It's hard to imagine a world before the advent of the internet. We depend on it for everything: as a source for daily news fixes and research, and as a soapbox from which to tell the world what we think of it. It's a diversion and a photo gallery; it helps us manage our social lives and engage with other net citizens.
Take any event of international or even local significance, and the chances are the first place you turn to learn more about it is the web. Even radio and TV have taken a back seat. The internet truly has become indispensable.
But the fact that we rely so heavily on the web doesn't mean it's perfect. The widely used Internet Explorer (IE) browser, for one, isn't always a pleasure to use — even though Microsoft tackles a range of problems with each version of the software.
Instead of waiting around for IE 8.0, why not take matters in hand and customise your browser? This month we've been doing just that with IE7Pro.
1. IE7Pro is a free add-on that improves the performance of Internet Explorer (IE) by adding features that make it easier to use, more secure and customisable. You can download IE7Pro from ie7pro.com or grab it from our DVD. Follow the instructions to install IE7Pro on your PC.
2. To access all the functions that IE7Pro adds to your browser, click the blue-and-white IE7Pro icon that appears on the lefthand side of your browser window. This will bring up the main control panel for IE7Pro, from which you can access tool and customisation settings.
3. Click Modules, then click on each of the Modules in the righthand box to discover their function. You can tick or untick any Module to include it in your personalised version of IE7Pro. For example, you can enable or disable Privacy Cleaner, which sweeps away your internet trail with a single click.
4. Select Base Settings to control the way IE works with tabbed windows. You can select options such as 'Enable Tab history manager', which allows you to keep track of all the tabs you've opened from the status bar, while 'Enable Tab session restore' automatically opens the tabs that were open in your last session.
5. The Base Settings menu is also where you can customise Super Drag and Drop in IE7Pro. This feature allows you to use drag-and-drop functionality to open links in new windows, run a quick web search on selected text and save images to a preselected directory.
6. You can also adjust proxy settings from here. Click on IE Settings, then add the settings you want using the Edit Proxy List button - you can then toggle between them by pressing Ctrl, F9. Click Shortcut Keys to assign keyboard shortcuts to a range of common tasks.
7. IE7Pro can keep unwanted online adverts at bay. Access the main window, then select AD Blocker and tick or untick Enable AD Blocker. Alternatively, click the IE7Pro icon - the AD Blocker menu will offer additional filtering and whitelist options. We look at these in more detail in subsequent steps.