Welcome to the Internet! In this section I'll be answering a few basic questions about what the Internet is and how it works, a few suggestions for making your travels go more smoothly and offering a few links to other "Internet Tutorials".

What is the Internet?

Basically, the Internet is lots and lots of computers all connected together by phone lines. When your computer is connected it is said to be "Online". You can interact with all those other computers in a number of ways on the Internet. You can send and receive E-mail, you can download programs and files to your computer from FTP sites (File Transfer Protocol sites are like libraries of computer files), you can read and post messages in Newsgroups or on bulletin boards, you can even chat live with other people connected at the same time, and of course, you can browse the World Wide Web or create web pages of your own.

What is an Online Service?

Online Services like America Online or Compuserve are slightly different from the Internet in that they offer their own content and services for their members. You can access all of the Internet through America Online but unless you are a member you can't access America Online's content from the Internet.

What is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) ?

Internet Service Providers generally don't have any content of their own, they simply provide you with a connection to the Internet at large.

What is The World Wide Web?

The World Wide Web is a part of the Internet that uses Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) to display documents. HTML allows documents to be linked together so that when you click on a link it will take you to another document. The original purpose of this was so that the references and foot notes of academic research papers could be linked to the original without having to go and look them up.

How does the Web work?

When you launch your Web Browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer for example) it sends a message to the computer that hosts (stores the files for) your home page, (The page that comes up first when you launch your browser) and requests the files that make up the page. These are usually a few pictures and an HTML document. Your browser downloads these onto your computer and then reads the HTML document which tells it where to put the text and pictures on your screen. If you then click on a link to another web site, the browser reads the address of that link from the HTML document and calls up the computer where the other sites files are stored, and so on.

What is a "Home Page" ?

This can be a bit confusing because the term has come to mean many things. It can mean the default page that comes up when you launch you web browser. (You can change the default to whatever page you like in the preferences, mine is set to open with The Crafts Fair Online). But Home Page can also mean the "main" page of a large web site or it can mean someone's "personal" home page.

What's a URL?

URL stands for Universal Resource Locator, it's the address of a Web site and usually begins with http://www.etc or just www. It is different from an E-mail address which usually looks something like thepersonsname@theirserviceprovider. The @ symbol is a giveaway that its an E-mail address and not a web address.

What are those funny symbols like :-) that people use in E-mail?

Because it can be difficult to express some of the subtleties of talking in this pure text world, people have developed "Emoticons" or "Smileys" to enhance the words.

Smileys are little faces turned sideways, turn your head to the left. The standard one is-

:-) just to say you are smiling while writing this. Then there's a wink like this-

;-) as if to say "If you know what I mean". A frown-

:-( to say I'm not happy while writing this.

You can even blow a kiss-


Or give a hug-


Then there are a few abbreviations you should know-

<g> grin (This is used a lot if your teasing someone and want to be sure they know you are just joking.)
<G> big grin
<EG> evil grin
<VEG> very evil grin
<LOL> laughing out loud
<LOLROF> laughing out loud, rolling on floor or,
<LOLHOD> laughing out loud head on desk
<BRB> be right back
<TTYL> talk to you later
<HTH> hope this helps
<AFK> away from keyboard
<GMTA> Great minds think alike. (When you both type the same thing at the same time.)

Oh, one bit of advice, don't write in all capital letters, it's considered SHOUTING.

Here are a few other sites with more Beginner's help-

Net For Beginners

PBS Internet Guide

Netscape Beginners Guide

A Free Service Of The Crafts Fair Online
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