Even if you're new to the Internet, chances are you've heard how computer networks are changing the world. From commerce to personal communication, there aren't many facets of modern life that seem to be unaffected by the electronic revolution. Of course, just because a technology is changing the world, that doesn't mean that it's easy to understand and use. Hopefully, in the following pages, I can provide a glimpse at some of the best that the Internet has to offer today. I also hope to share a spirit of exploration and discovery, since that's how I got started. I wanted to know what was out there in cyberspace. In the end, I'd like to convey just a little of the excitement I feel every day when I go online and especially when I find something new...
But Is It Useful? The Web is useful: You can find old friends online. You can research and book flight reservations. Check the weather. Check out your high school or college alma mater. Find breaking news. Research political issues. Follow your stock portfolio. Place a classified ad. And, of course, more and more vendors are setting up shop on the Web. Books. CDs. Computers. Even cars. The Internet is also just plain fun. You can email friends. Check out their web pages. Browse through sites about weird stuff (like belt-sander races or huge balls of string). Laugh at online parodies and jokes. Join in a live Net event. Chat with other Internet surfers. Play a stock-picking game. Check to see if your name appears anywhere on the Web. Do wacky random searches. Millions of users log on to the Net every day, and it's not just to do research. There's a lot of fun out there. That's one reason it's called web "surfing."
I'm Just Browsing Of course, the first step to using the Web for business or for fun is learning how to work a "web browser." If you're new to computers, it may take awhile before you are completely comfortable with your browser. Don't worry. You don't have to be a computer whiz. The basics of a web browser are very much like the basics of modern computers-learning how to point and click with the mouse (or trackball or trackpad or other pointing device), learning how to scroll up and down a page of text (use the mouse to move the marker along the shaded bar at the right of the page, or just hit the space bar on your keyboard), and learning how to use pull-down menus. Again, be patient. There's no time limit on web surfing. Give yourself a chance to explore the browser itself while you explore the Web.
Bookmark Your Territory. One of the most useful features of web browsers is the "bookmark" (or "favorite"). If you come to a web page that you find particularly interesting or useful (like Yahoo!), you'll probably want to come back to it again and again. The easiest way to do this is to have your browser "remember" the address. Different browsers have different ways of creating bookmarks -- some use pull-down menus and others have buttons right on the screen.
Once a bookmark is created, you can then easily return to that web page by pulling down the bookmark menu and selecting the appropriate entry. Another good skill to learn is how to edit the text of a bookmark. The default text for a bookmark is contained in the web page you're bookmarking, and it's not always the most useful title. By editing the bookmark text, you can make sure that your bookmarks are clear and effective. The point is: Take the time to learn how bookmarks work in your browser.
Ready, Steady, Go! So, after starting to learn how your browser works, where do you go? What do you do? There's no right answer to this one. The Internet doesn't have a front door. But there are lots of way to get started. Make a bookmark to an Internet guide (like Yahoo!) or perhaps another page you use every day (your employer, university, local newspaper). Explore. Search for web sites about one of your hobbies. Fishing. Mountain bikes. Crosswords puzzles. Find web sites about your home town. Follow links to other sites listed on the site you're visiting. Just go find web sites. Read 'em, bookmark 'em, print 'em out. Send the URLs (the web addresses) to friends. Ask friends and coworkers for recommendations. Now you're networking. Now you're surfing the Web. Congratulations!
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