By conspiracy I don't mean the attempts by Microsoft to not-so-subtly imply dominance over the Internet by their naming conventions (what other operating systems come with an icon on their desktops labeled "Internet"?) No, I'm talking about something a little less sinister (but much more obnoxious).

There is foul play afoot in the Internet Options Control Panel of some Windows machines. Over the past year I've run into several cases in which someone (<mulder>or something</mulder>) has decided that there is no reason why a luser should ever need more than x consecutive minutes on the Internet at a time and has gone to some lengths to ensure compliance. Try this on Windows 98 (assuming you have created at least one dial-up connection):

Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Internet Options -> Settings

If the conspiracy has yet to wrap its fingers around your computer you should see an "Advanced" button in this window. If you click on this button you are presented with the checkboxes that control the life span of every connection you make with this, err...connection. You can thank Microsoft for this particular naming convention after the revolution.

If however you are the sort of person who dabbles in taking advantage of 540 hours of free AOL, accepting free trial memberships with NetZero or who otherwise finds themself frequently uttering the sentence "Mister, this candy you gave me is making me sleepy!" the aforementioned "Advanced" button may be entirely missing!

Okay, so not really entirely. Whatever agents of the Illuminati removed this particular button from this particular screen of this particular Internet Explorer component forgot to remove the keyboard shortcut! A simple Alt-v allows you access to the settings they don't want you to know about.

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