Christ" in the
previous issue of CATI.
Reformed Webring
 http://nav.webring.org/hub?ring=reformed;list
This particular Webring is composed of 137 sites, many of
which contain material that should also be interesting or
useful to people who may not necessarily be Presbyterian or
Reformed in background.  Check it out!  (Watch out, however,
for some bad links:  HeartBeatAway, I'm sure, does NOT lead
to the originally intended destination!  In addition, some
sites are more worthwhile than others, but there are a lot
of sites to explore on this list!)
Just as the Web is an amazing collection of sites devoted to
many subjects and activities, likewise there are many kinds of
Webrings representing many different interests.  For example,
the Webring Directory includes these two dozen subcategories
(among many others):  Animals and Pets, Countries and Cultures,
Cyberculture, Education, Games, Hobbies and Crafts, Humor,
Literature, Medicine, Movies, Museums and Galleries, Music,
News and Current Events, Organizations, Outdoors, Philosophy,
Reference, Science, Science Fiction, Software, Sports, Travel,
TV, and World Wide Web.
With so much to choose from, I advise you to choose wisely and
choose well.  Webrings can be a great way to find sites that
interest us, but they can be a temptation also, including the
temptation to spend more time online than is really good for
us.  Too much traveling around in Webrings may result in our
running around in circles (literally?).  Keeping that warning
in mind, enjoy!
________________________________________________________________
2. AMERICA ONLINE (AOL):  BRIGHT SIDE, DARK SIDE
I'm not currently on America Online.  I did, however, have some
experience with AOL when I worked for Infonautics, because one
of my responsibilities was (as a 20th-century "Renaissance
man" sort of thing) to answer questions on all kinds of topics
at the Research Zone area on AOL.  In addition, I have many
friends who are on AOL (you may be one of them!), and I have
followed AOL in the news and in computer publications.
All of this is to say that I don't think I have any real
prejudice one way or another with regard to AOL.  AOL has a
bright side and a dark side, and I hope to bring out something
of both in this article (although I'm aware that at this point
the comments on the dark side may predominate).
In this article (including the links listed at the end) you'll
probably find more about AOL than you may want to know, so --
for your convenience -- I'm putting the bottom line up front,
as the situation is summarized by Fred Langa, Editor-in-Chief
of Byte Magazine, who has written much about AOL:
"If you're a novice with a standalone system that has no
Internet software installed, isn't on a network, and will never
share a connection, AOL can be a great way to get your feet wet
in the online world.... Almost everyone else will have better
service, more control, and just plain better results with a
real ISP, a real e-mail client, and a real (unmodified)
browser."
 --Fred Langa, "AOL 5.0:  The Upgrade of Death?," Winmag.com,
  Jan. 18, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/columns/explorer/2000/02.htm
BRIGHT SIDE:
Here are some more positive comments about AOL from another
article by Fred Langa:
"For beginners, AOL is a godsend--- an all-in one package that
combines an Internet Service provider, organized (non-Internet)
content, and software. AOL also can be good for parents with
young kids because the built-in 'nannyware' can help reduce
(but not eliminate) the amount of sexually oriented spam that
all AOL users suffer with."
 --Fred Langa, "*&@ $#)(^$$  AOL 5.0!," The LangaList, Nov. 1,
  1999
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/1999/nov-1-99.htm#aol
There are some people, such as Doug Edelman, who have mostly
words of praise for AOL:
"1. Now up to 7 screen names are available. It's easy to keep
the whole family in screen names.
2. Web hosting space on a per-name basis is included at no
extra cost.
3. AOL Mail provides Web-based access to your AOL messages
while you're away from your PC via the Internet, with 128-bit
encryption, and without the need for AOL client software. 
4. Support for embedded (not just attached) pictures in e-mail.
5. E-mail stylizing.
6. AOL's large body of proprietary and partner content.
7. No one forgets your domain-name.
8. Most of my online contacts are also on AOL. It's nice when
e-mailing to use only the screen name and not have to type in
an @domain.com too.
9. Phone line availability and 56K connections are far more
reliable than the early days. I almost never get a busy signal,
and when I do the software automatically dials the next access
number....
10. It's easy enough for my 9-year-old to use."
 --Doug Edelman, as quoted in
 Scott Finnie, "Praise for AOL 5.0," Winmag.com, Jan. 12, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/win98/newsletter/2000/02a.htm#thumbsup
And Gale Player has not encountered any difficulties at all
with AOL 5.0 or any earlier version:
"I've been using AOL 5.0 since it became available to AOL
users. I have experienced absolutely no problems whatsoever
with it. Previously I had five screen names and after upgrading
to 5.0, that number increased to seven. I like the new
features. Through my business, I am online 20-25 hours per
week, most all of this via AOL-related areas. Prior to 5.0 I
also used AOL 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, and 4.0. I've had absolutely no
problems with any of them."
 --Gale Player, as quoted in
 Scott Finnie, "Praise for AOL 5.0," Winmag.com, Jan. 12, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/win98/newsletter/2000/02a.htm#thumbsup
Scott Finnie's article contains other statements of praise for
AOL, but it contains AOL horror stories as well, especially
relating to AOL 5.0, and other people have also brought out
that there is a dark side as well as a bright side to America
Online.
DARK SIDE:
A recent Associated Press article brings out part of the story:
"The latest software from America Online Inc., the world's
largest Internet provider, can prevent customers from using
rival online services or corporate connections, enraging
smaller competitors and even some of AOL's own subscribers. 
Critics contend that version 5.0 of America Online's Internet
software...sometimes cripples existing Internet accounts with
rival companies and prevents current AOL users from signing for
service with competitors."
 --"Critics say new AOL software interferes with rivals," AP,
  Jan. 21, 2000 [this article is no longer available online] 
It almost sounds like you're reading about Microsoft, doesn't
it?!  Now, I wasn't enthusiastic about the particular way in
which the U.S. Justice Department pursued Microsoft (someone
described that as "just one big bully telling another big
bully that he was ill-bred"), but America Online seems also
aimed toward monopoly status (AOL has thus far swallowed up
ICQ, the leader in Internet messaging; Netscape; CompuServe;
and now Time Warner, which is not only the largest magazine
publisher in the United States -- including Time magazine,
hence the name Time Warner -- but also the owner of Warner
Brothers, CNN, HBO, TBS, the WBS network, and more!), and it
doesn't seem entirely benevolent in nature.
Here's more of that Associated Press story:
"America Online, with 20 million subscribers, said complaints
about interference by its latest software are ... the result
of customers not understanding that if they click yes during
installation to allow AOL to become their default Internet
browser, AOL largely takes over all the online functions on
the computer. 'If a member picks yes, we make their lives
simple,' said Jeff Kimball, AOL's executive director for its
client software. That means AOL seizes responsibility to
display all Web pages, send all e-mail and exclusively perform
other tasks online."
 --"Critics say new AOL software interferes with rivals," AP,
  Jan. 21, 2000 [this article is no longer available online] 
Note well:  "ALL the online functions of the computer," "ALL
Web pages," "ALL e-mail," and "EXCLUSIVELY perform other tasks
online."  In other words, if you want to do anything on the
Internet, America Online says, "You've got ME!"
When you install AOL 5.0, massive changes are made to your
system.  Fred Langa, who is also Senior Consulting Editor and
a regular columnist for Windows Magazine, is the recognized
expert on the changes AOL makes to your computer, and he has
described them in various articles:
 
"For as long as I can remember, AOL has aggressively altered
the networking settings on machines it's installed on. It
changes your TCP/IP settings, and may even delete(!) non-AOL
settings. It installs its own 'Windows Socket' (winsock) and
Dial-Up Adapter, even if you have a perfectly good setup
already in place. It even reinstalls some of Windows' most
basic internet plumbing, overwriting or duplicating whatever
you already have on your hard drive."
 --Fred Langa, "*&@ $#)(^$$  AOL 5.0!," The LangaList, Nov. 1,
  1999
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/1999/nov-1-99.htm#aol
"After performing a clean install on a test system,  I found
AOL had added or altered 229 files, including over 4.5MB of
Windows system files! It significantly (and unnecessarily)
altered my networking setup. It even diddled with Power
Management settings in my Registry!" 
 --Fred Langa, "'AO Hell' Saga Continues," The LangaList,
  Jan. 20, 2000
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2000/jan-20-00.htm#2
AOL also installs its own modified or customized version of
Internet Explorer which, according to Langa, is an "unstable
mess" and "notoriously troublesome" after AOL gets through
with it (even though Internet Explorer "itself is fine").
We don't have room to say more on the subject in this issue,
but Langa elsewhere mentions many other types of complaints
people have raised concerning AOL, such as problems relating
to frequent disconnects, billing, uninstalling, etc.  He
himself is bothered by things other than what AOL does when
installing itself:
  
"OK, forget the software--- even as a service, AOL is pretty
bad. If the force-fed ads don't get you, the spam will. If the
spam doesn't get you, then you'll get tripped up by AOL's
proprietary and very nonstandard email system, which works well
only when talking to other AOL people. (Can you say 'captive
audience?')"
 --Fred Langa, "*&@ $#)(^$$  AOL 5.0!," The LangaList, Nov. 1,
  1999
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/1999/nov-1-99.htm#aol
BOTTOM LINE AGAIN:
Many Net novices will find America Online (AOL) an entirely
satisfactory choice for their needs.  Others may wish to
explore alternatives (such as some of the Internet Service
Providers or "ISP's" mentioned in the article on "Family-Safe
Interneet" in CATI, Vol. 1, No. 1) because of some problems
associated with AOL (problems some people may not by bothered
by, especially if they don't mind doing everything through
AOL).   
Here again is Fred Langa's bottom line (perhaps stated a bit
too negatively, but, I think, still basically accurately):
"If you're a novice with a standalone system that has no
Internet software installed, isn't on a network, and will never
share a connection, AOL can be a great way to get your feet wet
in the online world....  Almost everyone else will have better
service, more control, and just plain better results with a
real ISP, a real e-mail client, and a real (unmodified)
browser."
 --Fred Langa, "AOL 5.0:  The Upgrade of Death?," Winmag.com,
  Jan. 18, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/columns/explorer/2000/02.htm
By the way, you'll notice that I've quoted frequently from
various articles by Fred Langa.  I get many email newsletters
(most of which are not worth reading <sigh>), but his free
email newsletter, The LangaList, is one of the few that I've
found to be often very helpful.  If you're running Windows
and you like reading about computer stuff, you may like to
check it out.  I highly recommend it.  Here's the address:
The LangaList
 http://www.langa.com/
It may be a bit technical for some readers, but others may
find it a great resource.  And here's the address for Windows
Magazine, where you'll find articles by Fred Langa and other
qualified authors:
Winmag.com
 http://www.winmag.com/
And, finally, here's where to find more about America Online,
the bright side and (especially) the dark side:
Fred Langa's comments in his email newsletter, The LangaList:
"*&@ $#)(^$$  AOL 5.0!," The LangaList, Nov. 1, 1999
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/1999/nov-1-99.htm#aol
"AOL Redux," The LangaList, Nov. 4, 1999
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/1999/nov-4-99.htm#aol1
"But Not All Agreed," The LangaList, Nov. 4, 1999
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/1999/nov-4-99.htm#aol2
"WARNING! The 'Upgrade of Death,'" The LangaList, Jan. 17,
  2000
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2000/jan-17-00.htm#1
"'AO Hell' Saga Continues," The LangaList, Jan. 20, 2000
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2000/jan-20-00.htm#2
"22 Million Members v. AOL: A Class Action Suit?," The
  LangaList, Jan 24, 2000
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2000/jan-24-00.htm#3
"Yet *More* AOL Problems," The LangaList, Jan. 31, 2000
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2000/jan-31-00.htm#1
"AOL Class-Action Lawsuit Filed," The LangaList, Feb. 3, 2000
 http://www.langa.com/newsletters/2000/feb-3-00.htm#1
Various recent articles published by Winmag.com:
Scott Finnie, "AOL 5.0 Horror Stories," Winmag.com, Jan. 5, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/win98/newsletter/2000/01.htm#aol5
Scott Finnie, "Tales of AOL 5.0," Winmag.com, Jan. 12, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/win98/newsletter/2000/02.htm#aol5
Scott Finnie, "AOL 5.0 Horror Stories," Winmag.com, Jan. 12,
  2000
 http://www.winmag.com/win98/newsletter/2000/02a.htm#thumbsdown
Scott Finnie, "Praise for AOL 5.0," Winmag.com, Jan. 12, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/win98/newsletter/2000/02a.htm#thumbsup
Fred Langa, "AOL 5.0:  The Upgrade of Death?," Winmag.com,
  Jan. 18, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/columns/explorer/2000/02.htm
Dave Methvin, "AOL Warner," Winmag.com, Jan. 24, 2000
 http://www.winmag.com/columns/bigpicture/2000/01.htm
Fred Langa, "You've Got Problems, AOL," Winmag.com, Jan. 31,
  2000
 http://www.winmag.com/columns/explorer/2000/03.htm
Other relevant articles available:
"Critics say new AOL software interferes with rivals," 
  Associated Press, Jan. 21, 2000
 [apparently no longer available online]
Patrick Crispen, "AOL 5: Upgrade of Death?," The Internet
  Tourbus, Jan. 27, 2000
 http://listserv.aol.com/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0001D&L=tourbus&P=R205&m=101
________________________________________________________________
3. MORE ON EMAIL ETIQUETTE:  PROTECTING PEOPLE'S PRIVACY
I subscribe to a number of email newsletters, and one of the
ones I find interesting and useful at times is a newsletter
called Lockergnome.  I found it interesting to read this in
the latest issue (which arrived soon after I sent out Vol. 1,
No. 4 of CATI):
"Even the most strong willed can't resist passing along
interesting stuff to their friends and family members via
e-mail. Yes, even I have blasted off a few frivolous messages
now and again. If it's to one or two people I know (and if we
all know one other), I usually enter my name in the 'To' field
and every other address in the 'CC' field (Carbon Copy). When
I'm mailing multiple users (virtual strangers to one another),
I use the 'BCC' option (Blind Carbon Copy). This is a GOOD
habit for you to develop. The message will still be delivered
to every intended recipient, but their e-mail address won't be
shared with everyone else. Do you want people to respect YOUR
privacy? Respect theirs; use the BCC option. Not only is it
polite, but it reduces clutter."
 --Chris Pirillo, "Gnome TIP," Lockergnome, Jan. 29, 2000 
  http://www.lockergnome.com/issues/win95nt/20000129.html
He condensed in a single paragraph what it took me much more to
say, and he probably said it much better!
Again, it's not always necessary to use the BCC option (there
are times when it is perfectly fine to put all of the email
addresses in the "To" and "CC" fields), but when it is called
for, it is not difficult to do.  (If you want to send blind
copies but aren't sure how to do so, feel free to ask me for
further details on how to do it.)
________________________________________________________________
4. SOME MORE COMPUTER MAGAZINES ONLINE
Here's yet another computer magazine online:
Smart Computing in Plain English:
 http://www.smartcomputing.com/
Thanks go to a CATI subscriber for suggesting this resource,
which is actually not one resource but four, since at the same
site you can also access articles from their Learning series
(e.g., Internet Tools), their Guide series (e.g., Buying
Computers), and their Reference series (e.g., Troubleshooting).
To get an idea of the rich collection of good information that
is available, check out this address in particular:
 http://www.smartcomputing.com/editorial/isslist.asp?guid=vgzipt3k
And -- for those who use Windows -- here's where you will find
another good computer magazine online:
Windows Magazine
 http://www.winmag.com/
(By the way, unless things change, you do not have to register
in order to login at the latter.  At least I was able to login
as a "guest" with no password.)
If you're a computer nerd or technogeek, here's yet another
magazine you can check out:
Byte Magazine
 http://www.byte.com/
Enjoy!
________________________________________________________________
5. SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION FOR THIS NEWSLETTER 
This is the fifth issue of a free newsletter devoted to
"Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," 
but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the 
"Internet").  If you are not yet a subscriber and would like 
to become one, send an appropriate note to cati@traver.org.
Privacy policy:  The information in the "Christians And The 
Internet" mailing list will NOT be sold, rented, or given to
others.  (Let them make their own lists! <grin>)
________________________________________________________________
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact
Barry Traver at cati@traver.org.  Permission is hereby granted,
however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1)
no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.

To subscribe, write to cati@traver.org, including "Subscribe to
CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real
name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent.  (To be
removed from the emailing list, also write to cati@traver.org,
but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)