A few easy steps to geek coolness Elite: Don't know a byte from a bite? Here's how to walk the walk and talk the talk.

August 10, 1998|By Bill Husted | Bill Husted,COX NEWS SERVICE

Once upon a time, if you wanted to be technocool, it was enough to have an e-mail account and a fast computer.

Nowadays that won't get you into the club. So if the real geeks and gurus edge away from you at work, I am here today to bring you a message of hope. You, too, can be a geek, even if you think IRQ once invaded Kuwait and the chips you are most familiar with come in a bag.

Even better, I'll show you several free ways to join the digital elite. Once you've followed these simple steps, Bill Gates still may not send you a Christmas card, but you'll gain new respect from all those who wear propellers on their hats.

Let's start at the very beginning - that dull start-up screen on your computer. You'll need some new wallpaper. This kind of wallpaper doesn't come with paste. It's the background image on your computer screen. Let's replace the dull stuff Windows uses with one of your favorite photos.

If you have a scanner, you can convert the photo to a digital image yourself. If you don't have one, most photography places and some office supply stores can do the conversion for a few dollars. Save the image as a bitmap file (that's a file that has a .BMP extension). Then put the image file in your Windows folder.

Let's say you called your file CECIL.BMP. Right-click on the screen, go to Display Properties and you'll find CECIL has been added to your wallpaper choices. Select it and there, big as life, is a picture of you holding that big bass you caught last year.

You still have a long way to go before you're truly trendy. It isn't enough to cruise the Web these days. You need a home on the Web. Personal Web pages are important holding areas for all the bad poetry you've ever written and the photographs no one wanted to see from your last vacation. You'll also want to put in links to your favorite Web sites. (Be careful with the last item. You really don't want to put in your favorite Web sites. Instead, use Web sites that offer impossible-to-understand technical information. The more technical the Web site, the cooler you are.)

You can get space to park your Web page from your current Internet provider. But, unless free Web space is part of your account, you can use one of the many services that gives Web space away.

There are dozens of outfits that have these free offers. You can ferret them out using a search engine and the search words "free" and "Web" and "space," but I'll give you one good site right now that will give you 6 megabytes of space free. It's Geocities, and you'll find the free offer at http://www.geocities.com/members/.

You could take a community college class and learn to write the HTML code needed to create the Web page itself. But, instead, let's go to a free site and download a program called AOL Press. It works like a word processor and can spit out a Web page in minutes. Drop in at http://www.aolpress.com/index.html to get your free copy.

You're almost cool now. But there's one crowning touch. Live chat is very trendy. You can spend hours each night telling flattering untruths about yourself to complete strangers who, in return, will do the same thing.

But anyone can log on to one of the chat channels and meet people. What you need is your own chat room. Hey, it's the difference between renting and owning. You'll be able to put a link to it on the Web page we just built, and instead of meeting your friends on some public chat channel, you can meet at your place.

Just go to http://www.parachat.com/ - and, in seconds, you'll get everything you need to start your own chat service.

That's it. You are now technically cool.

Pub date: 8/10/98

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