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There are several movie files throughout "Senior's Guide to Computers" demonstrating many techniques. For a complete list of all of them including links to each one, please visit the VIDEOS page.


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 Internet Chat. Currently, Internet telephone hardware and software allow real-time voice conversations (VOIP) including free long distance for voice calls between two computers.

The most widely used part of the Internet is the World Wide Web ("the Web") developed by Tim Berners-Lee. 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 hyperlinks or links. 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, 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.


A Video Overview of Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera

Mozilla Firefox


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.

Tabbed browsing 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 pop-up and pop-under ads.

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.

You can select new button controls for your toolbars, install extensions to add new features, or change the look of your browser with themes.

Download Firefox here

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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.

Download Opera here

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