From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 09 Apr 02 - Privacy, History & Quirkacy


The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

In recognition of the fact that I spent part of my early childhood near the Heinz factory in Pennsylvania, I am going to continue using "Volume 7, Number 57" until I think of another number I like better. Today's issue contains news about Yahoo's new privacy policy, your browser's hidden history file, and proof that the Web has not run out of quirk.

Parents and grandparents, I encourage you to check out this excellent learning program, for kids who need a little extra help. -- Bob


With apologies to Freddie Mercury & Company, I offer this important news about recent changes to Yahoo's privacy policy. If you created a Yahoo account in the past, and set your marketing preferences to "don't email me", you need to take action soon, or your inbox, mailbox and voicemail could start filling up with "special offers" from Yahoo and their business partners.

Prior to this change, Yahoo had just one option to either accept or reject sales pitches. Although they're not changing your setting for the existing "Yahoo! Delivers" marketing preference, they DID create thirteen NEW categories with the "YES, PLEASE SEND ME LOTS OF JUNK MAIL" selection pre-checked. If you don't take explicit action, soon the little man inside your computer will be saying "You Got Spam!" when you check your email.

Clearly this move by Yahoo is intended to help their bottom line, by giving them the opportunity to sell marketing services to outside firms. I've never had a beef with Yahoo in the past. In fact, I always thought they played rather nicely, given their pre-eminence in the search/directory arena. But this move has some people saying that Yahoo's got mud on their face, it's a big disgrace, and somebody betta put 'em back into their place. Fortunately, that's easy to do. To change your marketing preferences back to "no spam, please" just click here:

Login with your Yahoo ID and password, then set all the preference to "No". Also be sure to check the boxes that say "Do not contact me via postal address" and "Do not contact me via telephone". Yahoo users have 60 days to opt out of these promotions.


Here's a tip for AOL and CompuServe users... For reasons unknown to mere mortals, the version of Internet Explorer that ships with AOL and CompuServe has no History button, which means you can't easily see what websites you (or your children) have recently visited. But Bruce Forkush, creator of, offers a creative fix for this problem.

Just press the button at, and your browser will display links to your hidden history files, so you can review the sites you've visited in the last few weeks. The site is free, requires no download, and does not reveal any information on your hard drive. I examined the JavaScript code under the covers at and found that it's completely safe to use.

If you DO NOT use AOL's crippled version of Internet Explorer, accessing the browser history is much easier. Just press Ctrl+H or click on the little sundial icon on the toolbar near the top of the Explorer window.


In response to my "NOT DEAD YET" article, in which I mentioned the NY Times article where I was quoted as saying that it's getting harder to find "quirky" web sites, readers have taken it upon themselves to fill that void in my life.

File this one in the "anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of" category. Diana Hamann wrote: "I read in the NY Times yesterday that it was getting more difficult for you to find oddball sites. I hearby submit my YogaKitty site for your consideration. How often do you find comedy videos showing you how to do yoga with your cat? Good luck with your newsletter

  • I really enjoyed your site."

    Karen, who has no last name for very good reasons, wrote: "Just wanted to let you know that, amidst the important and useful information on the Internet, there is still some wacky, useless stuff out there. For example, take a look at "What's Wrong With This Picture." The page takes a while to load and then you have to study it for a minute or two. Make sure your sound is turned on." Okay Karen, I fell for it. Har-dee-har-dee-har. You are a Bad Person, and I hope you step in something stinky tomorrow, or sit on chewing gum, or both. :-) I feel obliged to warn readers with heart conditions to pass on this one.

    And finally, proof that fruit and vegetables may be influencing people in ways we never imagined. Reader Becky Martz wrote: "For an interesting site, may I suggest my site which features my collection of banana labels as well as broccoli and asparagus bands?"

    That's all for now, see you next time! -- Bob Rankin


    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
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