10 Computer Pranks for Fun.

Okay, it’s time to blow off some steam and have a little fun with technology and your co-workers. Below are ten harmless pranks you can do for fun; but beware, if you do them in vengeance to your boss or co-worker, your job may not be too secure in the immediate future. Remember, these are meant to be fun jokes for a little stress relief in the office. So, with warnings in place, let’s get started.

 

  1. Change the default start page of their browser to something you want. Here’s an idea, use the following URL as gag site. http://www.1112.net/lastpage.html (This will display a page that says they have reached the end of the internet and they should turn off their computer and go do something)
  2. Make their desktop icons inert. Take a screen shot of their desktop with all programs closed or minimized. Now save the screen shot in a folder you create somewhere on C: drive. Right click on the desktop and under the “view” option uncheck the “display icons” option. Now right click on the desktop and choose “personalize” from the bottom of the drop down menu. Change the desktop background to the screen shot you just saved. Now it looks just like it did before but none of the icons will work since it’s just a screen shot.
  3. Change their icons to goofy looking icons. You can download a ton of different icons with a simple Google search. Right click on the icon you want to change and select “properties” then “change icon.” You may have to hit the “F5” key on the keyboard to refresh the desktop.
  4. Turn their screen upside down. Just press the CTRL + ALT + Down Arrow. Press the CTRL + ALT + Up Arrow to undo it. Use the left and right arrows to rotate the screen ninety degrees. The system will still function as normal, just upside down.
  5. Change the language in Word by selecting “Review” then “Set Language.” Now everything they open or type in Word will be in another language.
  6. Set “auto correct” to change words. You can set an auto correct option so that every time they type the word “hello” it is instantly replaced with “up yours” or whatever you would like. Just find the auto-correct option in Word and type in the two words you want to use. You can go back later and delete the auto correct rule that you just created.
  7. Put a piece of tape on the bottom of their mouse covering the LED light. The mouse will not move on the screen no matter how hard they try.
  8. Switch the mouse buttons. Go to the mouse properties and switch the mouse from right hand to left hand or vice versa. You can also change the mouse pointer appearance, add mouse trails and so on.
  9. Change shortcut functions. Right click on the FireFox shortcut on their desktop and choose properties from the drop down menu. In the “target” box replace the text with “%windir%\system32\calc.exe”. The next time they try to open FireFox with this icon it will open calculator instead. Be sure to make a copy of what was in the dialog box first so you can restore it later.
  10. Add a keyboard or mouse. With the growing popularity of wireless input devices, you can plug in a USB dongle for an additional mouse and keyboard. Since they usually have a range of several meters, you can sit back and move the mouse on occasion or type in an email or document they have open. You can even open or close programs without them being the wiser. Since both keyboards and mice can function at the same time, they may think their computer is haunted.
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10 Tips for New Microsoft Project Users

With all the “Top 10 Lists” out there on varying subjects, I thought it was time to create one for Microsoft Project. Most beginners that are given Project are simply thrown a copy of the program and maybe an 800 page book that reads like assembly instructions for a Space Shuttle.

In the real-world work place classes are just not an option, usually due to budget constraints. With the proper training and a good understanding of a few simple rules, the users frustration level can be drastically reduced to a tolerable level. So, here is my list of a few basic rules or guidelines to consider when working in Project.

  1. Project is not Excel.

This may seem obvious but surprisingly when you first open a new project, most are inclined to think in terms of an excel spreadsheet.  After all, it’s been ingrained in our thought process since the dawn of Microsoft Office. While the grid-like layout of the “Gantt Chart” may look similar to excel, make no mistake, it is different. It may look similar but it behaves very differently. For example, Project will automatically change the start and end date. Let it. Remember, this is a scheduling tool and scheduling tools change dates based on other inputs. Not understanding how and why it does this will lead most newbies to abandon the software.  Stick with it and it will become a valuable tool.

  1. Understand the basic scheduling formula.

(Duration = Work divided by Units)

This is a fundamental formula across all scheduling practices and thus is no different in Project. Understanding this formula and the definitions of the words themselves is vital in comprehending how Project schedules and manipulates tasks. Without an understanding of this formula, changes made by Project may seem obscure and unjustified. Knowing the formula may not stop Project from making changes to your scheduling, but it will help you better understand what changes to expect given certain modifications on your part.

  1. Setting fixed types.

By default, Project will set the “units” as fixed, when in reality most often we would want the “work” as fixed. On a default set-up where either work, units or duration is fixed and you modify one of them, Project will recalculate the third but will not change the one that is fixed. Since most technical tasks are driven by the amount of work effort required, they should be set so the work type is fixed.  You would set the work type as fixed if you do not want overtime. So, if your order for units increases you can plug in the new quantity and since the work is fixed, Project will adjust the time and provide you with a new deadline for production. In the same respect you can change the fixed type to any of the three options so if your deadline gets pulled in, adjust the new duration while keeping the same quantity of units and Project will calculate the adjusted amount of “work” or hours needed.

 

  1. Don’t assign everyone at 100%.

When you assign a resource or person to a task, the default in Project is 100%. This means that that resource or person will work solely on that assignment. In some situations this is okay, but it limits that resource to only that task for the duration of the task. This will result in erroneous numbers and timelines in Project. Also pay attention to assigning people or resources to concurrent (parallel) tasks. Although most of us like to think we can multi-task, in Project it just doesn’t work.

  1. Minimize those constraints.

When you add constraints such as “Start no earlier than” or “Finish no later than”, you are actually telling Project not to schedule anything. While there may be legitimate uses for such constraints,  such as a dependency on an external event, the best practice is to let Project adjust the schedule. This is known as Dynamic Scheduling. Difficult or inflexible constraints may cause scheduling conflicts and force Project to ignore or eliminate a particular project schedule. If your sponsor (by sponsor I mean boss) mandates an end date then use Deadlines. Deadlines will flag a missed milestone but will not disable scheduling of the task.

  1. Avoid estimating or guessing the Percent Complete.

Estimating the percent complete for a project is a practice you should avoid. This often becomes a habit and soon becomes a subject of abuse. The best practice should be to ask a resource (or manager) to report the actual work then calculate the remaining work. This will allow project to automatically (and correctly) calculate the percent of work completed. A point to remember is that; in project the percent complete actually means duration complete which is distinguished from work complete. Remember, we are using Project – not Excel. Before you make changes to work or units, make sure you understand the difference between work complete and duration complete.

  1. Let your project program talk to you, and listen to what it says.

Think twice before you hit the “ignore” button when Project pops up an error message “This action will cause a scheduling conflict…” They are there to warn you of potential problems that may occur if you continue. Deal with the errors or conflicts immediately or their consequences will have long term effects. Not taking care of them now will make it more difficult to trace back later when these issues start stacking up.

  1. Leveling is not a magic wand.

As anyone who has used automatic leveling can tell you, there is no real magic to it. Leveling simply delays the start or continuation of a task or tasks in a schedule until your resources are no longer over allocated.  It’s best to use some thought when first assigning resources to tasks. A common mistake is to assign a person full time to more than one task that is on the same scheduled time frame. If you are careful, leveling can work great for you, if not it can be a nightmare.

 

  1. Tools are not communicators.

Considering the various collaboration tools in the Enterprise Edition of Project Management (EPM) environment including things like notifications and SharePoint, you may be inclined to think the tool can communicate for you. Wrong! Ninety percent of a project manager’s job is communication. PM tools may facilitate some communication and relieve us of some mundane tasks allowing us to spend more time communicating – but it will not replace it.

  1. Knowing project management will not make you a project manager.

Project Management Institute (PMI) identifies 44 processes that a typical project manager performs. Project really only handles a few of these processes. Project makes a good manager better and a bad manager worse. Project will facilitate some of your routine scheduling tasks so that you can devote the bulk of your time to truly managing your projects.

More Tech Tips and Tricks

In tech columns of the past, I mentioned that no one person knows everything about computers. If by chance you take your computer in for repair or upgrade to a geek that “claims” to know everything; grab your computer and run.

There’s no core curriculum for technology. Nobody teaches you the basics. You just pick stuff up as you go along. As a result, everybody, even experts, winds up with knowledge holes—things everybody thinks everybody else knows about the basics of computers but doesn’t.

Screenshots

*Especially if you’re a beginner (or an expert), it’s frequently useful to capture the image of what’s on the screen — an error message or diagram, for example.

*In Windows, PrintScreen key copies the whole screen image, as a graphic, onto your invisible Clipboard, so you can paste into an e-mail message or any other program (“This is what I’m seeing! What do I do now?!”). If you add the Alt key, you copy only the front or “active” window.

*On the Mac, press Command-Shift-3. (Command is the key with the propeller on it, next to the Space bar.) You hear a snapshot sound, and you get a graphics file on your desktop—a picture of the entire screen image.

*If you press Command-Shift-4 instead, you get a crosshair cursor; you can draw across just one portion of the screen. Or, if you now tap the Space bar, you turn the cursor into a little camera icon. You can now click on just one window or toolbar that you want to copy.

*In both cases, you can hold down the Control key to copy the image to the Clipboard instead of leaving a file on the hard drive.

E-mail

* If you get a message from your bank or eBay about a problem with your account, it’s probably a “phishing” scam. It’s a fake, designed to lure you into typing your name and password so the bad guys can have it. Delete it. If you’re concerned, visit the institution’s Web site in your browser by typing in its address (like Citibank.com) — not by clicking the link in e-mail.

* Before you pass on any amazing item you get by e-mail—Obama’s a Muslim, the bubble boy wants greeting cards, the Nieman-Marcus $400 cookie recipe — first check it out at Snopes.com, the world clearinghouse for Internet scams and rumors.

* If a blue underlined link shows up in an e-mail message, you can mouse over it without clicking to see what Web site it plans to open.

* If you get a message from someone you know that relates a horror story about being mugged in England (and needing you to wire money immediately), delete it. It’s a popular scam — even if it’s the correct e-mail address of someone you know.

* File too big to send by e-mail? Then use yousendit.com or transferbigfiles.com. You can transmit huge files, using the site as a free intermediary parking space.

Editing Text

* On your keyboard, there’s a difference between the Backspace and Del keys. Press Backspace to delete the typed character to the left of the blinking insertion-point cursor, as usual. Pressing Del, however, removes the character to its right.

* In Microsoft Word, when you paste in text from another document—say, a Web site — you may not want all the boldface, colors, fonts and other formatting from the original source. Instead of using the regular Paste command, in that case, open the Edit menu and click Paste Special. Click Unformatted Text. You’ll get just the text, without the fanciness.

Web

*Don’t reach for the mouse to go back to the previous Web page. Just tap the Backspace key. (Alt+left-arrow key also works for Back, and Alt+right-arrow for Forward. In this article, if you have a Mac, substitute the Option key for Alt.)

* After you type a word or phrase into a Search box, don’t click the Search button. Just press the Enter key.

(The Enter key also works to click “Go” after you’ve typed an address, or the highlighted button, like “O.K.” or “Print,” in most dialog boxes. Yes, there are people who don’t realize that.)

* On brand-name Web sites (eBay, Facebook, Amazon and so on), click the upper-left logo to return to the site’s home page.

* At translate.google.com, you can choose languages you want to translate from and to. Then you paste in some copied text (or the address of a Web site). In a flash, the text is translated — roughly, to be sure, but at no charge.

* Who needs a dictionary? In the Google search box, type “define schadenfreude” (or whatever the word is). Press Enter.

Computers

* The Esc key (top left of the keyboard) means, “close this” or “cancel this.” It can close a menu or a dialog box, for example.

* You can duplicate a file icon (instead of moving it) if you press the Alt key as you drag it out of its window.

* You can switch among open programs by pressing Alt+Tab (or Command-Tab on the Mac). On the Mac, the much less known Command-tilde (the ~ key, upper left corner) switches among windows in a single program.

Mac Specials

* Anything you can print, you can turn into a PDF document — an amazingly convenient feature. Choose the Print command — but instead of choosing Print, click the PDF pop-up menu and choose Save as PDF.

* It’s often very useful to have a document, Web page or e-mail message read aloud to you — to “proof-listen” to it, for example, or just to listen to an article while you’re getting dressed in the morning. In the Speech pane of System Preferences, turn on “Speak selected text.” Click Set Key to choose a key combination. Pressing it makes the Mac read anything on the screen, at the rate, and in the character voice, that you’ve specified.

In previous articles I encouraged feedback about additional tips you would like discussed. Then, as now, I invite you to expand the collection by emailing me your suggestions at pailwriter@outlook.com.

Short Cut Keys

Previously we discussed the function keys located at the top of your keyboard; this week will discuss the “short cut” keys, a combination of key strokes from the main body of your keyboard.

Some general keyboard-only options will replace some of the mouse click buttons. “Now why would I want to know how to do things on the keyboard that my mouse already does” you might ask. There are a number of reasons for this such as your mouse just died but you still need to finish this document before going out and purchasing a new mouse. Using the keyboard shortcut keys will help you accomplish this task. With that said, let’s learn some keyboard shortcuts.

Of course most of us are familiar with the often used shortcut key combinations: Ctrl + A = Select all, Ctrl + C = Copy, Ctrl + V = Paste, Ctrl + B = Bold, Ctrl + U = Underline and Ctrl + I = Italic. Pressing and holding the Ctrl key while pressing the appropriate letter on your keyboard will alter the text you have highlighted in the respective manor. If you do not have anything highlighted then it will only apply the changes to to space your cursor is presently at. This would be an option for the bold, italic or underline options if you want to start with that font enabled from this point on. Pressing these combination keys again will toggle the option off.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the less commonly used shortcut combinations. Ctrl + X will cut or delete the highlighted text or images and Ctrl + Z will undo your last action. Pressing the Ctrl + Esc button will open the Windows Start menu and just pressing the Esc button will close it. Pressing the Shift key and the F10 key will open a context menu. Shift plus F10 opens a shortcut menu much like the “right” click button does on your mouse. Alt plus Tab switches to another running program. On a side note, using Ctrl + Tab will switch you between different open documents within a particular program. For example; if you have multiple Excel sheets open, you can switch or pivot between the open spreadsheets using this keyboard shortcut. Pressing the Alt + F4 will close the program.

When you have a program open you can press the Alt + Shift key to open its window’s menu. Pressing the Alt + F6 will toggle between the “Find” dialog box and the document. So if you are looking for a particular part or word and want to toggle between these two to follow the suggestions in the “find” dialog you can do so with this shortcut.

Pressing the Shift key 5 times in quick succession toggles the Sticky-keys on and off. Okay, before you get all flustered and pour syrup on your keyboard to make them sticky, here is what the term “Stick-Keys” means. They are an accessibility feature on most Graphical User Interfaces (GUI’s) to assist users who have physical disabilities. Basically this option will “serialize” keystrokes alleviating you from having to press multiple keys at a time.

Now let’s take a look at that infamous “Windows” key on your keyboard. It’s there, one on each side of your space bar and we know that when pressed it will open the Windows Menu, “but what else can I do with it?” I’m glad you asked. Below is a brief list of options to use the Windows key and their outcomes. For the sake of making it easier to follow we will call it the Logo key.

Logo + R = Run a dialog box

Logo + M = Minimize all

Shift + Logo + M = Undo minimize all, or maximize

Logo + E = Open the Windows Explorer. (Note this is not Internet Explorer but rather it opens the “explorer” much like when you double click on “My computer.”

Log + F = Find files or folders

Logo + D = Minimize all open windows and show the desktop.

Ctrl + Logo + F = Find Computer – okay at this point you are probably thinking “Oh my, the computer guy is losing it, I don’t need to find my computer, it’s sitting right here in front of me.” And you would be correct on the latter part of that, but this is an option for you to find computers near you (on the same network) as your computer. This is one of the options to set up file sharing with another computer.

If you want to insert a CD/DVD ROM in you computer but do not want the “auto-play” or “auto-run” to start, simply press and hold the Shift key while closing the DVD ROM drive. Wait a few seconds while holding the shift key for the DVD drive to spin up and recognize the DVD. Now you can go to “My Computer” on the desktop and tab over to the DVD drive then press Shift + F10 to open the drop down menu and select “open” to view the contents of the DVD.

A side note for Firefox users – Are you getting annoyed with those ever so irritating little pop-up boxes asking you to share your location. If so, here is a tip on how to disable that feature so you can get straight to the site you intended to reach.

Open Firefox, in the address bar (where you normally type www.google.com or what ever site you are going to) and type in “about:config” Don’t type in the quotation marks,just the words. Next you will be taken to a confirmation screen where you will need to click on the “I’ll be careful, I promise” button. Yes, it actually says that. Once you click on this button you will be presented with a list of options to modify. Here we are looking for the “geo.enable” option. You may scroll down the list if you like or just simply type “geo.enable” in the address bar provided. Once you are here simply double click the “geo.enable” line and you will notice that it changes from “True” to “False.” Now you can close this tab as your changes are automatically applied. Restarting Firefox is not necessary.

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as shortcut keys go, but we have to start somewhere and there will be more to follow in later issues so stay tuned. If you find any or all of these helpful then bookmark this page and come back to it as often as needed.

 

 

Google Tricks

Google, the world’s most popular search engine, has a lot more to offer than you may have realized. Everything from rolling your web page to getting your local weather can be done by using “off the wall” commands in the Google search bar.

Here are 15 Google tips and tricks; some are fun while others are actually productive. In the following steps type only what is in the quotation marks exactly as you see it. Do not put in the quotation marks.

  1. Type “set timer for 5 minutes” or however many minutes you would like and Google will start a countdown timer. At the end it will set off an audible alarm so be sure to have your volume turned up.
  2. Type “Calculator” to open a scientific calculator
  3. Type “tip calculator” to a tip calculator program
  4. Type “Mortgage Calculator” to open a mortgage calculator
  5. Type “Google 1998” and you will be transported to a retro 90’s version of Google
  6. Type “pizza vs cupcake” and Google will show you a nutritional comparison of your favorite foods.
  7. Type “sycophant etymology” for the meaning and history of the word.
  8. Type “zeg rush” to play a quick game in Google when you get bored.
  9. Type “define anagram” for the definition of any word. Replace the word “anagram” with whatever word you want to define.
  10. Type “do a barrel role” and Google will do a complete roll then stop.
  11. Type “founder” before the name of a company to find out details of the company.
  12. Type “sunrise Fort Sill” to get the sunrise time, change the location to any place to see the time for that location.
  13. Type “Delta flight 815” to see the flight information. Change the airline and flight number to whichever you want to check on.
  14. Type “Christmas Day 2016” in Google to find what date a holiday falls on. Change the holiday to whatever you want and year to whatever year you want.
  15. Type “intitle:herbs” to search for the word herbs that is only found in the title and not the content of a web page.

As you can see there is a lot you can do with Google and still more options than we can list here.

Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin and is home based in Mountain View, CA. It is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. and has since spurred its own companies such as You Tube, AdMob, ITA software and others.

You can also become an affiliate copy writer for Google via the “Google Ad Sense” program and make money placing ads on Google for other companies.

Tracking expiration dates by color code ‘automatically’ in excel

Have you ever wondered how to automatically highlight expired dates and dates that are less than 30 days from expiration? An option in excel called “conditional formatting” holds the key to this task. If you are an avid excel user tracking calibration dates, evaluation dates, birthdays, shipping, expenses or a number of other date related content, then you will definitely benefit from this tip.

In this article we are going to walk through the steps to have excel automatically change the color of a cell or the color of a font after a certain date has passed. Consequently, every time you open your spreadsheet it’s automatically updated with the appropriate color changes.

For example, you are monitoring calibration dates and want to know at a glance (by color code) what equipment is past due for calibration and which is coming due. The following steps will walk you through making these changes.

First open a new blank excel sheet to work from. Put in cell A1 the word “Equipment” and in cell A2 put “Due Date.” Now populate cells A2 through A5 with various equipment names and populate cells B2 through B5 with various dates. For this example it’s best to put in varying dates from last year, some from the current week and some from the months or years ahead.

Select the Home tab in the toolbar at the top of the screen if you are not already there. When you open excel it should default to this screen. Now select the cells that you want to apply the formula to such as the cells in column A. You can select the entire column by clicking on the A in that column. From the top tool-bar in excel click on Conditional Formatting and choose New Rule from the drop down menu. When the next dialog box opens click on the option “Format only cells that contain”. This will change the options in the dialog box. On the bottom half of the dialog box, click “Cell Value” from the first (far left) drop down menu. Select “Less than” from the second drop down menu then put your cursor in the text box to right of that and enter the following formula without the quotes “=NOW( )+30”.

Next we will set the formatting we want to apply by clicking on the “Format” button in the bottom right corner of the dialog box. This one may be familiar to you if you have ever changed the color of a cell or text in excel and we will be doing the same thing here. Now select the color that you want the cell to shade to for items that will expire in the next 30 days by clicking on the “Fill” tab at the top of the dialog box and selecting the color from the color chart. (Note: if you don’t want to change the color of the box but rather you want to change the color of the font only then click on the “Font” tab and select your color from the color chart.)

When your color is selected, click the “OK” button and this will take you back to the “New Formatting Rule” dialog box. Now click on the Okay button here and it should take you back to the “Conditional Formatting Rules Manager” dialog box. If for some reason it does not then simply click on the Conditional Formatting option from the tool-bar at the top of the excel sheet and choose “Manage Rules” from the drop down menu. Here you will notice that the rule you just created is listed in the dialog box. The next couple of steps will seem like deja vu but what we are doing is simply creating 3 similar rules but with different formulas to produce a single action in excel.

From the “Manage Rules” dialog box click on “new rule.” From the top part of the dialog box again select “format on cells that contain” option and in the lower part of the dialog box select “cell value” in the first drop down menu and “less than” from the second dialog box. Now place your cursor in the formula text box and enter the following code, again without the quotation marks. “=NOW( )”

Next step is to click on the “format” button to change the color of the cell or font for this rule. If you want to change the color of the cell then click on the “fill” tab for changing the color of the font, click on the “font” tab and select the color of your choice. For this exercise we will select red. Click OK to save changes and this should return you to the new rule manager, click OK here as well.

Now we are back to the first level rule manager and you should see your two new rules listed here. Again, click on the “new rule” button and from the top part of the dialog box we are going to select the option “use a formula to determine which cells to format” as the rule type. In the formula bar that appears type in the following without the quotes, “=ISBLANK(A1)=TRUE”. Next click on the “format” button to select what actions will apply when the conditions of this rule are met. If you are changing the color of the cell then click on the “fill” tab, if you are changing the color of the font then click on the “font” tab. For the purpose of this example we are going to choose white for the fill color and “automatic” for the font color, depending on which you are doing. Click the OK button and then click the next OK button on the rule dialog box and you should be taken back to the rules manager dialog box.

There should be 3 rules listed now in order by creation with the newest on top. You should have 2 “cell value” rules and one “formula” rule. On the far right of each rule you will see a “stop if true” check box. Click on the check box for the “formula” rule but leave the other 2 rules unchecked. Now click the OK button to close the dialog box.

Congratulations, you have just entered lines of code in excel to create a rule of conditions. Save the excel sheet as “test1” in a folder of your choice or on your desktop and close it. The next time you open the document the color rules will take effect. If you would like to play around with this try changing the date on your computer to another day in the past or future and re-open the excel sheet. Notice the cells change colors based on the date change.

With this new knowledge at hand you can make the changes to your existing documents by applying this process to the dates you want to monitor.

I Feel the Need, The Need for Speed!

Test your internet speed to make sure you are getting what you pay for. In today’s competitive market, internet speed is the focus of most ads. How do you know if you’re getting what the internet provider promised during the sale?

To make sure of this, let’s first understand the difference between speed, bandwidth and data.

Speed is the bit rate of the circuit while Bandwidth is the amount of “speed” available for use by the consumer. The bandwidth defines the maximum “data transfer rate” of a network or internet connection. This measures the amount of data that can be sent across a specific connection in a given time frame.

While bandwidth is often used to describe network speeds, it does not measure how fast bits of data move from one location to another. Considering that data packets travel over electronic cables, the speed of each bit transferred is negligible. Instead, bandwidth measures how much data can flow through a specific connection at one time.

When visualizing bandwidth, it may help to think of a network connection as a tube and each bit of data as a grain of sand. If you pour a large amount of sand into a skinny tube, it will take a long time for the sand to flow through it. If you pour the same amount of sand through a wide tube, the sand will finish flowing through the tube much faster. Similarly, a download will finish much faster when you have a high-bandwidth connection rather than a low-bandwidth connection.

Data often flows over multiple network connections, which means the connection with the smallest bandwidth acts as a bottleneck. Generally, the Internet backbone and connections between servers have the most bandwidth, so they rarely serve as bottlenecks. Instead, the most common Internet bottleneck is your connection to your ISP.

Now that the technical defining process is complete, we can focus on which service provider is correct for you. Today, you have several different choices for high speed Internet access. You can use: DSL, Cable Internet, Satellite Internet, Wi-Fi, or Cellular 3G and 4G networks.

An ever-increasing number of technologies are available to deliver high speed Internet access. This is making the market more competitive, leading to a nice combination of lower prices and ever increasing download speeds, so don’t be afraid to haggle the price and data packages (Interestingly enough, U.S. high speed Internet moves at a turtle’s pace compared to the speeds available in other countries.)

With that said, let’s take a look at some websites that offer free internet speed, bandwidth and data test to make sure you are getting what you pay for.

http://www.bandwidthplace.com/ – my personal favorite

http://www.timewarnercable.com/en/support/speed-test.html

http://www.att.com/speedtest/

http://speedof.me/

A final note; when you sign up with an internet provider, make sure to test the available speed within the first few days of getting the service. This gives you a chance to file a complaint with the company, negotiate for a better price or cancel your service without penalty. Also test your internet frequently to make sure they are maintaining their promised service.