Technophobes Guide


The Internet – An Overview

WHAT IS THE INTERNET?

The Internet (or Net) is basically the world’s biggest computer network with millions of users. It consists of many thousands of permanently linked computers (called hosts), which anyone with a computer can use to send messages, exchange information, access web sites and trade electronically.

All you need to use the Internet is a computer, a modem and a standard telephone line to connect to an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

E-MAIL

E-mail, or electronic mail, is mail transmitted electronically to and/or from your computer. It is an ideal mechanism for fast and cheap business communications, giving you the ability to send messages anywhere in the world for less money than the cost of a stamp or a phone call.

For more information see the section of this guide on E-mail.

THE WORLD WIDE WEB

The World Wide Web links the user to a vast network of web sites offering countless amounts of data and a huge and diverse range of services. You can move from page to page in a web site with a simple click of your mouse for access to text, images, sound, video clips and even live chat and conferencing areas. Many web sites also provide direct links to other sites. Anyone with the appropriate equipment, software and expertise can set up a web site; it costs relatively little considering the size of the potential market and the diverse business purposes a web site can serve.

For more information, go the section in this guide on the World Wide Web.

EXCHANGING DOCUMENTS

Once on line, you can send and receive files, including word-processed documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and graphics. These can be transmitted via e-mail or downloaded from web sites. The technology is called File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Large documents can be compressed so they take up less disk space and can be transferred more rapidly. Software is available to compress and decompress documents.

USENET OR NEWSGROUPS

These are areas on the Internet where people with shared interests can ‘talk’ to one another using e-mail. These groups are useful for research, problem solving and networking. For businesses they can provide useful ways of communicating with actual or potential customers and for making new business contacts. They are an effective way of keeping in touch with others in the same field or sector, providing a useful mechanism for identifying experts and collaborating on projects. If your area of interest is not already covered by a usenet or newsgroup you can start your own. Many newsgroups also have helplines and lists of frequently asked questions for users’ reference.

BUSINESS DIRECTORIES

A growing number of Business Directories are now available on the Web. You can browse through the directory categories to locate the information you require and once you have found the relevant company go directly to the companies web site if a link has been established. There also exist many regional online directories, which register local organisations to help you if you are looking for local services.

SEARCH ENGINES

Given the huge size of the Internet, how do you find anything, and how does anyone find your web site? The answer lies in the search engines – computer applications that continually and automatically trawl the Internet and index what they find. You type in words or phrases to describe what you are looking for and the search engine matches these against its index to find the site or sites that most closely match the description.

For further information read the section of this guide on Search Engines. We even offer our own range of Search Engine registration services so that your site can attain a higher ranking.

HYPERTEXT LINKS

Hypertext links feature on most web sites to enable you to navigate around the site or even jump to another site containing related information or material. ‘Hyperlink’ or ‘hot spot’ are highlighted words or images you are instructed to click on to move around the site.

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