A.C.'s Internet Primer

In the past few years, hundreds of thousands of people have joined the technological revolution and become "wired". Family members have begun to learn the value of the Internet as a tool for keeping in touch, and even traditionally non-technical people are overcoming their fear of computers and learning to e-mail, chat, and surf like champs.

But there's a lot to learn! And much of that learning has to be done by fumbling around in the dark, making lots of mistakes, occasionally bruising some fragile egos and incurring (whether deserved or not) the virtual wrath of others.

I know that many people in my own family have only begun learning about the intricacies of the Internet, so I decided to put together a this guide to cover some of the basics, and provide a jumping-off point for further explorations you can do on your own.

I am always interested to hear feedback, so if you have any questions or comments about this site, please click here to send me a note!

Thanks, and without further ado, let's start learning!
The Basics

Ok. Before we jump off, we need to cover some basics, specifically dealing with how to use this guide. There's no sense putting a great primer together if it's too hard to use. So let's define some terms.
Web Page What you are reading right now is called a Web Page. Generally, web pages consist of text, graphics, and "hypertext". Hypertext is hidden information which is not generally shown, but affects the form or functionality of the page. For example, I used some Hypertext to make the words "Web Page" turn bold over there to the left.
Link Any piece of text or graphic that you can move your mouse over and click on is called a Link. Think of a Link as a doorway between rooms. Clicking on the Link is like walking from one room to the next, only instead of rooms, you're moving betwee web pages. In something like 90% of the web pages out there, a link looks like this:
Click me!

It is underlined text, usually either blue or purple. In this case, clicking on the link will take you to the Yahoo home page, but links can take you just about anywhere! Blue links usually indicate a link to a page you have not seen yet, and purple links indicate that you have already been to the web page on the other side of the link. Sometimes links are not underlined or a different color - in that case, you can tell that a link or graphic is a link by moving the mouse cursor over it. For example, one of the words in this sentence is a link, but doesn't look any different. Move your mouse over the sentence until you find and click on it.
Browser The program you're using to view this web page is called a Browser. Most likely, it is Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, or Communicator. It might be AOL or Earthlink (which also uses Explorer, last time I checked), but the exact name is not important. What I'd like to make sure you know is how to use the forward/back buttons on your browser. Look up above, at the top of the window, until you find a button that's labelled "Back". It might also simply have an arrow pointing to the left. If you want to go back to the page you were just visiting, simply click that button. Try it now - click here to go to Yahoo, then use your browser's Back button to return to this page. Explore using the back and forwards buttons to move freely between pages you've visited.

Just the FAQs, Ma'am.

It's taken some time just to get this much of the Guide written, but don't despair - there's LOTS more to be learned! I just haven't yet gotten one of these. (Go ahead - click on the link. You can always use your "Back" button to return and keep reading. Remember - surfing the web is dynamic. It's not like reading a book. You can skip easily from topic to topic as your interests change.) So if you know anyone who could send me one, I'd appreciate it.

In the meantime, try moving your mouse over the word "FAQs", above, but don't click. Notice that after a brief moment, a definition comes up for "FAQ". I will try to include definitions for most commonly-used terms like this, but if I miss one, you might also try looking in the Glossary. To get to the Glossary, simply click on the word "FAQ", above.

Happy reading!