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The September, 2000, issue of Windowatch Magazine features my article Strange Hero - commentary on the death penalty and the system. This article is the first of what I expect will be a randomly appearing series - The Ordinary Potato
Visit the ModemJunkie Archive - - Impressions and commentary on the online world and much, much more.


This page has been my portal, my gateway to the Web for a long, long time.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

Enjoy your visit.

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Getting Started

Getting started on the net is easy with the right tools. The most important is a good starting point. I have resisted the commercial lists of hot sites and portal pages and have found a number of alternatives.

  • Weblogs

    In the last two years Weblogs have become a phenomenon on the web. Although the sites are filtered through the sensibility of the editor or "blogger," you can quickly come to know the quirks and strengths of one or two, so you know who to trust and what to take with a grain of salt. Blogs vary from sites which are little more than lists of new links discovered and collected during the blogger's daily online journey , to detailed diaries and journals. Most are eclectic but focus on a few areas of interest. Here are a couple of recommendations and a few of collections of blogs.

    The Robot Wisdom WebLog is edited by Jorn Barger. It is an amazing compendium of links and commentary. The site is currently going through a major revision and is filtered through Jorn's sensibilities. But it is an excellent source in many areas, even though, from time to time, I have found reason to view some of his recommendations with caution. A very useful beginning point is a Start Page I have modified based on a page created by Jorn. Also available is a collection of Useful Bookmarks with more than 50 categories of links I have also cribbed from Jorn.

    A blog of an entirely different [background] color is Dan Hartung's Lake Effect. Dan has been on line for as long as anyone can remember. His site is beautiful to look at and has a very different touch. A few choice links a day with trenchant commentary.

    Some webloggers can take themselves and the weblog world too seriously. Dan recently pointed out that that bloggers have readers who fall outside that weblog community. But more important he reminds his fellow bloggers to allow room for whimsy and joy in ephemera as well.

    A few of my other favorites are:

      If this isn't enough here are a few lists of Weblogs:

    • Jorn Barger's Other weblogs, an annotated list of the sources he uses to find more links.
    • The Linkwatcher: Why Surf? portal. More than a list. An amazing up to the minute gateway to the other blogs.
    • The WebLog Monitor. Search tool for weblogs.

  • New Page Announcements

    Before the advent of weblogs, the best way to find new sites was to follow newsgroups that specialized in announcements of new pages. I still like them because you can find sites that otherwise slip through the cracks - especially because they are unfiltered by a reviewer's tastes or interests.
    • A valuable source of 40 to 60 new sites a day is Net-Happenings, a daily service of the Computer Sciences Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose Internet Scout Project lists new sites every Friday.

      Although Net Happenings ostensibly focuses on the K-12 and research communities, the announcements here on these sites have a much wider appeal and interest.
    • Formerly updated every day, now less frequently, but still valuable is newsgroup comp.infosystems.www.announce which is archived on the web in What's new from CIWA, Check out this unfiltered source of new page announcements from time to time. Anyone interested in helping to moderate this newsgroup should contact the current moderator.

That should be enough to keep you up all night for a month. Find one or two which include an emphasis on your interests but also stretch your mind. Enjoy.

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Search Engines

The Web can be a bewildering, vast, source of entertainment and information. There are many fast search engines designed to help you find what your are looking for in seconds.

Also available are tools like 555-1212.com and Who/Where to enable you to find e-mail addresses, phone numbers and even reverse directories to tell you whose number that is scribbled on that scrap of paper in your wallet.

I do my searches right from here. If you don't find what you are looking for, try Lycos or Excite, or one of the many other search engines available on the Web. Here are some of the best:



All The Web

FAST Web Search Web Search


Search and Display the Results


Infoseek Guide

- H o t B o t -

HotBot is easily configured and is great for large searches so here is a link to their service.

Jeremy Nixon has created a power search form for use with the Deja.com archives. It may suit your needs better than the approved form above. Thanks to Jorn Barger's WebLog.

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If you are looking for just the right word to use in your next page or project, check out the OneLook Online Dictionaries That site allows you to search over 50 online dictionaries with one click.

Here's a simple search form for Britannica Online (requires JavaScript). This is especially useful if your browser isn't recognized by Britannica.com. Thanks to RWWL

Use this form to search for items in todays news:

News Search

the News
Excite Channels
the Web

Search Help

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Breaking News

Links to many sources of the latest news and commentary from around the world.

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Great Lite Software

I am hooked on viewing, creating and editing Web pages, as you can see. (Take a look at the Temple Har Zion page and the Gropper Windows page, for example.)

Readers of my columns and viewers of my pages know I like to keep things simple. I believe it should not be necessary to upgrade your computer every 6 months or add RAM every few weeks to write a letter or browse the Web or even to create Web pages. So, I appreciate applications that do their job with out requiring much in resources. I am happy to share with some recent finds:

DiDa for Windows

DiDa is a simple, small, freeware HTML editor for Windows created by Godfrey Ko. The executable is less than 460 K. Beta version 1.72 is available here. The whole zipped file, dida172.zip is barely 300 K. While it is not a WYSIWYG editor, the app includes a fast previewer which will let you view your page without opening your memory-hog browser (and it will let you see how your masterpiece will look in browsers that don't handle "netscapisms," as well). This streamlined application has features not found on much bigger editors, including a status line indicating what line you are on, an invaluable feature for making corrections after running validation programs like Weblint.

A professional version, DiDa Pro is now available from the DiDa home page. Godfrey can be reached directly at godfreyk@faico.com. Tell him I sent you. Check back here regularly for the latest version of the freeware edition. He has also created a whole range of useful web related tools. Check out the Faico home page. All of my pages are edited or created with DiDa.

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Professional File Editor

PFE is a large-capacity, multi-file editor that runs on Windows 95-8, Windows 3.1x, and Windows NT 3.51 and 4.0 on Intel platforms. Although it's primarily oriented towards program developers and contains features like the ability to run compilers and development applications, it also makes a very good general purpose editor for any function at all. You can learn more and download the file on the PFE home page. Amazingly, the zipped file is only 603,028 bytes. Added June 27, 1998.

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Opera -- A browsing masterpiece

My great find keeps getting better!! Opera, the shareware browser, meets my requirements for special mention. It is small (the compressed file barely more than one meg - - it still fits on a single floppy -- great for getting new machines online) and offers many innovative features. Its zoom feature is worth your attention. With just a click you can magnify a page (both text and graphics) as much as 1000% or reduce it to 20% of its original size. Thus Vision impaired users (including bleary eyed late night surfers) can enlarge the screen to legible size. On the other hand, it is also possible to reduce the screen so that you can see how a whole page is laid out at a glance.

Version 5.x is now is available to download for evaluation and purchase. Opera's authors will listen to any problems or suggestions you have and are very responsive. Additional information, including links to sites with software for the disabled is also available at www.opera.com .

You can find more in depth software reviews and commentary in the ModemJunkie archive.

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Quinion's Spell Checker for Edit Boxes

Michael Quinion's Spell Checker for Edit Boxes isn't new but it is extremely useful for those of us who write online. I have used it in Eudora Lite, NewsXpress, DiDa, and the PFE editor. People used to make fun of my typos. Now they will have to look a lot closer to find them. The spell checker itself is only 136 K to download. Dictionaries range from around 300 K to over 700 K depending on the language. They include British English, US English, French, French-Canadian, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Norwegian. There is also a developer's kit available.

This application is very versatile although it does take some getting used to. It seems to perform differently in different environments. Sometimes a context field pops up, sometimes not, sometimes I can follow the position of the checker by observing highlighted areas in the original text, sometimes not. And it seems to have entered some unwanted characters in this page when I tried it with DiDa, my html editor. But, still, it found some outrageous errors which had been here for a long time, and the KGV validator found the odd entries. Try it. Entry added:10/18/97.

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PC User Groups

Although the role of PC user groups is changing, they can be quite useful in getting started. For a list of user groups around the world go to Ash Nallawalla's List of User Groups on the Web.

My addiction to computers can be blamed on George Matyaszek's great BBS, Chicago Syslink and the people who hang out there. It was on George's board that I first learned of two great user groups:

  • NICOL (The Northern Illinois Computer Owners League) meets the 1st Wednesday night of the month, from September through June at 7:30 p.m. at West Suburban Temple, 1040 N. Harlem, River Forest, Illinois.

    Further information about NICOL can be found on its own home page.

    River Forest is really in the center of the Chicago Metropolitan Area. I have created a link to directions and maps help you find your way.

  • CACHE (Chicago's oldest computer user group) meets the 3rd Sunday of each month at The Levy Senior Center, 2019 W Lawrence Ave Chicago (SW Corner of Damen & Lawrence) from 10:00 until the middle of the afternoon.

    For more information, visit the CACHE website.

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Searching for Real Estate

I am proud to announce that my wife, Sally Grossman, has become affiliated with the Baird and Warner Real Estate Agency in River Forest, Illinois. In both August and September, 1999 she was recognized for the most sales in her office. So if you are looking for a house or condo or have one to sell, in Chicago or the suburbs, drop her a note at Len @ Lgrossman . com. Please put "Sally" in the subject line.

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Here are links to pages I have created or maintain and other places of interest including law and government related sites and some special sites related to the Web itself:

Sites I Created or Maintain

 * The Gropper Windows:Genesis in Glass. This set of pages celebrates a magnificent series of stained glass windows by controversial artist William Gropper.

For something a little different take a look at the unedited, computer translated French version of the Gropper home page and then at the retranslation into English.

 * West Suburban Temple Har Zion.
MACA You may also want to take a look at the home page of the Mid-America Congress on Aging which has links to many resources on aging.

Web Related Sites

If you are serious about the development of the Web and HTML you will want to look at Terry Sullivan's All Things Web and his companion Perspectives pages.

Once you have created your great page, you will want to submit it to the major web search indexes. SavvySearch lets you submit your site to more than a dozen search engines at once without charge. On the other hand, you will have to submit your URL to the great engine, Google, separately.

Learn about using the web for good causes. You will find a primer for non-commercial users at MidEastWeb Tech.

If you are in a less serious mood, take a look at The Care and Feeding of Web Pages an essential text for web authors. (^_^)

Of course some times you need something even less serious, so visit the amazing sites that have won the Drivel Award.

Learn why you should be interested in opening the Web to all users. Take a look at Cathy's Newstand and the accessibility resources there.

No conscientious web author should fail to point his readers to sites like The Kinder Gentler Web Validator or to thank Gerald Oskoboiny or the many others out there who make possible free services which make it possible to validate the code which make possible what you see. Thanks.

Plagued with rumors about viruses, e-mail bombs and more? Check out these sites:

And just in case you missed it before, don't forget my own Reflections of a ModemJunkie. My new ModemJunkie columns also appear each month in WindoWatch Magazine as well. WindoWatch is a great source of information and humor in PDF and ASCII formats.


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Law and Government Related Sites

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Other sites of Interest

 * The Oak Park Tourist has an excellent set of links to information on the creation of web pages, search tools and other fascinating places.

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Too much surfing??

  • Here are the current Chicago Tribune TV Listings including WGN, Channel 9, which is available on cable almost everywhere in the U.S. New: listings for anywhere in the US, just enter your ZIP code in the form.
  • TV Guide Online
  • Local theater listings and more from MovieFone.com You can configure this page to find the theaters in your local Zip code. The site also has reviews and links to movie trailers.
  • Listen to WNUR Live! Radio from Northwestern University online. Requires the free RealPlayer Plugin.
    WNUR is dedicated to providing a broadcast home to new, interesting, and under-recognized music of all genres. The station also broadcasts unusual, news and commentary programming, including This is Hell, Saturday Mornings 9:00 to 11:00 CDT.
    Complete programming information is available from the WNUR home page.
  • Get out of the house. Go for a walk. For some suggestions from all over the world visit The Walking Place.
  • Or at least sit back for a few moments and enjoy a daily present from Ellen, Architect of Change. You deserve a break today.

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I am interested in your comments, great thoughts and criticisms. Send e-mail to: Len @ Lgrossman dot com (private) or leave a note in my Guestbook   * (public).

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Leonard Grossman
The ModemJunkie
Blue Ribbon Campaign
Just as the strength of the Internet is chaos, so the strength of our liberty depends upon the chaos and cacophony of the unfettered speech the First Amendment protects. ACLU v. Reno

WDG AWARDHTML 3.2 checked! This page has received a WDG Award for accessibility . If this page presents any problems on your browser, please drop me a note.

In June, 1996 my pages approached 10,000 hits. Since then (June 22, 1996) statistics about my pages have been maintained by DBasics. By the end of 1996 total hits approached 25,000. When I stopped using DBasics in August, 2000, the count on pages there recorded exceeded 300,000. Since DBasics only recorded my most important pages and my pages are currently getting about 15,000 hits a month, I estimate that overall I have had over half a million hits by now -- but who's counting?

In late March 1997, I installed a new freeware utility to generate statistics about my pages and my visitors. I especially enjoy seeing how many countries they come from. You can select from an archive of data going back to installation of the program or cumulative statistics showing data for the month to date. Installation is not for the faint hearted, but you can learn a lot in the process. According to these logs, I am currently getting over 20,000 hits a month. For more information go to the Analog2.11 home page.

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Best O' CIWA In April 1996, this page was included on M.L. Grant's Best O' CIWA list of outstanding sites.

Created with DiDa! .
"Best O' Logo" by Kate McDonnell. The Living Computer image created by Don Showalter In the interest of readability I have removed the crumpled paper background. I miss it. I have replaced it with a new background source which was modified by Terry Sullivan to whom I give thanks. I removed the old animated computer graphic and no one seems to have noticed, If you miss it click here.

Page revised 10/6/2001 at 10/Jun/2001 at 06:19:53 AM

I've heard that there is a 12-step program for modemjunkies. Unfortunately, you have to log on to participate. I hope I haven't made things worse.

[References to MCS addresses updated 9/23/09