Internet access

Back when we were fighting the Cold War against Russia, the Pentagon created a computer network so that universities could transmit research results to the Pentagon and each other even if some phone lines and buildings got bombed. That network has become civilian and is called the Internet (or simply the Net). Now the Internet transmits not just research but also games, ads, announcements, photographs, love letters, chitchat, and globs of other info, public and private, to and from President Clinton, David Letterman, and several million other public servants, jokers, kids, and kooks across the country and around the world.

You can use the Internet to send and receive electronic mail. You can also use the Internet to browse through announcements posted by folks worldwide.

The Internet gives you a huge sea of info. You stand on its shore, watch its many waves come at you, and get high by joyously jumping into those waves. Thatís called surfing the Net, which means "browsing through the amazing info available on the Net".

Youíll quickly get addicted to surfing the Net and spend many hours each day doing it. As you explore the Net, your electronic requests and their responses travel at electronic speeds around the world, on what Vice President Al Gore dubbed the Information Superhighway (I-way), propelling you through cyberspace (the vast, surreal world where all info and people are represented by bits, bytes, and electronic signals, as opposed to the "real world", called meatspace, where people are composed of meat).

The Internet lets your mind fly around the world faster than a astronautís. Your friends will call you an infonaut or Internaut. Cynics will call you an Internut or interned nut or Net-head. But no matter what folks call you, youíll have fun, while learning more about the world than any pre-computer human could ever imagine.

Paying for the Internet

You can access the Internet free if youíre part of a government agency, university, or some other organization whoís tied in. If you donít belong to any such organization, join the Internet by paying a fee to an Internet service provider (ISP) who hooks you up. Thatís how the Internet is funded: partly by government agencies and universities, partly by loners paying fees to ISPs, and partly by advertisers who sneak ads onto the corners of your screen while you surf.

The typical ISP charges you $19.95 per month for unlimited access to the Internet. That amount is billed to your credit card.

To use the Internet, you tell your computerís modem to dial the ISPís phone number.

There are thousands of ISPs to choose from; they compete with each other to try to get your $19.95-per-month business.

When choosing an ISP, there are several questions to ask. The most important is: does the ISP have a phone number thatís local to you, so your computerís modem doesnít have to make a long-distance call? The typical ISP offers phone numbers in several cities; each phone number is called an Internet dial-in access number or point of presence (POP).

If you live in a remote area, you might have trouble finding an ISP that has a local POP. In that case, you must either phone a POP in some farther city (and pay your local phone companyís rate for making a long-distance call) or dial an 800-number POP; but the typical ISP will bill you about $6-per-hour extra for using the 800 number.

Overload

Many parts of the Internet are overloaded: more people want to use them than they can handle. When your computerís modem tries to contact the Internet, the modem might encounter a busy signal or ridiculously long delay or a message saying a service is unavailable; you might get disconnected from the Internet or ignored or refused.

The overload is worst during the evenings, from 7PM to 11PM, since thatís when the kids are home from school and the parents are home from work and theyíre all trying to have fun at home by using the Internet. In many parts of the country, the best time to use the Internet is in the morning and early afternoon (from 3AM to 3PM).

If a site is used mainly by businesses instead of consumers, that site might be busy during working hours (9AM to 5PM). If youíre trying to contact a site thatís far away, in a different part of the world, remember that the siteís busiest hours depend on which time zones its users are in.

Disconnecting

After your computerís modem has phoned a POP number, you can use the Internet for a while. When youíve finished, you should tell your computerís modem to disconnect from the POP.

If you forget to disconnect, your ISP will eventually sense that no transmissions are occurring and will disconnect you automatically. The typical ISP will disconnect you if 30 minutes have elapsed without any transmissions.

If youíre running a business and want your computer to be waiting for incoming Internet messages continuously without being disconnected, you must tell your ISP you want a business account, which costs much more than a personal account. When an ISP advertises a "unlimited access" for $19.95 per month, the ISP defines "unlimited access" to mean a personal account, used just a few minutes or a few hours per day, not waiting continuously for transmissions.

While youíre using the Internet, here are the most common reasons why you get disconnected:

Your ISP might have disconnected you because too many minutes elapsed without transmission.

Your computerís modem might be inferior and not working consistently.

Your phone line might be suffering from too much static or other noise, preventing a clear signal from being transmitted. To check, try this experiment: while youíre not using the computerís modem, pick up the phone (so you hear a dial tone), then press the number 5 on the phone (so the dial tone goes away): if you hear noise (such as static), use a different phone cord, outlet, or line.

Referral fees

Some ISPs will pay you a referral fee if you convince your friends to sign up.

Hereís the typical deal: for every friend you sign up, you get a free month yourself. So if you sign up 12 friends, you get a whole year free!

Notice that the referral fee is paid to you in the form of free months, not cash.

IBM

IBM owns an ISP called IBM Internet Connection, which has POPs in 1100 cities. IBMís POP cities are in all 50 states of the USA, plus 51 other countries.

If youíre in the USA, you have two choices:

If you choose unlimited access, you pay $19.95 per month.

If you choose light access, hereís what happens each month: you pay $4.95, which includes 3 hours; add $1.95 for each extra hour.

If youíre in the USA and want 800-number access, add $6 per hour.

According to some surveys by computer magazines, people using IBM Internet Connection are happier than people using any other big ISP, though IBM occasionally loses or delays e-mail transmissions. IBM gives you a 30-day free trial. For more info about IBM Internet Connection, phone 800-455-5056.

Mind Spring

Another excellent ISP is Mind Spring. Its POPs are in the USA (in all states except Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota).

Mind Spring gives you three choices:

Service Monthly fee

light access $6.95 includes 5 hours; $2 per extra hour

moderate access $14.95 includes 20 hours; $1 per extra hour

unlimited access $19.95 includes unlimited hours

Unlike IBM, Mind Spring makes you pay a surcharge the first month. That surcharge is $25 and called a setup fee.

If you want 800-number access, add $7.50 per hour. For more info about Mind Spring, phone 800-719-4332.

Earth Link

Another excellent ISP is Earth Link, based in Pasadena, California. It was started in 1994 by a 23-year-old guy named Sky Dayton, who ran a West Los Angeles coffee house, worked for ad agencies & computer-graphics companies, and was repeatedly voted one of the most influential technologists in the Los Angeles area. Through alliances with two other network providers (UU Net and PSI Net), Earth Link is available in Canada and all states except Alaska & Hawaii. It has POPs in over 1000 cities.

Earth Link transmits data faster than IBM and Mind Spring, and the newest surveys indicate Earth Link is the best ISP overall; but if you ever have difficulty, youíll be dismayed that Earth Linkís technical staff is harder to reach.

If youíre in the USA, Earth Link charges $19.95 per month for unlimited access. (If youíre in Canada, the $19.95 monthly fee includes 15 hours; add $1.95 per extra hour.) For 800-number access, you pay an extra $5 per month, plus $4.95 per hour beyond the first 5 hours.

You pay a $25 setup fee. For more info about Earth Link, phone 800-395-8425.

Other big ISPs

Though the best big ISPs are IBM Internet Connect, Mind Spring, and Earth Link, you can choose from many others, which might have POPs closer to your home.

AT&T owns an ISP called World Net, which in 1996 was the first ISP to popularized the idea of charging $19.95 per month for unlimited Internet access. World Net is often overloaded, especially its technical-support staff. For more info about World Net, phone 800-World-Net.

America OnLine (AOL) used to be more expensive, but in December 1996 it copied AT&Tís idea of offering unlimited Internet access for just $19.95 per month. That offer was too popular: more people phoned AOL than it could handle. Even now, AOL is severely overloaded: youíll often get busy signals, and even if you get past the busy signals youíll discover that access is dreadfully slow. AOL is trying to solve the problem by adding more modems and computer equipment; wait until AOL succeeds. For more info about AOL, phone 800-827-6364.

Small cheap ISPs

Though IBM Internet Connection and Mind Spring are excellent, you might prefer a smaller ISP that charges less.

Erolís The most bizarre ISP is Erolís. Itís based in Virginia. Its POPs are in 8 states (Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts), where Erolís TV ads offered unlimited Internet access for just $9.50!

Unfortunately, Erolís has recently raised its prices. Now you have these choices:

$15.95 per month if you sign up for a year

$12.46 per month if you sign up for 2 years

$10.95 per month if you sign up for 3 years

Hereís the catch: you must pay the entire amount when you sign up.

For example, if you want to pay just $10.95 per month by signing up for 3 years, you must immediately pay $394.20, which is the total 3-year fee ($10.95 times 36 months). That scheme raises a frightening question: will Erolís still be around in 3 years, or will the whole service turn out to be just a ripoff that collects hundreds of dollars from each consumer and then go suddenly "bankrupt"?

At least those deals have no setup fee. Erolís also offers traditional pricing, where you pay $19.95 each month, plus a $15 setup fee.

So far, most of Erolís customers are happy. For more info about Erolís, phone 800-Erols-PC.

Galaxy I use an ISP called Galaxy Internet Services (GIS) because itís the cheapest. It gives unlimited Internet access for just $9.95 per month.

Galaxy is based in eastern Massachusetts and available in all 50 states. If youíre not in eastern Massachusetts, you must pay the entire year in advance (or else pay $14.95 per month instead).

The setup fee is $15 for eastern Massachusetts, $20 elsewhere.

Galaxyís service often disappoints.

Galaxy is often overloaded: when you try phoning during the evenings, you often get busy signals or "no answer". Transmissions can be slow, and you often get disconnected. But Galaxy is installing a new phone system; access is improving!

Galaxy doesnít offer as much software and technical support as top-notch providers (such as IBM Internet Connection and Mind Spring). Unlike big ISPs that offer tech support at all hours of the day and night, Galaxyís tech-support office is available just until 9PM most weekdays, 5PM Fridays, 3PM Saturdays, closed Sundays, and often busy.

Despite those disadvantages, I like Galaxy because itís so cheap. For more info about Galaxy, phone 888-334-2529 or 781-433-5500.

Juno Though most ISPs charge $19.95 per month or slightly less, an ISP called Juno is absolutely free! Itís paid for by advertisers: while youíre using Juno to use the Internet, your screen will also show you ads from Junoís advertisers.

Unfortunately, the only part of the Internet that Juno lets you use is e-mail. Juno lets you send and receive e-mail but does not let you surf. To use Juno, you need just Windows, a VGA monitor, 4M of RAM, and Junoís free program, which you can copy from friends or try getting from Juno at 800-654-Juno.

World Wide Web

The most popular part of the Internet is called the World Wide Web (or just the Web or just WWW). To use it, you need a program called a Web browser.

The first good Web browser was Mosaic, invented in 1994 by Marc Andreessen, an undergrad at the University of Illinoisí National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), funded by the National Science Foundation. Later that year, he left NCSA and formed a company called Netscape Communications Corp., where he invented an improved Web browser called Netscape Navigator (or just Navigator).

In 1995, Microsoft invented a competing Web browser called Microsoft Internet Explorer (or just Explorer). Its version 3, invented in 1996, is slightly better than Navigatorís version 3.

Now Navigator and Explorer are both popular. They work best if you have Windows 95, though they can also handle Windows 3.1 & 3.11 and the Mac.

Iíll assume you have Windows 95. (Windows 3.1 and 3.11 are similar.)

Iíll explain how to use Navigator (versions 2 & 3) and Explorer (versions 2 & 3).

The World Wide Web runs slowly. Youíll spend lots of time waiting for the World Wide Web to respond to your commands. Thatís why cynics call it the "World Wide Wait". To make the experience reasonably pleasant, you need a modem thatís fast (at least 28.8 kilobaud). If your modem is slightly slower (14.4 kilobaud or 9.6 kilobaud), you can still use the Web but not pleasantly. If your modem is slower than 9.6 kilobaud, using the Web is not practical.

Installation

To use Navigator or Explorer, you must put it onto your computerís hard disk. If you bought your computer in 1996 or afterwards, its hard disk probably contains Navigator or Explorer already. If your computerís hard disk does not contain Navigator or Explorer yet, buy one of these books:

Official Microsoft Internet Explorer Book by Bryan Pfaffenberger, published by Microsoft Press, list price $24.95 ($21.20 from discount dealers), includes a CD-ROM disk containing Internet Explorer 3 and extra software too!

Official Netscape Navigator 3.0 Book (Windows Edition) by Phil James, published by the Netscape Press division of Ventana, list price $39.99 ($31.89 from discount dealers), includes a CD-ROM disk contain Netscape Navigator 3 and extra software too!

Each book is written well and includes a CD-ROM containing the program that the book describes.

You must tell the computer your ISPís phone number and Internet address. To find out how, read the instructions your ISP sent you. If you donít understand them, phone your ISPís technical-support number.

Running

Turn on the computer, without any disks in the floppy drives.

To use Explorer, do this:

Double-click the icon that says "The Internet". If the computer asks "Would you like to make it your default browser?" press ENTER.

To use Navigator instead, do this:

Double-click the icon that says "Netscape Navigator". If the computer says "Netscape License Agreement", press ENTER. If the computer asks "Would you like to register Navigator as your default browser?" press ENTER.

If the computer says "Enter your password", type the password you use to connect to your Internet provider (and press ENTER).

Youíll see the Microsoft Internet Explorer window (or the Netscape Navigator window). Make sure it consumes the whole screen. (If it doesnít consume the whole screen yet, maximize it by clicking its resize button, which is next to the X button.)

Address

Near the top of the screen, you see the address box. Itís a wide, white box labeled "Address". (Navigator labels it "Location" instead.)

Click in that white box. (If youíre using Navigator 2, double-click in that box instead.)

Any writing in that box turns blue. Then type the Internet address you wish to visit.

For example, if you wish to visit Yahoo, type Yahooís Internet address, which is ó

http://www.yahoo.com/

Yes, thatís Yahooís Internet address. Itís also called Yahooís Uniform Resource Locator (or URL, which is pronounced "Earl").

When typing an Internet address (such as "http://www.yahoo.com/"), make sure you type periods (not commas); type forward slashes (not backslashes).

The addressís first part ("http://") tells the computer to use HyperText Transfer Protocol, which is the communication method used by the Web. The ".com" means the service (Yahoo) is a commercial company.

Instead of typing "http://www.yahoo.com/", you can be lazy and type just this:

www.yahoo.com

Hereís why:

The computer automatically puts "/" at the addressís end.

Explorer 2 and Navigator 2 automatically put "http://" before any address that begins with "www".

Explorer 3 and Navigator 3 automatically put "http://" before any address that doesnít contain "://" already.

In an Internet address, each period is called a dot, so "www.yahoo.com" is pronounced "dubbilyoo dubbilyoo dubbilyoo dot yahoo dot com" by literate computerists; grunters say just "wuh wuh wuh dot yahoo dot com".

If youíre using Navigator 3, you can type just this ó

yahoo

because Navigator 3 will automatically put "www." before and ".com" after any address that contains no periods.

At the end of your typing, press ENTER.

Youíll see the beginning of Yahooís home page.

Seeing the rest of the page To see the rest of the page, click the scroll-down arrow (the 6 near the screenís bottom right corner). If youíre using Explorer 3 or Navigator, you can also move down by pressing the down-arrow key or PAGE DOWN key.

Hereís how to hop immediately to the pageís bottom.Ö

Explorer 3: press the END key.

Navigator 3: while holding down the Ctrl key, tap the END key.

To see the beginning of the page again, click the scroll-up arrow (5 ). If youíre using Navigator, you can also move up by pressing the up-arrow key or PAGE UP key.

Hereís how to hop immediately to the pageís top.Ö

Explorer 3: press the HOME key.

Navigator 3: while holding down the Ctrl key, tap the HOME key.

Links

On Yahooís home page, you see many topics to choose from.

The typical topic is underlined. For example, at the pageís top you see these 12 hot reference topics:

Yellow Pages People Search Maps Classifieds Personals Chat Email

My Yahoo! News Sports Weather Stock Quotes

Below them, you see these 14 broad topics:

Arts and Humanities News and Media

Business and Economy Recreating and Sports

Computers and Internet Reference

Education Regional

Entertainment Science

Government Social Science

Health Society and Culture

Scattered around the page, you see many other underlined topics, too! You also see some topic buttons (labeled "New", "Cool", "Todayís News", and "More Yahoos").

Each topic button or underlined topic is called a link. Click whichever link interests you. (You can click anyplace where the mouseís pointer-arrow turns into a pointing finger.)

Then ó presto! ó the computer shows you a whole new page, devoted entirely to the topic you linked to! Read it and enjoy! While youíre looking at that new page, youíll see its address in the address box.

On that new page, youíll see more links (topic buttons and underlined topics); click whichever one interests you, to visit a further page.

Back & forth

After admiring the new page youíre visiting, if you change your mind and want to go back to the previous page you were looking at, click the Back button (whose symbol is "t " in Explorer, "Å · " in Navigator).

Then you see the previous page, but the underlined topic you clicked might have changed color. For example, on Yahooís home page, most underlined topics are blue, but any topic youíve clicked turns purple. If youíre using Navigator, that topic will stay purple for 30 days.)

After clicking the Back button, if you change your mind again and wish you hadnít clicked the Back button, click the Forward button (whose symbol is "u " in Explorer, "· Æ " in Navigator).

History To hop back several pages, you can click the Back button several times.

To hop back faster, do this trick:

On the screenís top menu bar, click Go. (In Explorer 2, click File instead.) You see a list of pages you visited. Click the page you want to go back to.

The Go list mentions the current page, plus the previous pages whose trail of underlined links led you to the current page. The Go list is always short (no more than 15 pages in Navigator, 9 pages in Explorer 2, usually 5 pages in Explorer 3).

If youíre using Explorer try this experiment:

Click the History button, if you see it at the bottom of the screen. (If the History button is temporarily missing, click "File" then "Open History Folder" instead. Explorer 2 says "More History" instead of "Open History Folder".)

You see an alphabetized list of pages you visited during the last 2 weeks. (Explorer 2 shows the last 300 pages instead.) You see the listís beginning; to see the rest of the list, press the PAGE DOWN key several times. Double-click the page you want to visit.

Favorites The computer can remember which pages are your favorites. If youíre viewing a wonderful page that you want to call one of your favorites, do this if youíre using Explorer:

Click the Favorites button. (In Explorer 2, click the word "Favorites" on the screenís top menu bar instead.) Then click "Add To Favorites", then press ENTER.

In the future, whenever you want to return to your favorite pages, click the Favorites button again. Youíll see a list of your favorites. Click the page you want.

Do this instead if youíre using Navigator:

While holding down the Ctrl key, press the D key (which means "delightful page to store on disk").

In the future, whenever you want to return to a delightful page, do this: while holding down the Ctrl key, press the B key (which stands for "bookmarks"); then press the END key. Youíll see a list of your favorite pages; above them youíll see a list of Netscape Corporationís favorite pages. (To see the lists better, make sure the window theyíre in is maximized.) Double-click the page you want.

Home Each time you start using the Internet (by double-clicking the Internet icon or Netscape Navigator icon), the first page you see is called your start page or home page (because thatís where life starts ó at home). If you view other pages (by clicking underlined topics) and later change your mind, you can return to viewing the home page by clicking the Back button many times ó or click the Home button once. (The Home button has a picture of a home on it. In Explorer 2, that button is called the Open Start Page button.)

Search box On Yahooís first page, you see a white box next to the word "Search". That box is called the search box.

Try this experiment: click in the white search box (double-click if youíre using Netscape), then type a topic that interests you. At the end of your typing, press ENTER. Yahoo will list all Yahoo pages about that topic! Click whichever underlined page you want.

Open something different

To switch to a completely different address, click in the address box again (double-click if youíre using Netscape), then type the Internet address you wish to visit.

For example, if you wish to visit Excite, type this ó

http://www.excite.com/

or type just this:

www.excite.com

At the end of your typing, press ENTER.

Excite is a competitor to Yahoo. It resembles Yahoo but gives you a slightly different list of subjects to choose from. As in Yahoo, Exciteís underlined topics are blue. If you click one of those blue underlined topics, then later go back to the Exciteís main page (by clicking the Back button), the blue topic you clicked turns red.

Another good place to visit is Infoseek. Itís another competitor to Yahoo. To visit Infoseek, type this ó

http://www.infoseek.com/

or type just this:

www.infoseek.com

At the end of your typing, press ENTER.

Yahoo, Excite, and Infoseek are all called search sites, since their purpose is to help you search for other sites on the Internet.

Three ways to search

Here are the three popular ways to search for a topic on the Web.

Search-box method In a search box, type the topic youíre interested in, and then press ENTER. That makes Yahoo (or Excite or Infoseek) use its search engine, which searches on the Internet for pages about that topic.

Infoseek has the best search engine: it works better than Yahooís or Exciteís. But to get different perspectives on the topic that interests you, try the search engines of all three of those services!

When you make the computer search for a topic, the computer typically finds thousands of pages about that topic. The computer tries to guess which of those pages are the most relevant; the computer shows you those pages first. To help the computer deduce correctly which pages are the most relevant, use the following tricks (which all work in Infoseek and sometimes work in other search engines).Ö

Capitalize names (and titles). For example, to search for the actor Rock Hudson, type:

Rock Hudson

If you accidentally type ó

rock hudson

the computer will think youíre also interested in rock-climbing along the Hudson River and rock music there.

Use quotation marks around phrases. For example, to search for the phrase "read my lips" (uttered by President George Bush and repeated by other politicians afterwards), type:

"read my lips"

If you omit the quotation marks, the computer will think youíre interested in all pages containing the words "read" and "my" and "lips", not necessarily in that order. For example, youíll get pages about teaching deaf people to do lip-reading.

To search for stupid pet tricks (on TV shows such as David Lettermanís), type:

"stupid pet tricks"

If you omit the quotation marks, the computer will think youíre also interested in how to play tricks on stupid pets.

Instead of typing just a single word, type a list of SEVERAL words. In that list, put a plus sign in front of each word you REQUIRE, and put a minus sign in front of each word that you FORBID (do NOT want). For example, suppose you want to search for pythons, which are a kind of snake. If you type just ó

python

youíll get info about python snakes but also info about a programming language called Python and a comedy group called Monty Python. To get info on just python snakes, try ó

python -monty

(which gets you most pythons but eliminates any pages that mention Monty) or say ó

python -monty -Python

(which gets you most pythons but not Monty and not capitalized Python) or say ó

python snake

(which gets you any page that mentions pythons or snakes a lot) or say ó

+python snake

(where the plus sign means you insist on seeing just pages that mention pythons, and of the python pages you prefer to see first the ones that also mention snakes a lot).

To be very restrictive, tell the computer to show you a page just if that page mentions both pythons and snakes on the same page. To do that, say ó

+python +snake

or:

python|snake

(To type the symbol "|", tap the "\" key while holding down the SHIFT key. That symbol works in Infoseek but not in most other search engines.)

To search for several capitalized names, put commas between them. For example, to search for pages that mention two famous clowns, "Bozo" and "Ronald McDonald", say:

Bozo, Ronald McDonald

If you omit the comma, the computer will search for somebody named "Bozo Ronald McDonald" and not find him.

Remember that the Internet is huge. For a typical topic, the search engine will find thousands of pages about it. For the most popular topics, the search engine will find millions of pages.

If you try to fool the search engine by typing a fake topic (such as a nonsense syllable), youíll be surprised: the search engine will typically inform you that the topic was already invented by others and will show you several pages about it (because it turns out to be the name of some rock band, or some organizationís initials, or some word in a foreign language).

You can try other search engines. Hereís a list of popular search engines:

Search engine Address

Yahoo www.yahoo.com

Excite www.excite.com

Infoseek www.infoseek.com

Lycos www.lycos.com

WebCrawler www.webcrawler.com

HotBot www.hotbot.com

AltaVista www.altavista.digital.com

Magellan www.mckinley.com

Galaxy galaxy.tradewave.com

Infoseek does the best job of deducing which sites are the most relevant. AltaVista (invented by Digital Equipment Corporation) runs the fastest and finds the most sites but does a poor job of deducing which of the found sites are most relevant.

A metasearch site called All4One (www.all4one.com) splits your screen into four frames, where it runs 4 search engines simultaneously (Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, and WebCrawler). A metasearch site called MetaCrawler (www.metacrawler.com) is more sophisticated: it runs 7 search engines simultaneously (Yahoo, Excite, AltaVista, WebCrawler, Lycos, HotBot, and Galaxy) in a single frame and combines their results into a single list. Too bad those metasearch sites donít include Infoseek, which is the best!

Subject-tree method You see a list of broad topics (on the main page of Yahoo, Excite, Infoseek, WebCrawler, Magellan, or Galaxy). That list is called the subject tree of knowledge (because itís as tempting as the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden). Click on whichever broad topic interests you. Then you see a list of that topicís branches (subtopics). Click whenever subtopic interests you. Then you see a list of subsubtopics (twigs). Click whichever subsubtopic interests you. Keep clicking until you finally zero in on the very specific topic that interests you the most: itís the fruit of your search!

Yahoo has the best subject tree. But to get different perspectives on the topic that interests you, also try the subject trees provided by Yahooís competitors.

Address-box method Give your friends a sheet of paper and ask them to jot down the addresses of their favorite Web pages. (Or get lists of nifty Web addresses by reading computer books, magazines, newspaper articles, or ads.)

For example, hereís a list of popular Web sites. For each site, I give its title, a comment about the site, and the siteís Web address:

Launch sites for beginners Comment Web address

Get Hooked on the Internet a springboard to many interesting sites niles.mc.duke.edu/gethooked.html

Miss Nikitaís Parlor many links and interesting things to do puffin.ptialaska.net/~pongo/parlor

Beritís Best Sites for Children links to many fun sites appropriate for kids db.cochran.com/db_html:theopage.db

Cool Site of the Day a different Web site each day cool.infi.net

Wall Oí Shame strange but true tidbits, from news and ads www.milk.com/wall-o-shame

Alt.Culture a guide to 90ís alternative culture www.pathfinder.com/altculture

Solid writing

Aliceís Adventures in Wonderland classic tale plus animation, great background music www.megabrands.com/alice

Complete Works of Shakespeare all of Shakespeareís works, Web style the-tech.mit.edu/shakespeare/works.html

Bartlettís Familiar Quotations browse by name or search for quotes by keywords www.columbia.edu/acis/bartleby/bartlett

Inkspot: Resources for Writers how to get started, improve your writing, and sell it www.inkspot.com

Comic quips

Woody Allen Quotes hundreds of quotes from his best movies www.idt.unit.no/~torp/woody/lines.html

Steven Wright a collection of his best one-liners meer.net/~mtoy/steven_wright.html

The "Wisdom" of Dan Quayle a collection of his more "interesting" sayings www.concentric.net/~salisar/quayle.html

Abuse-A-Tron automatically generates insults using finest English www.xe.net/upstart/abuse

Word games

Madlibs fill in the blanks to make up a story www.mit.edu/madlib

Riddle du Jour a new riddle each day, with fun prizes www.dujour.com

TV

TV Guide Online many articles, check TV listings for next 2 weeks www.tvguide.com

Comedy Central Online cable TVís fun show, plus Politically Incorrect www.comcentral.com

Seinfeld lots of audio and pictures, mock interview with Jerry www.execpc.com/~bogambo/seinfeld.html

The X-Files loaded with info about the hit TV show www.thex-files.com

Movies

Internet Movie Database huge searchable database of movie facts www.imdb.com

Hollywood Online Hollywood news, movie reviews, promotions www.hollywood.com

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon connect any actor to Kevin Bacon within 6 movies www.fas.harvard.edu/~sasalm/sdokb

Music

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today in rock history, inductee info, media clips www.rockhall.com

Internet Beatles Album Beatles trivia game, audio clips, reference library www.liv.ac.uk/ipm/beatles

Classical MIDI Archives your favorite classical pieces; 160 megabytes of sound www.prs.net/midi.html

Sleaze music and entertainment gossip updated daily metaverse.com/vibe/sleaze

Food

Godiva Chocolatier recipes, history, and other tidbits about chocolate www.godiva.com

The Spam Haiku Archive haiku devoted to that glistening food of foods pemtropics.mit.edu/~jcho/spam

Science and beyond

Yuckiest Site on the Internet gross biology: roaches, worms, vomit, belches, farts www.nj.com/yucky

Bill Nye the Science Guy info and merchandise, science "demo of the day" nyelabs.kcts.org

NASA learn about outer space from the experts www.nasa.gov

Museum of Menstruation tampons and their historic predecessors www.mum.org

Institute of Celestial Sciences change your astrological sign; get certificate of proof www.cjnetworks.com/~roryb/outta.html

Job search

Americaís Job Bank over 300,000 jobs www.ajb.dni.us

Career Path over 200,000 jobs www.careerpath.com

The MonsterBoard over 50,000 jobs; post your résumé online www.monster.com

Online Career Center over 30,000 jobs; post your résumé online www.occ.com

Phone numbers

Switchboard white pages, fast and easy to use www.switchboard.com

Four11 white pages, also find who lives on your street www.four11.com

InfoSpace white pages, accurate, with maps & driving directions www.infospace.com

555-1212.com metasite searches Switchboard, Four11, & InfoSpace www.555-1212.com

BigBook yellow pages, with maps and driving directions www.bigbook.com

News

CNN Interactive Cable News Network www.cnn.com

USA Today USAís biggest newspaper www.usatoday.com

New York Times USAís most prestigious newspaper www.nytimes.com

WebWeather weather forecasts for cities all over the USA www.wunderground.com

ESPNet SportsZone sports articles, scores, and updates from ESPN espnet.sportszone.com

Youíre Outta Here obituaries ó with a dash of humor www.cjnetworks.com/~roryb/outta.html

Reference

Reference.Com a great all-around reference site www.reference.com

Deb&Jenís Land Oí Useless Facts bizarre trivia submitted by readers www-leland.stanford.edu/~jenkg/useless.html

CIA World Factbook facts and statistics about every country in the world www.odci.gov/cia/publications/nsolo/wfb-all.htm

Library of Congress search the Library of Congress database lcweb.loc.gov

Internet Public Library youth & teen divisions, library of links, online books www.ipl.org

Amazon.com Books worldís biggest online bookstore; fast searches www.amazon.com

City secrets

Lifestyle Game reveals what kind of people live in your ZIP code www.natdecsys.com/low/lifequiz.html

City.Net interactive maps and info about most cities www.city.net

Citysearch Toronto, New York, Nashville, Austin, 9 other cities www.citysearch.com

Sidewalk Boston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis www.sidewalk.com

Boston.com all about Boston, run by Boston Globe newspaper www.boston.com

Vegas.com Las Vegas casinos, rooms, shows, weddings, more www.vegas.com

Government

The White House presidential info, history, tour, guide to fed services www.whitehouse.gov

Social Security Administration frequently asked questions, statistics, info, links www.ssa.gov

US Census Information population and economic statistics and facts www.census.gov

The British Monarchy the queen, her dogs, and the relatives who dog her www.royal.gov.uk

Illegal activities

WWW Speedtrap Registry lists police radar speed traps by state www.nashville.net/speedtrap

The World Sex Guide reports on prostitution in many cities and countries www.paranoia.com/faq/prostitution

Computer culture

Tech Tales funny "war stories" from the tech-support trenches www.azstarnet.com/~sean

Quantex Microsystems great place to buy a computer; fun links too www.quantex.com

Type one of those addresses in the address box. (If youíre using Explorer 2 or Navigator 2, you must type "http://" before any address that doesnít begin with "www".) Then press ENTER.

To understand how addresses work, consider the address for "Aliceís Adventures in Wonderland", which is:

http://www.megabrands.com/alice/

The addressís first part ("http://") is called the protocol.

The addressís next part ("www.megabrands.com") is called the domain name; it tells you which computer on the Internet contains the info. The typical domain name begins with "www.", then has the name of a company (such as "megabrands"). The domain nameís ending (called the top-level domain) is typically ".com", which means "USA commercial company". Some addresses have different top-level domains:

Top-level domain Meaning

.com USA commercial company

.org USA organization, typically non-profit

.gov USA government agency

.mil USA military

.edu USA educational institution

.net USA network resource

.us USA in general

.au Australia

.br Brazil

.ca Canada

.cn China

.es España (Spain)

.fi Finland

.fr France

.de Deutschland (Germany)

.dk Denmark

.ie Ireland

.il Israel

.it Italy

.in India

.it Italy

.jp Japan

.mx Mexico

.no Norway

.nz New Zealand

.ru Russia

.se Sweden

.tw Taiwan

.uk United Kingdom (Great Britain & Northern Ireland)

The rest of the address (such as "/alice/") is called the page name; it tells which file on the computer contains the page you requested.

Type each address carefully:

While typing an address, never put a space in the middle.

Watch your punctuation. The typical address will contain a dot (.) and a slash (/). An address can also contain a hyphen (-) or squiggle (~). Addresses never contain commas, backslashes, or apostrophes.

Type small letters (uncapitalized) for the typical address, since capitalized page names are rare. (The computer doesnít care whether you capitalize the protocol and domain name.)

Delays

The computer might take a long time to switch from one page to another.

Near the screenís top right corner, you see a logo. (In Navigator, the logo is a big N. In Explorer 2, the logo is a stained-glass window in the sky).

While the computer is switching to a new page, the computer amuses you by animating the logo. (You see shooting stars behind the big N or see clouds moving behind the stained-glass window.) Near the Start button (at the screenís bottom left corner), the computer prints messages about the switch. At the screenís bottom right corner, the red lights turn green while data is being transmitted; they remain red while your computer waits for the other computer to pay attention.

How to stop If the switch is taking a long time and you donít want to wait for it to finish, click the Stop button. That makes the computer stop the switching.

"Switching pages" is called loading a new page. When you click the Stop button, hereís what happens:

If the computer has nearly finished loading the new page,

the computer shows you most of the new page.

If the computer has not nearly finished loading the new page,

the computer shows you the previous page.

Disconnect

You might get interrupted by a window that suddenly appears and says "Connection was terminated". That means a computer accidentally disconnected you from the Internet.

Click the "Reconnect" button. Your computer will say, "Connected". Then hide the Connected window by clicking its minimize button (which is left of the X and resize buttons).

Print

While youíre examining a page, hereís how to print a copy of it onto paper.

Click the Print button. (In Explorer 2, itís under the word "Edit".) Then press ENTER. That makes your printer print the entire page ó even the part of the page that goes below the screenís bottom edge and doesnít fit on the screen.

Changing the home page

When you first buy Explorer or Navigator, hereís what happens:

Navigator assumes you want the home page to be "http://home.netscape.com/".

Explorer 2 assumes you want the home page to be "http://www.msn.com/".

Explorer 3 assumes you want the home page to be "http://home.microsoft.com/".

But you can change the assumption, and make the start page be anything you want! Hereís how:

Explorer Which page do you want to become the start page? Get that page onto your screen (so you can admire it), then click "View", then "Options", then "Navigation", then "Use Current", then "OK".

(Instead of saying "Navigation", Explorer 2 says "Start and Search Pages".)

Navigator On the screenís top menu bar, click Options. Then click General Preferences, then Appearance. If you want the home page to be just a blank page, click Blank Page; if you want the home page to be "http://www.yahoo.com/", click Home Page Location instead, then press the TAB key, then type:

http://www.yahoo.com/

Finally, press ENTER.

Finish

When you finish using Explorer or Navigator, close its window (by clicking its X box).

For Navigator, do this:

If the taskbar (at the screenís bottom) still shows the name of your Internet provider (such as "Galaxy"), click that name and then click "Disconnect".

For Explorer 3, do this:

If the History window appears, close it (by clicking its X box). If the taskbar (at the screenís bottom) still shows the name of your Internet provider (such as "Galaxy"), click that name and then click "Disconnect".

For Explorer 2, do this:

If the History window appears, close it (by clicking its X box). If the computer asks, "Do you want to close the connection to Galaxy?", press ENTER.

Does the taskbar (at the screenís bottom) still show the name of your Internet provider (such as "Galaxy")? If so, the name will probably disappear within 15 seconds. If the name does not disappear by then, make it disappear by doing this: click that name then click "Disconnect".

Electronic mail

Another popular Internet activity is to send electronic mail (e-mail). An e-mail message imitates a regular letter or postcard but is transmitted electronically so you donít have to lick a stamp, donít have to walk to the mailbox to send it, and donít have to wait for the letter to be processed by the postal system.

E-mail zips through the Internet at lightning speed, so a letter sent from Japan to the United States takes just minutes (sometimes even seconds) to reach its destination. Unlike regular mail, which the Post Office usually delivers just once a day, e-mail can arrive anytime, day or night. If your friends try to send you e-mail messages while your computer is turned off, your Internet service provider will hold their messages for you until you turn your computer back on and reconnect to the Internet.

Since sending e-mail is so much faster than using the Post Office (which is about as slow as a snail), the Post Officeís mail is nicknamed snail mail. Yes, e-mail travels fast, typically takes just a few minutes to reach its destination, and is usually free; snail mail travels slowly, typically takes several days to reach its destination, and usually costs 32 cents (for a stamp) plus money for paper and an envelope. So if your friend promises to send you a letter "soon", ask "Are you going to send it by e-mail or snail mail?"

An "e-mail message" is sometimes called just "an e-mail". Instead of saying "I sent three e-mail messages", an expert says "I sent three e-mails".

To use e-mail, you need a program called an e-mail client. The most popular e-mail clients are Netscape Mail (which is part of Netscapeís Navigator) and Internet Mail (which is part of Microsoftís Internet Explorer 3).

Iíll explain how to use those e-mail clients. (If youíre using Explorer 2, which includes no e-mail client, switch to Explorer 3.)

Running

Hereís how to start using e-mail.

Navigator When youíre running Navigator, the screenís bottom right corner shows the time. Just above the time, you see the mail icon, which looks like the back of an envelope. To use e-mail, click that icon.

Youíll see the Netscape Mail window. In front of it, youíll probably see a notice saying "No new messages on server" (which means nobodyís sent you any electronic mail recently). When you finish reading that notice, make it go away by pressing ENTER. If the Netscape Mail window doesnít consume the whole screen yet, maximize the window (by clicking the windowís resize button, which is next to the X button).

The window is then divided into three windowpanes. The top left windowpane has 3 icons: Inbox (which holds mail that other people have sent you), Sent (which holds copies of mail youíve sent to other people), and Trash (which holds messages youíre deleting).

Explorer 3 When youíre running Explorer 3, you see a Mail button at the top of the screen. Click that button, then click "Read Mail".

Youíll see the Internet Mail window. If the Internet Mail window doesnít consume the whole screen yet, maximize the window (by clicking the windowís resize button, which is next to the X button).

If you havenít used Explorer 3 before, tell it you want all e-mail transmissions to be automated! Hereís how:

Click "Mail" (which is next to the word "View") then "Options". Put a check mark in front of "Send messages immediately" (by clicking there).

Click "Read" (which is near the top of the screen). Put a check mark in front of "Check for new messages" (by clicking there).

Press ENTER.

Incoming mail

Hereís how to handle incoming mail.

Navigator Click the Inbox icon. Then the top right windowpane shows a list of all e-mail messages that other people have sent you. For each message, the list shows the sender (who the message is from), the messageís subject (what the message is about), and the date (when the message was sent).

The first time Netscape Navigator is used on your computer, the top right windowpane shows youíve received a message from "Mozilla", who is Netscape Corporationís mascot. After youíve used Netscape Navigator awhile, youíll probably received additional messages, from your friends!

Hereís how to deal with a long list of messages:

If there are too many messages to fit in the windowpane, view the rest of the messages by pressing that windowpaneís scroll-down arrow (the symbol 6 at the windowpaneís bottom right corner).

Messages you havenít read yet are listed in bold type and have a green diamond.

In what order do the messages appear? If you click the word "Date", the messages are listed by date (in chronological order); if you click the word "Sender" instead, the messages are listed by the senderís name (in alphabetical order). Clicking "Date" is typically more useful than clicking "Sender".

Look in the top right windowpane, at the list of messages you received. Decide which message you want to read, and click the senderís name. Then the bottom windowpane starts showing you the complete message. Read it.

The complete message is probably too long to fit in the bottom windowpane. To see the rest of the message, press that windowpaneís scroll-down arrow (the symbol 6 at the windowpaneís bottom right corner).

Another way to see the rest of the message is to adjust the gray bar that separates the bottom windowpane from the upper windowpanes: drag that bar up, so the bottom windowpane becomes bigger and you can see more in it.

Explorer 3 In the Folders box, make sure you see "Inbox". (If you donít, click in the Folders box, then click "Inbox".)

The screen is divided into two white windowpanes. The top white windowpane shows a list of all e-mail messages that other people have sent you. For each message, the list shows who the message is from (the senderís name), the messageís subject (what the message is about), and when the message was received (the date and time).

The first time Microsoftís Explorer 3 is used on your computer, the top windowpane shows youíve received a message from "Microsoft Internet MailÖand News Team". After youíve used Explorer 3 awhile, youíll probably receive additional messages, from your friends!

Hereís how to deal with a long list of messages:

Each message is initially listed in bold type and shows a picture of a sealed envelope. If you spend at least 5 seconds looking at a messageís details, that message becomes unbolded and its envelope becomes opened.

If there are too many messages to fit in the windowpane, view the rest of the messages by pressing that windowpaneís scroll-down arrow (the symbol 6 at the windowpaneís bottom right corner).

In what order do the messages appear? If you click the word "Received", the messages are listed in the order received (in chronological order); if you click the word "From" instead, the messages are listed by the senderís name (in alphabetical order). Clicking "Received" is typically more useful than clicking "From". When you click the word "Received" or "From", a triangle appears next to that word. If you click that same word again, the triangle flips upside-down ó and so does the list. For example, suppose the triangle is next to the word "Received": if the triangle points down, the messages are listed from newest to oldest; if the triangle points up instead, the messages are listed from oldest to newest.

Look in the top white windowpane, at the list of messages you received. Decide which message you want to read, and click that personís name. Then the bottom white windowpane shows you the message the person typed. Read it.

The message is probably too long to fit in the bottom white windowpane. To see the rest of the message, press its scroll-down arrow (the symbol 6 at the windowpaneís bottom right corner).

Look in the top right windowpane, at the list of messages you received. Decide which message you want to read, and click the senderís name. Then the bottom windowpane starts showing you the complete message. Read it.

The complete message is probably too long to fit in the bottom windowpane. To see the rest of the message, press that windowpaneís scroll-down arrow (the symbol 6 at the windowpaneís bottom right corner).

How to send mail

To write an e-mail message, perform 5 steps.

Step 1: get the window Click the New Message button. (Navigator calls it the To:Mail button.) Youíll see the New Message window. (Navigator calls it the Message Composition window.)

Step 2: choose a recipient To whom do you want to send the message? To send an e-mail message to a person, you must find out that personís e-mail address. For example, if you want to send an e-mail message to me, you need to know that my e-mail address is "poo@gis.net".

For the Internet, each e-mail address contains the symbol "@", which is pronounced "at". For example, my Internet address, "poo@gis.net", is pronounced "poo at G I S dot net".

To find out the e-mail addresses of your friends and other people, ask them (by chatting with them in person or by phoning them or by sending them snail-mail postcards). Another way to discover e-mail addresses is to use Bigfoot, which is a World Wide Web site that searches for e-mail addresses: tell Navigator or Explorer to go to "www.bigfoot.com".

If you send e-mail to the following celebrities and nuts, theyíll probably read what you wrote, though they might not have enough time to write back:

Comic actors Comment E-mail address

David Letterman CBSís "Late Show" lateshow@pipeline.com

Tim Allen Home Improvement tim@morepower.com

Adam Sandler Saturday Night Live sandler@cris.com

Rodney Dangerfield says gets "no respect" rodney@rodney.com

Paula Poundstone stand-up comedienne paula@mojones.com

Dramatic actors

Adam West the original Batman AdamBatman@aol.com

Wesley Snipes black action-hero herukush@aol.com

Brad Pitt heartthrob ciaobox@msn.com

James Woods plays a psychopath jameswoods@aol.com

Politicians

Bill Clinton President of USA president@whitehouse.gov

Hillary Clinton First Lady of USA first.lady@whitehouse.gov

Al Gore Vice-President of USA vice.president@whitehouse.gov

Newt Gingrich Speaker of the House georgia6@hr.house.gov

Ted Kennedy Senator senator@kennedy.senate.gov

Ross Perot Presidential candidate 71511.460@compuserve.com

Reporters & commentators

Tom Brokaw NBC news anchorman anchornightly@nbc.com

Dave Barry syndicated columnist 73314.722@compuserve.com

Rush Limbaugh conservative talk-show 70277.2502@compuserve.com

Bill Nye PBSís "Science Guy" billnye@nyelabs.com

Authors

Tom Clancy writes spy thrillers tomclancy@aol.com

Robert Fulghum pop philosopher 70771.763@compuserve.com

Russ Walter nut, wrote this book poo@gis.net

Len Pallazola less nutty, helped Russ LenPal@bigfoot.com

John Levine "Internet for Dummies" ninternet@dummies.com

Singers

Madonna pop & sexy madonna@wbr.com

Amy Grant pop & Christian LoriMc4FOA@aol.com

Ted Nugent 1970ís classic rock 75162.2032@compuserve.com

Joe Walsh classic rock, in Eagles raycraft@post.avnet.co.uk

Warning: people often change their e-mail addresses, so donít be surprised if your message comes back, marked undeliverable.

Type the e-mail address of the person to whom you want to send your message. If youíre a shy beginner whoís nervous about bothering people, try sending an e-mail message to a close friend or me or yourself. Sending an e-mail message to yourself is called "doing a Fats Waller", since he was the first singer to popularize this song:

"Gonna sit right down and write myself a letter,

And make believe it came from you!"

If you send an e-mail message to me, Iíll read it (unless my e-mail address has changed) and try to send you a reply, but be patient (since I check my e-mail just a few times per week) and avoid asking for computer advice (since I give advice just by regular phone calls at 617-666-2666, not by e-mail).

At the end of the e-mail address, press the TAB key TWICE.

Step 3: choose a subject Type a phrase summarizing the subject (such as "letís lunch" or "Iím testing"). At the end of that typing, press the TAB key again.

Step 4: type the message Go ahead: type the message, such as "Letís have lunch together in Antarctica tomorrow!" or "Iím testing my e-mail system, so please tell me whether you received this test message." Your message can be as long as you wish ó many paragraphs! Type the message as if you were using a word processor. For example, press the ENTER key just when you reach the end of a paragraph. If you wish, maximize the window youíre typing in (by clicking the windowís resize button, which is next to the X button).

Step 5: send the message When you finish typing the message, click the Send button (which looks like a flying envelope).

The window you typed in will close automatically. (If youíre using Navigator, you might have to wait one or two minutes for the window to close. Be patient.)

Smileyís pals

Hereís a picture of a smiling face:

 

Itís called a smiley. If you rotate that face 90į, it looks like this:

:-)

People writing e-mail messages often type that symbol to mean "Iím smiling; Iím just kidding".

For example, suppose you want to tell President Clinton that you disagree with his speech. If you communicate the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper, youíll probably begin like this:

Dear Mr. President,

Iím somewhat distressed at your recent policy announcement.

But people who communicate by e-mail tend to be more blunt:

Hey, Bill!

You really blew that speech. Jeez! Your policy stinks. You should be boiled in oil, or at least paddled with a floppy disk. :-)

The symbol ":-)" means "Iím just kidding". That symbolís important. Forgot to include it? Then poor Bill, worried about getting boiled in oil, might have the Secret Service arrest you for plotting an assassination.

The smiley, ":-)", has many variations:

Symbol Meaning

:-) Iím smiling.

:-( Iím frowning.

:-< Iím real sad.

:-c Iím bummed out.

:-C Iím really bummed out!

:-I Iím grim.

:-/ Iím skeptical.

:-7 Iím smirking because I made a wry statement.

:-> I have a devilish grin.

:-D Iím laughing.

:-o Iím shouting.

:-O Iím shouting really loud.

:-@ Iím screaming.

:-8 I talk from both sides of my mouth.

:-p Iím sticking my tongue out at you.

:-P Iím being tongue-in-cheek.

:-& Iím tongue-tied.

:-9 Iím licking my lips.

:-* My lips pucker for a kiss or pickle.

:-x My lips are sealed.

:-# I wear braces.

:-$ My mouth is wired shut.

:-? I smoke a pipe.

:-} I have a beard.

:-B I have buck teeth.

:-[ Iím a vampire.

:-{} I wear lipstick.

:-{) I have a mustache.

:-~) My nose runs.

:-)~ Iím drooling.

:-)-8 I have big breasts.

:*) Iím drunk.

:^) My nose is broken.

:~I Iím smoking.

:/i No smoking!

:~j Iím smoking and smiling.

:'-( Iím crying.

:'-) Iím so happy, Iím crying.

:) Iím a midget.

;-) Iím winking.

.-) I have just one eye,

,-) but Iím winking it.

?-) I have a black eye.

%-) Iím dizzy from staring at the screen too long.

8-) I wear glasses.

B-) I wear cool shades, man.

g-) I wear pince-nez glasses.

P-) Iím a pirate.

O-) Iím a scuba diver.

|-O Iím yawning.

|^O Iím snoring.

X-( I just died.

8:-) My glasses are on my forehead.

B:-) My sunglasses are on my forehead.

O:-) Iím an angel.

+:-) Iím a priest.

[:-) Iím wearing a Walkman.

&:-) I have curly hair.

@:-) I have wavy hair.

8:-) I have a bow in my hair.

{:-) I wear a toupee,

}:-) but the wind is blowing it off.

-:-) Iím a punk rocker,

-:-( but real punk rockers donít smile.

[:] Iím a robot.

3:] Iím your pet,

3:[ but I growl.

}:-> Iím being devilish,

>;-> and lewdly winking.

=:-) Iím a hosehead.

E-:-) Iím a ham radio operator.

C=:-) Iím a chef.

=|:-)= Iím Uncle Sam.

<):-) Iím a fireman.

*<:-) Iím Santa Claus.

*:o) Iím Bozo the clown.

<:I Iím a dunce.

(-: Iím a lefty.

Since those symbolic pictures (icons) help you emote, theyíre called emoticons (pronounced "ee MOTE ee cons").

Acronyms

People writing e-mail messages often use these abbreviations:

Acronym Meaning

<g> Iím Grinning.

<bg> I have a Big Grin.

<vbg> I have a Very Big Grin

LOL Laughing Out Loud

ROTFL Rolling On The Floor Laughing

HHOJ Ha Ha, Only Joking

TIC Tongue In Cheek

B4 Before

L8R Later

CUL8R See You Later

TTYL Talk To You Later

TTFN Ta Ta For Now

BRB Be Right Back

JAM Just A Minute

RSN Real Soon Now

TIA Thanks In Advance

NRN No Reply Necessary

IMO In My Opinion

IMHO In My Humble Opinion

FYI For Your Information

FAQ Frequently Asked Question

RTM Read The Manual

RTFM Read The F***ing Manual

OIC Oh, I See

SITD Still In The Dark

RUOK Are You OK?

IRL In Real Life

BTDT Been There, Done That

BTW By The Way

FWIW For What Itís Worth

IAE In Any Event

IOW In Other Words

OTOH On The Other Hand

What messages did you send?

To check which messages you sent, do this:

If youíre using Navigator, click the Sent folder (which is in top left windowpane).

If youíre using Explorer 3, click in the Folders box, then click "Sent Items".

Youíll see a list of messages you sent. For each message, the list shows the address you sent it to, the messageís subject, and when you sent it.

When you finish admiring that list, make the screen become normal again by doing this:

If youíre using Navigator, click the Inbox folder (which is in top left windowpane).

If youíre using Explorer 3, click in the Folders box, then click "Inbox".

Reply

While youíre reading a message that somebodyís sent you, hereís how to reply.

Click the Reply to Author button (which Navigator calls the "Re:Mail" button). Then type your reply.

While you type, the computer shows a copy of the message youíre replying to. The copy has ">" in front of each line. If you want to abridge that copy (so it doesnít clutter your screen), use your mouse: drag across the part you want to delete, then press the DELETE key.

When you finish typing your reply, click the Send button (which looks like a flying envelope). The computer will send your reply, along with your abridged copy of the message youíre replying to.

Delete old messages

If youíve received many messages, the list of messages you received becomes long. If youíve sent many messages, the list of messages you sent becomes long.

To reduce the clutter, delete the messages that no longer interest you.

Navigator Hereís how to delete a message you received (or a copy of a message you sent): make the messageís name appear in the top right windowpane, then click the name (so it turns blue), then press the DELETE key.

That tells the computer you want to delete the message. The computer moves the message into the Trash folder, which appears in the top left windowpane. (The Trash folder resembles Windows 95ís Recycle Bin.)

To find out whatís in the Trash folder, click the Trash folderís icon. Then the Trash folderís contents appear in the top right windowpane.

When youíre 100% sure that you no longer want any of the messages that are in the Trash folder, choose "Empty Trash Folder" from the File menu. Then all messages in the Trash folder vanish.

Explorer 3 Hereís how to delete a message you received (or a copy of a message you sent): make the messageís name appear in the top windowpane, then click the name (so it turns blue), then press the DELETE key.

That tells the computer you want to delete the message. The computer moves the message into the Deleted Items folder (which resembles Windows 95ís Recycle Bin).

To find out whatís in the Deleted Items folder, click in the Folders box, then click "Deleted Items". Youíll see whatís in the Delete Items folder: a list of the messages you deleted. When youíre 100% sure that you no longer want any of those messages, do this: click anywhere in that list of messages, choose "Select Allíí from the Edit menu (so all the messages turn blue), then press the DELETE key, then click the Yes button. Then all messages in the Deleted Items folder vanish.

Forward a message

While youíre reading a message you received, hereís how to send a copy of it to a friend.

Click the Forward button. Type your friendís e-mail address. At the end of that address, press the TAB key 3 times.

Type a comment to your friend, such as "Hereís a joke Mary sent me."

Below your typing, Explorer 3 shows a copy of the message youíre forwarding; the copy has ">" in front of each line. (If youíre using Navigator, the message youíre forwarding is sent as an attachment instead.)

Click the Send button (which looks like a flying envelope).

Signature

At the bottom of your e-mail message, you can include a few lines that identify who you are. Those lines are called your signature (or sig).

For example, your sig can include your full name, address, and phone number. You can mention your officeís address & phone number, but be cautious about revealing your home address & phone number, since e-mail messages are often peeked at by strangers.

If youíre employed, you might also wish to give your companyís name, your title, and a disclaimer, such as "The opinions I expressed arenít necessarily my employerís." You might also wish to reveal your personality, by including your favorite saying (such as "Keep on truckiní" or "Power to the people" or "May the Lord bless you" or "Turned on by Twinkies". But keep your sig short: any sig containing more than 4 lines of text is considered an impolite waste of your readerís time.

Donít bother putting your e-mail address in your sig, since your e-mail address appears automatically at the top of your message.

If youíre using Explorer 3, hereís how to easily put the same sig on all your e-mail messages:

On the menu bar at the top of the screen, click the word "Mail" (which is between "View" and "Help". Then click "Options", then "Signature", then "Text".

Next to "Text", you see a white box. Click in that boxís top left corner.

Press ENTER (so the top line of your sig will be blank). Type five dashes (so the second line of your sig will be "-----") and press ENTER. Then type whatever words and numbers you want to be in your sig (pressing the ENTER key at the end of each line).

Click "OK". Now the computer will automatically put that sig at the bottom of each message you write.

While you edit a message, edit its sig! Customize its sig to match the rest of the message.

Send a file attachment

While youíre writing a message, hereís how to insert a file (such as a picture you drew in Paint, or a document composed in WordPad or Microsoft Word).

Click the button that looks like a paper clip. (Explorer 3 calls it the Insert File button. Navigator calls it the Attach button. If youíre using Navigator, then click the Attach File button.)

Which file do you want to insert? Make its icon appear on the screen. (If its icon is not on the screen because the computer is showing a different folder, do this: click the "6 ", then click the hard diskís "C:" icon, then double-click the folders that the file is in.)

When the fileís icon is finally on the screen, double-click that icon.

Hereís what happens next:

Explorer 3: below the message you were writing, you should see your fileís icon; make sure the message and the fileís icon are correct.

Nevigator: click "OK"; above the message you were writing, you should see your fileís name; make sure the message and the fileís name are correct.

Finally, click the Send button (which looks like a flying envelope). That makes the computer send the message and attached file.

Receive a file attachment

Hereís what to do if a friend sends you a message that includes an attached file:

Navigator While youíre reading the message, youíll see under it an icon labeled "Part 1.2". Click that icon.

Explorer 3 Look at the Inboxís list of incoming messages. That list appears in the top white windowpane.

In that windowpane, youíll see a paper clip before each message that includes an attached file. To see the attached file, double-click the paper clip. (Make sure you double-click the paper clip thatís in the top white windowpane.)

Youíll see the message. Under it youíll see the attached fileís icon. Double-click that icon.

Final steps The computer will try to show you the pictures and words that are in the attached file, by running the program that created the file. For example, if the file is a picture created by Paint, the computer will try to run Paint; if the file is a document created by Microsoft Word, the computer will try to run Microsoft Word. (If the file is a forwarded message created by Navigator, no new program needs to run, since Explorer can imitate Navigator.)

When you finish looking at the pictures and words that are in the attached file, close whatever program created it (such as Paint or Microsoft Word) by choosing Exit from the File menu. Youíll return to seeing the Navigator (or Explorer 3) screen.

Newsgroups

The three most popular uses of the Internet are the World Wide Web, electronic mail, and newsgroups. Youíve already learned about the World Wide Web and electronic mail. Hereís how to use newsgroups.

To use newsgroups, you need a program called a news reader. The most popular news reader is Netscape News, which is part of Netscapeís Navigator. (Another news reader is Internet News, which is part of Microsoftís Internet Explorer and too awkward to be worth discussing).

Netscape News

Hereís how to use Netscape News.

While youíre running Netscapeís Navigator, do this: instead of typing a World Wide Web address (which begins with "http://"), type a newsgroup address, which begins with "news:".

For example, contact the Funny newsgroup (which contains funny jokes), by typing this ó

news:alt.humor.funny

and then pressing ENTER.

You see the "news:alt.humor.funny" window. Maximize it (by clicking its resize button), so it consumes the whole screen.

The window then divides into three windowpanes, as if you were using e-mail. In the top right windowpane, you see a list of people who sent messages to the "alt.humor.funny" newsgroup.

Click the person whose message you want to read. The screenís bottom windowpane will show you the messageís beginning; to read the rest of that message, press the scroll-down arrow.

When you finish using the newsgroup, close its window (by clicking its X box).

Deja News

To find out which newsgroups discuss your favorite topic, use the World Wide Web to go to "www.dejanews.com", then double-click in the box called "Quick Search For", then type a topic that interest you (and press ENTER). If the computer says "Security Information", press ENTER again.

The computer will start printing a list of newsgroup messages about that topic. The list shows each messageís date, score (as to how relevant the message is to your topic), subject, the newsgroup it came from, and who wrote it.

Decide which message you want to read. Then you can see its full text by clicking its underlined subject; but before you click, scribble the newsgroupís name on a sheet of paper, for your future pleasures!

Newsgroup directory

There are over 20,000 newsgroups! The average newsgroup generates 4 pages of new messages per day; so altogether, newsgroups generate 80,000 pages of new messages per day! The collection of all Internet newsgroups is called Usenet.

These newsgroups are popular:

Anthology fun

Best the best from other newsgroups alt.best.of.internet

Best Humor humor from other newsgroups alt.humor.best-of-usenet

Funny jokes and humorous discussions rec.humor.funny

Quotations interesting quotations alt.quotations

Chat

Personals personal ads alt.personals

Pen Pals looking for pen pals soc.penpals

Sex general discussion about sex alt.sex

Revenge ideas about getting revenge alt.revenge

Buddha weird chat based on Buddhism alt.buddha.short.fat.guy

Debating whatís real

Rumors postings of rumors talk.rumors

Urban Folklore debate which "facts" are true alt.folklore.urban

Conspiracy conspiracy theories alt.conspiracy

What If "what if" speculation alt.history.what-if

Mythic Animals creatures of myth & fantasy alt.mythology.mythic-animals

Aliens discuss visitors from space alt.alien.visitors

Paranormal psychic phenomena alt.paranet.psi

Movies

Movies discussion of movies rec.arts.movies

Current Films discussion of current movies rec.arts.movies.current-films

Jobs

Jobs job postings misc.jobs.offered

Computer Jobs computer-related job postings comp.jobs

Tips

Free Stuff how to get free stuff alt.consumers.free-stuff

Writing help for writers misc.writing

Genealogy research your roots soc.genealogy.surnames

Cats all about cats rec.pets.cats

New Groups new newsgroups forming news.announce.newgroups

Buying a computer

For Sale computers for sale misc.forsale.computers.*

New Products new computer products comp.newprod

Consultants computer consultants alt.computer.consultants

Computers in general

Comp Answers general computer help comp.answers

IBM PC hardware & software comp.sys.ibm.pc.misc

2600 hackers magazine alt.2600

Homebuilt general hardware alt.comp.hardware.homebuilt

Systems motherboards & systems comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.systems

Storage hard disks & tape drives comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage

Communication modem software comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.comm

PCMCIA PCMCIA cards alt.periphs.pcmcia

PC Hardware other IBM-compatible comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.misc

Freeware free software alt.comp.freeware

Virus virus info comp.virus

Neural Nets neural networks comp.ai.neural-nets

Visuals

Video video cards & drivers comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.video

Graphics graphics programs comp.graphics.*

Corel Graphics Corel graphics programs alt.corel.graphics

Clip Art free clip art alt.binaries.clip-art

Multimedia

Multimedia multimedia hardw&softw comp.multimedia

Publish CD CD-ROM publishing comp.publish.cdrom.*

Sound Cards sound cards comp.sys.ibm.pc.soundcard.*

Sounds free recorded sounds alt.binaries.sounds.*

Computer games

Games game hardware&software comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.*

Quake tips for winning at Quake rec.games.computer.quake.playing

Windows

Windows Windows hardw&softw comp.os.ms-windows.*

Win 95 Crash Windows 95 difficulties alt.os.windows95.crash.crash.crash

Contribute

While youíre reading a message, you can send a reply.

If you want the reply to be sent privately to the messageís author, so just that author sees your reply, click the Re:Mail button. That will send private mail to the author.

If instead you want your reply to be sent publicly, so everybody on the Internet can see your reply, click the Re:News button instead. That will post your reply, so your reply becomes part of the newsgroup.

If instead you want to start a whole new topic thatís not a reply, so everybody on the Internet can see your new topic and react to it, click the To:News button. That will post your new topic, so your topic becomes part of the newsgroup.

Then your screen shows a form to fill in ó the same kind of form used for writing e-mail. Fill in the form, then click the Send button.

If you post a reply or a new topic, it will probably become part of the newsgroup. But some newsgroups are moderated by a special person (the moderator), who decides which messages to erase.

Netiquette

When you post a message, use proper Net etiquette, which is called Netiquette. The main rule of Netiquette is: donít waste peopleís time!

Many people faithfully read their favorite newsgroups every day. If you post messages that are useless or annoying, those readers will get angry, and their tempers can flare hot enough to make them flame you (post angry messages about you or send you angry e-mail messages, called flame mail). If youíre a new user (newbie) who doesnít understand Netiquette yet, your posted messages will probably receive flame mail.

Before posting a message, ask yourself these questions.Ö

Will most people reading this newsgroup find your message worthwhile? Make sure your message doesnít waste peopleís time. For example, donít post a message like this one ó

Newsgroups: rec.guitar

Subject: guitar plaiyer

My band is so cool. Tom wails. We reelly rock!

Instead, make the message appear newsworthy, like this ó

Newsgroups: rec.guitar

Subject: Free concert in Cambridge MA this Sunday

Hello, everyone! If you're in the Boston area, come to Harvard Square this Sunday to hear "Some Assembly Required". The concert is free, but get there early because it'll get crowded fast! The guitar player, Tom, is as close to brilliant as they come.

Does your subject line quickly describe what your message is about? The subject line helps people quickly find messages that interest them. In the second example above, people who donít live near Cambridge, MA, wonít waste their time reading about a free concert there.

Are you posting your message to the appropriate newsgroup? The second example above is appropriate for groups like rec.guitar and ne.announce (New England announcements). If you post the same message to rec.music.artists.beach-boys, youíll get flamed.

Have you checked your spelling and grammar for embarrassing errors? Once you post a message, itís too late to correct your mistakes. Your message, errors and all, will be available to millions.

Will many people be offended by your message? There are millions of people on the Internet. If weíre all going to get along, we must be careful about what we say.