Please note: this class is from 2005 and is outdated as far as Internet Provider info.
You’ve heard the term “surf the Web”. Before you can “surf”, you have to know
how to swim and you have to learn to watch out for the sharks.
Let’s start with the basics. First, you have to get connected to the Internet. To get
onto the Internet (which is also referred to as “the Net” and “the Web”), you need
to have a modem connected to your computer or a Network Interface Card (NIC)
and a cable modem. We discussed modems back in the Hardware section (the first
class session). Most computers that you can buy now in the stores already have
modems in them. You use your modem and phone line to connect (or “dial up”) an
I.S.P. (I.S.P stands for Internet Service Provider). Basically, you have your
computer call another computer. The other computer is at the ISP, and it receives
your call and gives you access to the Internet. Their computer is usually a big
computer, with a lot of hard drive space and memory, and is referred to as a Server.
When your computer calls the I.S.P. server, the server asks you for your log in
identification (or user identification) and your password. This verifies that it is, in
fact, you calling, which keeps others from using your account.
When I connect to my ISP, I type in “Spencer568” (which is my log in I.D.), and
then enter my password. The server then verifies the information that I typed as
being correct, and then my computer displays the message “Connected”. I am now
connected to the Net.
The most well known ISP is AOL (America OnLine), but there are plenty of local
ISPs that work just as well. You do not need AOL to get online. You can use AOL,
but it is not the only way to get online. I have used a local company called
Salsgiver in the past and I never experienced a major problem with them. Overall, I
would say I was very satisfied with them. They are $20 per month for unlimited
access, whereas AOL is usually $23.95 for unlimited access. What to do with those
free AOL CDs that you get in the mail? You could use it as a coaster under your
coffee cup. ☺
Currently I use PeoplePC, because they are about $15 a month and it works as well
as any of the other ISPs I have tried. With AOL, you do get all the “bells and
whistles”, like games and news. If that is worth the extra money per month, that is
Unlimited access means that you can call at anytime and stay online as long as you
want (there are no peak and off-peak times). When you first start using the
Internet, you will spend a lot of time on it, checking out all the stuff you’ve heard
about. So I would recommend getting an unlimited account from the beginning,
because the odds are that you’ll use it. Usually when someone quotes you a price
for I.S.P. service, it is for unlimited access. If you get quoted a price lower than
$19.95 a month, please be sure and ask ahead of time if it is unlimited access.
The other part of being connected to the Web is that you MUST make sure that the
ISP you are dialing is a local telephone call for you. Again, you had your computer
call another computer at your ISP. If that phone call is a toll call or a long distance
call, you are paying your phone company for each and every minute! YIKES! I
heard on the news a few years ago about a couple in Texas that made this mistake.
About $2,000 later, they discovered that their phone bill had gone up. Oops!
Please make sure that the number you are dialing to your ISP is a local phone call.
If you are not 100% sure, call your telephone operator. Tell them your phone
number, and tell them you want to call “such and such” number and ask the
operator if it is a local phone number. I’m betting that the Texas couple didn’t do
Your ISP will give you an email address included in your monthly access. This
email address from your ISP is what we are going to refer to as your “junk email
address”. We will get into the reasons in a few minutes.
Ok, so you’ve got a local ISP phone number now. Once you’ve connected to the
Internet, there are millions of places to go to, things to “check out”. One of the
keys is that you have to know the exact spelling of things.
Example: suppose you want to check out Sesame Street’s website. You will need
to type their website address in your Internet Explorer address area. But is it
Sesame or Seseme? If you type it incorrectly, you will get either no response or
end up at the wrong website. Of course, you can just try both ways, and whichever
one responds must be the right spelling. But some addresses will be more
complicated than that, where the accurate web address will be necessary, so it is a
good habit to get into – to write down exactly how an address is written. It is a
good idea to get used to learning exactly how to spell each website address,
because once you get into using email, you will absolutely have to get the email
address correct in order for it to be sent. We’ll talk about email in the pages to
follow. For now, let’s stick with some of the basics for the Web and Websites.
Useful Web Sites
I recommend using the following websites when you first start:
1. Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) This site is one of many search engines.
A search engine does what it says: it searches for you. When you go to
Yahoo.com, you will see a long, rectangular white box, which has a gray button
next to it that says “Search”. In that white box, type a word or words that you are
looking for. Say for example you wanted to know about Egyptian pottery. In that
box, type in something like “Egypt” or “pottery” or “Egyptian pottery”, then click
on the search button. Yahoo will go out and find as many matches for those words
as it can and displays the results to you. Now you can look thru (or “surf thru”) all
of those websites, to see what you can find out about this subject.
Another famous Search Engine website is www.google.com
If you don’t find what you want on one search engine, try another, because there
are a lot of them out there.
As a side note: just because it’s on the web doesn’t necessarily make it correct. If
you went to one of the sites on Egyptian pottery, and it says that the Egyptians
used the latest in laser technology in the early 1600’s, I’m willing to bet that is
incorrect. You have to use your best judgment. If it’s Joe Schmoe’s website, it
might not be totally accurate. On the other hand, if you went to the Smithsonian
Institute’s website, I would take their word as being accurate and correct. In other
words, just because you read it somewhere on the Web, you still should consider
Example of bogus info from the Internet: I’ve twice gotten this email about
someone supposedly attaching medical syringes to the handles of gas pumps. It
claims to be from a police officer in Florida somewhere, so you start to think, “Oh,
this must be true.” Ok, if this is true, why haven’t we heard about it on the news?
The answer is: because it’s not true. Again, consider the source. If it were really
true, we’d be hearing about it on the national news, not via email. So I guess only
those of us who check their email are gonna be lucky enough to not get stuck by
some HIV positive syringe? Um, no. It’s like the equivalent of hearing that Liz
Taylor is pregnant with Michael Jackson’s love child. When I hear it on CNN, then
I’ll believe it. ☺ So consider the source of information.
2. Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) This site is one of the most famous for giving a
free email address. Yahoo is another. The two biggest benefits of Hotmail is that:
a.) You can check your email from any computer in the world, as long as it has
Internet access. This comes in very handy if you have a computer at work
that is connected. It also comes in handy if you are on vacation or away from
home for a long period of time. Oh sure, you might be thinking “oh, I can go
a few days or a week without checking my email.” But trust me, that will
change once you become addicted to having and using email. ☺
b.) The second reason for getting a Hotmail email address is because of junk
mail. Just like the U.S. Mail, one way or another, we end up getting junk
emails also. What I’ve learned is that when you are surfing the Web, every
time you enter your email address, it is sold as part of a list (just like your
name and address is sold to catalog companies and what-not for US junk
mail). By having a hotmail address, you can give out your ISP email address
to “strangers”, and only give out your hotmail address to family and friends.
It will cut down on the amount of junk email you have to read thru to get to
emails you actually want to read. This is what I do with my ISP email
address, and that is why I referred to it before as the junk email address.
Please note that you can not use spaces in either a website address or an email
address. If what you see looks like there is a space: ( _ ) it is an underscore. An
underscore is similar to a space, but it is an actual character (it is to the right of the
Zero on your keyboard).
Some website addresses and email addresses will have an underscore ( _ ), a dash (
- ), or a tilde ( ~ , and it’s pronounced “til da”) in them. They are symbols (or
characters) that are acceptable to use most of the time. But there can not be a
When you go to www.hotmail.com or www.yahoo.com, you can create your own
free email address. The problem is that if someone else has gotten the name that
you wanted already, then I guess you are too late. I wanted Spencer@hotmail.com,
but someone had already taken it. Bummer. If you have a common enough name,
odds are it’s already taken. You need to be a little creative here, and yet not too
complex. Some that I’ve seen recently that I thought were cute were:
SetApart4Him, DGM777 and ImHisglory.
What I have been advising people to try is to use your first name and the numbers
of your birthday. Part of making an email address for yourself is that you want to
be able to verbally tell people what your email address is. Do you want it to be
something all complicated?
Picture this conversation: “Sure, Tony, email me! My email address is
Im4Godsglories at yahoo dot com… but there’s no apostrophe in I’m, and it is the
number 4, not the word f-o-r, oh, yeah, and no apostrophe in God’s, and glories is
plural…” Shoot, you could have written the letter by hand by now. So try to keep it
simple, if you can.
My email address is: Spencer568@yahoo.com - and I think the combination of
your first name and your birthday or birth date makes it a little harder to find an
exact match (like, that someone would have already taken it). It is relatively
simple, yet different enough that no one else had already used it, and yet easy
enough to describe to someone. I do not suggest using your name and current age
(like Spencer36), because that’s gonna change every year. Your birthday will
always be the same. And as a bonus, all your email friends will always know your
birthday! ☺ Well, that is the plan anyways.
You’ll also need to come up with a password. I suggest something that you will
remember, but something that others wouldn’t guess, kind of like your MAC card
password. I suggest that you not pick your birthday as a password, or your child’s
name. And since you can use words or letters or combination of the two, be
creative. But don’t get so creative that even you can’t figure it out! ☺
On my work computer, our password has to be at least six characters. So what I do
is pick one letter and use it six times. My last password was the letter f, six times in
a row (ffffff). It was easy to remember and easy to type.
Password are “case sensitive”, which means there is a difference between a capital
letter and a lower case letter, so remember which one you used when you create
As far as the computer is concerned, the difference between Charisse and charisse
is a huge difference, all because the C is capitalized. As far as the computer is
concerned, it’s like the difference between z and a: it’s like a capital letter is like a
totally different character.
This is one of the BAD things about the Internet and email. A computer virus is
made to destroy your computer. It is referred to as a virus because it’s main
objective is to spread throughout your computer hard drive and infect all of your
files. It is created by some little computer geek who has nothing better to do with
his time than to make something destructive, something that will erase parts of
your hard drive. The computer geek wants to destroy as many computers as
possible, which gives him pride in how much damage he caused. Other than that, I
have no idea why people create these viruses, but they do. However, just because a
virus is “out there” doesn’t mean you will get it or get infected with it. You cannot
get a virus from just being on the Internet. The way people get infected is thru
emails, and specifically, thru email attachments.
When you get an email from someone, you click on it to “open” it (read it). Once
you start reading it, you notice whether or not there is an attachment added to the
end of the email. If you see that there is an attachment and the email is from
someone you do not know, do NOT click on that attachment. That is where a virus
could be. Not every attachment contains a virus, but an attachment can contain
one. And is it worth the risk?
Compare it to this: Say you got a UPS package one day at home, even though you
weren’t expecting any packages. So you open this package up, and inside is a letter
and another, smaller box. You read the letter and realize that you did not order
anything and are not expecting anything. But curiosity has gotten the best of you,
so you open the smaller box and… BOOM!
That’s when the bomb goes off.
If you are unsure and there is an attachment, just delete it. If it was your cousin
from Seattle, they’ll call you and ask you why you didn’t email back.
What NOT to do on the Internet
There are many problems that I have fixed at work because people were
downloading things from the Internet. Other than a virus, the two biggest problems
that can occur because of downloading from the Internet are spyware and adware.
I want to take the time now to discuss these before they become a major problem
for you as well.
Spyware is software that is designed to spy through your computer. Here’s the
object of the creator of spyware: to get your information and send it back to the
Spyware will look through your computer’s hard drive for any personal
information it can find about you. I’m not talking about stuff like “Nikki likes to
take long walks on the beach at sunset…”
The information it is looking for is far more personal info, like bank account
numbers, your Social Security number, your credit card numbers, passwords, etc).
It’s looking for anything that you have saved on your computer. Once it finds it, it
sends that information back to the creator of the spyware. And that is one of the
ways that people become victims of Identity Theft. Once they have all your
personal info, they can pretend to be you. The horrible part is that you’ll have a
hard time proving that it was NOT you that bought that $7,000 mink coat.
Adware is the fancy way of saying popups. If you are familiar with being online,
you know that occasionally you get a little ad that pops up on your monitor, even if
you didn’t click on it. It’s just a little annoying and typically, you simply click on
the X to exit the pop up and it goes away.
However, if you get an adware program, it will relentlessly, continuously send you
pop up ads. I had one person who got a new popup every minute on the minute. In
addition to the inconvenience of having to keep exiting all of these popups, some
of these are very suggestive ads. I’d describe them more, but then I’d be blushing.
But as you can imagine, they are bad, annoying, irritating, and really take away
some of the fun of being on the Internet. Getting a pop up here or there is no big
The positive is that a pop up means you no harm. It’s not looking on your hard
drive and it’s not trying to destroy anything. It’s just commercials that you are
forced to see for a few seconds.
How do you avoid getting Spyware or Adware onto your computer’s hard drive?
DO NOT DOWNLOAD ANYTHING FROM THE INTERNET!
While on the Internet, you’ll see lots of cool free stuff to download. You’ll think,
“aw, that’s so cool!” or “aw, how cute”. And then you’ll get stuck with spyware or
adware and call me up and say, “Spence, I HATE this computer! It keeps freezing
up on me and keeps popping up all this junk and …”
So, the best advice I can give you is this: in my 10 years of being on the Internet, I
have never downloading anything that enhanced my life or my computer SO much
that it was worth risking getting spyware or adware.
Once you click on “Yes, I Accept” and you start downloading items from the
Internet, you are playing a game of Russian roulette. As with viruses, the odds are
that you won’t catch the person who sent you the spyware and you’ll regret having
done any of it afterwards. Then you’ll spend days and days trying to fix what has
happened to your computer.
Please use your best judgment while on the Internet. If the website you are on is
not a company you have heard of before, be careful, and do not download or accept
Have you noticed that almost everything ends with “dot com”?
The reason is this: the “dot” is actually the “period”, except they made it into the
slang word of dot. I personally think they used the period only because it was
already on a typewriter, and since people were used to typing it already, they used
it. (I don’t know the actual reason, but do we really care?) ☺
The COM part does mean something. For the Internet, to indicate the difference
between government website addresses and commercial companies, they added the
The three most commonly used are: .COM = Commercial
.GOV = Government
.ORG = Organization
Government sites are anything that is a governmental organization, like the State of
PA, most Federal agencies, and even a website for a city.
Organizational sites are usually charitable places, like:
The Public Broadcast System (PBS Online is www.pbs.org),
The Salvation Army (www.salvationarmy.org), and
The American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) to name a few.
Commercial sites are pretty much anything else. Any place that “sells” things,
whether they sell it online or not, is a commercial business/website.
ESPN Online (www.espn.com)
E-bay Online Auctions (www.ebay.com)
Even Burger King, Wendy’s, and McDonald’s have “com” sites
(www.burgerking.com, www.wendys.com, and www.mcdonalds.com).
Please notice how Burger King’s website address has no space between their two
words, and that neither Wendy’s nor McDonald’s use their possessive apostrophes
( ‘ ) like in their names.
As a side note, other countries end in something that indicates their country. For
example, a separate website for a company in Canada might be
The “.ca” indicates that it is in Canada. If browsing the Internet and you go to a
website that does not end in .com, .org, or .gov, please be extremely careful. You
could end up with a virus, spyware, or adware being sent to your computer and
you’ll have no recourse to go back to the company that sent the virus to you or
stole your information (we’ll get into spyware and adware in a minute). Since the
website you are visiting is not based in the USA, American laws do not apply to
them. So they can try to attack your computer without having to worry about being
caught for illegal activities. In a nutshell, if it isn’t a website based in the USA, get
out of there as quick as you can. Better safe than sorry, right?
One of the differences between the Internet addresses and an email address is the
“@” (at) symbol. Website addresses usually start with “www”, which stands for
“World Wide Web”. The @ symbol is only used in email addresses, not in Website
Browsing the Web is basically using search engines to go to different websites and
look around. Honestly, I usually only use Yahoo to check my email, Yahoo to play
a game of spades against other live players, check ESPN online to check sports
scores, and sometimes I use Mapquest to get driving directions to somewhere.
Other than that, I don’t use my Internet access for too much. Once you’ve done a
lot with it, you start narrowing down what you want to do with it. But again, have
fun with it. Now go have some fun! ☺