THE INTERNET - PART 1
What Is The Internet?
The Internet, also known as "the Net," is a worldwide system of computer networks in which users at any one computer can get data from any other computer. It was conceived by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. government in 1969 and was first known as the ARPANET. The original aim was to create a network that would allow users of a computer at one university to be able to communicate with computers at other universities. A side benefit of ARPANET's design was that, because messages could be sent in more than one direction, the network could continue to function even if parts of it were destroyed in the event of a military attack or other disaster. Luckily, we've never had to test if it works.
Today, the Internet is self-sustaining and is used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. For many Internet users, email has replaced the Post Office for short messages. You can also carry on live conversations with other computer users using. Currently, Internet telephone hardware and software allow real-time voice conversations including free long distance for voice calls between two computers.
The most widely used part of the Internet is thedeveloped by . On most web sites, certain words or phrases appear in text of a different color than the rest and sometimes also underlined. When you point to one of these words or phrases by clicking the left button of your mouse, you will be transferred to the page that is associated with this word or phrase. These are called . Sometimes there are buttons, images, or portions of images that can be "clicked". If you move the pointer over a spot on a web site and the pointer changes into a hand, this indicates that you can click it and be transferred to another site.
With the web, you have access to millions of pages of information. Web browsing is done with a web browser. Currently, the most popular web browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Another excellent alternative is Opera. Depending on your connection speed, browsers can support such advanced features as animation, video, sound, and music.
By the way, all of these browsers can be downloaded absolutely free.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0
A Video Review of Internet Explorer 9.0
Only works in Windows 7 and Vista. Still some occasional site incompatibilities.
Microsoft's new browser is faster, trimmer, more compliant with HTML5—a major improvement over its predecessor. It also brings some unique capabilities like tab-pinning and hardware acceleration, but only Windows 7 and Vista users need apply.
Full review at PC magazine.
Mozilla Firefox has a user-friendly interface and blocks many viruses, spyware, and popup ads. It features tabbed browsing and an integrated Search bar. The Software Update feature makes it easy to get the latest updates. Firefox automatically downloads these updates in the background and prompts you when they are ready to be installed.
allows you to open multiple web pages in a single browser window, and quickly flip back and forth.
Firefox has a built-in pop-up blocker which blocks more unwanted.
Firefox keeps you more secure when you're browsing the web, protecting against spyware, worms, and viruses. It does not support ActiveX controls because ActiveX controls can attract viruses and spyware.
Firefox delivers easier navigation for everyone, including those who are visually or motor-impaired. Users may navigate with keystrokes rather than mouse clicks, reducing the tabbing required to navigate documents such as spreadsheets. Firefox is also the first browser to meet US federal government requirements that software be easily accessible to users with physical impairments.
You can save the addresses of any web site you visit by recording them as "Bookmarks". Click here for a full description of how to use Bookmarks in Firefox.
Opera has a host of attractive features including a tabbed pages which you can drag-and-drop to rearrange their order. The newest version keeps track of closed tabs and pop-ups that have been blocked, so if you realize you closed a tab or let the browser block a pop-up that you actually wanted open and shouldn't have, simply click on the trash can near the location bar and open the page again. You can also configure the browser to open a set group of tabbed pages at startup.
Bookmarks can be either a single page or a group of tabbed pages and the browser keeps track of the top ten sites that you've visited, but you can now access them quickly via a link off the toolbar. A drop-down menu to the right of the location bar allows you to zoom in or out on any page, and pages can be squeezed into a narrow column that will reformat to fit.
Internet Explorer users will find surfing with Opera is much faster than they're used to; Opera's support for mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts is superior to other entries, and Opera is the only browser to offer voice commands. After a 10MB download, can control Opera by clicking the mouse on the Voice menu bar button (or pressing scroll lock) and then saying "Opera back" or "Opera reload". Opera can also read web pages aloud. Voice commands require a headset.
The browser has no support for ActiveX controls. That's by design, as ActiveX can attract spyware, but it's also a drawback if you often visit legitimate sites that require ActiveX to take advantage of all their features.
There are literally hundreds of search engines on the internet. However, there is only one that I use and that you will ever need....Google.
Google is a crawler-based engine, meaning that it has software designed to "crawl" the information on the Internet and add it to its database. Google has the best reputation for relevant and thorough search results.
Google's home page is clean and simple. There is more than one option on Google's home page. You can search for web sites, images, comments in discussion groups, news, shopping sites and more. Figure I-1 shows the Google home page followed by a description of the various search tools.
Figure I-1: Google Home Page
- Web - The default search engine.
- Images - Searches for images, maps, graphics, photos, or drawings.
- Video - Searches for short video files on the Internet.
- News - Searches for information gathered from thousands of news sources worldwide.
- Maps - An interactive map tool featuring driving directions.
- More - Additional search tools including:
- Books - If you're looking for text from a specific book, type in the name of the book (in quotes), or if you're looking for books about a particular subject, type in "books about xxx". Google will return results that contain content either in the book itself, and will offer links to Book Results at the top of the search page.
- Froogle - Searches for products for sale online.
- Groups - Searches for information, opinions, and recommendations from user groups.
- Even more - dozens of additional search tools.
- "I'm Feeling Lucky" - This button takes you instantly to the first search result returned for any query. For instance, if I type in peanut butter I go straight to peanutbutterlovers.com. It's basically a shortcut so you can bypass the search engine results page.
- There's even a Google Accessible Web Search for the Visually Impaired.
How to Google Search
- Just enter a word, multiple words or a phrase and hit "enter". Google will come up with results that contain all the words in the search bar. Google doesn't care about capitalized words and will even suggest correct spellings of words or phrases. Google excludes common words such as "where" and "how", and since Google returns results that include all of the words you enter, there's no need to include the word "and", as in "milk and cookies". You can enter milk cookies.
- If you want to look for web sites that contain just "milk" or just "cookies" you can use "OR" as in milk or cookies. If you're searching for the exact phrase you would enter "milk and cookies" including the quotes.
- Try to be as specific as possible - instead of cars, try Chevrolet Impala.
- If you're searching for a specific quote, type in "give me liberty or give me death". Google will search for the entire phrase just how it appears in between the quotes.
- Use common words, such as "and", "not" and numbers ONLY if you want them included in the search. Google excludes them otherwise. If you want them included, use a phrase search by putting quotations around your search query, or include the common word by putting a space and a plus sign right in front of it. For example, if you are looking for the season five DVD of "I Love Lucy", type in "i love lucy dvd season +5".
- Exclude unwanted results. If you want to narrow down your searches, place a "-" (minus sign) in front of words you want to avoid. For example, if you're searching for "three stooges films" but don't want any films starring Shemp, you would type in three stooges films -shemp.
Other Google Tools
- Google Calculator - Use Google's calculator by just typing in whatever calculation you'd like in the search bar. For example: a gallon in pints or 112.3 + 55.6.
- Google Definitions - There are two ways to get definitions from Google. If you type "define:cholesterol" (with the colon), you'll get a page full of definitions. If you type "define cholesterol" (without the colon), you'll get a list of web sites that contain definitions of the word.
- Google Catalogs - Search online catalogs.
- Google Finance - Business info, news, and interactive charts.
- Other search shortcuts:
Phone number:(enter name and location) "phonebook: John Smith NJ"
movie:(search for showtimes - enter title and zip code) "movie:superman returns 08902"
stocks:(get a stock quote) "stocks:ibm"
weather:(get local weather - enter zip code) "weather:08902"