What is the internet? What is the web? Are they actually the same thing? Well, that depends. The internet, the web and the technology that has brought them about are changing faster than everyone can keep track of. They are updated and changed and enhanced every day.
The internet (what most people refer to as the "net") is the world’s largest computer network (the biggest amount of computers EVER, linked together in one fashion or another in order to communicate). It is affecting our lives (EVERYONE’S lives) on a scale that is as significant as television and telephones. Think how many homes in the world telephones and televisions have invaded. Well, the internet has invaded nearly as many homes as they have.
The web itself is only one small corner market of the entire internet structure, which encompasses so many things. People who use phones to communicate, or write letters, read a newspaper or a magazine, or even do business, can now do all these things sitting in front of their computers. The internet encompasses so many things that sometimes it can boggle the mind.
The internet can be used for so many things, it would be difficult to list them all here (this page would probably take hours to download onto your computer!). However, below is a list of the more common and fundamental uses of the internet.
Excerpt taken from "The Internet For Dummies" guide, 7th edition, written by John R. Levine, Carol Baroudi and Margaret Levine Young. Published by IDG Books Worldwide in 2000.
The ancestor of the internet was the ARPANET, a project funded by the Department Of Defense in 1969, both as an experiment in reliable networking and to link DOD and military research contractors including the large number of universities doing military funded research. (ARPA stands for Advanced Research Project Administration, the branch of the DOD in charge of handing out grant money. For enhanced confusion the agency is known as DARPA - the D is for Defense, in case anyone had doubts about where the money was coming from). Although the ARPANET started small, connecting three computers in California with one in Utah, it quickly grew to span the continent.
In the early 1980’s, the ARPANET grew into the early internet, a group of interlinked networks connecting many educational and research funded by the National Science Foundation, along with the original military ones. By 1990 it was clear the internet was here to stay, and the DARPA and the MSF bowed out in favour of the commercially run networks that comprise today’s internet. Some of the networks are run by familiar companies like AT&T, Worldcom/MCI, IBM, GTE and Britain’s Cable and Wireless; other belong to specialist companies like PSI and Exodus Networks. No matter which one you are attached to, they all interconnect, so it is all one giant internet.
The world wide web was invented in 1989 at the European Particle Physics Lab in Geneva, Switzerland, an unlikely spot for a revolution in computing. The inventor is a British researcher names Tim Berners-Lee, who is now the director of the World Web Consortium (W3) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the organisation that sets standards and loosely oversees the development of the Web.
Tim invented http (hypertext transport protocol), the way the web browsers communicate with web servers; html (hypertext markup language), the language in which web pages are written; and url’s (uniform resource locators), the codes used to identify web pages and most other information on the net. He envisioned the web as a way for everyone to both publish and read information on the net. Early web browsers had editors that let you create web pages almost as easily as you could read them.
In ISP (or Internet Service Provider) is a company that provides you with a dial-up internet account (or, in the case of Virgin Media, you can also have Hi Speed Internet Access). Many of these ISP’s, like Virgin Media, also provide you with an easy to use automatic sign-up disk, that creates you dial-up account for you. However, since these can cause problems, it is always a good idea to try and do without the disk and set up you connection manually (to do this see here).
Every web page gas a name attached to it so that browsers, and you, can find it easily enough. The inventor of the world wide web named this the url (Uniform Resource Locator), which basically means the address of the web site. Every web page that you will visit will have a url, which is made up of a series of characters that begins with http://, which is the web’s transfer technique. A url that begins with ftp:// lets you download files from an FTP server on the Internet.
You can either run the Internet Connection Wizard (whish is probably easiest) or completely manually set up a dial-up connection yourself.
The Internet Connection Wizard will normally be found somewhere in your start up folder (hit the start button) under "Internet Tools". If you can’t find it that way, just search your start menu and subsequent sub-menus until you have found it. It is relatively easy to use, as it takes you step by step through setting up a new or existing account.
The second way, probably more useful to those that know a bit more about this sort of thing.
Press your "My Computer" icon on your desktop. In there should be a folder entitled "Dial-Up Networking". Double-click on this.
In this folder you should see an icon entitled "Make new Connection". Double-click it and it will bring up a small window on your monitor called "Make A New Connection".
The first step is to put in what you would like to call this connection. For easy remembering I always call it the name of the ISP that the connection will be with. So for the Virgin Media ISP, I call it simply Virgin Media. You also need to select the modem you are going to be using. Always assuming you have just one modem, this should already be in the box. However, if you happen to have to or more modems connected to your computer, just scroll down the list until you find the one you want to use. Press ‘next’.
You are now asked for the area code and telephone number you wish to use to connect to the internet. Cable customers can probably use 179. Click ‘next’.
A new screen will now appear telling you that you have successfully set up a dial-up networking connection. Click on ‘finish’.
Now all you have to do to get connected via this new connection is to click on the box that has now appeared in the dial-up networking window (as a note, if you right-click the icon for the connection and select "create shortcut" and then select ‘Yes’ when it asks you to create a shortcut on the desktop, you will now see a new icon on your desktop which you can use instead of having to go through "My Computer" each time).
You should by now (assuming you have clicked the icon) have a new screen appeared on your desktop window called "Connect To". Fill in your username and password as supplied to you by Virgin Media and tick the "remember password" box, so you don’t have to put this in every time you go to connect. Make sure the phone number you will be using is filled in and press "Connect". Your modem should now be successfully connecting to the internet.
A host name is the part of the url (or web site address) that tell you which country/institute hosts that site. For example, with Virgin Media:
it is the last two parts of the address ".co.uk" that specify that this is a British site. Another one you may see is:
The .com part is the host name of this address.
Others you may find are:
www.virginmedia.co.uk - the Virgin Media web site
www.yahoo.com - Yahoo! web directory
www.altavista.com - AltaVista web search engine
www.google.com - Google web search engine
www.metacrawler.com - Metacrawler web search engine (lets you search more than one search engine)
www.tucows.com - the ultimate collection of Windows Software (also for Mac)
home.netscape.com - Netscape Communicator home page
www.whowhere.com - phone and email directory
www.ebay.com - online auctions
www.imdb.com - online movie database
While there are probably plenty of programs out there to choose from the two most popular browsers people seem to use are Internet explorer and Netscape Navigator (which comes as port of the Netscape Communicator package). Internet Explorer comes with your operating system (Windows) and you can download Netscape Communicator from http://home.netscape.com.
Internet Explorer calls this procedure adding to favourites, while Netscape calls it bookmarking. Both come down to the same thing. You can save a collection of links to your most favourite sites so that they are easily recalled later.
In Internet Explorer, to add to your favourites folder choose "Favourites" from the menu and select "Add to Favourites". To see/edit your favourites folder, select "Favourites" from the menu and choose "organise Favourites". There is also a favourites button on the toolbar for quick and easy access, displaying your favourites down the left hand side of your explorer window.
Netscape bookmarks lurk under the "Bookmarks Quick File" button, which can be found to the left of the Location box, probably below the back button on the toolbar. To add a bookmark for a web page, choose "Communicator" from the menu and select "Add bookmark". These bookmarks then appear as entries on the menu that appears when you press the "Bookmarks Quick File" button. To edit your bookmarks list choose "Communicator" from the menu then "Bookmarks" then "Edit bookmarks".
Sometimes (quite often actually) you see something on the web that is worth saving for looking at later. When you save a web page, you have to first decide whether to save only the text that appears or the entire html script. You can also save the pictures that appear on web pages.
In both Netscape Communicator and Internet Explorer choose "File" from the menu bar and select "Save As". You will see the standard Save As dialog box, in which you specify the name to save the file under. You can click the "Save as type" box to determine what format you are for saving the page as (i.e. text only of html, etc).
To save an image, right-click the it on the page and choose "Save Image/Picture As" from the small menu that appears on your screen. Up pops the Save As dialog box again. Move to the folder or directory you want to store the picture, type in a name for it (or keep the one that comes up) and press the ’save’ or ‘OK’ button.
Search engines is just a fancy term for meaning finding stuff on the internet. Each search engine (and there are loads of them!) have their own ways of searching through files and web sites on the internet, but they all come down to pretty much the same idea. Somewhere near the top of the screen will be a long box with "search" of "go" written beside it. In the box you type the key word you want to look for (or a few words) and press the "search" or "go" button beside the box. The search engine will then look through the web for pages containing information one the word/s you have typed in and will display the list below the search box. Then simply scroll through this list of web pages for any that interest you.
Although there have been search engines specificallt designed to do all this, Internet Explorer and Netscape Manager have also decided to get in on the act. Sarting with Netscape 4.06 and Internet Explorer 4.0, you can now type some keywords into the address bar (where you put the web address/url). The browser then goes "Oh, this isn’t a web site! This is someone wanting to search me!" and sends you to its search engine instead and will display the list of results for you, or in the case of only one matching result, will take you staright to the web page.
Some useful web engines are:
www.google.com - probably one of the best search engines going.
www.metacrawler.com - a handy search engine which combines most of the above engines into one, meaning that you will get results from all the search engines, not just one individually.
Finding people on the net is actually quite easy. Actually sometimes it seems just too easy! There are two categories for finding people on the internet - those that look for people on the internet using email and web addresses and those that look for people in real life using phone numbers and street addresses.
Finding people in real life uses directories mostly made up from telephone directories, which in my opinion is fair as those who have made their number ex-directory because they don’t want just an old so and so knowing their information can’t be found this way either.
In the internet scenario, the process is a bit hit and miss. This is because their is no online equivalent to the official phone book. Instead, email addresses are collected from the addresses used in news groups, mailing lists and other more or less public access places on the internet. Because the different directories use different sources to get their email addresses, if you don’t find what you are looking for in one, try another. But remember, these listings are far from complete, so you may be easier phoning the person and asking them!
Some useful sites are:
http://people.yahoo.com/ - you can search addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.
www.whowhere.lycos.com - you can only use the email address for searching
www.bigfoot.com - you can also get a free permanent email address for life (REMEMBER though that once you are on this listing you can never take yourself back off)
When your browser retrieves a page from the web, it stores the page on your computer, so that it doesn’t have to retrieve this page again, making surfing much quicker. The space the browser uses too store this page is called "cache" (pronounced "cash"). The more space you have told your broswer to use for this, the faster you can surf.
Another way browsers have of storing information about sites is by "cookies". This is like a special type of message that lets a website recognise you when you revisit their site.
Both these can make surfing the internet both smoother and faster, however they can also end up taking up a lot of disk space on your computer, so every now and again you may wish to delete these to free up some space.
This part is pretty straightforward. Open your Windows Explorer (normally found in the "Programs" submenu of your start menu.
Now, all these types of files are normally stored in the Windows directory of your hard drive. So scroll down the list of files and directories you have until you come to the Windows directory. Click on the ‘+’ sign beside this to open it up. Scroll down through this directory until you find one called "Cookies". Click on this and you should see a list of all the cookies you computer has stored. Go into "Edit" on the menu bar and choose "Select All". They should now all be highlighted. Now go to "File" in the menu and select "Delete". All the files in here should now have disappeared to your Recycle Bin.
To remove cache files from your computer simply scroll further down the Windows directory until you find a sub-directory called "Temporary Internet Files". Click in here and follow the same procedure you have completed for removing the cookies (select all and delete them). Don’t worry too much about the sub-directories in the Temporary Internet Files folder.
Remember to empty your Recycle Bin when you are finished.
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