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Sunday, September 2, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Q&A / Patrick Marshall

DSL could solve your domain name woes

Special to The Seattle Times

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Q: I am the sole proprietor of a home-based free-lance copywriting business and have been using dial-up Internet access for the last few years. When I signed up for AT&T Cable Internet last year I was told I could point my domain name to the space they provided for Web hosting.

After joining, I found this was not true — and since my domain name is well-established and printed on all my business materials, changing the address to the long URL AT&T gave me was unacceptable. I canceled the service, tried DSL (it just plain didn't work) and am still moving at 56K on the information superhighway.

Are there other cable Internet companies that serve Seattle that allow you to use your own domain names for both Web sites and e-mail?

— Scott Johnston

A: At least for now, cable Internet companies are tied to the company that provides your cable service. I'm not aware of any cable providers in the area who offer a choice of Internet service providers and/or Web-hosting services.

I don't know what problems you had with DSL. I'm assuming you tried Qwest's DSL service, and I have heard a large number of complaints about the service.

But be aware that there are third parties who provide more reliable business-level DSL service over your Qwest telephone lines. It will cost you a bit more — probably around $100 to $150 per month — but you'll get guaranteed bandwidth, 24-hour-a-day service and, if you need it, Web hosting.

DSL service is fast enough in both directions, however, so that you can also run your own Web server in your office and use the DSL provider's Domain Name servers to point users to the right place. You can, in short, use your established domain name.

You can find information on third-party DSL providers at www.dslreports.com. In addition to listings of service providers, you'll even find reviews by other users of the service delivered. It can save you a lot of grief down the road.

Q: You recently told a reader how to clear the history of visited sites in Internet Explorer. I have AT&T as my Internet service provider and use Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, but I don't have a History button on my toolbar, so how do I achieve the cleansing of my past forays on the Net?

— Dom Moreo, Shoreline

A: My first guess is that you don't have the standard toolbar for Internet Explorer toggled on. Go to the View menu, select Toolbars and make sure that Standard Buttons is checked. Then look on the toolbar for a sundial icon.

Failing that, you can summon the History navigation panel by going to the View menu and selecting Explorer bar, then History.

By the way, eliminating the listings in the History panel doesn't wipe out all evidence of your past travels on the Internet. If you want to remove all traces, you'll also want to delete cookies that may have been deposited on your computer by Web sites you've visited.

To do that, use Windows Explorer and go to the Documents and Settings directory. Open the folder with your user name then select the Cookies directory. You'll see there all the cookies that have been left on your computer. Simply select the ones you want to eliminate, right click on one and then select Delete.

Even then, you're not entirely out of the woods. Some of the Web sites you visit may deposit "spyware" on your computer. These little programs track your movements on the Web and report back to the mother ship.

Think I'm paranoid? I downloaded Ad-aware, a program that scans computers for spyware and the program turned up 11 spyware agents on my computer. Check it out at www.lavasoftusa.com.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to ptech@seattletimes.com or pgmarshall@pgmarshall.net, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.

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