Understanding The Basics

This tutorial will help you understand common terms and tools of the Internet.

Internet
The Internet is a network of computers spanning the globe. This communication structure is a system connecting people all around the world. A global Web of computers, the Internet allows individuals to communicate with each other. Often called the World Wide Web, the Internet provides a quick and easy exchange of information and is recognized as the central tool in this Information Age.

Internet Browser
An Internet browser is a software program that enables you to access and navigate the Internet by viewing Web pages on your computer. The label Internet Browser describes a software program that provides users with a graphical interface that allows them to connect to the Internet and “surf the Web.” Simply speaking, a browser is a software program that enables you to view Web pages on your computer.

Internet Explorer and Firefox are commonly used for viewing the Internet. Internet Explorer and Firefox share many of the same functions, and it is possible to use both. There are other browsers available as well. It does not take many users long to develop a preference and “adopt” a browser. You may have already made the choice. Which are you using?

Not only will you need to be familiar with your browser “brand,” but you should also know the version of the browser you are using. Frequently, new versions of browsers are made available to computer users; normally they are available to be downloaded from the Internet at no charge.

Web Site
A site or area on the World Wide Web that is accessed by its own Internet address is called a Web site. A Web site can be a collection of related Web pages. Each Web site contains a home page and may also contain additional pages. Each Web site is owned and updated by an individual, company, or organization. Because the Web is a dynamically moving and changing entity, many Web sites change on a daily or even hourly basis.

Web Page
A Web page can be explained as one area of the World Wide Web. Comparable to a page in a book, the basic unit of every Web site or document on the Web is a page. A Web page can be an article, an ordering page, or a single paragraph, and it is usually a combination of text and graphics.

Home Page
The term home page has a couple of meanings. It is the Web page that your browser uses when it starts, and also the Web page that appears every time you open your browser. Clicking the home page icon on your browser screen will take you to the specific page you have set as your browser’s home page.

Home page also refers to the main Web page out of a collection of Web pages. On each site, often you will see home page as a choice on a Menu Bar. Clicking on the word Home on a Web page will take you to the home or main page of that particular Web site.

Title, Menu & Tool Bars

Title Bar
Let’s take it from the top. The name of the Web site or title of the page you are viewing is found on the top left hand corner of your screen. Traditionally, this horizontal blue bar runs across the entire width of your screen. This blue bar that contains the name of the Web site is called the Title Bar. The Title Bar will serve as a trusty anchor, always letting your know where you are by sharing the title of the Web site you are visiting. This bar does not take you anywhere, but it always lets you know where you are.

Menu Bar
Underneath the Title Bar are other bars that can be used for moving around the Internet. If you are looking for quick and easy ways to navigate, the bars located at the top of your screen under the Title Bar will be helpful. One of the most useful bars is the Menu Bar. You will quickly appreciate each of the options found on the Menu Bar.

The Menu Bar is the horizontal band that contains commands and options that can be chosen. In Internet Explorer, these selections are File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools, and Help.

Clicking on each of the items in the standard Menu Bar at the top of your page will drop down a menu that is a useful way to access the many features of the Internet Explorer program. The last menu item is the Help item. You will be surprised and relieved how often you will be able to click Help and find the answers you need.

The Menu Bar is a very useful tool when trying to make your way around a Web site. Because the Menu Bar offers so many helpful functions, the quicker you master File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools, and Help, the better. It does not take long to learn the purpose of each of these menu items that help you move around the Internet.

Address Bar
Because the Address Bar offers a unique method of navigating the Web, it will be explained in greater detail a little later in this lesson.

Tool Bar
As its name implies, this is the area where a lot of work gets done. The Tool Bar is much like the Menu Bar stretching from left to right across the top of your screen just under the Address Bar. Because the Tool Bar is the workhorse of bars, it is larger and contains many useful icons divided into three areas. Each of these icons has a text description of its function under the icon itself. If you do not see the text description, hold your cursor over the icon, and the function of the icon will appear. Either way, it will not take you long to associate each function with its picture. Let’s become familiar with the first area which contains five icons. The remainder of the icons on the Tool Bar will be explained in later lessons.

Back/Forward
The first icon on the Tool Bar is the Back Icon. You will be surprised how often you will want to return to a Web page or Web site you enjoyed earlier.

How about another direction change? Ready to return to the Web page you were viewing before you backtracked with the Back arrow? Yes, there is a tool for that. The Forward icon can return you to square one by revisiting each page successively.

Let’s review. How would you find a page that you have just visited? To return to the last page you viewed, simply click the Back arrow icon on the toolbar.

If you want to view one of the last nine pages you visited in this session, just click that small black down arrow located to the side of the Back or Forward icon. You will see a list of the sites you have visited previously. Then just click the page you want from the list.

Stop and Refresh Icons
It will not take you long to appreciate two other icons found on the Tool Bar. The Stop icon is located to the right of the Back and Forward arrows. Clicking the Stop icon will stop the page you have selected from downloading.

This icon is especially useful. Click the Stop icon if a page is taking too long to download. What if you changed your mind and do not want to visit a page? Just click this icon. Occasionally you find that you have clicked on a wrong link. Again, the Stop icon to the rescue.

The next icon is not quite as intuitive as the old familiar Stop icon. It is the Refresh icon. Refresh makes sure you are viewing the latest version of the current Web page. Remember one of the unique characteristics of the Internet is that it is dynamic and fluid. Information is continuously being added, and Web pages are constantly changing. It might be important to you that you are viewing the very latest information. For that reason, you have a Refresh icon. Just click the Refresh icon and your browser will reload the latest version of the page you are viewing.

Home Page Icon
In reference to this icon, home page is the Web page that your browser uses when it starts, the Web page that appears every time you open your browser. Clicking the home page icon found on the Tool Bar will take you to the specific page you have set as your browser’s home page.

Website Addresses & The Address Bar

Don’t be afraid of getting lost or overwhelmed on the mammoth Information Highway. There is an easy way to know where you are at all times. One way to keep track of where you are on the Web, especially if you have been moving around by links, is to check out the Address Box. This box gives you the location or address of the current page you are viewing.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
That unusual word at the top of the page is what is known as the locator box or address box of a Web page. Each Web page has a unique address called a Uniform Resource Locator or URL. The URL (pronounced U-R-L) is the specific address of a Web page.

There is a special system for addressing Internet sites. The URL or Web address is typically composed of four parts:

  • A protocol name (a protocol is a set of rules and standards that enable computers to exchange information)
  • The location of the site
  • The name of the organization that maintains the site
  • A suffix that identifies the kind of organization it is

For example, the address http://www.basicsbee.com is made up of the following areas:

  • http://
    This Web server uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This is the most common protocol on the Internet.
  • www
    This site is on the World Wide Web.
  • basicsbee
    The Web server is at basicsbee.
  • .com
    This is a common extension.

Some common extensions are:

  • .com (commercial)
  • .edu (educational institution)
  • .gov (government)
  • .mil (military)
  • .net (network)
  • .org (organization)

You might also see foreign addresses that add a country code as the last several digits of the address, such as:

  • .au (Australia)
  • .ca (Canada)
  • .fr (France)
  • .it (Italy)
  • .us (United States of America)

Address Bar
The Address Bar is an excellent tool that can be used for navigating the Web. If you know the address of a page you want to visit, type the URL in the Address Bar. Then press Enter on the keyboard or click on the word Go on the right side of the Address Bar.

The power of the computer really shines through with a feature called AutoComplete which is built into Internet Explorer. If you start typing a Web address that you have previously used, a list of matching addresses appears. The addresses of all the Web sites that you have visited are kept in the computer memory. Your browser will locate an address that you have previously typed in the Address Bar by searching for similar addresses trying to find a match. As you type each letter, the list is refined to match your typing. You can choose one of these addresses by simply moving your mouse over the name and clicking.

Navigating Web Pages & Web Sites

Hyperlinks
An easy way to move around on the World Wide Web is by hyperlinks. Hyperlinks provide a connection between Web pages that allows for amazingly easy access to other Web pages. A link or hyperlink can be text, an icon, a picture, or an icon that moves a user from one Web page or Web site to another. A hyperlink has an unseen Web address imbedded in it.

Positioning your cursor on a hyperlink and clicking your mouse will take you to the Web page whose address is embedded in the hyperlink. You can tell that this text has a hyperlink hidden in it because it is a different color and because it is underlined. Just click on the hyperlinked word and presto – you go off to the world of the underlined word. Hyperlinks are a great way to easily find out more about a particular word or concept. There seems to be no end to the information on this Information Highway!

Underlined Link
A text link appears as an underlined word on the web page. When you click this underlined word, you will instantly jump from one place to another.

Navigating Within a Web Page
So far, our main focus has been moving from Web page to Web page or navigating between Web sites, but that is only half the picture. Once you have moved from Web site to Web site and selected a Web page you want to concentrate on, there are convenient ways to move around that particular page itself.

Often a Web page holds more information than can fit on one screen. A Web page appears aligned to the upper left hand corner of your screen. There is often information that you cannot see farther down after the last line on the screen. Sometimes there is also more information to the right of the screen.

Slider & Arrows
Scrolling is an easy way to navigate on a Web page. You can scroll up and down and side to side by using either the horizontal or vertical onscreen scroll bars on the bottom and right side of the screen. To scroll using the onscreen scroll bars, simply position your cursor on the slider on the scroll bar. Hold the mouse button down and drag the slider up and/or down on the vertical scroll bar (or side to side on the horizontal scroll bar). You can also position your cursor over the arrows at the top and the bottom of the vertical scroll bar (left and right sides of the horizontal scroll bar) to move one line at a time.

Using Arrow Keys
The keyboard holds some other choices for helping you move around a Web page. The first are the Page Up and Page Down keys on your keyboard. Pressing these keys while on a Web page, will move you up and/or down the screen one page at a time. The Arrow keys on the keyboard are convenient tools for moving the focus of your computer screen up, down, left, or right. These keys will move the screen more slowly, moving one line at a time.

Printing

Printing Pages
With all this navigating and exploring of Web pages, you have probably seen information that you would like to save in the old-fashioned way — with a printed-paper copy. As you viewed pages on the Web, did you find information that you’d like to save for future reference or share with others?

The computer world gives you the option of saving an entire Web page or any part of it: text, graphics, or links in printed form. Printing Web pages is very easy, thanks to that helpful Tool Bar. See the printer icon on the Tool Bar? That is the answer if you want a paper copy of a Web page you have found useful. A thoughtful gesture is to share Internet information by printing Web pages for people who don’t have access to the Web or a computer.

To print a Web page, just click the printer icon on your Tool Bar. The page will print according to all your default options, which is usually what you want anyway.

There is another, more detailed way to print material from the Internet. Go to the Menu Bar and click on File. You will now see a dropdown menu offering a variety of choices, one of them being Print. Click Print. You will now be able to print a Web page, a portion of a Web page, or several copies of a Web page by making specific selections. You can select the printing options you want.

A nice way to double-check yourself is to preview how a Web page will look before you click the Print command; just click Print Preview.

Finding Things

Search
Now we are ready to tackle the middle segment of the Tool Bar. Back to those icons that do much of the work for us when surfing the Web. The first icon in this section is the magnifying glass or the Search icon.

The outstanding value of the computer is the access that it offers to information. But users need some help in getting to that great source of information. And here is that help – the Search feature. The computer has a great program to find a particular area of content for documents that contain certain keywords, the search feature.

To use the Search feature, click the Search icon (magnifying glass) on the Tool Bar and you will gain access to a search engine. In the Search bar, type that word or phrase that describes what you’re looking for. Try to keep your topic as short and specific as possible. When your search results appear, you can view the individual Web pages without losing your list of search results.

You can also search directly from the Address Bar. Just type common names or words, and your browser can automatically take you to the site that most likely matches what you are searching for. Your browser will list other likely sites as well. Just type common names or words in the Address Bar, and then click Go.

Favorites
The next icon in this center section of the Tool Bar is Favorites, the real stars of your Internet show. You will easily recognize the folder with the star (asterisk) as your Favorites icon.

The real trick to the Internet is having it work for you. There is so much information available that you must be able to manage it rather than it manage you. Probably the first experience in customizing the Web for yourself will be selecting some Favorites. Favorites are just what they sound like — your favorite sites on the Internet. Better than that, this special function offers you an express ride to your favorite and/or most visited sites on the Web.

When you find Web sites or pages that you like, you can keep track of them using the Favorites feature, making them easy to return to in the future. Favorites is a customized list of links to your most frequently used and popular online areas or Web sites.

It’s easy to add a Web page to your list of Favorites. After you have done that, any time you want to open that page, all you have to do is click the Favorites icon on the main Tool Bar. You will then be given a dropdown menu from which you can open one of your favorite pages. After you add a site to your list of Favorites, you can access it at any time from your list with a simple click of your mouse.

History
Your trusty Tool Bar offers another feature for retracing your surfing steps — the History icon. This icon will offer you the option of revisiting a Web site you have previously visited during your last several Internet sessions. This is a real treat and can save you from having to type long, complicated URLs in the search box.

Get to know the icon that represents History. It is a sundial. The History function will let you sort and choose sites to revisit by date, by site, by most visited, by order visited today, and even by search.

On the History menu, click a week or day. Then click a Web site folder to display individual pages, and then click the page icon to display the Web page. Here is another little tip: if you decide you want to hide the History Menu box, just click the History icon again.

Handling Common Problems

Surfing the Web is not without some snafus. Here are a few of the aggravations and what to do about them.

Pop Up Ads
Many of the irritations and aggravations are caused by aggressive marketers who want to get your eyes on their information. One popular way to invade your screen is through pop ups. Pop ups are ads that appear without your request usually on top of the information that you want to view.

You can get rid of them by simply clicking on the X in the upper right hand corner of the box containing the ad. Another kind of ad has become increasing popular: the pop under ad. While you are surfing the Web, these ads open under your browser window. You may not see them until after you close your browser, at which time you may wonder where the ad came from. Again, simply close the window and ignore it.

Pop up and pop under ads are extremely aggravating. Remember, if you respond to a pop up or pop under ad, you are letting the marketers know that they have gotten your attention. If no one ever clicked on these ads, marketers would consider them a failure, and they would quickly disappear.

Page Not Found
You are already becoming familiar with the two major characteristics of the Internet — it is mammoth and dynamic. Often the dynamic quality of the Web can be frustrating. You may have a particular site that you need to find or return to. You carefully type in the URL and click Go. There is a message that appears, “Page Not Found.” The most common reason for a Page Not Found error is a typo, so first check the address that you have typed to make sure that it is a valid address with no spaces or mistakes.

Occasionally, you will get a Page Not Found error simply because of a glitch in the system. Retry the address again. If you still get an error, try again later. If, after several tries, Page Not Found still appears, the page may have been removed from the Internet or moved to a new location making it inaccessible.

Web Traffic
Sometimes a Web page becomes inaccessible simply because there are too many people trying to visit it at the same time. If this is the case, you may get a “Page Not Found” or other error.

Also remember that during certain times of the day, there is more traffic on the Internet, making Web sites appears more slowly. You may want to avoid surfing during the very busy early evening hours.

Stuck in a Page
One of the goals of every Web site is to get visitors to come to their site. Sometimes Web creators use somewhat devious tricks to keep you looking at their Web sites. You will notice that occasionally when you click on a hyperlink, instead of being transported to a new page, you see the new page appear in the framework of the old page. No matter how many links you click on, you cannot escape from the first page. Dealing with this dilemma is easy. Just right-click on a hyperlink and choose Open in New Window, and you will have broken free.