Internet 101

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The Internet | The Web | Getting Started and Web Browsers | Safe Surfing | Viruses | Email | Search | Chat | Shopping

Internet Terminology 

The Internet
Sometime in the mid 1960's, during the Cold War, it became apparent that there was a need for a bombproof communications system. A concept was devised to link computers together throughout the country. With such a system in place large sections of the country could be nuked and messages could still get through.

In the beginning, only government "think tanks" and a few universities were linked. Basically the Internet was an emergency military communications system operated by the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA). The whole operation was referred to as ARPANET.

In time, ARPANET computers were installed at every university in the United States that had defense related funding. Gradually, the Internet had gone from a military pipeline to a communications tool for scientists. As more scholars came online, the administration of the system transferred from ARPA to the National Science Foundation.

Years later, businesses began using the Internet and the administrative responsibilities were once again transferred.

At this time no one party "operates" the Internet, there are several entities that "oversee" the system and the protocols that are involved.

The speed of the Internet has changed the way people receive information. It combines the immediacy of broadcast with the in-depth coverage of newspapers...making it a perfect source for news and weather information.

Internet usage is at an all time high. Almost 100 million U.S. adults are now going online every month, according to New York-based Mediamark Research. That's half of American adults and a 27 percent increase over 1999 in the number who surf the Web. There also appears to be a continuing gender shift in the number of American adults going online. In early 2000, Mediamark reported the milestone that women for the first time ever accounted for half of the online adult population. Now 51 percent of U.S. surfers - some 50.6 million - are women.


About the Web
Think of the web as the illustrated version of the Internet. It began in the late 1980's when physicist Dr. Berners-Lee wrote a small computer program for his own personal use. This program allowed pages, within his computer, to be linked together using keywords. It soon became possible to link documents in different computers, as long as they were connected to the Internet. The document formatting language used to link documents is called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language.)

The Web remained primarily text based until 1992. Two events occurred that year that would forever change the way the Web looked. Marc Andreesen developed a new computer program called the NCSA Mosaic (National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois) and gave it away! The NCSA Mosaic was the first Web browser. The browser made it easier to access the different Web sites that had started to appear. Soon Web sites contained more than just text, they also had sound and video files.

These pages, written in the hyper-text markup language, have "links" that allow the user to quickly move from one document to another...even when the documents are stored in different computers.

Web browsers "read" the html text and convert it into a page like the one you are now looking at.

Each web site has an address, or Uniform Resource Locator (URL).  The URL contains a set of instructions that are read by the browser.

The beginning of the URL contains the protocol.  This is usually "http" (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) or "ftp" (File Transfer Protocol).  The second section of the URL reveals the domain.  Directories follow the domain.  Lastly is the name of the document.  (If no document is named the browser will automatically open any document in the directory named "default" or "index."

Getting Started and Web Browsers
If you are accessing the Internet with America Online, CompuServe, MSN , Prodigy, or WebTV, your service has bundled everything that you need into the software you are currently using.

They say that if the Internet were a bicycle, using America Online, or a similar "online service", is like having a bike with the training wheels on.

It's not such a bad thing if you are a beginner. In fact we recommend it! AOL, WebTV, MSN, Prodigy and CompuServe are easy to use (relatively).

Once you get some Internet experience you may decide to "go it on your own" and hook up with an Internet Service Provider (ISP). You may find that the service is just as good or better and the monthly fee is just as much or less.

If you take the training wheels off and use an ISP you may need to stock up on some tools. Before you cancel your membership with your online service ask the ISP which software they provide and which software you will need to obtain yourself. This way you will be able to download whatever you need while you're still connected to an online service.

For the basic, no hassle, Internet experience all you really need is a Web browser. Web browsers "read" the html text and convert it into a page like the one you are now looking at.

Currently there are many Web browsers available. The Netscape Navigator and the Microsoft Internet Explorer are the most popular. Critics frequently disagree over which browser is superior. Most people prefer whichever browser they used first.

There are a couple of new-comers to the scene, Opera and NeoPlanet. Opera is renowned for being the world's fastest browser. Opera is much smaller than other major browsers. In its standard configuration, it almost fits on a floppy disk yet it is all you need to surf the web.  The NeoPlanet browser is very stylish looking. With over 500 stylish skins the NeoPlanet can look, feel, and sound the way you want it to.

These browsers can be obtained over the Internet. Feel free to download whichever one you are currently not using and take it for a test drive. There is no charge for them. Click on the icon to download the browser of your choice. 

Download Internet Explorer Download Netscape Navigator

Not enough choices? Click here to visit an archive featuring dozens of browsers, both old and new.

Even though these web browsers have everything necessary for you to explore and enjoy the Internet, you may wish to add some "specialized" software to make your Internet experience even more rewarding.

You may decide that you want to add "plugins" to your browser. These are neccessary if you wish to hear sounds and see some advanced animations and videos.

Even though browsers have the capability for email and newsgroups you may wish to install separate software for these applications.

Chatting is possible without subscribing to an online service, however you may need separate software.

Check out Internet 101's Software page for a list of Web sites to visit for your software needs.

Viewz offers interviews, helpful hints, game reviews, CD-ROM listings, web pointers and opinions that will help make the most of the personal computing and Internet experience

About Online Safety
The Internet is full of wonderful places and can create many positive experiences. Vast amounts of information is available at the click of a mouse. "Cyberspace", however, is part of "real life" and there is good reason to be cautious here. The same dangers that exist in "real life" exist on the Internet. We all learn what part of town is the "bad part of town" and avoid it if we want to. The same holds true with the Internet.

Just as we encounter good and bad people on the street, we will encounter good and bad people online. Adults usually exercise common sense, children need guidance and protection.

There are two schools of thought regarding the guidance and protection of our young people. One camp believes that the Internet should be regulated much the same way television is. The second camp views this as censorship and feels that there is a technology available to protect children without limiting the Internet for everyone.

The Internet is an exciting medium because it allows, and encourages, the exchange of ideas. Some of these ideas may be of an adult nature and . Rather than eliminate these areas of the Internet they can be "blocked" from your computer using software.

Here's where you can go to read about and download the software that is available:

Web Sites

Blocks - content and graphic file downloads. It also filters offensive terms and phrases.

Cyber Patrol
This has a customizable dictionary for each member of the family. It can also limit the amount of time spent online.

Cyber Snoop
It has a customizable list of Web sites that are forbidden. Log entries allow parents to see where the child has been.

KidDesk Family Edition
Prevents children from accessing CD-ROMs and online services not approved by the parents. Allows for password protection of programs.

Net Nanny
This has a customizable filter list. It will check incoming and outgoing text against a dictionary of words that the parents create.

Blocks Web sites, newsgroups, FTP, Gopher sites, IRC channels, based upon information that the parent provides.

Times Up!
Enables parents to establish time and access limits for the use of games, online services, and other programs.

We recommend that you establish a set of rules with your child that governs their conduct while they are online:

For more information about keeping children safe on the Internet, check out these Web sites:

The Internet Safety Site details the both the benefits and risks associated with using the Internet. They also offer several very good solutions to problems that may be encountered. 

The New York Public Library provides a parent's guide to Internet Safety issues. 

The Platform for Internet Content Selection is a rating system for Web sites. SafeSurf explains the use of voluntary site identification codes to rate the Web site content. 

Many schools already have an Acceptable Use Policy for classroom computer use. Their site has many hyperlinks to various sites with information for K-12 teachers.

Avoiding Viruses
A computer virus is a program that invades your computer system, hides there, and makes copies of (replicates) itself. Viruses spread when you launch an infected application or start up your computer from a disk that has infected system files.

Viruses behave in different ways. Some viruses stay active in memory until you turn off your computer. Other viruses stay active only as long as the infected applications is running. Turning off your computer or exiting the application removes the virus from memory, but does not remove the virus from the infected file or disk.

Some viruses are programmed specifically to damage the data on your computer by corrupting programs, deleting files, or erasing your entire hard disk.

All computer viruses are manmade. A simple virus that can make a copy of itself over and over again is relatively easy to produce. Even such a simple virus is dangerous because it will quickly use all available memory and bring the system to a halt.

Trojan horses are not viruses; however, they are often thought of as viruses. A Trojan horse is a program that appears to serve some useful purpose or provide entertainment, which encourages you to run it. But, like the Trojan horse of old, it also serves a covert purpose which may be to damage files or perhaps plant a virus on your computer.

Many computer viruses turn out to be hoaxes or myths. Hoaxes are false alerts about viruses that don't exist. For a list of hoaxes check out Hoax Warnings On The Run. Another good site to visit is Computer Virus Myths.

We highly recommend that you have Virus Protection installed in your computer before you consider downloading anything.

Web Sites

Dr. Solomon's Virus Solutions
This site will assist you fight the virus war with software, an encyclopedia, primers, alerts and research.

McAfee's Virus Info Library
This Web site includes a virus alert calendar, glossary and virus list by year of discovery.

Antivirus Online
IBM's online magazine, keeps you up-to-date on the latest virus developments.

Symantec AntiVirus Research Center (SARC)
Information designed to prevent the spread of computer viruses and hoaxes.

Virus Encyclopedia
This site lets you search for viruses by name or search through the virus universe alphabetically.

Virus FAQ
compiled by contributors to VirusL's mailing list and newsgroups, contains everything you might want to know about viruses and then some.


About Email
Even with the multimedia excitement of the Web, Electronic Mail (email) is the most frequently used application of the Internet. Many people who have access to the Internet at school, home, and work, use the Internet for no other purpose than to send and receive email.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), on an average day in the year 2000, 5.1 billion emails are sent in the US and 8.2 billion worldwide. By 2005, 11.5 billion emails will be sent each day on average in the US and 26.1 billion worldwide. (This includes emails sent by individuals for business and personal purposes, but not mass emails sent to large lists.)

It's all very easy. You create the message, log onto the Internet, and send it. The message first goes to your Internet Service Provider's mail server, which in turn sends it to the recipient's mail server. On the way your message may go through several servers, each reading the domain name in order to route it to the appropriate server.

The message then remains in the recipient's mail server until he requests it by "checking his mail."

Each email address you send is made up of certain components that help route it to the proper recipient:

Diagram of the anatomy of an email address

The benefits of email are obvious...mostly it's quick. Also, many people feel that the rules for regular mail don't apply to email*, making it less formal, which in turn makes email easier to compose and send.

It's not just friends and coworkers that are receiving email. Wherever you look, the Web is providing email addresses. This has made communication between strangers easier than ever. When you visit a Web site, click on the Web masters email address to let them know what you think. You can read an interesting article online and immediately send the author an email.

There are several search engines that will assist you in finding email addresses.

Web Sites

Free lifetime e-mail service and email/postal address search engine. Email Search
Brought to you by and powered by
ClassMates Online
Find old friends using this e-mail directory of high school alumni. There are registrants from over 30,000 high schools in North America.
Search engine for finding and changing old email addresses.
Comprehensive directory service for phone, fax, email yellow and white pages and more. Includes listing of local businesses and services nearest your town.
Internet Address Finder
A quick way to locate an email address for that elusive friend or colleague.
Search Engine will locate email addresses and phone numbers for individuals and business.
Yahoo! People Search
Find peoples email addresses and telephone numbers.

Email, in the form of mailing lists, is also a great way to stay informed or to be entertained. (This is like having a free electronic newsletter delivered directly to your computer.)

There are more than 10,000 mailing lists. Click here to find out if there is currently a mailing list for your topic of interest. (This link will open an email link. In the first line of the email type LIST GLOBAL.) You will then receive a list with the names of the 10,000+ mailing lists. Subscribing to a mailing list is easy. Usually all you have to do is type SUBSCRIBE in the body of the message that is sent to the author of the mailing list.

There are also a few Web sites that index the current mailing lists: List of Lists, ListServe Database, and Martin Bohnet's Mail List List.

Email is one of the services offered by your Internet Service Provider...a service that you are paying for every month. If you are connected to the Internet for the sole purpose of sending and receiving email you may wish to check out an alternative.


About Searching
Looking for something, or someone? The Internet can be the quickest, and least expensive way to find long as you know how to use the search engines efficiently.

Remember, the purpose is finding, not searching. Here are a few tips for successful searching:

Read the "hints" and "help" for each search engine. This will explain exactly how the search tool operates. For your convenience we've included links to these sections.

Experiment with different search engines. Even though they are all similar, they all have important differences. A search engine that is quick, but returns 40,000 pages may not be as effective as one that may be slower but returns only 30 pages. Find the search engine that is best suited for your needs.

Here's a list of search engines:

Web Search Engines

Web and Usenet News searcher, indexing over 100 million pages. Categories are: simple, people, business, subject, and advanced searches.

Ask Jeeves!
Features a question-answering system allowing anyone to ask a question in plain, simple English without having to use keywords or Boolean search strings.

Use this well-known service to search by keywords or text strings, or browse the categories of reviewed sites.

Google uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search.
Click here for special tips.

Wired magazine's search engine, powered by Inktomi, allows you to search within particular geographic or cyber areas.
Click here for special tips.

Search the Web, email addresses, newsgroups or a company directory by keyword, name or full questions. Or browse the reviews.

Internet Sleuth
Find what you're after by choosing from over 3,000 searchable databases. Narrow the search down by selecting from over 20 subject listings.

Organizes the Web for you like no other directory. It is three powerful Internet tools in one: LooksmartExplore, LookSmart Search, and LookSmart Favorites.

Customizable search engine allows you to enter a search string or browse the Web by subject. With a newcomers' section.
Click here for special tips.

Natural language searching using plain English words. Designed for novice users, but includes some advanced features.

WWW Virtual Library
The VL is the oldest catalog of the web, started by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web itself. Unlike commercial catalogs, it is run by a loose confederation of volunteers.

Original search engine and directory of the Web. Search the entire database at once, or comb through the categories.
Click here for special tips.


Search For Newsgroups/Mailing Lists

Enter a word or phrase to search the largest mailing list directory. Over 71,000 entries, including 148 computer-related lists.
Click here for special tips.

Deja News
Allows you to search newsgroups for messages matching your keywords. You can then reply or post your own message.
Click here for special tips.

Free service allows you to find a mailing list or newsgroup by keyword. Also allows keyword searches of archived postings.
Click here for special tips.

Search for Groups
Searches newsgroup by title, description, or moderator name. Search FAQs by subject, author or summary.


Search For People

One of the most accurate global email and white pages on the Net, with over 100 million listings and door-to-door mapping.

Email & Homepage Addresses
Collection of information, links and resources useful for tracking down an address.

Four11 Directory Services
Longest established of the directories, this one lets you search for email, phone or NetPhone, and government contacts.

Extensive look-up service for email, postal, telephone and homepage addresses. Available in English, French and Spanish.

Yahoo! People Search
Search for email addresses by first name, last name, or domain name. SmartName function allows for abbreviations


Search For Software
CNET's offers access to the most popular picks in the shareware world.

Access to over 250,000 Windows, Mac, Unix, and DOS shareware applications at FTP sites worldwide.

Shareware Junkies
Loads of practical and not-so-practical shareware and freeware for Windows, Mac, DOS, and OS/2.
CNET's guide to shareware on the Net.

Email, multimedia, HTML, and networking tools along with connectivity apps, anti-virus, games, and accessories.

ZDNet Software Library
Games, utilities, development tools, and graphics, business, home, and education software.

For reasons known only to those who frequent "chat rooms", chatting is one of the most popular activities on the Internet. It is indeed one of the big selling features of the online services. In fact at one time the online services were the only place most people could go for Real Time Chat.

"Chatting" is done using "user names" or "nicknames." No real names are used. Be advised that with any anonymous encounter the risk of being deceived is high. Our advise is: Be yourself, have fun, and in the words of X-Files' Chris Carter..."trust no one."

Chatrooms and IRC Channels may seem a little intimidating at first. It is suggested that one listens (or "reads" as the case may be) before speaking (or "typing). If it seems like the participants are speaking a foreign language it's because they are! Check out "Chatter's Jargon Dictionary" for the latest chat definitions, abbreviations and code.

Also, check out "Chat Etiquette" if you are in doubt about how one is expected to behave while chatting.

If your are currently subscribing to an online service such as America Online you can go directly to a chat room and begin chatting. If you are accessing the Internet through an ISP you may need to obtain special software.

The most popular software is AOL's Instant Messenger. You do not need to be a AOL subscsriber to use the software and it's free! Instant messaging allows you to quickly exchange messages with your online friends. Unlike email, instant messages appear as soon as they're sent.

Several other "messengers" are also available.  Among them are the Yahoo! Messenger, Excite Messenger, Lycos Instant Messenger and the MSN Messenger Service.

Several Web sites are now hosting Java enabled chat. 

Yet another option to try is IRC. You can get software at "The Ultimate IRC Toaster." For more detailed information about IRC go to "The Zone's Guide to IRC."

Now you have the software for chatting but don't know where to go? Check out The Ultimate Chat Room Index, or visit these recommeded Web sites.

Web Sites

Chatrooms allow you to chat in real time with other people from all over the world.

Chat Planet
Vast Java chat network.

Excite Talk!
Virtual Places and Java chat from Excite.

Topic-based chat rooms including sports and computers.

Java-based chat network.

Talk City
Chat network with live events and lots of rooms to choose from.


Additional Web Sites

Alamak Internet Chat
Popular Web-based chat with multiple servers and membership levels.

Amanda's Table
Popular chat hub

Impressive role-playing chat city.

Chat Central
Friendly chatters populate a variety of rooms. Nice features.

A lively international chat hub.

Open chat rooms.

Popular ichat network.

Frames based chat for all comers.
A web chat network.

CruzWeb Chat
Several colorful rooms with an ultra-slick Java interface.

Web-based chat network.

The Globe Chat
Very popular community with slick interface and cool rooms.

Hotel Chat
Virtual jet-setters rub elbows in a luxury hotel setting.

HyperChat U.K.
Hundreds of chat rooms. Limited without membership.

The Park Live Chat
Chat, personals, online games, and shopping.

t@p Online Community
Collegiate online community.
Music, Seinfeld, Simpsons, Games, and general chats.

Women's Wire Chat
One of the original communities for women on the net.

World Village Chat
"The Family-Safe Place to Chat"

Music, culture, and web chat with a Southern drawl.


About Online Shopping
Do you feel comfortable buying products over the Internet? Should you? Probably.

If you feel comfortable tossing your credit card to a waiter in a restaurant (he could copy down your number)...or giving out your credit card number over the phone (people with a scanner can intercept your analog calls), you should be comfortable making purchases over the Internet.

Every year, more and more people are using the Internet to shop. That's because every year more and more people are discovering that shopping on the Internet is fast, easy and safe.

Unlike most stores, the Internet is open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. You can shop at your convenience, from your home or office.

Purchases made over the Internet are usually cheaper, even when you factor in the cost of shipping. (The online stores have a much lower overhead and businesses want to create incentives for new Internet consumers.)

Shipping is day delivery is usually available. Immediate delivery is available for software...just download your purchase directly into your computer.

Most online businesses have the same "return policies" as regular stores.

We have made several purchases over the Internet...hassle-free each time. We have bought movies, music, books, and software. We have even sent flowers. The list of what you can buy over the Internet is endless.

 Typically the experience goes something like this:

It's just that easy! The company will notify you by email when the product was shipped and when you should expect to receive it.

We suggest that you take the following precautions before you by anything over the Internet:

Web Sites
Buy just about anything under the sun.  Books, music, computers...
Internet auction site.  Lots of fun and plenty of items to bid on.
Best Buy
Great products, great service, great prices and great selection.
Circuit City
Purchase on-line and pick up at a local Circuit City near you.
Office Depot
The world’s largest seller of office products and an industry leader in every distribution channel, including stores, direct mail, contract delivery, the Internet and business-to-business electronic commerce.
Features a great selection and high-quality merchandise.

The Internet | The Web | Getting Started and Web Browsers | Safe Surfing | Viruses | Email | Search | Chat | Shopping