Ask Dr. Webbie
Is there an Internet question you'd like to see answered in a future edition of Website Compass? Email your question to DrWebbie@WebsiteCompass.com.
To assist him in answering your question as specifically as possible, be sure to include the following: the name of the browser you are using (i.e. Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0, Firefox 2.0, etc.), the name of the email software you are using (i.e. Microsoft Outlook Express 6.0, OS 10.4 Mail, etc.), and the version of your system software (i.e. Windows 98, Windows XP, etc.)
QUESTION: My home's internet speed seems slower than I expected. What options do I have for checking my speed?
If your internet connection seems slow, you can check it by using several of the many internet speed tests available online. These tests will give you a fairly accurate indication of your current download and upload speeds. They may also provide ping information, measured in milliseconds. The ping is the reaction time of your connection — how fast you get a response after you've sent out a request. A fast ping means a more responsive connection, especially in applications where timing is everything (like video games).
Look to see if your internet service provider offers a speed test on its website. You can also check your internet speeds at websites including these:
Another option for accessing a simple speed test is to go to Bing.com or Google.com, type in "speed test," and then select the first search result that pops up. These tools don't offer much detail, but they have the advantage of being fast and easy.
Space out your speed tests over a few days, and at varying times of day, to get the best overall measure of your internet connection. Remember, the speeds listed when you signed up for your internet plan were probably "up to" speeds and cannot be guaranteed.
Also keep in mind that a number of factors could be decreasing your internet speed such as multiple devices connected simultaneously, bandwidth-demanding applications, an outdated or poorly located router, or interference in your home network. Talk to your internet service provider if you have questions.
QUESTION: Friends have suggested I get a second monitor for my home office. What are the advantages of having dual monitors?
There are many advantages of having dual monitors, so you may want to take the advice of your friends and get a second one. I've heard people say that after 10 minutes of using a dual-monitor setup, they can't imagine living without it. With a second monitor, you can:
- Switch between applications more quickly. Instead of using keyboard shortcuts like ALT + TAB to multitask, just point your mouse to the other screen and save a lot of time.
- Segment your working tasks. For example, you can leave your email inbox open on one screen and your browser on the other.
- View documents side-by-side. Having two monitors is particularly handy for comparison, research, or cutting and pasting between documents.
- Improve your picture and video editing. Keep all of your editing tools on one screen while you work on the project in the other.
You'll likely find that having two monitors makes you more productive and enhances the fun of computing. Since adding a monitor requires a relatively small investment — many are available in the $150 to $175 range — it may prove to be the best "bang for your buck" in terms of getting more done in less time.