Are You New to the Internet?

Best advice?

The short version is, be cautious about what you share on the Internet. Don't believe everything you read.

This page is long! Because the Internet is big. It's a bazillion-page encyclopedia written by millions, so you still want to be sure the publisher has good credentials. For general information about using the Internet, click here. For an explanation on everything from how e-mail works to dealing with e-mail attachments click here. (From Marti Michell is not affiliated with any of the sites mentioned on our Web site.) As you scroll down this page, you will find good info about email, too.

A bit about copyright: Traditional quilt designs like Ohio Star, Lone Star, Seven Sisters, etc., have been out there for so long, they are public domain designs and are not protected by copyright. However, when those blocks or antique quilt designs are used in a new quilt design, that design is copyright-protected. If you buy a book or pattern with instructions for making that design, you can make that quilt for your personal use, but if you want to make many copies of it to sell, you should contact the designer; she has the right to profit from her work and many designers will grant permission for you to make and sell copies. Do not assume that, because you see it online, it is free for you to copy or use. People share their copyrighted materials through websites, Facebook, Instagram, etc., and people who have no right to share that same information also copy and share it as their own, so you can't assume that what you see and what you read is accurate unless you are on the designers' social media page(s). For some info about copyrights and my website, visit this page.

A bit about Facebook and other social networking sites: Don't give out personal information. If you join a Facebook group, you will become "friends" with many peole you don't know and are likely never to meet (a good reason to avoid many topics or be thoughtful when commenting). "Liking" friends posts lets them know you like or agree with them, but liking is really about collecting advertising info. After liking a post or page, you may begin to see ads showing up on your "home" page. There is some explanation about that in Facebook's FAQs; explore your profile and privacy buttons on Facebook and read their FAQs to learn more. For some understanding of what "liking" means to scammers and spammers, read this article on CNN.

A note about using images and other online "content: Do not assume that, because it is online, it is free for you to use. Many websites feature copyrighted materials, including photos. Much of the info out there is available for your use under certain conditions that should be stated somewhere on the website. Quilters are especially generous; just ask for permission. To learn what is "fair use", etc., click here.

When sending emails, always use a subject line. Blank subject lines are often automatically deleted or filtered to a spam folder without being opened or read because it looks like spam.

Update your virus program often, as new virus definitions are added regularly. If you think your computer may have a virus, these sites may be helpful:
Symantec's Security Response
McAfee Security Virus Information

Protect yourself from Internet fraud. We recently received an e-mail from our Internet Service Provider (ISP) warning of fraudulent e-mails sent in their name requesting personal information from users. Called "phishing," the same thing is happening to banks and other legitimate businesses and the sender's address often looks like the legitimate address. If you receive an e-mail that appears to be from your ISP or bank requesting confirmation of your password, PIN, credit card number, etc., don't reply to the e-mail. Criminals may use links that actually redirect you to a different Web page from the address that appears in the e-mail. Always type the correct Web address directly into the address bar of your Web browser before visiting a site that asks you to submit personal information. Don't buy anything promoted in an unsolicited e-mail; it could be a scam.

If you wish to report a phishing experience, you can forward the e-mail (with headers, see bullet #8 below) to the legitimate website (address your letter to abuse@..., spam@... or webmaster@... ) and also to (the Federal Trade Commission's data collection address); and

Do not open any attachments that you are not sure of - even if they appear to be from a friend about something the gov't is doing that looks like you'd want to know about it - or warns you that an e-mail virus has been detected on your machine and you must read the attached document to learn how to get rid of it- it's a fake! If your friends ask why you send them an odd attachment, or if it appears that you sent a junk e-mail to yourself, it is probably because your e-mail program is "spoofing." Unfortunately, it happens to everyone.

To reduce spam: Set up and use mail filters (filters may be called "rulers" in your email program). Learn how to use all the options in your mail program and visit your ISP's home page to learn about any spam-blocking tools they offer. In the meantime, scroll down to read 10 ideas that can help right now, or skip to a specific tip using the links below.

1. Using Mail Filters 2. Be a Smart Forwarder 3. Don't post your address 4. Don't click "unsubscribe" 5. Be smart signing up
6. Use a unique name 7. Block spam 8. Report spam 9. Ignore chain letters 10. Be proactive


  1. Use your mail program's mail filters or rules. You can set up filters to key on specific words in the subject, who a letter is from, who it is going to (if you use mail aliases like many of us do), and you can assign where to file filtered e-mails, like make a new mailbox so friends' letters will go into their own box. Spammers use loads of addresses and subjects, so each piece of unwanted mail may have its own unique sender and subject; in that case, make filters based on specific words and filter them directly to the trash. Set your mail program to empty trash each time you quit.

    If you think you're receiving e-mails because of a wild e-mail virus, see paragraph 2 above for help in dealing with viruses. If your machine is not infected, make filters based on keywords in various nuisance e-mails and have them transfer directly to the trash.

    If you feel like it's getting out of control, you can sign up for a screening service that will send an e-mail to anyone who sends you an e-mail, requesting that they confirm that they are, in fact, a human being and not a machine that is generating bulk mail. After that, they're in your "accept" file.

    As a last resort, contact your ISP about getting a new e-mail address and start over with a fresh e-mail address - and read everything below before venturing out again.

  2. Remember the old shampoo commercial, where she told 2 friends and they told 2 friends, etc.? Ever received an email with 2 inches of addresses in the "to" field? Or a 2-line joke at the bottom of a 2-foot list of e-mail addresses? Who knows how many times those addresses are being distributed or where they end up. When forwarding e-mails, highlight and delete all the addresses in the "To" field and in the body of the letter. This is a courtesy to your readers, too. When sending "not personal" email like jokes, etc., add recipients addresses to the "bcc" field so the addresses won't show up "in public."

  3. Along the same line, don't post your e-mail address in forums or on other public pages. Harvesting software collects millions of addresses from public pages. If you must list an address, spell it out in words (your name at name of your ISP dot com). I have read that the longer your e-mail address is, the harder it is to harvest, but I don't know if that's true. Use a free web-based e-mail address like Yahoo! or Hotmail when you want to join a forum that requires your e-mail address. That way, if the address is harvested, junk will go to that mailbox rather than your home address. If you must post your address, spell it out: janedoe at myhost dot com; it works at the present time, but who knows for how long!

  4. Don't click on an "unsubscribe" link unless it's something you actually signed up for and want to discontinue receiving. If you were part of a mass mailing and you respond, the sender will know your address works. If you are annoyed and ask to be removed, you are telling the sender that you read the mail he sends, so he will send more. Try #7 or #8 below and trash unwanted e-mails without opening them.

  5. Don't use your regular e-mail address when signing up for newsletters, discussion lists, etc. Set up a free mail account at Yahoo or Netscape. Use your home address for mail you really want from friends and family, etc. Some sites require a "real" address; set up an alias address in your ISP account, then make a mail filter in your mail program with the same name as the alias address. Tell your friends to use that address if they e-mail pages to you.

  6. Use unique screen names or aliases. Don't put your name (or other personal info) on the Web. (And just to be safe, if you must buy online, find the 800 number and call the order in, or keep one credit card with a very low limit just for Internet purchases.)

  7. Use your ISP's spam-blocking feature, if one is available. It won't stop everything, but it will stop a lot. If your ISP doesn't offer a spam filter and you're tired of spam, compare ISPs to find one that offers everything you want and change your ISP.

  8. If you decide to report spam to your ISP, select "view page source" from the browser menu. A new page will open displaying the html code. Copy/paste everything on that page into the body of an e-mail and send that to your ISP, so they can read the code to find out who the real sender is. Spammers are sneaky about hiding their address. You might also want to report spam to the appropriate gov't agency.

  9. Don't forward chain e-mails or virus warnings. People mean well, but most of the time it's a hoax. Check it out at one of the urban legends sites to find out, like Snopes or Scambusters, and, if you know the sender, let the sender know it was a hoax. Some forwarded e-mail warnings are legitimate, however, like the one about how telemarketers are getting around the national "do not call" list. (Details are on the Snopes site.)

  10. Be proactive. Read the privacy notices before submitting your e-mail address to Web sites. When you download free software, uncheck the "send me updates" etc. checkboxes. If you don't understand something, ask someone about it before clicking "submit."

    For ways to remove yourself from the Internet, read this article on USA Today. Search for yourself a few times a year to see what's out there and do some housekeeping.

    This isn't everything you can do to cut down on spam, but it's a good start.

If you visit a Website and you can't see the photos or the page is blank, you may need to upgrade your browser software. Browsers must be upgraded regularly, as codes and programming are improved to make using the Internet easier and more enjoyable. Just go to the browser's home page (do a search on your browser's name if you don't know how to get to the home page) and search that site for an upgrade. This usually solves the problem.

Lastly, "Adobe" is not used to read PDFs. Adobe® is a corporation that makes software and Adobe® Reader® is their software that is broadly used for reading PDFs. If you need it, you can download it for free here.

We hope you enjoy exploring our site and discovering other great quilting sites on the Worldwide Web!

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© 1996–2016 Martha G. Michell. All rights reserved.

NOTE: Prices are subject to change. Most of the instructional information and artwork shown is excerpted from my books. Like other published material, it is protected by copyright law, but you have my permission to print and download these materials for your own non-commercial use.

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