For many Web surfers, the address bar in their browserthe box at the top where you would type a site's address like www.usnews.comgets little use. It's just too frustrating to remember Web addresses and too easy to mangle them. So we rely on bookmarks and search engines to take us where we want to go. An outfit called OpenDNS wants to breathe new life into the neglected address bar with shortcuts that you design.
Using the free service, which launches today, you can make it so that typing "genius" into the address bar takes you directly to this column. Or not. Or maybe typing "bank" whips you directly to the sign-in page for your checking account. The list can be as long as your memory for keywords is, or as short.
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The keywords feature is one of the things that made America Online so popular, says OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch. "But those keywords were out of your control." Some browsers, including Firefox, also come with a few keywordsbut not many people know about them. OpenDNS relies on your list of easy-to-remember words. It can also do a lot more for power users, such as starting up another program.
But just setting up the service requires a certain techiness. The keywords are an extension of the original service offered by OpenDNS, which speeds up Web surfing and launched in July. OpenDNS manipulates the Internet's "Domain Name System" that turns the raw, IP addresses (like 192.168.0.1) into addresses like www.usnews.com. Using OpenDNS, and its new keywords, requires fiddling with network settings on your PC or network router.
To help you, OpenDNS has simple instructions on its site for setting up your PC, and it's as quick as typing in a couple of numbers. Once done, the service is free and can save you time and frustration.