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Skin Diver on line's Internet Crash Course

The way to store and retrieve favorite sites is called bookmarks in Netscape or favorites in Internet Explorer. While at a site you'd like to see again, add the site to your list, and the browser automatically records that site for you. Your browser also stores the address of your home page, which is accessed by a button of the same name on the toolbar.

If you can read this, it's highly likely that you're using a Web browser. In brief, a browser is your interface to the World Wide Web; it interprets hypertext links and lets you view sites and navigate from one Internet node to another. Examples of Browsers are Microsoft's Internet Explorer and the Netscape Navigator.

According to Netscape, cookies are a "general mechanism which server side connections can use to both store and retrieve information on the client side of the connection." In English, that means cookies are small data files written to your hard drive by some Web sites when you view them in your browser. These data files contain information the site can use to track such things as passwords, lists of pages you've visited, and the date when you last looked at a certain page.

email - electronic mail
Whenever you send messages to people using a computer and they read it later, you've sent a piece of email. You can send email in several ways--across a local area network, via the Internet, or through an online service like CompuServe or America Online--and you can send it to a single recipient or to a whole slew of them. But all email behaves pretty much the same way: you send it to a virtual mailbox, and the recipient has to pick it up or can use software that does it automatically.

HTML - Hypertext Markup Language
As its name suggests, HTML is a collection of formatting commands that create hypertext documents--Web pages, to be exact. When you point your Web browser to a URL, the browser interprets the HTML commands embedded in the page and uses them to format the page's text and graphic elements. HTML commands cover many types of text formatting (bold and italic text, lists, headline fonts in various sizes, and so on), and also have the ability to include graphics and other nontext elements.

The Internet consists of countless networks and computers across the world that allow millions of people to share information. The lines that carry the majority of the information are know as the Internet backbone. While the government used to run things, now major Internet service providers (ISPs) such as MCI, GTE, Sprint, UUNET, and ANS own portions of the backbone--a good thing as they have the motivation and the revenue to maintain the quality of these large networks. For answers to commonly asked questions about the Internet, check out our recent feature:

ISP - Internet service provider
Once upon a time, you could only connect to the Internet if you belonged to a major university or had a note from the Pentagon. Not anymore: ISPs have arrived to act as your (ideally) user-friendly front end to all that the Internet offers. Most ISPs have a network of servers (mail, news, Web, and the like), routers, and modems attached to a permanent, high-speed Internet "backbone" connection. Subscribers can then dial into the local network to gain Internet access--without having to maintain servers, file for domain names, or learn Unix.

Sun Microsystems' Java is a programming language for adding animation and other action to Web sites. The small applications (called applets) that Java creates can play back on any graphical system that's Web-ready, but your Web browser has to be Java-capable for you to see it. According to Sun's description, Java is a "simple, object-oriented, distributed, interpreted, robust, secure, architecture-neutral, portable, high-performance, multithreaded, dynamic, buzzword-compliant, general-purpose programming language." And Sun should know.

Designed by Sun Microsystems and Netscape as an easy-to-use adjunct to the Java programming language, JavaScript code can be added to standard HTML pages to create interactive documents. As a result, JavaScript has found considerable use in the creation of interactive Web-based forms. Most modern browsers, including those from Microsoft and Netscape, contain JavaScript support.

The connection between one web page and another. On the Web, a link can be either text or graphics. Often a browser will indicate links by coloring them differently than plain text or graphics. Sometimes, links are referred to as "hyperlinks" or even "hotlinks."

A modem is an external box or internal circuitry that converts computer data into sound that can be transmitted over phone lines. First used to send telegrams, early modems alternated between two different tones. This is called modulation, and the process of modulating (and demodulating at the receiving end) gave the modem its name. These days modems transmit data with lots of different tones, signals, and complex mathematical processing, so modem is a bit of a misnomer.

Search Engine
When a user enters text into a search form, a program called a search engine analyzes the text and searches for matching terms in an index file, which was created using a search indexer. The search engine returns the results of its search using a results listing.

URL - Universal (or Uniform) resource locator
URLs are the Internet equivalent of addresses. How do they work? Like other types of addresses, they move from the general to the specific (from zip code to recipient, so to speak). Take this URL, for example:

   First you have the protocol: http:/
   then the server address or domain: /www.skin-diver.com
   and finally the directory: /Features/
   in which the file index.html resides.