Check out our bi-weekly Net perspective. Our goal is to make these columns useful for our readers whether they be novice or pro, while still offering a fun to read column. Feel free to let us know what Internet resources you find useful in your personal, educational, or business life - it might just end up in one of our columns!
In the past couple of months we've received lots of email and fax questions from our readers. Below are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Q: I've been reading your columns and hearing a lot about the Internet in the media lately. What books do you recommend for beginners about the Internet and World Wide Web?
A: You've probably noticed that the computing section of most bookstores is loaded with books about the Internet and the World Wide Web. A couple that we use and recommend are: Internet for Dummies (IDG Books) and The Whole Internet Users Guide and Catalog (O'Reilly and Associates, Inc.).
Q: I've just setup my new computer and modem. Where should I start my 'Internet adventure'?
A: First, you need an account with an Internet Service Provider to get you connected to the Internet. The Buffalo Free-Net is a good place to start -- it's free! Set your modem to dial 645-3085 (after April 10 the number will be 515-2100), log-in as the userid 'freeport' and apply for an account. There are a few limitations of the Free-Net which you should be aware of. It is text-only - you won't be able to look at graphics; it has only 24 dial-in lines (which will be upgraded to 30); and it can only be used for non-profit purposes. If you want graphics you'll have to pay for an account with an Internet Service Provider. Costs vary, much like phone service, with charges based on time connected and the times of the day you use your account. Many providers, such as MCI, AT&T, and Netcom (http://www.netcom.com), offer service starting around $20/month for a unlimited connection time. Besides graphics, the advantage of an Internet Service Provider is generally more dial-up lines which reduce the chance that you'll get a busy signal when you try to connect with your modem. We recommend asking a friend or co-worker which provider they use. You may also want to contact one of the local providers who advertise in the Buffalo News Click section.
Q: Which browser should I use?
A: Most Internet Providers will give you a browser to use (you may have to pay a small fee). Almost all providers let you install your own browser. Two popular browsers which we recommend are Netscape Navigator (http://www.netscape.com) and Microsoft's Internet Explorer (http://www.microsoft.com). It's important to remember that not all browsers were created equal, and the cost of using a lower end browser is that the information may not be formatted correctly for you to read. If you can, test drive a few models and compare the features of each.
Q: What are some good sites to start surfing the Web?
A: For a list of local and global resources try the Buffalo Free-Net (http://www.bfn.org). If you're looking for a particular topic, try searching Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com) or Lycos (http://www.lycos.com). You might want to look at previous Internet Guys columns as well (http://interney-guys/). Additionally, many businesses are now incorporating their World Wide Web address on their advertisements and promotional materials.
Q: I've been connected to the Internet for a few months now and am addicted. I only wish that I could increase the speed of my connection. Will upgrading my modem from a 14.4bps to 28.8bps make a big difference?
A: Yes. While the actual speed increase will vary dependent upon modem type, we've noticed significant increases in connection speed. If you already own a modem you'll have to decide if this increase is worth the cost of a new 28.8 modem (about $150-$200 depending upon brand and model). If you don't have a modem and can afford the extra $50-75, we highly recommend purchasing a 28.8. The increased speed will allow you to more quickly download files, view graphics, and access information resources.
Q: I'm still pretty new to using the Internet and usually after 30 minutes or so I've managed to get lost somewhere in the world. Is there some way I can get an idea of where I've clicked to?
A: You're experiencing the same thing most people do when starting out on the Internet. Many times people will come back to their computer the next day and not be able to get back to the site that they were at yesterday. If you find a great site set a bookmark in your browser so that you have a record of where the site is. If you want know what site you're looking at, check out the Uniform Resource Locator (URL). A URL is simply the "Internet address" of where that particular site lives. For example, the Harbor Point Mall has an address of http://www.harborpoint.com. Simply type the address in, hit enter and you're taken to that site. To decipher a URL, read it backwards and break it down into parts which are delimited by periods. If we read the address of our example, http://www.harborpoint.com, it tells us that "com" is a commercial site, "harborpoint" is the name of the place or company, and "www" is a world wide web address. URL's ending in ".gov" are government sites, those ending in ".edu" are educational institutions, and those ending in ".net" are networks. By doing this you can probably guess the addresses of some of your favorite products, companies or universities. For example, http://www.pepsi.com is Pepsi-Cola; http://www.ford.com is the Ford Motor Company; http://www.buffalo.edu is the University at Buffalo. Give it a try!
Well once again we wish you good luck in your travels over the Internet. Keep sending the ideas and questions our way so that we can tailor the articles to your needs. In case you forgot we're at firstname.lastname@example.org . That's a commercial site, with a company name of afterfive, on the World Wide Web.