Get with the plug-ins to enhance Web cruising
From ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
Wandering the World Wide Web with a naked browser is like heading out onto the autobahn in a station wagon: you'll get around, but it's more fun with a Maserati. Fortunately, there are free, easy-to-install browser add-ons, called plug-ins, to enhance your surfing. These days it's harder to be truly interactive when your engine's working without them. Here are three must-haves:
Realplayer (www.real.com) is the quintessential plug-in for music and video. By playing files as they "stream" to your PC, you can view all the sites and sounds of the Net without having to serve time in download hell. These work best with movie-studio sites that post trailers and interviews on their domains: for the ultimate trip, check out the site for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (www.fear-and-loathing.com). A basic player is free, but the $29.99 RealPlayer Plus can be personalized with your favorite Internet radio and TV "stations."
While it helps if you have a fast connection, Shockwave (www.macromedia.com) gives your browser the ability to play zippy animations. Macromedia's own "ShockRave" showcases the best: watch those bandits kill Kenny again and again in the latest South Park 'toons or play not-so-educational games like Destroy Alpha Prime.
Ichat (www.ichat.com) proves you don't need to be a techno-geek for real-time chatting, whether the subject is Frasier or Harley Davidsons. Visit an ichat-enabled site, such as the Glittertown gabfest at www.realhollywood.com, and the plug-in automatically puts you in contact with like-minded yakkers worldwide.
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