Pardon me for being immodest and giving this book a 5-star rating, since I'm the author, but I believe this is the best book going about the latest incarnation of the Internet.
These are exciting times for the Internet. Peer-to-peer file sharing, news aggregators, and other advances in technology have inspired a new generation of Web sites and services. Never before has the Internet offered so many ways to conduct research, entertain yourself, or learn new things.
The motive behind this book is to present everything on the Internet that's worth doing because it's useful, it's a lot of fun, or it's innovative and therefore worth checking out. Close to a thousand different Web sites are described in this book, but this book isn't a directory of Web sites. The focus is on doing things -- researching, online banking, communicating, making new friends, playing games, talking over the Internet telephone, online shopping, online selling, and blogging.
In the course of describing these and other activities -- everyday activities that can be part of your Internet repertoire -- I introduce you to the best and brightest of the Internet.
For those who are interested, this book looks at the technical aspects of the Internet. It tells you how to select an ISP and gives you instructions for connecting your computer to the Internet. The book explains how to protect your privacy and security, and keep viruses and spyware at bay, as well as how to use the different plug-ins (Flash, Acrobat Reader, and others). You will find advice for making the Internet a safe and rewarding experience for children, many Web sites for children and parents, and instructions for using America Online.
Find out how to use a Web browser and how to be an Internet researcher, or better yet, an Internet detective from this book. It explains search techniques for reaching into all corners of the Internet to quickly find the information you need. You discover how to get the latest news and how to stay on top of late-breaking news with aggregators, as well as how to use different e-mail programs (some free and some not). You get definitive instructions in this book for preventing your inbox from being inundated with spam.
Look to this book to refine instant messenger programs, create a blog, and find mailing lists and message boards where you can exercise your obsessions. You find out how to conduct research in newsgroups and subscribe to newsgroups, as well as how to join or create your own Yahoo! group and chat on the IRC.
For budding Web site developers, this book demonstrates how to create a Web site on the cheap and how to submit a Web site to search engines so the site gets more hits. You also explore the social networking phenomenon and learn about Web sites and services where you can make new friends and reunite with old ones. The book has detailed instructions for setting up your computer so you can make free long-distance telephone calls over the Internet.
I devote part of the book to online finances -- how to research investments and get the latest financial news, maintain an online investment portfolio, and do your banking chores online.
You will find many shopping search engines and Web sites that specialize in comparison-shopping, as well as online catalogs, stores for bargain hunters, consumer-report Web sites, and an "online shopping bazaar" with hundreds of off-beat online shops worth visiting. I take you to a number of online auction houses, including eBay, and you discover how to search for, bid on, and buy items at bargain prices, as well as how to pay for items with the excellent PayPal service.
You find out how to be the first on your block to be an online seller and how you can make money by selling or conducting a business over the Internet.
Finally, the book looks into different Internet pastimes and pursuits. I'm warning you: Some of these activities are addictive. You discover the many excellent genealogical research Web sites and how to conduct genealogical research for free over the Internet. The book also looks at games sites, including novel games such as Geocaching. For travelers and armchair-adventurers, I direct you to Web sites where you can get travel advice, plan vacations, purchase tickets, and book hotel rooms and rental cars. You discover how to turn your lowly computer into an entertainment console by purchasing music online or sharing music files.
I am intrigued by the idea that a Web site is a creative endeavor in and of itself -- that a Web site is a clickable piece of artwork. For this book, I chose not only Web sites that are useful for finding information or buying things but also Web sites that I consider intriguing, wonderful, astonishing, bizarre, or entertaining.
Some people are calling this latest incarnation of the Internet "the Web 2.0." This book is your guide to the next incarnation of the Internet. It was written to show you how to make the Internet fun and useful again.