A little more than 6 years ago, a friend installed a 1200 baud modem on my new computer. I don't know whether to thank him or curse him. All I wanted was a simple word processor. I thought I would stop scribbling illegible notes on crumpled up pieces of paper.

Notes from a ModemJunkie

I've heard that there is a 12-step program for modemjunkies. Unfortunately, you have to log on to participate. While you are looking for it, here are a few things that may make matters worse:

Enjoy your visit.

Reflections of a ModemJunkie.

For the past several years I have written occasional pieces under the title Reflections of a ModemJunkie. Now they are collected in one place. Included in these columns are my impressions of the online world as well as the rapid change we are witnessing and my sometimes futile efforts to resist hype and power. My new columns appear each month in WindoWatch Magazine as well. WindoWatch is a great source of information and humor in PDF format. My columns are also collected in an online archive for your leisurely perusal.

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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. But I don't like other people to tell me what I should see. If you have a news reader configured in your browser, set your home page to News:comp.infosystems.www.announce and you will have an instant and UNFILTERED source of new sites to surf. If you'd rather read the newsgroup in HTML, book mark What's new from CIWA an up to date archive of the CIWA announcements.

Best O' CIWA M.L. Grant, who used to moderate C.I.W.A. and probably saw more new pages than anyone else around, created a list called "Best O' CIWA". According to Ms. Grant, the factors she considered important included the following: Interesting, useful content; an excellent command of the language and skill in proofreading; non-exclusiveness of access to the pages by one or another specific Web client; whatever piques her interest that day; and a purposeful lack of hype.

None of the foregoing explains how this page was selected as a Best O'CIWA site back in April. 1996, but they are all principles I applaud. M.L. has recently abandoned the list. Send her a note asking her to come back.

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

All of which somehow brings me to The Care and Feeding of Web Pages an essential text for web authors. (^_^)

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Great Lite Software

Lately, I've been 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:

Announcing 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 was released on October 24,1996 and is available here. The whole zipped file, 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 at REGNET. Godfrey can be reached directly at 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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Opera -- A browsing masterpiece

Another recent find is Opera. This new browser is commercial but meets my requirements for special mention. It is small (the compressed file is less than one meg) 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 who a whole page is layed out at a glance.

The latest version is available to download for evaluation . Its 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 the Opera home page.

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Chicago User Groups

My addiction to computers can be blamed on George Matyaszek's great BBS, Chicago Syslink and the people who hang out there. If you know anyone who needs a simple, inexpensive e-mail address you can get it there and get the benefits of a full service BBS thrown in. Let your modem dial(708)795-4478

It was on George's board that I first learned of two great user groups:

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Search Engines

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

Also available are tools like 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:


Search and Display the Results


Infoseek Guide

- H o t B o t -

I used to have a HotBot search form on this page, but I have discovered that the HotBot form could not be validated at HTML 3.2 without omitting certain tags which I believe are necessary for good presentation. Also, HotBot, which used to be the fastest, has fallen far behind in updating its index. Still, HotBot is easily configured so I have kept a link to their service. I hope they get back on track in the near future.


This form will enable you to search the Usenet news groups, I have found it extremely useful.

 [Deja News] Search Usenet For:
Select documents matching all any keywords.
Display histlist in concise detailed format.

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Searching for Real Estate

I am proud to announce that my wife, Sally, has become affiliated with the Baird and Warner Real Estate Agency in River Forest, Illinois. So if you are looking for a house or have one to sell, in Chicago or the suburbs, drop her a note at

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In addition to being a fascinating page in its own (W)right,  * The Oak Park Tourist has an excellent set of links to information on the creation of web pages, search tools and other fascinating places (including a link to the VMA page).

You may also want to visit some pages I have created:

 * 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. At the bottom of that page is a link to a service that automatically translates html pages to and from a number of languages.

 * West Suburban Temple Har Zion.

MACAYou may also want to take a look at the home page of the Mid-America Congress on Aging

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I am interested in your comments, great thoughts and criticisms. Send e-mail to: (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 . Although this page has been validated to the WebTechs "Wilbur" (HTML 3.2) standard, it is not my intention to restrict viewing to any particular browser. If this page presents any problems on your browser, please drop me a note.

STATS In June, 1996 my pages approached 10,000 hits. Since then (June 22, 1996) statistics about this page have been maintained by HTMLZINE. At the end of 1996 total hits approched 25,000 If you care (for some strange reason) to know how many hits my pages have received since then, where those hits come from, what kinds of browsers are being used or other arcane statistics about my pages click on the icon to the left. Current hits refers to hits since January 24, 1997

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Created with DiDa! Page revised: 3/1/97 5:39:46 PM.
"Best O' Logo" by Kate McDonnell. The Living Computer image created by Don Showalter If you know the source of the crumpled paper or the guestbook image please let me know.