Web 101

Surf's up!
You've made your first connection to your Internet Service provider, and now you are ready to begin surfing. The question is where do you start?

Most web browsers, when you invoke (run) them, will come up to a default webpage. That is, they will automatically take you to a specific place on the Internet, a place that's been pre-programmed by the browser company or your ISP, for you.

When you are surfing the web, you can choose from millions of websites to visit. Your browser has several ways of allowing you to do this.

Navigator has two distinct ways of allowing you to surf to any location, assuming you already know the URL you need.

There is the File|Open Location option from the main menu and there is the location window on the menu bar. All you need do in either spot is enter the URL you require and away you go.

All of these perform virtually the same function. You enter the address of the location you wish to visit and the browser will take you there.

Picking your First Resources.

The first step to insuring a more productive life on the Information Superhighway is picking some resources and bookmarking them. In order to locate a particular resource on the Internet you will need to know its address. An address can be considered the location of a resource, and all items, including you, have an address if they are on the Internet. Just as you have an email address which is different from everyone else, so too, can there be sites within sites, resources within resources.

Each type of resource has a slightly different format address and name, but the two most common addresses you will have to deal with are EMAIL and WWW addresses.

An email address goes to a specific person. i.e.
Joan Q. Public@anysite.com

The WWW address specifies exactly where on the system to go. i.e.

While Email addresses are simply called "addresses", a WWW address is called a URL or Universal Resource Locator.

There are numerous resources on the net which everybody needs from time to time. The big problem is knowing which resource you need. While everyone has certain specific needs, there are a few common resources which everyone should use.

The first type of resource you should pick concerns searching the Internet. Basically there are two types of Search Engines, Web Crawlers and Directories.

Web Crawlers. A Web Crawler (sometimes called a spider) is an automated search engine. When someone submits a resource(website) to the search engines it sends a small, but powerful program back to the site of the submission which scans the site for more resources. If it finds additional resources, it catalogs them as well as the original resource. The advantage of this is you can find information in a site, even if the site is not dedicated to that specific type of information. For example, locating information on Airplanes in a site about NASA space activities. The main drawback to this type of search engine is the tendency to catalog too much information.

A couple of examples of the best crawlers are;
  • Google (http://www.google.com/)
  • A9 (http://www.a9.com/)
  • Alta Vista (http://www.altavista.com/)
Directories. Directories are the Yellow Pages of the Internet. They contain only that information which has been submitted to them. Here you will find vast listings of resources, but if the person submitting the information didn't include all of the description of his/her site, you may not find what you are looking for.

A couple of examples of Directories are;
  • YAHOO! (http://www.yahoo.com)
  • Infospace (http://www.infospace.com/)
  • Hotsheet (http://www.hotsheet.com/)
The directories may not be as up to date, but when you are looking for specific information, it's usually easier to try a directory first. If that fails to yield results, try one of the search engines.

Bookmarking your Resources

Nearly all of the Internet web browsers available today have a feature which is like an automated address book. Some call it "Hot Listing", others call it "Book Marking". In any case, the effect is the same. Bookmarking allows you to grab a copy of a URL and store it so that you can easily go back to the site at a future time.

Below we have provided instructions for bookmarking using two popular Internet web browsers;

Netscape Navigator (Version 4.0/5.0)
  1. Go to the First Page of the Site.
  2. Click on the Menu Option labeled "BookMarks"
  3. Move the mouse pointer down to the option labeled "Add a Bookmark" and click on it.
Explorer (Version 5.0 or better)
  1. Go to the First Page of the Site.
  2. Click on "Favorites" in the button bar, then select "Add to Favorites".
Navigator's BookMarks are added to the main menu, which has a limitation to the maximum number of elements. You will ultimately have a "More BookMarks..." entry at the bottom of the menu, which will take you to a another window where you can locate and manipulate your BookMarks. We will delve into Bookmark management in further detail in a later chapter.

We suggest that you take the time to bookmark the links provided above in addition to our own site. Click the button below to automatically bookmark Blastcomm.

To use a bookmark, open either the Bookmark menu, or click on the Hot list and select the site you wish to go to. Navigator users will find themselves at the new site simply by selecting the option on the menu.

Searching the Internet

By now you should have several sites bookmarked. So what's the next step? Simple, now its time to start looking for information. We have several search engines bookmarked but that's only the first step.

What can you search for? Nearly everything! It would be improper to state that the Internet contains the sum total of all human knowledge, however its getting there very quickly.

Use one of your new BookMarks and surf over to one of the search engines. Here you will be presented with a webpage, which has a field in which you can enter terms to look for. All of these systems have a help section or FAQ clearly marked, so if you get into trouble, you can either hit your "back" button or try the site help file.

You begin your search by entering some sort of search criteria into an editable field on your screen, then pressing the search button.

Searching the Internet for some particular information can be both a frustrating experience and a rewarding one. Its best to start with a particular search engine or directory, looking for what you need. Remember that there is a considerable overlap between the contents of one engine and another, so you will find similar references among them.

Let's say we are looking for information on a 1977 Jeep CJ-5, perhaps a supplier of parts for that automobile. Going to a search engine like Yahoo, you can search their database, but the real question becomes what keyword do you use? Yahoo allows only one keyword, or a phrase in their advanced search options.

Start by looking for "CJ-5", but in all likelihood, you won't find it. It's way too specific. You need to exercise care in picking search terms. For example, looking for items that weigh a "ton" will also return references to "Washington", "Alexander Hamilton" etc.

Having not found anything listed under CJ-5, or perhaps finding listings, but of the wrong type, widen your search by looking for "Jeep". Here you may find several dealers of Jeeps, perhaps even the parts supplier you need. You may also find someone's Homepage where they write about owning a jeep.

As you can see, the steps to finding your desired information are;
  1. Start Specific, (i.e. Search for "CJ-5".)
  2. Broaden your search if you don't find any reference. (i.e. Search for "Jeep")
  3. Broaden further if you still don't find anything. (i.e. Search for "Automotive")
There are many more more lessons than can be learned about the net, but this information should get you started. Good luck!