Intro to Internet/WWW Intro to Internet/WWW

Getting Started

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce you to how you can use the Internet and Web.

How do I start using the Internet and Web?

Get to a Internet-connected computer

In order to use the Internet, you need to access to some computer that has access to the Internet.

This computer might be:
  • Your personal computer at home, connected to the Internet through an Internet Service Provider (ISP). You can find a directory of ISP's at thelist.com.
  • A computer or workstation at your school or place of employment that is connected to the Internet
  • A computer at a library or Net Cafe which is available for public use
  • A handheld device that accesses the Internet through wireless signals
  • A computer or your home or office that uses Internet connections such as a cable modem, DSL, or some other means
  • A terminal at your school or place of work that is connected to a main computer that is in turn connected to the Internet

Start up a Web browser

Once you have access to an Internet-connected computer, you can access the Web if that computer has Web browser software installed. Two popular Web browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Small handheld devices may have their own versions of these Web browsers or have a special Web browser that operates on them.

Find out what Web browser the computer has and start it up. If you have a Web browser, you can access much of the Internet's content on Web sites.

Use the Web browser

You use the Web browser typically through manipulating it with your mouse and cursor, and entering information from your keyboard.

To open a Web address (URL), use your browser's menu and chose File->Open or File->Open Location. You might also be able to click on the text in the "Address" box at the top of your browser, alter or enter a URL there, and press the Return key.

To find out more ways to access a Web site, you can look in your browser's documentation about how you can "open a URL" or "point your browser to a URL" or "bring up a Web site."

Use your browser's Help or online documentation to learn more about your browser, such as how to bookmark information or create folders of "favorites."

Choose a Web browser

Although it may seem like Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the only Web browser in use, there are other brands of Web browsers available. In fact, the Web was designed so that any brand of Web browser should be able to display content from any Web server, thus opening up the Web to competition among browser makers. Check out these lists to consider other brands of Web browsers:

Get to know your Web browser

Whichever Web browser you choose, spend some time getting to know it. Learn about some customizations that can save you time and make it easier for you to surf the Web.

Microsoft Internet Explorer is the most used Web browser, and I'll present a list here of some customizations and "tricks" that apply to the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows XP. The Internet Explorer browser has a vast amount of customizations available (See the menu Help), but I'll highlight some that give a good amount of time savings in return for the cost of learning about them. (Be careful--you can spend so much time on customizations, tweaks, and tricks that you never get any work done!) If you use a different browser, see if you can find equivalent settings to accomplish these same things.

Customize your Web browser

Choose a font scheme to override Web "designers" who fix the font size to be too small.

  1. Choose the menu Tools->Internet Options. Choose the Accessibility box (lower right-hand corner)
  2. Click the boxes for "Ignore font styles specified on Web pages" and "Ignore font sizes specified on Web pages."
  3. Set your own font style in menu Tools->Internet Options, Fonts box.
  4. Choose your own font sizes in menu View->Text Size.

Set your own start page; or use a blank one. The default Web page set when you first install your Web browser is set by the Web browser manufacturer who usually sets it to a very graphically busy page. Every time you launch a Web browser, this page has to load.

  1. If you want to set your start page to be a specific Web page, bring that page up in the Web browser. This page could be an HTML file stored on your hard drive.
  2. Choose the menu Tools->Internet Options
  3. In Home page area, choose either Use Current (to set the displayed Web page as your start page) or Use Blank (to set a blank page to be your start page--this saves a lot of time when your Web browser launches as it does not have to load a Web page from the Internet.)

Refuse cookies except from sites you approve. A cookie is a file that is downloaded to your hard drive as a result of visiting a Web site. Sound scary? It shouldn't be. Every Web page or image you see in your Web browser has to be downloaded to your disk in a temporary area on your hard drive, otherwise you wouldn't be able to see it at all. But cookies are special little files that can be used to track sites that you visit. Many people like to clean them out or control when they are used. You could install cookie management software--see Snapfiles or search hotfiles.com. Or you could use cookie management built into your browser. Internet Explorer has some good features for controlling cookies. Here is how to set them:

  1. Choose the Internet Explorer menu option Tools->Internet Options
  2. Choose Privacy tab
    1. Choose Advanced box
    2. Check "Override automatic cookie handling"
    3. Check Block in First-party Cookies
    4. Check Block in Third-party Cookies
    5. Check Always allow session cookies
    6. Check OK
  3. In Privacy tab, select Edit.. to handle cookies for individual Web sites
    1. Enter the domain names of trusted Web sites that save information for you from session to session or require cookies in order to operate properly; for example: nytimes.com, live365.com, yahoo.com, your banking site, etc.
    2. Check OK

Customize your browser's toolbar: menu View->Toolbars->Customize...

Use key sequences to save time
For each of these, make sure the Web browser of interest is the active window (indicated by highlighted titlebar; click on a window to make active).
Internet Explorer Key Sequences
Ctrl/N Launch another Web browser
Ctrl/F Search for a text string on a Web page (the F stands for "Find")
Ctrl/W Close a Web browser
Ctrl/H Bring up your history in a side panel; shows pages you have visited
Ctrl/I Bring up your favorites in a side panel; shows pages you have "bookmarked" to quickly visit again
Ctrl/D Save a page URL to your favorites
Esc Stop the Music! (Some Web "designers" cause a music file to automatically start when you visit a Web page; also stops loading graphics.)
Tab Move to next field in a Web form.
Tab Move to next link on Web page
Alt/D Move to the address box
Shift/click on hypertext link This will cause the link to open in a new Web browser
Use some tricks

Internet Explorer Tricks
Get to a something.com site quickly; Works for sites of the form http://www.something.com
  1. Type something in address (URL) box
  2. Press control/Enter
Get to a something.else site quickly; Works for sites of the form http://something.else
  1. Type the something.else in address (URL) box
  2. Press Enter
Save a picture from a Web page to your computer's hard drive
  1. Place your cursor over picture
  2. Right click mouse
  3. Select "Save Picture As ..."
  4. Or choose "Set as Background" to make picture your wallpaper
Overcome dark text on dark or textured background; some Web "designers" do this, making the page hard (or impossible) to read!
  1. Choose menu Edit->Select All (or Ctrl/A)
  2. Resulting page is in reverse video--perhaps enabling you to read the page
  3. If this fails:
    1. Choose the menu Tools->Internet Options. Choose the Colors box (lower left-hand corner)
    2. Unclick the box for "Use windows colors" and then select your own colors
Stop the popup windows

You may discover that when visiting or leaving some Web sites, a new window, usually containing an advertisement, will appear on your computer. These are called popup windows and they can be irritating and make using the Web efficiently almost impossible.

You can consider installing a popup blocker software. Look through this list of popup blocker software or search hotfiles.com for popup blocker software. You might be able to find one that would work on your computer for free. Shareware or commercial software can be bought for a modest price. Popup blocking software is well worth it. I use the free verison of Pop-Up Stoppertm from Panicware (http://www.panicware.com), and it saves me a lot of headaches.

Protect yourself

Raise your awareness of potential security problems and ways to prevent problems. The Internet can be dangerous if you don't use caution, common sense, or some basic common sense.

Use email

Electronic mail is one of the most popular features of the Internet. If your computer has email software, or if you have a Web-based mail account, you'll be able to send and receive electronic mail over the Internet.

Use Internet Tools

A Web browser isn't the only way to access Internet resources. You can use a variety of other Internet tools for information retrieval, communication, and interaction.

Further questions you may have about this course

What do you mean by the Internet?

The Internet is a global collection of networks that is owned by no one and operated by no single organization. Rocketed to prominence during the late 20th century, the Internet today has become important in information, trade, and communication.

Am I going to have to worry about a lot of technical information in this course?

No. The lessons in this course cover the Internet and World Wide Web technologies from a user's perspective, but not in technical depth.

The next lessons cover electronic mail, the definition of the Internet and Web, the content of the Internet and Web, and the use of the Internet and Web.

Exercise: Describe your needs for the Internet and Web

Why are you taking this course? What skills and knowledge do you hope to gain? What do you think that the Internet and Web can do for you?

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