Turning down free help

Q: I used to be able to just type in the middle part of a Web site?s domain name in my browser and get to the page. When I do that now, some Road Runner search page pops up to tell me it can?t find the site and gives me a bunch of links that often includes the site I was trying to visit in the first place. What?s going on?

A: Many Internet service providers redirect you to a “landing” page if you type in an incorrect or nonexistent Web address. Although most browsers automatically fill in the “http://” and “.com” parts of a URL, Road Runner?s redirection “service” may pop up anyway, offering a page of links sponsored by advertisers instead.

If you find this sort of thing annoying, click on the “Why Am I Here?” link on the Road Runner page next time your browser gets automatically redirected. This takes you to an explanation page with a link to click for “Preferences.”

Click on that link. On the page that appears next, you should have the option to disable Road Runner?s Web Address Error Redirect Service.

Other settings you can enable or disable here include the Typo Correction Service, which works only with the Web redirection service, and the Safe Search Filter, which helps block adult content from search results. Click the Save Setting button for each change you make. (For illustrated instructions, a blog at St. Edward?s University discusses how to opt out of the Road Runner redirection service at snipurl.com/ekoa8.)

Other providers may have their own redirection service, so if you would rather not use it, check your ISP?s support pages for opt-out instructions. Verizon, for example, has information at snipurl.com/ekq3e.


Q: I see buses advertised as having wireless Internet service. How does it work? Is it fast enough to stream a TV show from the Web for a long trip?

A: Most buses offering Wi-Fi on board are getting their broadband service from high-speed cellular data networks. After a wireless access point is hooked up to that data-network connection, the bus essentially becomes a moving Wi-Fi hot spot.

Network speeds will vary based on how many other travelers are logged onto the bus? access point. But with typical connection speeds of around 1.4 megabits per second, streaming video may be a bit too much for the network to handle smoothly.

If you are planning a bus trip and want to watch TV shows or video podcasts, you may want to get them from places like the Zune Marketplace or the iTunes Store before you leave. Once on board, you can watch the shows on a laptop or portable media player. Some lines, like BoltBus, which offers service between New York and East Coast cities like Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, have electrical outlets available at each seat, which can keep the video rolling right along with the bus.


With April 15 looming, those who haven?t started working on their 2008 tax returns can find Form 1040 and every other form (with instructions on how to complete them) at www.irs.gov. Most forms are available as PDF files that can be typed into, saved and downloaded for printing and filing. Taxpayers with a 2008 gross adjusted income of $56,000 or less can file their taxes online free; details are at www.irs.gov/efile.

Copyright 2009 New York Times Syndicate