"Christians and the Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 1, No. 12:  March 24, 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.)
Looking for something specific in CATI?  With twelve issues of
CATI already published, it might be hard to find, but not if
you use our new search engine (powered by Atomz.com)!
Yes, a search engine specifically to search CATI has been
added to the CATI Archives.  Check it out:
Searching tips:  (1) When searching for a phrase, put it in
quotes (e.g., "America Online").  (2) You can sometimes get
more responses if you use all lower or all upper case rather
than mixed case (e.g., "family-safe internet" rather than
"Family-Safe Internet").
Finding something quickly is a two step process:  Use the
CATI search engine to find the issue you want, and when you
get there, use "Find" on your Web browser (usually under
"Edit" on the top menu bar) to find the right spot on the
Web page.  Enjoy!
--Barry Traver, Editor
Buying software at a computer store can sometimes be a rather
frustrating experience.  The software is sealed up, so you
ordinarily can't test drive it (and if you find when you get
home that it's not what you wanted, you sometimes can't return
it because you've opened the package!).  In addition, such
software is sometimes rather expensive.
The good news is that you can often find equally good (or,
frequently, better) software online, and the software will
usually be less expensive or may even be free!  In addition,
if it isn't free, you can usually test drive it for thirty
days or so before you commit yourself to buying it.
Although you can at times download regular commercial software
from the Web, I don't intend to talk about that option in this
article.  Rather, my focus is instead on the two categories of
software popularly known as shareware and freeware.
Shareware is "try before you buy" software.  As with a new car
that you may be considering buying, you're allowed to take it
out for a test drive.  After the test drive is over, however,
you cannot continue driving it unless you buy it.  That's how
shareware works.  You are morally obligated to stop using it
after the test drive unless you pay for it.
Freeware, on the other hand, is essentially free software.  It
doesn't cost any money.  The software has not been placed into
the public domain (it usually retains its copyright), but you
have been given permission to use it at no charge.  You are
also allowed to make copies and pass them along to friends.
Shareware can also be shared, of course (that's why they call
it shareware!), but shareware is not free (even if you can
freely pass it around).  (Is this getting confusing?)  One
point to keep in mind is that continuing to use shareware
without paying for it after the test drive is over is really
a form of stealing and thus something a Christian will not
want to do.
Remember:  There's absolutely no obligation for you to pay for
shareware unless you try it and like it and want to continue
using it.  If you tried it out and decided that you don't like
it, no problem.  Simply remove the program from your computer.
But if you try it and like it and want to continue using it,
the right thing to do is pay for it.  Then you can continue
using it with a clear conscience.
Since there's so much shareware and freeware around, you may
want to read reviews, check with friends, etc., before you
take the time to try out a particular software program for
yourself.  Some of the Web sites where you can download such
software will include a description of the program and often
even give the program a rating (generally, one to five stars
or doves or whatevers).
Here's my favorite place on the Web to get Internet-related
shareware and freeware:
TUCOWS (The Ultimate Collection Of Winsock Software)
And here's another good place to get software related to the
Stroud's CWSApps (Consummate Winsock Applications)
As their names indicate ("Ultimate" and "Consummate"), neither
site is modest about its offerings, and they are indeed the
best places, IMHO ("In My Honest Opinion"), to get software
related to the Internet (e.g., Web browsers, email programs,
newsgroup readers, multimedia programs, anti-virus software,
chat programs, etc.).  If that's what you're after, you'll
find it at those two sites (both of which have descriptions
and ratings for the software). 
I often check TUCOWS first and then look at the reviews at
Stroud's as well.  For TUCOWS, rather than bookmarking the
starting TUCOWS site, you may want to begin there to find a
TUCOWS site that is near you and then bookmark that page. 
TUCOWS is Internet-specific, but a sister (or daughter?) site
has a different focus:
TUKIDS ("the ultimate collection of children's educational
"...the latest and greatest virus-free educational shareware
and freeware with 1000's of program titles to choose from!"
And here are five other good sites (besides TUKIDS) where you
can download shareware and freeware not necessarily related to
the Internet:
DaveCentral Software Archive (mostly Internet stuff, however)
DaveCentral Software Archive: Windows Software Area
In the software area, use menu on the left to gradually focus
in on a specific piece of software.  
Jumbo! ("Over 300,000 Shareware And Freeware Programs" of all
Jumbo Guides
"Here you'll find concise and informative guides to popular
downloadable software, complete with ratings and brief
comparative analyses."
For Nonags, you will need to click on "Software - Free Access"
and then choose a site based on your geographical location.
"At NONAGS we...do the work of selecting what really works,
what's really free, what really is worth your time and effort.
So we have put together a large collection of 32-bit Windows
software that has no disabled features, nags, time limits, or
any other tricks. Everything in the original and huge Freeware
section is really free... [but] we just started a shareware
section.... We download, virus scan, install, test, rate and
list.... You just enjoy the programs."
Shareware.com (CNET)
Download.com (also CNET)
These two CNET sites are interlinked, so in essence you have
one site with downloads and helpful descriptions and reviews.
ZDNet Software Library
This ZDNet collection includes descriptions, reviews, and
ratings, plus lots of downloadable shareware and freeware.
ZDNet Software Library: Easy Download Guide
Here's a tutorial presenting "Five simple steps to downloading
files from the Internet."  The tips apply not only to ZDNet,
but also to other download sites on the Web.
(If you're interested in where to find specifically Christian
software, check the end of this article.)
It should be noted that some shareware is "inexpensive" only
when compared with commercial counterparts.  For example,
Paint Shop Pro (a shareware program) sells for $99, which is
not "inexpensive" unless you compare it with the cost of (the
commercial program) Adobe Photoshop.  But at this point you
may be asking, "Where do I find the software that is totally
There are lots of places to find free software, including the
following sites:
CNET Download.com:  50 Fabulous Freebies
Completely Free Software
A helpful site, even if the Webmaster, Graham Pockett, who is
a professing Christian and a "reformed" software pirate, is
not "Reformed" in his theology as well!  (He argues that the
idea of "freewill" is more Biblical than the "Calvanistic
concept."  CATI's editor -- who named his son "John Calvin" --
would of course disagree with Mr. Pockett on this point.)  The
software is described and rated (in "golden doves"!).
"FreeBIT is a directory of freeware, but not just that. Our
goal is to help you to find what you need quickly and easily.
More, here you can find articles about freeware, interviews
with authors of freeware and other related information....
Also, we evaluate the quality and publish our comments. And,
because we want you to participate, you can send your opinions
Freeware Arena
"Freeware Arena has been listed as one of the top Windows
Technology sites in the world by 100Hot ["the Web's Popularity
Freeware Posse
"Over 100 Editor's Choice and 5 Star Freeware Programs," but
you may find the pop-up ads on each page annoying.  I do.
Freeware Publishing Site
"THE FREEWARE PUBLISHING SITE offers a collection of the
best freeware for WINDOWS 95/98."
"There are thousands of great freeware titles available for
Windows based computers and this site collects the best of
them in an attractive and easily navigable interface."
Humpherlinks:  Children's Freeware Site
Humpherlinks is a site "which is intended for children but
hopefully will not be too difficult for adults."
Moon Software: Free Stuff
10 free utilities from Moon Software, including a very nice
Bookmark Wizard for users of Internet Explorer.  I found
Bookmark Wizard easy to download, easy to install, and easy
to run.
PC Magazine Free Utilities
TheFreeSite.com:  Free Software
Yep, this site was featured in a previous issue of CATI,
because it has lots of links to other free stuff in addition
to software.
Tiger's Best Freeware
"Welcome to Tiger's Best Freeware where you will find nothing
but the best hand-picked freeware available on the internet!
All files marked with an asterisk (*) have been classified as
"Pricelessware" (the BEST freeware available) by the members
of alt.comp.freeware. Please understand that I have tried all
the files on my site and I find them all very useful and good
at what they do. Different users have different needs, so some
of them may not meet yours...though I think most will. Enjoy!"
TUDOGS ("The Ultimate Directory Of Gratis Software")
"We have searched the Web to find the very best free software
and services. Less than 5% of the software we test, and the
sites we visit, make it to these pages."
Windows Magazine:  Must-Haves: Freeware
ZDNet:  Free Downloads
And here are a few good places to help you find other sites
where you can get free software (but I suspect that I have
already given you more than enough!):
Freeware Arena: Top 20 Freeware Sites
Freeware Guide
Freeware Links:  #, A-E
Freeware Links:  F
Freeware Links:  #, G-Q
Freeware Links:  #, R-Z
The Top Free Software Sites Index
(Click on buttons at top to navigate this site.)
Finally, here are some Web sites where you can download Christian
software (shareware and freeware):
Best of the Christian Web: Software
Christian Freebies Software Gallery
Crosswalk.com Christian Shareware
Free Christian Downloads
Free Christian Software
"These titles are mainly written for Microsoft Windows in
Hyper-text format. More in HTML (web format) are being
produced. The purpose was to produce easy-to-use software of
texts from the past that set forward the great historical
doctrines of the Reformation and Puritan era. It is hoped that
this will assist Pastors and individual Christians in their
study of the Scriptures."
JimmyD's Freeware Finds
JimmyD's Freeware Finds:  Christian Freeware Page
Serious Developments
Serious Developments: Free Christian Software Directory 
Caution:  Just because software is "Christian" does not mean
that it will necessarily match up with your own theological
understanding or Christian convictions.  For example, some
Christian software may exhibit having been written from a
"dispensational" or "pre-trib, pre-mill" perspective with
which most Reformed Christians would have some serious
disagreement.  Use appropriate discretion.
I have no recommendations at this time of specific Christian
software -- shareware or freeware -- but I hope to have some
specific suggestions in future issues.  In the meantime, if
you have comments, positive or negative, that you are willing
to share about Christian shareware or freeware with which you
have had personal experience, please send your comments to me
at cati@traver.org.  Thanks!
Picture the following scene.  You are in the largest library in
the world, larger than you can really successfully imagine.  It
is in many ways an untypical library.  No librarian selected
the books:  they were all donated by whoever wanted to donate
them (and, to tell the truth, most of them are just plain junk
or worse).  They are placed on the library shelves in haphazard
fashion (no Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress categories in
this library!), and there is no card catalog (or any reasonable
equivalent) containing information about all the books in the
library.  Yes, there are indeed "great books," useful books,
enjoyable books, even stately treasure tomes, in this
seemingly inexhaustible library, but how can you ever hope
to find them?
I think you've figured out by now that I'm not really talking
about a library containing books:  I'm talking about the World
Wide Web and its collection of Web sites and Web pages, which
can be just as useful or useless, enjoyable or unenjoyable, as
any pages in a book in a "regular" library.  In this irregular
library there is no "Reference Librarian" to ask for help in
finding what you're after, ... or is there?
Actually, there have been two major approaches to bringing some
order out of the chaos that is the Internet:  directories and
search engines.  Directories are human attempts to categorize
and organize at least some of the worthwhile sites on the World
Wide Web.  The best-known directory is Yahoo!:
Here's how it works.  Suppose you're looking for Web pages that
deal with the topic "creation vs. evolution."  At Yahoo!, you
can start with the category of "Science," you can then go to
the sub-category "Religion and Science," and then you can go to
the sub-sub-category of seventy or so sites that deal with
"Creation vs. Evolution."  (Yahoo! also has a search engine,
but the search engine doesn't search Web sites:  it only
searches the Yahoo! directory.  We hope to say more about
directories at another time.)
In order to understand what a search engine does, let's change
our illustration.  Picture the World Wide Web not as a library,
but as a very disorganized textbook.  If you're looking for
something specific, how do you find it?  That's easy:  you use
the index to find out what pages to check.  Well, a Web search
engine works in a similar way, except that it suggests to you
Web pages rather than pages in a book.
There is no search engine that includes all pages on the Web,
but some include hundreds of millions of Web pages.  When you
use a Web search engine, in essence you are asking the search
engine (a sort of robotic Reference Librarian) to tell you
what Web pages contain a certain word, phrase, or group of
words.  It's sort of like using the index of a book, but in
this case it's a very large, very disorganized book, and the
index doesn't really include all the pages.
Let's start off with one of my favorite traditional search
Suppose you want to find information on cats.  You put "cats"
in the box, you click on "Search," and you're told that there
are 1,411,985 pages found that mention "cats"!  That doesn't
seem like the situation has improved much!  Yes, now you've
found material on "cats," but you certainly don't want to look
at a million or so sites.  Are there ways to narrow down the
Yes, there are techniques that you can learn that will greatly
help you put a traditional search engine such as AltaVista to
good use.  Let's stay specifically with AltaVista.  You'll
find some excellent "Advanced Search Techniques" (that don't
even require you to use the "Advanced Web Search" button at
AltaVista) in Bob Rankin's fine article on the subject in the
following newsletter, which you can look at online:
Bob Rankin, "Advanced Search Techniques," Internet TOURBUS:
    January 26, 2000
Here are the tips he discusses in that article:
1) Use the '+' and '-' operators....
2) Use quotes for phrases....
3) Use capital letters when appropriate....
4) Use the 'host' and 'domain' keywords....
5) Use the 'title' keyword....
6) Use the 'image', 'audio; and 'media' keywords....
7) Use the 'link' and 'url' keywords..."
I'll just discuss the first two (the two most important tips);
consult Rankin's article for further details on the others.
Maybe you'll decide that you want to subscribe to the Internet
TOURBUS, which is a newsletter I've found to be very helpful,
and it's free!  Here's their home page:
Internet TOOLBUS
Anyway, here's how the first tip works:  "Prefix your search
words with '+' to indicate that they MUST occur in a page to
be considered a hit, and use '-' to exclude pages."
Suppose I'm looking up material on "Christians and the
Internet."  If I simply put "Christians Internet" in the box,
AltaVista will tell me Web pages that contain the word
"Christians" or contain the word "Internet" BUT NOT
NECESSARILY BOTH!  I would get a lot of hits that were
really not relevant to my specific topic.  I can instead put
"+Christians +Internet" in the search box, and the result
will be that Alta Vista will tell me only of Web pages that
contain both words.  
Or suppose I want to do research on "pirates," the kind that
sail the sea, and NOT the Pittsburgh baseball team.  In order
to accomplish that, I can put "+pirates -Pittsburgh" in the
Alta Vista search box.
Here's how the second tip works:  If you're looking for a
specific phrase, enclose it in quotes in the search box.
Suppose I want to do research on "John Newton."  If I put
"John Newton" (without quotes) in the box, I'll get Web pages
that mention "John" and Web pages that mention "Newton," but
the Web pages may not necessarily contain both words.  I'm
slightly better off if I put "+John +Newton" in the box, but
I could still end up with a Web page by "John" Doe which
discusses the life of Isaac "Newton."  If, however, I enclose
"John Newton" in quotes in the box, Alta Vista only gives me
Web pages that contain that specific phrase.
Those two tips alone should increase your ability to find
what you want on the Web with AltaVista.  (Bob Rankin's
excellent discussion will show you how to put to use his
other five tips.)
Second-generation search engines put more likely Web sites at
the top of the list, based on how many other sites link to
them.  That is, if lots of sites link to a particular Web
page, that Web page (so the argument goes) is more likely to
be helpful to you than some obscure Web page to which other
Web sites rarely or never link.  That reasoning has some
faults, but in general it leads to greatly improved results.
One modern search engine that takes this approach is Google!,
which is my own favorite Web search engine at the moment, the
one to which I ordinarily turn first:
PC Magazine's Breck Witte describes how Google! works: 
"The site's...PageRank function indicates how many Web pages
point to a particular document. Google! uses PageRank to decide
which documents in the result set you might want to see first.
For example, when searching for the National Institutes of
Health, we entered the acronym NIH, and the NIH home page
appeared at the top of our list. Google! is so confident that
it includes an 'I'm feeling lucky' button that retrieves
Google!'s top pick for your search."
Another reason why I like this search engine is that, as PC
Magazine also observes, "Google!'s large collection of cached
pages is equally useful."  If a Web page has disappeared for
some reason, it may be possible to access a cached version of
it at the Google! site.
Example:  last week I needed to access the "C.S. Lewis:  20th
Century Christian Knight" site, but for some reason it was
unavailable (in this case, only temporarily, but that's not
always the case).  I was able to search for "C.S. Lewis" using
Google! and then pull up their cached copy of the page that
was not available directly on the Web at that time.
An article by Joyce Kasman Valenza in the Philadelphia Inquirer
(a local newspaper) last month had some very helpful comments
about directories and search engines, including this modern
search engine:
"Oingo, one of my favorites, sorts meanings by using a lexicon
described as 'a rich database of words, meanings, and
relationships.' My search on cats would have been overwhelming
in a normal search engine. But Oingo's pull-down menu prompted
me to select among a variety of possible meanings - domestic
cats, Cats the musical, or Computer Aided Translation
The entire article (misleadingly titled "Directories can
eclipse search engines"), which appeared in the February 24th
issue, is worth reading, but no longer freely available on
the Web.
Here are two other search engines that also divide the search 
results into meaningful categories:
Inference Find
Northern Light
Each search engine has a collection of sites that includes some
Web pages not indexed in some other search engines, so it is
often useful to try more than one search engine.  In fact,
there are search engines which provide results based on their
using a combination of other search engines!
Here are two examples of such a meta-search engine:
And here are Bob Rankin's comments on a new meta-search engine
from an article in the most recent (March 23, 2000) Internet
"Just a few days ago, a new meta-search engine called Baldey
was introduced.  This new search tool works by using the best
findings from several other search engines and combining them
in a unique way. Depending on the position of a result found
...and the number of times a search result is returned by
multiple search engines..., the results are combined into an
optimal weighted result.  Because of this advanced ranking
system, the best links are more likely to appear at the top of
Baldey's results.  By default, Baldey bounces your keyword(s)
against seven search engines, but you can select any or all of
the ten engines listed at the site."
Here's where you'll find Baldey:
In writing articles for the Internet TOOLBUS, Bob Rankin
alternates with Patrick Douglas Crispen (remember "Crispen's
Six Antivirus Rules"? -- yep, that's the same one!).  We'll
close this article on search engines with a suggested Web site
for further information and a comment by Crispen:
Search Engine Watch
"The best place to learn EVERYTHING you need to know about
search engines."
There are lots of search engines to choose from.  My advice is
to select one or two and learn how to use them effectively.
Life is too short for us to waste a lot of time looking at
Web sites that are not relevant to what we are looking for.
A good search engine can help us save time and find quickly
exactly what we want.  Enjoy!
P.S.  If you're looking for Christian content, there are a
number of Christian search engines available, although most
are, strictly speaking, directories rather than real search
engines.  Here are some typical Christian "search engines":
711.Net:  Christian Internet Directory
Crosswalk.com:  Christian Search
GOSHEN: Christian Search Engine and Directory
Net/SEARCH Directory of Christian Resources
For a more extensive list, check here:
Note well:  Although the title of the page is "Top Christian
Directories and search engines..." (see the title bar of your
Web browser), what shows up on the page itself is simply
"Christian Directories."            
I used the "search engine" at Crosswalk.com to search the
Web for material on "John Newton" in quotes, and the response
was this:
  No web sites found matching ""John Newton""
I tried it again without the quotes, and I got 20 responses,
but most of them related to Olivia Newton-John!  When I used
Google! to search for "John Newton" (in quotes), I got about
5,550 responses, some of which I used in a previous issue of
CATI.  Even when looking for Christian content, you also may
find the general search engines to be more helpful.  
This is the twelfth 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 
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>)
Past issues:  you'll find archives of past issues of CATI
available online at http://traver.org/cati/ .  ("It's not a
pretty site," but hopefully it may be a useful one.)
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.)