Slow connection tweak for YouTube

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. I've got a slow Internet connection, so I'm constantly having problems viewing YouTube videos. Is there anything I can do about this short of getting a faster connection?

A. If you don't have a particularly speedy or stable Internet connection, there is a way to change YouTube’s playback settings that may help: First, log into your YouTube account. If you don’t have an account, click Create Account in the upper right-hand corner. Signing up is fast, easy and free. Once you log in, click your Username, then use the drop-down menu and select Settings > Playback Setup and place a dot next to “I have a slow connection. Never play higher-quality video.” Click Save Changes when you are done.

From this point forward, YouTube will play video while keeping your slow connection speed in mind which should yield an improved video viewing result.

Q. Did I dream this or did you previously write that CYBER is an acronym for five words? If so, what are they? Can you shed some light on this mystery?

A. The word "cyber," as used within the context of the Internet, is not an acronym. It derives from "kybernetes," which loosely translated, if I'm remembering my high school Greek correctly, means “I'd rather be Tweeting.” I could be wrong. Actually, it means "steersman" or "governor." The word “cyber” first appeared in the title of Norbert Wiener's 1948 book, “Cybernetics,” subtitled, “Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine.” I keep a copy on my nightstand in case of insomnia.

The word "cyberspace" was created by science-fiction writer William Gibson in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer." It refers to the mysterious place where data resides while being transmitted from Point A to Point B on what we know today as the Internet.

Q. What are the best free reverse phone number look-up sites?

A. I don't know what criteria you have in mind that would qualify a reverse phone look-up site as “best,” but it would seem to me that if you find what you're looking for, you would consider that a good site; if you don't find what you're looking for, you might consider that site a dud. I would suggest running a Google search for "Free reverse phone number look-up" and try several sites to determine if any of them yield the result you're seeking.

In my opinion, I don't think there are any telephone directories today that are worth a hill of beans -- though admittedly, hills of beans have lost a lot of value in the current economy. (I remain adamantly opposed to any bean bailout programs, however.)

The problem with telephone directories is that none of them include cell phone numbers, yet an estimated 46 percent of the population today use mobile devices as their primary phone. At best, any search result from such a directory would more than likely miss the mark, unless you happen to get lucky.

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week

Oldies Television
More than 125 classic TV shows from the 1950's and 60's, plus rock and roll, doo-wop, and moldy golden oldies. This is a great site that will surely trigger a few memories as you scroll down memory lane. I particularly enjoyed the Edsel TV commercials.

Enter your (or any) street address to obtain a map of your area with a list of all neighbors and their phone numbers, where available. Helpful or overly intrusive? You be the judge.

Web Cams
At my invitation in a previous column, many of you sent links to your favorite Web cams for which I thank you. Among the contributions were two Web cam aggregator sites that provide links to a variety of fascinating Web cams throughout the world. If you're a Web cam fan, check out and

Mr. Modem publishes the weekly "Ask Mr. Modem!” computer-help newsletter and a muster of helpful eBooks at