Which of these is greatest thing about the Internet?
A. You can spend hours and hours, even days and weeks
sifting through site after site, finding everything
you ever wanted to know about anything.
B. You can hate
clowns and actually be welcomed to a Web site.
Of course, the answer is B, but only because there's
a link on the home page to play everyone's favorite
a mime. I figure since mimes can't talk, they must
spend most of their time writing email, or possibly
developing a type of sign language that only other mimes
Now, let's turn our attention to MIME, which is neither
a speechless human nor a wannabe clown who can't escape
the invisible box. I'm talking about Multipurpose Interenet
Mail Extensions, which help your Web browser determine
how to handle a file. The browser doesn't need help
with the basic files -- ones that have extensions like
.htm and .asp (types of pages), .jpg, and .gif (images).
But what happens when the browser sees a .pdf or a .swf
file? Unfortunately, a browser isn't equipped to throw
a pie in your face, although that would be pretty sweet.
Some files need plugins to help your browser understand
particular files. For instance, Acrobat
Reader is a plugin that enables your browser to
read Portable Document Format, or PDF. This format is
nice in that it produces a graphically enhanced page
that will not change according to browser. In fact,
nine out of 10 clowns use PDFs for brochure production.
Another popular plugin is the Macromedia
Flash Player, which allows your browser to read
and play Flash files. A perfect example of this is Clown
Pong, where you are matched against an evil clown
to save the universe. At least, if winning a game of
pong is considered saving the universe. Without the
Flash player, you cannot play, thus leaving the earth
to be ruled by fellows who can make animals out of balloons.
You may have seen a message popup from your browser
asking you if you wanted to download the Flash player.
Most developers add a small program -- called a sniffer
-- to prompt your browser if you do not have the appropriate
There are plenty of other useful plugins -- RealPlayer
(used for watching and listening to live files), Shockwave
(used mostly for video games), the list goes on. If
you are having trouble finding the proper plugin for
a page, visit Google's
plugin directory to view even more plugins.
Plugins are not limited to Internet browsing. Many
computer programs have various add-ons to enhance the
program's functionality. Adobe
Photoshop is a prime example, as there are plenty
features, some that are free and others that can
be used for a price. So if you find yourself limited
by not being able to draw an imaginary box for your
pet mime, there might be a Photoshop filter that will
allow you to do this very thing. It's crucial to remember,
though, that clowns are smarter than mimes and can find
ways out of the box.
Here are two other plugin pages, just in case you can't
find the ones you need: The
plugin site and Plugins.com.
After checking all of these sites, if you aren't plugged
in, I don't know what to tell you. I just hope you don't
get stuck on the outside of the car during the Chinese
fire drill. Only nine out of 10 clowns can fit inside