Lesson 1   Introduction to Web Browsers

Getting Connected
       Information on the Internet is a collection of documents from all over the world linked together by computer networks. There are several components to the Internet as outlined in the table below:

The Internet
E-Mail WWW Usenet News FTP
Send and receive mail Connect to Web sites
around the world
Read and post News Send and receive files

       In order to access the Internet, one needs special computer software called an Internet browser. There are many different types of software for Internet access, however, in this module, we will focus on two multi-component Internet software programs: 1) Netscape (NS) and 2) Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). Netscape and Internet Explorer are the two most popular Internet browsers on the market today. They both have a user-friendly, graphical interface and are capable of performing all of the functions listed in the table above.

The most current version of Netscape (Communicator 4.X) is FREE and features the following components:

  • Messenger - an e-mail client
  • Navigator - a web browser
  • Collabra Discussion Groups - a usenet news client
  • Composer - a web editor
  • Conference - a conferencing client
The most current version of Internet Explorer (4.0) is FREE and features the following components:
  • IE WWW Browser
  • IE Mail or Outlook Express - e-mail Clients
  • IE News - a usenet news client
  • NetMeeting - video conferencing
  • FrontPage Express - web authoring tool (pared-down version of MS FrontPage)
        Other browsers include such programs as Opera, NeoPlanet, and NSCA Mosaic. Even though we will be learning about the features of Netscape and Internet Explorer, these features are common to most popular browsers. If you are running an older computer with less than 16 megs of RAM and have a small hard drive, you many find that one of these browser may best suite your needs. Netscape and Internet Explorer also have older versions for older computers.

       In order to run these browsers on your personal computer you will need the following:

  • A computer running a Windows or Mac operating system
  • A modem for dialing into an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  • An Internet connection to an ISP or network (usually requires establishing an account with the provider)
  • A program for dialing
    • Win 95 and 98 usually come with Dial-up Networking (they have their own Winsock software)
    • Win 3.1 - you will need to get a Winsock program (ie: Trumpet Winsock)
    • most current Macs come with a PPP dialing program and TCP/IP for connecting, or you can get a copy of Free PPP
    Your ISP will have all the information you need concerning this.
  • The browser software
    • IE comes pre-loaded with any Windows 95+ operating system. Upgraded versions can be found at MS Internet Explorer
    • Some computers come pre-loaded with NS, however, if they only have IE you can download Netscape for free or get a copy from you ISP
    Note: If you have enough memory, you can have both programs on your computer!
       Obviously, if you are using a computer at school or the public library, you need not worry about the connection process. Most of the SCILnet schools and libraries will be connected to the Internet with high speed lines (T1 or 56K) and will be set up by your technology coordinator.

Starting and Closing Your Browser
    To begin using your browser, double-click the icon on your desktop (or find it in your Programs or Applications folder) to launch the program.

Netscape 3.X icon      Netscape 4.X icon      Internet Explorer icon

If you are using a modem, this should also launch your dialing program and connect you to the Internet. If you are on a network, you will connect directly through the network. What does the window look like? Well, if you are reading this...you are already there!

Note: If you are running an older version of the browser, you can download a newer version right off the Internet. Use the links in the Getting Connect section above to go to your browser's home site.

       To end your Internet session, make sure to exit the browser by using one of the Close functions of your operating system. Also, if you are on a modem (a dial-up account), make sure to close (disconnect) your dialing program, otherwise you will be connected to the Internet and paying for time.

Assignment BB1 - Starting and Closing
       Practice opening and closing your browser until you feel comfortable with the connection process. Make sure to disconnect your modem each time if you are on a dial-up account.

Next: Lesson 2 - You're Online - Home Page and URL's

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