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The Internet for Dummies
     

The Internet for Dummies

3.0 1
by John R. Levine
 

See All Formats & Editions

ISPs. URLs. DSL. If you're new to the Internet, all that technobabble can be confusing. Relax! With the friendly advice and plain-English explanations in this bestselling guide, you'll soon be swapping e-mails, sending instant messages, surfing the Web, managing your money online ... and maybe even creating your own personal Web page!

Overview

ISPs. URLs. DSL. If you're new to the Internet, all that technobabble can be confusing. Relax! With the friendly advice and plain-English explanations in this bestselling guide, you'll soon be swapping e-mails, sending instant messages, surfing the Web, managing your money online ... and maybe even creating your own personal Web page!

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Would-be Internet surfers learn life-saving techniques in this guide to the Internet. Cartoons, tips, hints, and technical boxes lead the way to instructions on connecting to the Internet, using tools such as e-mail, mailing lists, and network news, file transfer, navigation tools, and troubleshooting. A reference section lists public Internet service providers, sources of Internet software, on-line resources and publications, and Internet geographic zones. Includes a glossary. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781568840246
Publisher:
Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date:
10/28/1993
Series:
For Dummies Series
Pages:
350

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 5

The Wild, Wonderful, Wacky Web

In This Chapter

  • Hypertext
  • URLs
  • An introduction to Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • The basics of Web surfing
  • Web surfing for the graphically challenged -- life with Lynx


People are talking about the Web today at least as much as they're talking about the Net. The World Wide Web and the Internet are not the same thing, but they are related. The World Wide Web (which we call the Web because we're lazy typists) lives "on top of" the Internet. The Internet's network is at the core of the Web, although the Web itself is something different.

Okay, okay, so what is it already? The Web is in some ways sort of a cross between libraries, television, computer networks, and telephones -- it's all of the above and none of the above.

The Web is a bunch of "pages" of information connected to each other around the globe. Each page can be a combination of text, pictures, audio clips, video clips, animations, and other stuff. (We're vague about the other stuff because they add new types of other stuff every day.) What makes Web pages interesting is that they contain hyperlinks, usually called just links because the Net already has plenty of hype. Each link refers to another Web page, and when you click a link, your browser fetches the page the link connects to. (Hold your hat -- we talk about browsers in a couple of pages. For now, just think of your browser as the program that talks to the Web.)

Each page your browser gets for you can have more links that take you to yet other places. Pages can be linked to other pages anywhere in the world so that after you're on the Web, you can end up looking at pages from Singapore to Calgary, from Sydney to Buenos Aires, all faster than you can say "Jack's your uncle," usually. How fast you get from one page to another depends on a number of different things we talk about later on; in theory, however, and approaching reality in many parts of the world, you're only seconds away from any site, anywhere in the world.

Where did the Web come from?

The World Wide Web was invented in 1989 at the European Particle Physics Lab in Geneva, Switzerland, an unlikely spot for a revolution in computing. The inventor was a British researcher named Tim Berners-Lee, who is now the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3), the organization that sets standards and loosely oversees the development of the Web. Tim is terrifically smart and hard-working and is the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. (Margy met him through Sunday school -- is that wholesome or what?)

Tim invented HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), the way that Web browsers communicate with Web servers; HTML (HyperText Markup Language), the language in which Web pages are written; and URLs (Uniform Resource Locators), the codes used to identify Web pages and most other information on the Net. He envisioned the Web as a way for everyone to both publish and read information on the Net, and early Web browsers had editors that would let you create Web pages almost as easily as you could read them.

For more information about the development of the Web and the work of the World Wide Web Consortium, take a look at its Web site (at http://www.w3.org).

This system of interlinked documents is known as hypertext. Figure 5-1 shows a Web page: Each underlined phrase is a link to another Web page. Hypertext is the buzzword that makes the Web go. It's one of those simple ideas that turns out to have a much bigger effect than you would think.

Hypertext: A reminiscence

John writes:

The term and concept of hypertext were invented around 1969 by Ted Nelson, a famous computer visionary who has been thinking about the relationship between computers and literature for at least 25 years now -- starting back when most people would have considered it stupid to think that such a relationship could exist. Twenty years ago, he claimed that people would have computers in their pockets with leatherette cases and racing stripes. (I haven't seen any racing stripes yet, but otherwise he was dead on.)

Back in 1970 Ted told me that we all would have little computers with inexpensive screens on our desks with superwhizzo graphical hypertext systems. "Naah," I said. "For hypertext, you want a mainframe with gobs of memory and a high-resolution screen." We were both right, of course, because what we have on our desks in 1995 are little computers that are faster than 1970s mainframes and that have more memory and better screens.

Various hypertext projects have come and gone over the years, including one at Brown University (of which Ted was a part) and one at the Stanford Research Institute (which was arguably the most influential project in computing history because it invented screen windows and mice).

Ted's own hypertext system, Project Xanadu, has been in the works for about 15 years, under a variety of financing and management setups, with many of the same people slogging along and making it work. The project addresses many issues that other systems don't. In particular, Ted figured out how to pay authors for their work in a hypertext system, even when one document has pieces linked from others and the ensuing document consists almost entirely of a compendium of pieces of other documents. For a decade I have been hearing every year that Xanadu, and now a smaller Xanadu Light, which takes advantage of a great deal of existing software, will hit the streets the next year. This year I hope that they're right.

Margy adds:

Now that the World Wide Web has brought a limited version of hypertext to the masses, Ted is now hoping to build a Xanadu-like system on the Web. Stay tuned for developments!

Getting Hyper -- the Basic Stuff

If you can get a handle on the fundamental structure of the Web, you can use it better and think about all the other ways it can be used. Hypertext is a way of connecting information in ways that make it easy to find -- in theory. In traditional libraries (both the kinds with books and the kinds in computers), information is organized in a relatively arbitrary way, such as alphabetical order or the Dewey decimal system. These orders reflect nothing about the relationships among different pieces of information. In the world of hypertext, information is organized in relationship to other information. The relationships between different pieces of information are, in fact, often much more valuable than the pieces themselves.

Hypertext also enables the same set of information to be arranged in multiple ways at the same time. In a conventional library, a book can be on only one shelf at a time; a book about mental health, for example, is shelved under medicine or psychology, and it can't be in both places at one time. Hypertext is not so limited, and it's no problem to have links to the same document from both medical topics and psychological topics.

Suppose that you're interested in what influenced a particular historical person. You can begin by looking at the basic biographical information: where and when she was born, the names of her parents, her religion, and other basic stuff like that. Then you can expand on each fact by learning what else was happening at that time in her part of the world, what was happening in other parts of the world, and what influence her religion may have had on her. You draw a picture by pulling together all these aspects and understanding their connections -- a picture that's hard to draw from just lists of names and dates.

A hypertext system creates between pieces of information the connections that enable you to find related information easily. As you draw connections between the pieces of information, you can begin to envision the Web created by the links between the pieces. What's so remarkable about the Web is that it connects pieces of information from all around the planet, on different machines and in different databases, all pretty much seamlessly (a feat you would be hard pressed to match with a card catalog). You might think of it as an extremely large but friendly alien centipede made of information.

The other important thing about the Web is that the information in it is searchable. For example, in about ten seconds you can get a list of all the Web pages that contain the words domestic poultry or your name or the name of a book you want to find out about. You can follow links to see each page on the list, to see which pages contain the information you want.

Name That Page

Hypertext is all well and good -- trust us. You need to know about one more basic concept before hitting the Web. Every Web page has an address, a code by which it can be found and the name that gets attached to it so that browsers can find it. Great figures in the world of software engineering named this name URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. Every Web page has a URL. Those strings of characters that begin with http:// or www. are URLs. Some people pronounce each letter ("U-R-L,"), and some think that it's a word ("URL") -- it's your choice. Now you know enough to go browsing.

Duke of URL

Part of the plan of the World Wide Web is to link together all the information in the known universe, starting with all the stuff on the Internet and heading up from there. (This may be a slight exaggeration, but we don't think so.)

One of the keys to global domination is to give everything (at least everything that could be a Web resource) a name, and in particular a consistent name so that no matter what kind of thing a hypertext link refers to, a Web browser can find it and know what to do with it.

Look at this typical URL, the one for the Web page shown in Figure 5-1:

http://net.dummies.net/index.html

The first thing in a URL, the word before the colon, is the scheme, which describes the way a browser can get to the resource. Although ten schemes are defined, the most common by far is http, the HyperText Transfer Protocol that is the Web's native transfer technique. (Don't confuse http, which is the way pages are sent over the Net, with HTML, which is the way the pages are coded internally. We get to that in Chapter 6.)

The details of the rest of the URL depend on the scheme, but most schemes use a consistent syntax. Following the colon are two slashes (always forward slashes, never reverse slashes) and the name of the host computer on which the resource lives; in this case, net.dummies.net. Then there's another slash and a path, which gives the name of the resource on that host; in this case, a file named index.html.

Web URLs allow a few other optional parts. They can include a port number, which says, roughly speaking, which of several programs running on that host should handle the request. The port number goes after a colon after the host name, like this:

http://net.dummies.net:80/index.html

Because the standard http port number is 80, if that's the port you want (it usually is), you can leave it out. Finally, a Web URL can have a search part at the end, following a question mark, like this:

http://net.dummies.net:80/index.html?plugh

Although not all pages can have search parts, for those that do, it tells the host, uh, what to search for. (You rarely type a search part yourself -- they're often constructed for you from fill-in fields on Web pages.)

Three other useful URL schemes are mailto, ftp, and file. A mailto URL looks like this:

mailto:internet4@dummies.net

That is, it's an e-mail address. When you choose a mailto URL in Netscape, it pops up a window in which you can enter an e-mail message to the address in the URL. In Internet Explorer, clicking a mailto URL runs the Internet Mail program, described in Chapter 8. It's most commonly used for sending comments to the owner of a page.

A URL that starts with ftp lets you download files from an FTP server on the Internet (see Chapter 12 for information about FTP servers). An ftp URL looks like this:

ftp://ftp.netscape5.com/navigator/3.0/mac/README.TXT

The part after the two slashes is the name of the FTP server (ftp.netscape5.com, in this case). The rest of the URL is the pathname of the file you want to download.

The file URL specifies a file on your computer. It looks like this:

file:///C|/WWW/INDEX.HTM

On a DOS computer, this line indicates a Web page stored in the file C:\WWW\INDEX.HTM. The colon turns into a vertical bar (because colons in URLs mean something else), and the reverse slashes turn into forward slashes. File URLs are useful mostly for looking at GIF and JPG graphics files and for looking at a Web page you just wrote and stuck in a file on your disk.

Browsing Off

Now that you know all about the Web, you undoubtedly want to check it out for yourself. To do this, you need a browser, the software that goes and gets Web pages and displays them on your screen. Fortunately, if you have Internet access, you probably already have one. One probably came from your Internet service provider (ISP) and you installed it when you installed the rest of your Internet software. If you don't have a browser at all or want to get a copy of Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer (most likely because you have one but want to try the other), see the section "Getting and Installing Netscape or Internet Explorer," later in this chapter.

Now that the Web gets more press than the rest of the Internet put together, everyone and her uncle wants to write a Web browser. We discuss three of the most popular: Netscape, the world's most popular graphical browser; Internet Explorer, the Microsoft answer to Netscape; and Lynx, the text-only browser for the UNIX shell account crowd.

If you have another window-oriented browser, such as any of the many versions of Mosaic, nearly everything we say about Netscape and Internet Explorer also applies. (It's no coincidence because Netscape was written by many of the same people who originally wrote Mosaic, and Internet Explorer is based on Mosaic too.)

If you use America Online or CompuServe, read Chapters 14 and 15 to find out how to get and install Netscape and Internet Explorer with these services. Then come back and read this chapter.

Browser Warfare

Are you sick of hearing about the war between Netscape, the "killer application" for the Internet, and Internet Explorer, the Microsoft attempt to kill off Netscape? This chapter shows you how to use both. We don't take sides here because they both work okay and they're similar enough that any reason to dislike one of them probably applies to the other.

If you already have a PPP or SLIP account or if you use an online service (such as CompuServe or America Online), you can use cool modern Web browsers, such as Netscape and Internet Explorer.

If you have a UNIX shell account, close your eyes and forget about all the pretty pictures. Many other programs, fortunately, do roughly the same thing as Netscape, including one called Lynx, which works just fine over a text-only dial-up connection. Go to the section "Life with Lynx," later in this chapter, or go get yourself a PPP or SLIP account.

Surfing with Netscape and Internet Explorer

When you start Netscape, you see a screen similar to the one that was shown in Figure 5-1. The Internet Explorer window looks like Figure 5-2. Which page your browser displays depends on how it's set up; many providers arrange to have it display their home page.

At the top of the window are a bunch of buttons and the (Netscape) Location or (Internet Explorer) Address line, which contains the Uniform Resource Locator, or URL, for the current page. (Netscape sometimes labels this box Netsite for reasons we can't fathom. Microsoft sometimes calls it a Shortcut.) Remember that URLs are an important part of Web lore because they're the secret codes that name all the pages on the Web. For details, see the sidebar "Duke of URL," earlier in this chapter.

Getting around

The primary skill you need (if we can describe something as basic as a single mouse-click as a skill) is to learn how to move from page to page on the Web.

It's easy: You just click any link that looks interesting. Underlined blue text and blue-bordered pictures are links. (Links may be a color other than blue, depending on the look the Web page designer is going for, but they're always underlined unless the page is the victim of a truly awful designer.) You can tell when you're pointing to a link because the mouse pointer changes to a little hand. If you're not sure whether something is a link, click it anyway because, if it's not, it won't hurt anything. (Clicking outside a link selects the text you click, as in most other programs.)

Backward, ho!

Web browsers remember the last few pages you visited, so if you click a link and decide that you're not so crazy about the new page, you can easily go back to the preceding one. To go back, click the Back button (its icon is an arrow pointing to the left) or press Alt-<--.

All over the map

Some picture links are image maps, such as the big picture in Figure 5-3. With a regular link, it doesn't matter where you click; in an image map, it does. The image map here is typical and has a bunch of obvious places you click for various types of information. (All the 1990 census data except private individual info is online on the Net, by the way, at http://www.census.gov.) Some image maps are actual maps -- a map of the United States at the Census Bureau, for example, that shows you information about the state you click.

As you move the mouse cursor around a Web page, whenever you're pointing at a link, the place you linked to appears in small type at the bottom of the screen. Netscape shows the URL of the page, and Internet Explorer shows the name of the computer the Web page is stored on and the name of the file containing the Web page. If the link is an image map, Netscape shows the link followed by a question mark and two numbers that are the X and Y positions of where you are on the map. The numbers don't matter to you (it's up to the Web server to make sense of them); if you see a pair of numbers counting up and down when you move the mouse, however, you know that you're on an image map.

Going places

These days everyone and his dog has a home page. A home page is the main Web page for a person or organization. (For some samples, check out http://users.aimnet.com/~carver/cindy.html or you can try http://www.rtd.com/~scs/dog/dog.html. Companies are advertising their home pages, and people are sending e-mail talking about cool sites. When you see a URL you want to check out, here's what you do:

  1. Click in the Location or Address box near the top of the Netscape or Internet Explorer window.
  2. Type the URL in the box.

    The URL is something like http://net.dummies.net/.

  3. Press Enter.

If you receive URLs in electronic mail, Usenet news, or anywhere else on your Windows PC or Macintosh, you can use the standard cut-and-paste techniques and avoid retyping:

  1. Highlight the URL in whichever program is showing it.

  2. Press Ctrl+C (Command Key+C on the Mac) to copy the info to the Clipboard.

  3. Click in the Location box in Netscape or the Address box or Internet Explorer.

  4. Press Ctrl+V (Command Key+V on the Mac) to paste the URL, and then press Enter.

Newer versions of Eudora highlight any URLs in e-mail messages. All you have to do is double-click the highlighted link to open the Web page.

You can leave the http:// off the front of URLs when you type them in the Location or Address box. If you use Netscape, you can leave the www off the front and the com off the back -- that is, rather than type http://www.idgbooks.com, you can just type idgbooks.

Where to start?

You learn more about how to find things on the Web in Chapter 7; for now, here's a good way to get started: Go to the Yahoo! page. (Yes, the name of the Web page includes an exclamation point -- they're very excitable.) That is, type this URL in the Location or Address box and then press Enter:

http://www.yahoo.com

You go to the Yahoo! page (there it is again), a directory of millions of Web pages by topic. Just nose around, and you will find something interesting.

For updates to the very book you are holding, go to this URL:

http://net.dummies.net

Follow the links to the page about our books, and then select the pages for readers of The Internet For Dummies, 4th Edition. If we have any late-breaking news about the Internet or updates and corrections to this book, you can find them there. If you find mistakes in this book, by the way, please send e-mail to us at internet4@dummies.net.

This page looks funny

Sometimes a Web page gets garbled on the way in or you interrupt it (by clicking the Stop button on the toolbar). You can tell your browser to get the information on the page again: In Netscape, click the Reload button or press Ctrl+R; in Internet Explorer, click the Refresh button or press F5.

Netscape and Internet Explorer are not in a hurry

When Netscape announced Version 3.0, it publicized tests which showed that it was 200 percent faster than its rival program, Internet Explorer. Microsoft retaliated with studies and statistics of its own. This is not unlike a battle to claim the title of the world's slimmest hippopotamus -- they're both big and slow.

The programs have two separate slowness problems. One is that fancy multimedia screens require a great deal of data, which means that they take a long time to transfer over any except the fastest networks. The other is that both programs are, to use a technical computer term, pigs. (They're not as piggish as some other Net browsers, though.) The standard rule of thumb says that you need a 486/33MHz computer with 8 megabytes of RAM to get reasonable performance, and we can report from experience that if you run either program on a computer of that size, they still spend an awful lot of time swapping pieces of program back and forth from the disk. If you have a Pentium and 32 megabytes of RAM, they're reasonably but not breathtakingly fast.

You can do a few things to speed up Netscape and Internet Explorer, which we address in Chapter 6. (This is a ploy to keep you reading.)

Get me outta here

Sooner or later even the most dedicated Web surfer has to stop to eat or attend to other bodily needs. You leave Netscape or Internet Explorer in the same way as you leave any other Mac or Windows program: by choosing File-->Exit (File-->Close for Windows Internet Explorer, we were surprised to notice) or pressing Alt+F4.

Getting and Installing Netscape or Internet Explorer

With luck, Netscape or Internet Explorer is already installed on your computer. The two programs are so similar that if you have one of them, we suggest that you stick with it (for now, anyway). Without luck, you don't have either program, but they are, fortunately, not difficult to get and install.

Netscape Navigator (the real name of the program everyone calls Netscape) comes in several varieties: Windows 3.1 (the 16-bit version), Windows 95 (the 32-bit version), Mac, and versions for a bunch of UNIX workstations. Netscape also comes as part of a suite of programs called Netscape Communicator (we talk about the other programs in Chapters 8 and 11). Netscape 4.0 includes a Web page editor too, in case you want to create your own Web pages. (See Chapter 22 to find information about creating Web pages.)

Although Internet Explorer was originally available for only Windows 95, Microsoft now has versions for Windows 3.1 and the Mac.

Even if you already have a copy of Netscape or Internet Explorer, new versions come out every 20 minutes or so, and it's worth knowing how to upgrade because occasionally the new versions fix some bugs so that they're better than the old ones. The steps are relatively simple:

  1. Get a copy of the Netscape or Internet Explorer installation package on your computer.
  2. Unpack the installation package.
  3. Install the software.

Because computers are involved, each of these steps is, naturally, a little more difficult than necessary.

Getting the package

Your Internet provider may have given you a copy of Netscape or Internet Explorer on a disk. The AT&T WorldNetSM Service software, for example, includes a licensed version of Netscape or Internet Explorer, as do the sign-up packages for IBM Advantis, EarthLink, and many other Internet providers.

Because Internet Explorer comes as part of Windows 95, Windows 95 users already have it, but it may be an elderly version. Microsoft gives away Internet Explorer. (One can complain about many aspects of Explorer, but not the price.)

You can also download both Netscape and Internet Explorer from the Net. If you have access to any Web browser, try one of these Web sites:

  • TUCOWS (The Ultimate Collection of Internet Software): http://www.tucows.com
  • The Consummate WinSock Applications page: http://www.cwsapps.com
  • Netscape home page (for Netscape only): http://home.netscape.com
  • Microsoft home page (for Internet Explorer only): http://www.microsoft.com

Use your Web browser to go to the page, and then follow the instructions for finding and downloading the program. You may also want to consult Chapter 12 for more information about downloading files from the Internet.

If you don't have Web access yet but you do have access to an FTP program (described in Chapter 12), you can use it to download the Netscape or Internet Explorer program:

  • Netscape can be downloaded from ftp.netscape.com (if it's busy, try ftp1.netscape.com, ftp2.netscape.com, up to about ftp15.) Move to the navigator directory and then to the directory for the version you want (which is 3.01 as we write this book but is probably at least 4.0 by the time you read it). Then choose the directory for the type of computer you have (mac, unix, or windows). Finally, choose the file to download. Currently, the filenames are n16e301.exe for Windows 3.1 and n32e301.exe for Windows 95 -- the 301 in the filename will change for future versions. If you want the version with extra features, or plug-ins, choose n16e301p.exe or n32e301p.exe.
  • Internet Explorer is available from ftp.microsoft.com. Move to the msdownload directory. Then choose ie2 for Version 2.0 for Windows, ie3 for Version 3.0 for Windows, or iemac for the Mac version -- these directory names may change as Microsoft releases new versions. Finally, choose the filename to download. The filenames are currently ntie30.exe for Version 3.0 for Windows, IE21_68K.exe for Version 2.1 for 68K Macs, and IE21_PPC.exe for Version 2.1 for PowerPC Macs.

Another option is to stroll into a software store and buy Netscape -- you get a license, a manual, and the phone number for tech support, which you don't get when you download Netscape or buy the CD-ROM version of this book.

We're home -- let's unpack and install

After you have the program, you have to unpack it and install it. If you get Netscape or Internet Explorer on floppy disks or CD-ROM, follow the instructions that come with it. If you have the Netscape or Internet Explorer distribution file or your hard disk, follow these instructions (assuming that you use Windows 3.1 or Windows 95). Macintosh users, check the tips at the end of this section -- installing on the Mac is even simpler.

To avoid excess user comprehension, the thing that Microsoft called a directory in MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 is now called a folder in Windows 95. We use the official newspeak term; if you're a Win 3.1 user, however, pretend that we said "directory" wherever you read "folder."

  1. Create a folder called something like \Inst.

  2. This folder is just for installing the program -- it's not where Netscape or Internet Explorer will live permanently. From the Windows 3.1 File Manager, choose File-->Create Directory. From Windows 95 My Computer or Explorer, choose File-->New-->Folder.

  3. Put the Netscape or Internet Explorer distribution file in that folder.
  4. The Netscape filename probably begins with N16 or N32. The Internet Explorer filename usually begins with MSIE, although we just downloaded one named DLMIN30.exe, so you never can tell. Just drag the distribution file to your new folder in File Manager, My Computer, or Windows Explorer.

  5. The distribution file contains a program -- run it.
  6. A bunch of files will burst forth from the distribution file, reminiscent of the movie Alien. (It's called, in the lingo, a self-extracting archive.) Although you can run the program in a couple of ways, the simplest is just to double-click the filename in File Manager, My Computer, or Windows Explorer.

    Some versions of the Internet Explorer go right ahead and begin installing the program -- if you see a window with instructions about how to install Internet Explorer, skip to Step 5.

    Otherwise, you now have several dozen files in your \Inst folder, including a file called Setup.exe.

  7. Run the setup program (Setup.exe) to install the program.
  8. The program begins installing Netscape or Internet Explorer.

  9. Follow the instructions on-screen.
  10. Although the installation program asks a bunch of questions, the default answers for all of them are usually okay. If the Internet Explorer installation program asks whether you want to select optional components, choose Yes, and select the additional programs you want to install. (They may include Internet Mail and Internet News, the Microsoft e-mail and Usenet newsgroup programs, respectively; see Chapters 8 and 11 to find out how to use them.)

    When the Internet Explorer installation is done, you may have to restart your computer; if so, you see a message offering to restart it now. Click Yes unless you're in the middle of other work -- then finish your work and restart your computer.

  11. Connect to your Internet provider or online service.
  12. The first thing your new browser will want to do is display a Web page, so you had better be connected to the Internet.

  13. Try out Netscape or Internet Explorer.
  14. Click the attractive new icon -- the Netscape icon is labeled Netscape Navigator, which is the real name of the program, and the Internet Explorer icon goes by the intriguingly vague name The Internet.

    The first time you run Netscape, you see a bunch of legal boilerplate stuff describing the license conditions for the program. If you can stand the conditions (many people can), click to indicate your acceptance. The program then starts up. It may want to connect to the Netscape Web page so that you can register your copy of Netscape -- follow its instructions.

    The first time you run Internet Explorer, it may run the Internet Connection Wizard, which offers to help you get connected to the Internet. If so, follow the instructions on-screen. If you already have an Internet connection that works, you have a chance to tell it so.

  15. When you're happy with the program, delete the \Inst folder.
  16. You don't need the installation files anymore, and they take up a great deal of disk space.

Attention Mac users: The installation tips for a Mac are almost exactly the same. If you download your browser from the Net and you're lucky, it should arrive as an executable program in your download folder. Click it and follow its directions in order to install it. It may arrive as a StuffIt file that self-extracts if you have StuffIt installed.

If you're upgrading from an older version of Netscape to a newer one, you can install the new version to replace the old one. When the installation program asks whether to replace Netscape.ini, choose No to keep your existing Netscape settings.

If you have installed the excellent shareware WinZip program, you can use it to automate the entire Netscape or Internet Explorer installation process. As soon as you have downloaded the distribution file, open it in WinZip. (Even though it ends with EXE, it's really a ZIP file.) Then click Install. WinZip creates a temporary folder, extracts the files, and runs Setup. Later, when you return to WinZip, it gets rid of the junk. (See Chapter 12 for more information about WinZip.)

Life with Lynx

Netscape and Internet Explorer require PPP or SLIP connections. What if you're stuck with a UNIX shell account? Those of you living a mouse-free existence can still do some serious Web surfing using Lynx.

Because Lynx is a text-only browser, it can't do some things, such as show pictures, play audio and video clips, or display news-ticker-style moving messages at the bottom of your screen (a real advantage, in this last case). Within those limitations, though, it's a good program.

Because Lynx is text-only, in fact, it's much faster than the graphics-based browsers, which leaves you at least one thing to feel good about.

All UNIX shell providers should have Lynx available because it's free. To start it, you type lynx at the UNIX shell prompt. It starts up and displays a home page on the screen, as shown in Figure 5-4, which shows the same Web page as in Figure 5-1.

Because most text screens can't do underlining, the links are shown in reverse video. Bracketed text or the word [IMAGE] appears where a picture would be displayed. One link on the screen is current and is highlighted in a different color. (On our screen, it's yellow rather than white text, which doesn't show up on a black-and-white page. Use your imagination, or go get a yellow highlighting pen.) Lynx thoughtfully puts some help information on the bottom two lines, which makes it much easier to use.

Wandering around

Nearly all Lynx commands are single keystrokes. Pressing the up arrow and down arrow keys moves you from link to link on the current page. If the page is more than one screenful, the page scrolls as necessary. To move to the next screen of the current page, press the spacebar or press + and ­ to move forward and backward a screen at a time.

You press up arrow and down arrow to move from link to link, even when the links are next to each other on a line. For example, you might have a few lines on the screen like this:

Famous philosophers:

[Moe] [Larry] [Curly] [Socrates]

If the highlight is on Larry, you press the up arrow key to go to Moe and press the down arrow key to go to Curly. The left arrow and right arrow keys mean something else, as you will see in a second.

After you have highlighted a link you like, press the right arrow key or Enter to follow that link (Pressing the right arrow key is the Lynx equivalent of clicking a link.) After Lynx fetches the new page, you can press the arrow keys to move around the new page. Pressing the left arrow key takes you back to the preceding page. You can press the left arrow key several times to go back several pages.

Lynx just can't do some things, most notably image maps. Although it tells you that there's an image, because you can't see the image and you can't use a mouse, there's no way to click it. Fortunately, any sensible Web page that has an image map offers some other way to get to the places the image map would otherwise take you. The page has either a set of text links under the image or, in some cases, a link that says something like "Click here for a text-only version of this page." Lynx gives you a nice, clean, image-free page from which to work.

To go to a specific URL, press g for go-to and then type the URL on the line that Lynx provides, followed by pressing Enter.

Leaving Lynx

When you're finished with Lynx, press q to exit. Lynx asks whether you're sure that you want to quit; press y.

Is that all there is?

Of course not. Lynx is bristling with features, just like any other modern computer program. Just about every possible keystroke means something to Lynx (we discuss some of them in Chapter 6). The arrow keys and g and q are all you really need to get going.

If all else fails. . . .

If you don't even have access to Lynx on your system, a few systems offer public access to it. If you have access to Telnet (Chapter 22 gives you information about Telnet and other UNIX commands), these systems let you Lynx around:

  • lynx.cc.ukans.edu (Kansas, log in as lynx)
  • sailor.lib.md.us (Maryland, log in as guest)

Although they're not as good as running Lynx on your own provider's system (they're slower, and some options don't work), they're better than nothing.

Meet the Author

John Levine and Margaret Levine Young are full-time technology authors with more than 40 books to their credit.

Carol Baroudi is also coauthor of Service Oriented Architecture For Dummies.

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The Internet For Dummies 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Use it every day
Guest More than 1 year ago
I discovered one or two interesting things I didn't know about the Internet from this book. The authors know their stuff, and the book is well organized and easy to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Read it page by page, underline the marvelous tips, take some notes for reference when the book is finished and then...go back to the computer, align your hand and mind. Now didn't you learn a bunch of things from the Gurus this time? I did! Thanks y'all. Good writing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading the book was fun, but too much of iteration as well as excessive info about other technical aspects beyond the basics of how to browse, search and shop.I think the authors are trying to squeeze in too much for the dummy...