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The Chicago Tribune James Coates Computers Column: Browser Can Go Directly to Home Page at Google

April 24, 2007

By James Coates, Chicago Tribune

Apr. 24–Q. When I select “Internet” from the Start menu, my Web browser opens up at a microsoft.com page. How can I get it to go directly to my home page at Google?

— John Stuelpnagel

A. After you’ve clicked on the Start button, the Internet Explorer icon at the very top of the list sometimes is set by default to go to Microsoft’s support page instead of the home page that is specified by all other browser icons. Click Start and right-click on Internet Explorer. Open the Internet Options (it also might be called Internet Properties) item, replace the long Microsoft address with ” www.google.com” and click the Apply button.

Q. Can you give us some instructions to make a home network work? I’ve connected a router, Ethernet adapters and wires to our three computers (Apple and Dell). The Internet (DSL connected into the router) works at all three computers, but I can’t seem to access documents from other computers.

The Apple folks aren’t excited about helping us connect to a Dell computer, and the Dell folks won’t help us connect to Apple. Yet the manuals all say it can be done. What should I do next?

— Jeffrey Wood A. Nothing poses threats to a home technology user’s composure, compassion and contentment more than the mare’s nest of issues that can come into play when one tries to network several computers under one roof.

As your case seems to illustrate, Mr. W., a big reason for confusion is that these hand-built networks tend to be cobbled together with computers running different versions of the Windows operating system and Mac OS 10, if you’ve got an Apple machine.

The best way to get one of these mongrel collections linked up and running is to use so-called shared folders that are set up at the factory for networking.

All other folders must be changed to permit sharing and to specify the degree of accessibility. To share an item with other computers on the network, drag and drop that item’s icon into the shared folder.

First, give each computer a name and assign it to what is called a workgroup made up of other computers linked to the machine in question. To make sure this is set up correctly, give the My Computer icon a right-click and pick Properties, then open the tab for Computer Name in the menu that appears. Click on the Change button there and type in a name for the computer, then look at the Workgroup box below the name — make sure this Workgroup is exactly the same on every computer you want to network. Usually these first workgroups are named “MSHOME” or “Workgroup.” Because you want to add a Mac, use the “Workgroup” name, because Apple’s OS 10 uses “Workgroup” by default.

To set up each Windows computer, click on Start, then Control Panel and scroll down to the Network Places folder. When the Network Places icon is opened, you should see a list of all the computers in whichever Workgroup you’ve picked.

Now look in the Network Places pane for “Other Places,” and open the icon called Shared Documents. This is the folder where you will drag and drop individual folders to share them with other members of the workgroup.

When users of the network go to the My Network Places area, they can open the shared documents icon for a given computer, and the subfolders and files will be displayed ready to open and select data.

The drill is very similar on a Mac. This time open the Finder icon in the Mac’s Dock and then open Go and pick the Network icon in the display of resources that appears. You will find a list of various items such as My Network, servers, etc. Pick the default network called Workgroup there. Now click on the button for Connect.

You will get regular Mac user log on prompts, and then a display will appear to the right listing each of the computers in the Windows network as icons that can be opened to view shared files and folders on that machine.

To share your Mac, go back to the Dock and select the Preferences icon and open the Internet and Network item. In the display this summons, there will be a Windows Sharing prompt to activate.

This will cause an icon for the Mac’s sharing folder to appear when the Windows computers are pointed to Network Places.

Got a question on personal technology? Send a note to Jim Coates at askjimcoates@gmail.com. Questions can be answered only through this column.

MORE COATES

*Jim answers more questions each Monday in the Business Technology section.

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Copyright (c) 2007, Chicago Tribune

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