The Internet -
An easy guide
Note: If you are actually reading this then you are probably advanced enough not to need to read it! This document was prepared as part of our easy guide series and is included for the sake of completing the series on the Web.
1. What do you need?
- A computer - almost any type will do.
- A modem - this is a modulator/demodulator to allows your computer to talk through the telephone lines. A good, fast modem (56.6K as minimum) will cost about £50.
- A telephone line - this does not have to be dedicated but when you are connected to the Internet you cannot receive telephone calls. A dedicated line is best.
- Browser software - this is the software that translates the Internet documents, we recommend Netscape Navigator but there are many others.
- An ISP - This is an Internet Service provider.
2. Choosing your ISP
- The first thing to do is choose an ISP. This is your gateway to the Internet.
- The ISP can be provide either simple access to the Internet or include content of their own for members (e.g. AOL, CompuServe, MSN). Content providers are generally more expensive and we do not find the content worth the extra cost.
- Some ISP's offer low cost packages that give a limited number of hours access per month. Unless you are going to be a very light user then do not be tempted. Hours are used quickly and the costs for exceeding them are high. Choose a provider with unlimited access hours!
- Access to the Internet is via your telephone line and call charges mount rapidly. Most providers have an 0345 access number and local call charges apply wherever you surf. Check that the access number is a local one and put it on your "Friends and Family" list!
- The browser software is generally provided by the ISP. It is easy to set up and the ISP should provide a Help Line for you to talk to real people. This is important in the early stages.
- ISP's vary in quality and services. Some are dedicated to corporate accounts and charge accordingly. Our recommendation for a start is Abel Internet (0131 445 5555). They are in Edinburgh but have 0345 for the UK. Talk to them and mention Tangram Technology (Dr Robin Kent) if you want. Others to investigate are Easynet, Claranet and Nildram.
3. What does it cost?
- The cost depends on the type and range of services you want.
- Single user account - for simple home or business access and costs vary from £4.99 to £15.00 per month.
- Corporate account - these generally use an ISDN line, are more complex and the costs are greater. Each provider's charges are different, ask before you sign up!
- Email address - your email address will generally be "name@ isp_provider.net.uk" or similar. Not very distinctive! If you want an address such as "email@example.com" you need to register it. This costs about £80 per year and is done by the ISP. If somebody has already registered the name you cannot have it. Get yours now before the one you want is gone!
- Web space - most ISP's provide 5 to 10Mb of Web Space free. This is a lot of space. The Tangram site is medium sized at about 70 pages (http://www.abel.net.uk/~tangram) and is still under 1Mb. Huge graphics eat space but 5Mb is enough for a good site and to provide for expansion. If you want more then it costs about £25 per 5Mb per month. Keep it small.
- Web address or URL (Universal Resource Locator) - If using the ISP address your address will be of the type "http://www.abel.net.uk/~tangram" (see above). To have an address of the type "http://www.tangram.uk" you need a corporate package and the cost is more.
- Our recommendation is to start out with a single user account until you understand the Internet. This costs less and you can get experience easily.
4. What is the World Wide Web and what is a Web Site?
- The World Wide Web is a computer network covering the whole world. You can access any computer on the Web for the cost of a local call. Web Pages are stored on the host computer in a format known as HTML and the browser translates these into an image on your computer.
- A Web Site is a collection of linked pages on a common theme. The pages include hyperlinks that you click on to navigate around (surf). The hyperlinks can connect to other Web pages. This means that you can start on pages in the UK and end up anywhere in the world.
5. What is email?
- Email is electronic mail and is a way of sending text (plain email) or computer files to anybody on the Net. You can send and receive mail only when connected to the Net. Email is stored by your ISP until you pick it up and you can send it automatically when you log on.
- Email is instantaneous (almost) to anywhere in the world. It is also not secure - it is not for confidential documents unless you encrypt them!
- Email is a cheap and easy way of sending messages, communicating with customers and even sending photos or computer files around the world. All for the cost of a local phone call!
6. Do you need a Web Site and how do you get one?
- The Web is a major force in business - growth rates are about 40% per month. A Site works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout the world. No other medium has this power.
- A Web presence is strongly recommended, if only for email contact and a small Web Site.
- A basic Web Site is relatively easy to build - if you know how and if you have the resources. The disadvantage to home construction is that the style and design will show that it was not professionally built, this is not the image that you want to send. Initially it is best to get a small site built for you - starter packs are available from Tangram to get up and running quickly and to provide a shell for later extension. Contact us for full details.
- Once you have a site set up you announce it to the world, get yourself listed by the most common search engines (like a catalogue of what is on the Web) and generally tell people .
- The Web is optional and visitors go away easily. The secret to a good site is to get people to come back again and site design and content are critical. You can set up a site, get yourself listed in search engines, get references in other peoples pages and then lose customers because the site is slow and offers them nothing other than your normal advertising. You need to provide useful content for a popular site and marketing of the site is important.
- A Web Site is rapidly becoming a necessity. Sort one out today!
7. What are the other parts of the Internet?
- Usenet - this is about 20,000 discussion groups on all types of topics ranging from specific issues (e.g. sci.polymers is about plastics) to general chat. People throughout the world ask questions, provide answers and generally interact as a small community. There will be a discussion group that interests you. All you have to do is find it.
- FTP - this is for retrieving any of the thousands of software applications on the net. These are generally free except for the time taken to download the file.
Last edited: 11/03/10
© Tangram Technology Ltd. 1998
Our standard disclaimer regarding Internet data applies.