Questions, Hacks and facts that every internet user should know
Author: Margot Marley
Millions of people use the internet everyday, but very few fully understand how to use it to their advantage. I put together this list of hacks, questions and facts to help the average user discover some cool internet tricks. Feel free to reach out to me if you think something should be added. Thanks, Margot.
10 Hacks to make the internet your bitch:
1. Find webpages not intended for public viewing
Let me introduce you to the concept of 'google dorks', these are search operators that allow you get specific search results from google. With knowledge of these you can extract webpages from the depth of google's database that people might not have wanted to share. Let's start with a simple example, the search operator 'site:' returns a list of webpages only on that website. Eg.
So you can see above the search 'site:digitizd.com' returns a list of webpages that exist only on this website. FYI search operators can get very complex so here is a list of all of them. I will fast forward to a super cool example of an advanced google dork.
The google search above returns either excel sheets or PDFs that have the word confidential in them that exist on a .gov website.
SUPER COOL right! Have fun, and don't blame me if the FBI come knocking on your door!
2. Skip paywalls and other annoying pop ups with the inspect element tool
The inspect element tool has lots of functions, but today I will teach you how to get rid of annoying pop ups like paywalls (only accessible on desktop). Whenever you are faced with a popup that you cannot get past without signing up simply right click and select inspect element from the drop down menu.
A new window will pop up, the very top left corner is a little arrow icon (highlighted in red below). Click on this and you can use it to select elements on webpage. Use it to select the popup that is obstructing your view, this will highlight the location of HTML code, then you can right click on that code and select delete element. This will remove the pop up from your webpage allowing you to browse as normal.
Image below shows instructions. Enjoy reading content for free.
3. Reveal a hidden password with the inspect element tool
If you're faced with a log in screen that has your password auto filled but you have no option to view the password, don't worry, we have you covered. Again start with a right click and open the inspect element window. Again use the arrow icon function from the top left corner to select the hidden password.
Then simply find the input type="password" field and replace the word 'password' with the word 'text' and voila, the password will be revealed in plain text.
The image below shows what the inspect element window will look like.
4. Reverse image search with Google
Did you know that you can search the entire internet to see if an image exists anywhere else. While on your computer simply hold down S and then right click on the image. This will open a new tab and reverse search that image.
Here is an example using the image above (google even fills in what they think the image is about) :
5. See a webpage in mobile view while on desktop
While on your computer you can view a webpage in mobile view by simply clicking F12. You can even select the different types of devices.
6. Use Chrome as a notepad
You can use Chrome as a notepad by entering 'data:text/html, <html contenteditable>' into the address bar.
7. See all the information Facebook has stored about you
Check how Facebook is tracking you across all the internet. Visit https://www.facebook.com/off_facebook_activity and see exactly what websites and apps Facebook know you visited broken down by date.
Facebook allow advertisers to use this tracking to target you with more relevant ads. You can use this page to clear your history on Facebook.
8. Make your own custom search engine powered by Google
Google have a platform that allows you to make your own search engine, you can start by visiting cse.google.com. You can customize it any way you like, you start by defining the websites you want to allow in your search engine. I am not sure exactly who google intended it for but what is cool is you can earn money if people click on ads when using your custom search engine. You could use it to show your friends a fake result or create a family friendly search for your kids, it has loads of uses. Below is the custom search engine I made which will only show results from digitizd.com. Try it out (I will not earn money if you click on ads).
9. View what a website looked like at anytime in history
A free service called Wayback Machine which is found on archive.org goes through the internet and takes screenshot of websites, the bot follows links from webpage to webpage so the more links a website has the more screenshots it has. Below is an example of what google.com looked like in 1999.
10. See a website without visiting it (in case it has been hacked or to by pass a security system)
When viewing google results simply click the small arrow at the end of the URL and then click on 'cached'.
Bonus: When traveling visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Nearby on your phone to see a list of interesting places near you.
11 Mind blowing facts about the internet:
1. Around 99% of the Internet is hidden, the Internet you see here is called the surface web and that only comprises one percent of the Internet
2. The worlds first search engine was WebCrawler.com in 1994.
3. The first online bank was Stanford Federal Credit Union. In October 1994, it provided all its customers with Internet banking services.
4. Spammers have been around a long time, the first spam email was sent by Gary Thuerk, on Arpanet, in 1979. It was an advertisement sent to 393 people at once.
5. 30,000 websites are hacked every day.
6. China has treatment camps for internet addicts.
7. Online dating is the most popular way for couples to meet now, it also generates approximately 2.2 billion dollars every year.
8. Seven people have keys with the power to restart the World Wide Web in the event of something really bad happening.
9. Devices connected to the internet outnumber humans.
10. Facebook tracks and records every website you visit while you're logged in.
11. This is what facebook.com looked like in 2004.
14 Questions internet users should know the answers to:
1. Why was the internet invented?
The internet was invented as a tool to allow the department of defense computers to communicate and share resources with each other on a private network. The original project was called Arpanet, where the concept of packet sharing was developed.
2. What was the first website?
The first website was published by Tim Berners Lee and it went live in 1991. Its web address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html. The site contained information about web pages and how to create them.
3. What is the difference between a domain and a website?
The domain is your internet address. It tells people where to find you online. A website is your home online. This is where you publish information, photos, videos, etc. For people to find your website, the domain must point to the website hosting provider.
4. Why does a website need to be hosted? What does that mean?
Websites must be hosted to be visible. When you buy a hosting plan, you pay a company to provide a server that stores your website’s code. In return for a monthly or annual fee, you “rent” space on their server.
5. What is VPS hosting?
VPS hosting is the middle ground between sharing a server with a bunch of strangers and renting your own private server. A VPS server is split into virtual private machines. You share the hardware, but you have more control over the resources.
6. What is the WWW before a website's name?
WWW stands for World Wide Web. It tells the browser the content you want is online rather than in a local drive. Most browsers insert this automatically into a domain name, but it’s not needed these days.
7. What is an IP address?
IP stands for Internet Protocol. An IP address is a unique numerical label given to a device using the internet protocol for communicating on a computer network. The latest IPv6 use the hexadecimal method, to allow for trillions more IP addresses.
8. What are cookies?
Cookies are small files placed on your device by the websites you visit. They let sites store your preferences, such as log-in credentials. They enhance our browser experience and are mostly harmless.
9. How are advertisers able to follow me around?
It’s disconcerting when a web page shows you ads for something you looked at on a different site a couple of hours ago. This is called remarketing and it happens when sites place advertising cookies on our computers.
10. Can I see my search history on Google?
Any searches performed on Google are logged. Visit the https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity page to see your search history. You can also view your browsing history in Google Chrome (and other browsers).
11. How can I be anonymous online?
For total anonymity, hide behind a VPN when you use the internet.
12. Can someone view my webcam?
If your device has been hacked, then yes. Remote access tools make it easy for hackers to spy on you for fun or for blackmail purposes. Stick some tape over your webcam to prevent this from happening.
13. How do I block ads and popups?
Enable the pop-up blocking feature on your browser and install an ad-blocking browser extension to your toolbar.
14. Which countries do not have the internet?
Most countries are connected to the internet to some degree, but if you want to go full-on analog, visit North Korea, the Solomon Islands, many parts of Africa, Vietnam and, depending on what you are trying to access, China.