The Network of networks:
The internet is a network of computers all over the globe that are linked together, and that share information among each other.
The internet is often called the 'network of networks'
The internet consists of a collection of
e-documents (or web-pages as they are more commonly called), that are interlinked together. They form the basic unit of information, and it is these e-documents that are shared among the computers.
The computers that request and access these web pages are called
client computers' and where these documents are stored are called servers, which deliver these web pages to the requested clients. (We shall be looking in to clients and servers in more detail).
It gives you information and more information:
Online Training and Learning Resources:
Well, if you are reading this article, a part of your question is answered. The internet has become a major source of education and training. One can find information and teaching material on any subject or matter and the training can take place at your own pace.
Search Engines, that search for you:
Search search search, you will get what you want. Search for that favourite holiday destination, and the means to get there, and you will get umpteen options.
Search for that favourite cuisine, you always wanted to look for, and the internet provides you with loads of sources to access it. The only thing you have to do to get is type in what you want to search. Some of the popular search engines like the google, askjeeves, yahoo search engine etc. You just have to type in what you want, and the internet will give you that.
Makes you aware of what's going on:
It is a major source of mobilisation of resources for a cause or for building up of awareness, e.g. In drought-hit Somalia, the urgent need for food, medicine and other basic facilities were posted on newsgroups and charity web sites, which would be accessible to millions across the world.
Advances in communication:
With the advent of the internet, communication has become very much advanced. With the advent of e-mail, you can send e-mail to your friend/relative and it would reach them anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes.
Bulletin Boards or BBS for short, are online-services, generally smaller in scale. They may have a focus on a particular topic or offer a large number of them, as is generally the case. Users belonging to a particular group, can post their messages here, communicate with other members of the board. Some BBS's, such as our in-site message board, also offer email and chatting facilities. BBS members are often welcoming to newer members. Usenet is a very popular bulletin board.
Calderdale-online has its own up and running bulletin board, which enables people of the calderdale community to post and discuss topics openly.
Also chatting (real-time messaging) has become very popular. This form of 'virtual-talk' enables people to interact with people of different cultures and regions. There exist chatrooms, and also personal chat applications like the yahoo/msn messenger.
Well the above are just a few of the uses. The internet is growing, evolving and oppurtunities of its usage lie abundant in modern life.
How do I get connected to the internet?
Well, if you are viewing this page, obviously you are connected to the internet!! But let's just take a look briefly at the process you used to get connected to the internet.
The following are the basic components, which enables you to connect to the internet:
Lets take a brief look at each of these components:
1. The Client Computer:
The computer you are using currently, is the client computer!!
Clients, are the so-called 'customers' of the internet market. They request
a webpage, when the address of the URL is typed in the address bar of the web browser, which is then posted to the server, and the server delivers the requested web page to the concerned client.
(If some of these terms confuse you, do not panic, all these will be dealt with later). So, let's say that for the time being, the client is the computer, which normal users use, to surf/browse the internet and they request for a particular web page, which is delivered to them.
After the Client comes the ISP and the Modem:
So, now you have the computer. But how do you connect?
The Internet Service Provider (ISP), is a commercial service which provides you with the resources to access the internet.
Some ISPs, provide you with software, which after installation on your computer enables you to connect with the internet.
Usually individual users will use the dial-up connection (via the phone line). For large organisations, and community users, ISDN connections and networks may be available.
The ISP provider will usually provide you with a CD, using which you can install the ISP software. Just put the CD in the CD-Drive and the installation software will guide you through the installation steps. Others will simply tell you how to set up your browser's dial up connector.
On completion, some ISPs give you the user id, however, most will ask you to create your own user id and password, using which you can connect to the internet.
The ISPs normally charge you either per telephone call (metered) or a flat monthly fee (unmetered), however the offers and packages vary.
3. To get connected - The Modem:
So, now you have the internet access software, but to physically access the internet, you have to connect via the phone line.
It is through the phone line,the actual data transferred from the network to your computer. This is where the modem comes in.
Simply put a modem is a device, which connects your computer to the phone line.
Modems are of two types - Internal and External. Most computers today come equipped with an internal modem, however for older computers, it is better to use an external modem. The external modem is connected to a port (like a plug point) on your computer, and with the phone line socket on the other end.
So, after switching on the modem, you have to type in the user id and password to access the ISP service, and lo!!!! The modem dials your ISP until you are connected and then it's surfing time!!!
The Web Browser
A web-browser is a software program that enables you to access the web-sites and displays the web-pages on the client computer.
Two of the most popular web-browsers are Internet Explorer (), and Netscape ().
Once you are connected to the internet, normally a default web browser is opened and take you to a default web site, which has been pre-programmed by the ISP. This can be altered by selecting an alternative page as your homepage.
You can access any site you know of by typing the address of the URL on the address bar of the web-page.
Here's what you do, when you access the web browser:
Go to the address bar.
Type the name of the website in the address bar. e.g. www.calderdale-online.org
Press enter key on your keyboard.
Lets take a short recap, as to how to connect to the web:
You need a computer, the now familiar client.
An ISP, to provide the internet access. To do so you need to install the ISP software and/or browser.
Connect to the phone line using a modem.
Connect your computer with the phone line, by a special socket that is provided on the computer.
After connecting, type the URL on the address of the web browser of the site you want to visit.
Web site and Web pages:
You must have heard of this term quite often, lets make it clear as to what exactly it is. A website is a collection of inter-related pages designed to be viewable over the web.
They relate to a common subject, to a common organisation, business, or purpose.
There generally exists a similarity in the look of all the pages of the web site (basically the logo, the style of the banners etc.).
One can easily navigate between different pages of the web site.
e.g. www.cricinfo.org is a web site, which deals with the subject of cricket. All the pages of this web site, deal with this subject in one way or the other, and there exists a similarity in the look of the web site, the logo, the banners etc.
When you type in a URL, by default, the first page that the web browser displays is the home page.
It is the most generic page of the web site, it represents what the site stands for, shows a brief of what the site has to offer you and provides you with the various links to go to the inner pages of the web site.
A Web Page:
The page, you are reading now, is a web page.
It is the basic unit of the web, where all/any type of information is displayed.
Home page, is also a special type of web page, which is at the top of the hierarchy of any site.
Web pages can be interactive, like the one with forms, questionnaire etc., they can be purely text based, or have more graphics, or more commonly a combination of both text and graphics.
Surfing the Web: Hyperlinks
Web Surfing is a common term used for the activity of visiting the various web sites,moving from one web page to another. Web Browsing is another common term used.
Hyperlinks are a very common method of surfing the internet.When you click on a hyperlink, it leads you to the linked page. When the cursor moves over a hyperlink, the shape of the cursor changes to a hand.
e.g. Suppose you want to visit the calderdale-online homepage. You can click on the 'Welcome' link this page, or click on the 'Home' image on the left of the page (or the 'www.calderdale-online.org' text link beside it). Either way will lead you to the calderdale-online homepage. You can come back to the current page, by clicking on the 'back' button of the web browser.
Do this: Click on the link below to go to the visitor centre's home page. (You can come back to the current page by clicking the back button of the web browser).
There are basically two types of hyperlinks:
Text Hyperlinks: Texts on the web pages are hyperlinked, to other web pages. The "Visitors Centre" example given above is an example of 'text hyperlink'. This is the most common form of links in a web site. From the home page, there exist links to sub-sections of the web sites.
Image Links: Like text, images can also be linked. As in text hyperlinks, when the cursor is moved over the image link, the cursor changes to a hand.
Image Maps: Sometimes different parts of an image are linked to different pages. These are called image maps. Image Mapping is generally used, for describing an image, to explain a complex graphic clearly by creating a separate descriptive page for each section of a graphic.
Addresses on the Internet: URLs
URLs (Uniform Resource Locator's): are the addresses of the web page. A typical web URL, is written in the following way:
http://www.calderdale-online.org/visitors/itrain9.html (sometimes the 'www' is missing or the .html might be .htm, .asp or .php)
The typical structure of a web URL is:
Let's take a look at each part of the URL:
|HTTP, stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. This is the method that the browser uses to retrieve HTML pages and other web media files.|
|This stands for 'world-wide web' and generally prefixes the domain name.|
|This stands for the domain name or the web server name. Sometimes the domain name is replaced by numbers like '18.104.22.168', this is the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the server name. The final part of the domain name - .org, gives further information on the type of web site you can expect to find.
|This implies the folder name that is to be accessed on the site. Folder levels are separated by a forward slash. You can put folder within a folder
e.g. /visitors/insidefolder/... This means, there exists a folder called 'insidefolder' within 'visitors'.
Sometimes the default (or 'home') page of the web site is accessed by simply typing the name of the web site. In that case, the server looks for the file called 'index.html' or 'default.html'.
This is why when you type 'calderdale-online.org', the default home page is displayed.
|Is the name of the specific webpage or file that is to be displayed on the web browser.
'htm', is the extension of the filename, which tells the browser the type of file.
More on URLs:
About domain names:
As mentioned before, the last part of the 'address' (.org in our case), gives more information about the web site. Let's dig deeper into this. Some common extensions are given, which tells us the (apparent) nature of the website:
.org - should only be used to represent non-profit institutions.
.com - commercial sites. (This is the extension you would most commonly come across. Most web sites are for commercial purposes!!!)
.gov - The site is a (national or local) government site.
.edu - is an educational institution's website.
.co.uk - Commercial web site of an organisation in the United Kingdom
.org.uk - Non-profit organisation in the United Kingdom
.gov.uk - A UK (national or local) government web site.
There exist many other countries extensions, which one would normally come across. For example:
.jp - Japan
.de - Germany
.ca - Canada.
A Look at Protocols:
You know that 'http://...' is a method or protocol used by the browser to retrieve web files. There exist some other protocols, which are used, to access web files, in different ways:
https://... - stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol (Secure). This is the method that the browser uses to retrieve encrypted pages. When transmitting private information, this protocol is used to protect the information transmitted.
e.g. It is commonly used, in online transactions, where details like user's credit card and such vital details are to be passed.
ftp://... - stands for File Transfer Protocol. This lets you connect to ftp sites for downloading material. When visiting these sites, information is organized according to a directory structure, with folders and files.
gopher://... - stands for gopher. The predecessor of the web and HTML files, the internet consisted of gopher sites. When visiting these sites, information is organized according to a directory structure, with folders and files. Gopher is rarely used these days.
telnet://... - opens a telnet session with the site, provided that telnet is configured properly.
Lets take a short recap, on websites, webpages and websurfing:
Web site is a collection of interrelated pages, representing a common subject, organisation or purpose.
A web page is the basic element of the website, where information is presented in text, graphics or a combination of both.
Web surfing is the activity of visiting various web sites. Hyperlinks aid in surfing the web sites. They link one page to another.
Hyperlinks can be pure text links or image links.
Lets take a short recap,on URLs:
- Uniform Resource Locators are the addresses of the web page.
- A URL has many parts to it, each of which recognises the web page. A typical web url is made up of:
- A URL name will end with different extensions like .org, .com etc.
Each gives you an indication of the nature of the web site, or the geographic location it belongs to.
There are different protocols, depending on the type of service each website offers.
The most common is the 'http://...' protocol, some others include https://..., ftp://... etc.
This ends this session on the internet. We have dealt with the basics of the internet concepts, its key parts etc.
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