Welcome to the Internet
Tips for making your online experience fun, informative
Courtesy of Safe-t.net
Warning: If you are a technical expert, do not
read the following information. It is oversimplified and far too
user-friendly to make you happy. If, however, you are like 98% of the
world, you will find the following information refreshing and helpful.
In it, we will give you simple explanations of
Internet is NOT
-What is the
World Wide Web (WWW)?
-What is a LINK?
-How do I get to
-How does a
-How do I FIND
things on the WEB?
-What is E-MAIL?
-How do I learn
If you are feeling a little uncomfortable,
don't worry. Everyone who uses the Internet started the same way. Everyone
has their first e-mail. Everyone has their first search. With a little
patience, you will find that the benefits (and fun) of the Internet will
be yours for the taking.
What is the Internet?
The Internet was started in the late 1960's as
an experiment by the U.S. Department of Defense. At that time, computers
did not communicate well with each other. Even worse, it was common for
one of the computers to stop working, causing the shutdown of other
connected computers. The U.S. government wanted to create a network of
computers built to withstand the crash of one or more of its parts. Then
they reasoned that a really good network could survive more than a system
crash, it could withstand an atomic blast!
They succeeded. Their network of computers
could communicate and keep running when whole sections were shut down.
They called this network ARPANET. One of the great secrets of its success
was the way the computers were connected. Instead of expensive new
technologies, the best answer turned out to be plain, old telephone
ARPANET worked so well because it was more than
a network of computers. It was many networks all connected together.
Information could travel from one network to another (or inter-network).
It wasn't long before ARPANET changed to Internet.
At first, the Internet was used solely by the
federal government, but soon universities and other institutions connected
themselves to the Internet to communicate with one another. Each
organization was responsible for maintaining its part of the network, so
the Internet was not owned or controlled by any one organization. (This is
still true today.)
The U.S. Department of Defense wasn't too crazy
about sharing their indestructible network with everyone else in the
world, so they released their part of it and started another. The gap was
taken up immediately by others who wanted a piece of this great new way to
communicate. In the late 1980s, businesses began connecting to the
Internet in large numbers. This was the beginning of the more 'commercial'
version of the Internet that we use today.
What the Internet is NOT: It is not
'the web.' It is not electronic mail. It is not a bunch of telephone
cables. The Internet is a term that describes all of these things
Part of the Internet is hardware. Your
computer, when it is connected to a telephone line that leads to Safe-t.net's
computers, is part of the Internet. So are the local telephone lines, the
high-speed digital telephone lines, routers, modems, and thousands of
Part of the Internet is software. The programs
that allow you to send e-mail, download pictures, and many other things;
all are part of the huge, indestructible network called the Internet.
What is the World Wide Web (WWW)?
During the old days when the government and
universities controlled the Internet, it was very hard to use. Internet
users (mostly well-trained engineering types) would communicate using
mysterious written instructions, such as "ls>hello.user., acct1;
games:fidonet>bix,,msyzptlx;plink:bonehead…" or something like
The World Wide Web project -- started by Tim
Berners-Lee while at CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics)--
created a way for less technical people to use the Internet. Instead of
having painfully confusing strings of letters for different processes on
the Internet, it allowed access to the Internet by referring to everything
in terms of documents and addresses.
(The scientists at CERN created the WWW, with
its URLs and HTML, because they felt the world needed more acronyms. Just
This concept of documents and addresses
is vitally important in helping you understand what is happening on the
Internet. If you don't learn anything else from this, remember that
everything on the World Wide Web is a document at an address.
Just as you would find in the real world,
documents come in many shapes and sizes. They can be pictures, or plain
text, or a mixture of the two. They can be as small as a yellow sticky
note or as big as a dictionary.
On the World Wide Web, they can be even more
varied. Because all of these documents are electronic in nature (just like
files on your computer), they can also do things that real world documents
can't. For example, web documents can have animations (like cartoons) on
them. They can have sounds come out of them. They can even run programs.
The most common kind of document on the World
Wide Web is the web page. (See, its not such a great leap to think of a
document as a page.) The best thing about web pages is their ability to
link to other web pages.
What do we mean by link?
A web page link is an area of the page that is
attached to another web page. The most common form of this is underlined
writing like this. When you see underlined writing on a web page,
it usually means that you can click your mouse on those words and
automatically go to the page that is attached to it.
This is most helpful when you want to know more
about the underlined words. For example, if you see the sentence
"Here is the way to get free candy for life!" you would
be interested in finding out more. Clicking the mouse once over "free
candy for life" would cause you to go to a web page with more
You will also find web pages that have links
attached to pictures. These usually have a border around them, or some
visual clue such as "Click me!"
These documents don't just float around on the
telephone wires outside your house. Just like the real world, they have to
be somewhere. This brings us to the second concept: every document
has to have an address.
What about Addresses?
The address, or location, of each document is
usually on a computer somewhere. It would be very confusing to ask for
every document by saying: "Get me the hyperlinked web page called
my_favorite_movies.htm on cylinder 49 of the e: hardddisk on Bob's
computer connection to the network of United Kiddie Care at 2345 NE
Southwest St, Apartment 605, Anytown, USA 97007." First of all, you'd
have to know where everything is. Next, you'd have to ask for it without
The World Wide Web uses addresses that are a
little simpler to use. They give each location a number as a reference.
This same file may be located at 188.8.131.52. Isn't that more efficient?
This kind of address is much easier for an
engineer, but it really isn't very clear to the rest of the world. This is
why the Web also uses another way of describing the address of a document.
The same file we just described in the last paragraph may also have the
address of www.usatoday.com
That sounds a little easier to understand,
How do I get to these documents?
To access the web, you run a browser program.
Just as you might go to a book store and browse through the magazines on a
rack, the browser reads documents, and can fetch documents from other
There are two very popular web browsers
available today, and both are free. One is Microsoft Internet Explorer,
which may have been on your computer when you bought it. The other is
called Netscape Communicator. Both are excellent products with many of the
Both browsers allow you to see virtually any
file on the World Wide Web, as well as less popular Internet schemes such
as FTP (file transfer protocol) and Usenet. If you would like more
information on FTP, Usenet, Gopher and others, you shouldn't be reading
this. Try www.yahoo.com.
How does a Browser work?
The browser is a program much like your
favorite writing program or computer game. When you open it, you will find
a menu with the words File, Edit, View, etc. much as you would with other
applications. The most important difference is that it is not looking at
files on your computer, it is looking at document on the Internet.
In order for it to 'see' documents on the
Internet, it must be connected. This requires a modem in your computer
with a telephone line leading to your wall telephone outlet. A modem is
nothing more than a device that allows your computer to 'talk' on a
This modem must call a local number (supplied
by Safe-t.net) which connects the call to the rest of the Internet. This
is a very complex process. Fortunately, you don't need to know how it
works to use the Internet.
At Safe-t.net, we have selected the page that
your browser looks at every time it starts. It is a page we have on our
computers. You can change this page when you are more experienced, but for
now it is best to leave it here.
The buttons at the top of the browser are your
friends. Get to know them. The BACK button is especially handy for new
users. If you get to a place when you don't know what you are doing or
where on the Web you are, simply start clicking the BACK button until you
recognize where you are.
Another button that really helps if you get
lost or confused is the HOME button. It will return you to the web page
you started with. With these two buttons in mind, you can randomly click
on links and have no fear of getting lost.
If you do get lost and the buttons don't make
sense to you, you can always close the whole browser and start all over
again. Click on the FILE menu and click on EXIT. This will close your
browser, but it won't disconnect you from the Internet.
To open the Browser once again, double click on
the INTERNET icon on your desktop or press the START button, select
PROGRAMS, and search through your program list until you find your
browser. It will open to the same page it always opens to.
Realistically you shouldn't need to do this
unless something is very wrong. In 99% of all situations, the HOME button
should be all you need.
The first several times you use your browser,
its best to just randomly play with the links and buttons. This leisurely
activity is the best training you can get as you begin. It's what the term
"surfing the Internet" really means.
Safe-t.net has made this play a little more
productive by adding buttons on our default page that relate to things
people enjoy. Click on the button called KIDS on our home page and then
try any of the buttons on the linked page. Have fun!
And don't worry. You can always go home …
How do I find what I want on the Web?
There are tens of millions of documents on the
Web. Some are frivolous, some are fascinating, and some are so technical
that they will put you to sleep. How do you find the one you want?
Fortunately for all of us, some industrious
companies have collected the names of millions of web pages and organized
them. Each of these companies has written a program that takes some key
words from you and hunts through their list of web pages and finds the
ones that relate to your interests.
These searching programs are called search
engines. You can use them by going to the web pages of these different
companies. The most popular are www.yahoo.com
Most of them work the same way. On the web page
is a small box where you must type your topic of interest. Next to the box
is a button that says SEARCH or something similar. Type your word, for
example GENEOLOGIES, and click on the SEARCH button. In a moment, you will
be giving descriptions of dozens, maybe hundreds of web pages about your
subject. Click on the underlined words to go to that page.
Always remember, if you get lost you can click
on the BACK button or the HOME button.
What is Email?
Electronic mail is completely separate from the
World Wide Web. It is a whole different part of the Internet.
Email is comprised of a software package (not
the browser, that's just for the Web) that allows you to send and receive
electronic mail to anyone else on the Internet … including people on
Compuserve, America Online etc.
Electronic mail (or e-mail for short) is also a
series of documents and addresses. These documents are a lot like
real-world mail, in that they come from someone, go to someone, and they
have to be sent from one to the other.
One difference between Internet e-mail and your
national postal service is the time it takes to travel. The fastest
real-world letter can go across country in a day. The average e-mail is
delivered anywhere in the world in seconds. This is why Internet users
refer to traditional postal service as snail mail.
Most Email programs are fairly intuitive. You
have an "IN" box and an "OUT" box. The "IN"
box holds messages that have been sent to you. To check to see if you have
received new mail, click "file, check mail". New letters will
appear in your "IN" box. To read them, simply double click on
To send a letter click on "new
message", fill out the e-mail address of your intended recipient,
fill out the subject line, and type in your letter. Click on the SEND
button. If you're connected to the Internet, your message is traveling at
the speed of light.
E-mail addresses are often hard to remember. If
you receive a message from someone, it's usually easier to click on the
REPLY button (which automatically prepares a message to the sender) than
trying to type in their e-mail address.
Now you're ready to begin …
These simple concepts are enough for you to
begin using the Internet. As you become more familiar with the look and
feel of the World Wide Web and using e-mail, you will want to learn more.
This information is readily available on the Web.
Learning to use the Internet is an on-going experience. All of us, even
the experts, start with the simple things and move to the more advanced.
With a little patience, your learning experience will be so much fun that
you may not notice how much you are learning.
We're happy that you've selected Safe-t.net as part of your experience.