The World Wide Web can be quite intimidating if you consider the number of sites, topics, and contributors it represents. The Internet can seem incomprehensible, unbridled, like kudzu growing along the side of the road.
And yet, there are some amazing finds on the web. Encyclopedias of relevant information, breaking news, and inspiring stories can be found in seconds. Breathtaking photos and videos of sights around the world are hidden among storm clouds of marketing and crass entertainment. There are sites out there to help “put a handle on it” so that the Internet doesn’t seem so unmanageable.
Peruse www.100bestwebsites.org for a list of valuable sources of information, entertainment and communication with the world. Yahoo.com is the top pick. Yahoo’s home page provides connections to dozens of popular sites, including current news, weather, social networks, finance, and shopping of all sorts.
Yahoo.com connects to some of the most widely used sites in the world. It’s that constant flow of viewers that attracts hackers who seek to distribute malicious software, or “mal-ware,” to unsuspecting victims. Their goal may be to drive up traffic on retail websites, to entice consumers to reveal credit card information, or simply to cause trouble. So before surfing the web, be sure to have a good anti-virus program installed and up to date.
At our store, we recommend AVG Pro, an efficient anti-virus package, which is not as cumbersome as some of the more highly advertised security products. No anti-virus is going to catch 100 percent of the viruses. When anti-virus software is installed, it creates an update schedule so that it can receive new information on viruses that have been discovered. Anti-virus companies are constantly searching for new viruses and creating ways to defend against them. AVG Pro also protects against identity theft, spyware, and spam. It has a firewall that can be used in place of the firewall provided by your operating system.
AVG also has a free version that is available for download at www.free.AVG.com. This anti virus provides good protection. The website describes how it compares to AVG Pro. Either version must be updated on a regular basis, and must be renewed after one or two years.
A search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing will retrieve countless sites when you search for “best websites.” Near the top of the list will be www.Time.com and their “50 Best Websites of 2009.” I expect that sites for Time’s affiliates will be included here, so be a savvy shopper. At the bottom of the page, there are links to some interesting spots.
PC Magazine (PCMag.com) also lists their 100 best websites, organized into several smaller lists. The Info and news lists are definitely worth a look, in both the “classic” and “undiscovered” categories.
These sites offer great resources for travel, reading, music, health, events, and more. Even if the web seems like a vine out of control, perhaps it can still bear fruit and provide some benefit to our lives.
Patty Harshbarger, the owner of Computer Renaissance in Bradenton, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.