Accessing the Internet

In order to use the internet, you need to be connected to a network. Most computers now are built with an internal modem. A modem allows computer messages to be sent over phone lines. Most internet services are still delivered via phone. Some internet service is called "dial up" service, which means that your computer dials a number to connect with a network. These computer systems are considered "slow speed" and are measured in kilobytes per second. There are an increasing number of computers which are connected to the internet full-time and don't use the same phone line that people use for ordering pizza. These include several types of connections, all referred to as "high-speed" connections. These include cable, DSL (digital subscriber lines), T1-T3 lines, satellite and probably more.

When you first get online, the page that comes up is called your home page. You can set your home page to anything you'd like, as long as you know how. (It's on the computer's "settings" preferences.) You could even set your home page to the Twinkies experiment test site. Your home page is your starting place in cyber-space.

You will notice that there is an address bar at the top of the page. If this is not there, panic. Afterwards, click on "view" at the top of the page, and then "toolbars" and "address bar." The address of this page is Let me tell ya what all that fancy talk means.

What you are looking at is called the web address. An address tells you where you are. Your home address may consist of a street, a city, a state and maybe even have a few numbers thrown in to tell the postal worker where to drop off your valuable coupons and bills. Internet addresses are no different. This crazy bunch of words has many different names. This is also called the URL or Uniform Resource Locator, the domain name, the I.P. Address or just plain address. Once, all these were just a series of numbers, but people have a hard time remembering numbers. Each location was given a name as well. This name is your way of accessing a site. Occasionally, you may run into a site or two that still uses numbers, such as Let's break down this page's URL into its parts. HTTP is a short way of saying "HyperText Transfer Protocol." Sorry about all the geek-speak. If a person who spoke English was traveling in a foreign country, she might start a conversation with, "Do you speak English?" Computers do the same, although this is more informing than asking. "I am going to speak English now." The http tells the computer it is talking in internet language. This language is understood by Mac and IBM compatible computers, and computers of all races and creeds. You could say that the internet is the Esperanto of the digital world.

Anyway, let's get back to the address. Most addresses start with "www" which is short for "world-wide web." This web is a system of linked computers. These computers store more information than a person could handle in several lifetimes. More and more web addresses are not using the www prefix. Make sure you double check whether the address has this feature.

After the www, if it has one, comes the domain name. This usually refers to the company who is paying for the site, or a name chosen by the payers. The domain name may have letters, numbers, dashes or underscores (_) and it may be descriptive or misleading. If I wanted to view Jordan School District's site, I should know that they're at This particular site is "" which I purchased. The ".com" at the end generally refers to "company" but there is no guarantee that .coms are companies, or .orgs are organizations. Here are a list of some fairly common endings of domain names and what they mean:
gov -
edu -
org -
mil -
com -
net -

ca -
th -
us -
Government agencies
Educational institutions
Organizations (nonprofit)
commercial business
Network organizations

Codes (Incomplete list)
United States

So, we have learned what means. The part before that, the "html" in "" is a sub-domain. Everything after that is just sub files. The "superiorhtml" is the name of my site, and the name of this page is "access.html." I chose the name access because this page talks about accessing the internet, and the "html" at the end tells the computer that my page is written in HyperText-Markup Language, or the language of the internet. That's the language you're going to learn. It's really fun once you get the hang of it.

So now that you know a little about the jargon, let's get into searching on the internet.
Back Home Forward