Internet Basic Concepts

Introduction

By the turn of the century, information, including access to the Internet, will be the basis for personal, economic, and political advancement. The popular name for the Internet is the information superhighway. Whether you want to find the latest financial news, browse through library catalogs, exchange information with colleagues, or join in a lively political debate, the Internet is the tool that will take you beyond telephones, faxes, and isolated computers to a burgeoning networked information frontier.

The Internet supplements the traditional tools you use to gather information, Data Graphics, News and correspond with other people. Used skillfully, the Internet shrinks the world and brings information, expertise, and knowledge on nearly every subject imaginable straight to your computer.

What is the Internet?

The Internet links are computer networks all over the world so that users can share resources and communicate with each other. Some computers have direct access to all the facilities on the Internet such as the universities. And other computers, eg privately-owned ones, have indirect links through a commercial service provider, who offers some or all of the Internet facilities. In order to be connected to Internet, you must go through service suppliers. Many options are offered with monthly rates. Depending on the option chosen, access time may vary.

The Internet is what we call a Meta network, that is, a network of networks that spans the globe. It’s impossible to give an exact count of the number of networks or users that comprise the Internet, but it is easily in the thousands and millions respectively. The Internet employs a set of standardized protocols which allow for the sharing of resources among different kinds of computers that communicate with each other on the network. These standards, sometimes referred to as the Internet Protocol Suite, are the rules that developers adhere to when creating new functions for the Internet.

The Internet is also what we call a distributed system; there are no central archives. Technically, no one runs the Internet. Rather, the Internet is made up of thousands of smaller networks. The Internet thrives and develops as its many users find new ways to create, display and retrieve the information that constitutes the Internet.

History & Development of the Internet

In its infancy, the Internet was originally conceived by the Department of Defense as a way to protect government communications systems in the event of a military strike. The original network, dubbed ARPANet (for the Advanced Research Projects Agency that developed it) evolved into a communications channel among contractors, military personnel, and university researchers who were contributing to ARPA projects.

The network employed a set of standard protocols to create an effective way for these people to communicate and share data with each other.

ARPAnet’s popularity continued to spread among researchers, and in the 1980’s the National Science Foundation, whose NSFNet, linked several high speed computers, took charge of the what had come to be known as the Internet.

By the late 1980’s, thousands of cooperating networks were participating in the Internet.

In 1991, the U.S. High Performance Computing Act established the NREN (National Research & Education Network). NREN’s goal was to develop and maintain high-speed networks for research and education, and to investigate commercial uses for the Internet.

The rest, as they say, is history in the making. The Internet has been improved through the developments of such services as Gopher and the World Wide Web.

Even though the Internet is predominantly thought of as a research oriented network, it continues to grow as an informational, creative, and commercial resource every day and all over the world.

Who Pays for the Internet?

There is no clear answer to this question because the Internet is not one “thing”, it’s many things. No one central agency exists that charges individual Internet users. Rather, individuals and institutions who use the Internet pay a local or regional Internet service provider for their share of services. And in turn, those smaller Internet service providers might purchase services from an even larger network. So basically, everyone who uses the Internet in some way pays for part of it.

What makes the internet work?

The unique thing about the Internet is that it allows many different computers to connect and talk to each other. This is possible because of a set of standards, known as protocols, that govern the transmission of data over the network: TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). Most people who use the Internet aren’t so interested in details related to these protocols. They do, however, want to know what they can do on the Internet and how to do it effectively.

The Client/Server Model:

The most popular Internet tools operate as client/server systems. You’re running a program called a Web client. This piece of software displays documents for you and carries out your requests. If it becomes necessary to connect to another type of service–say, to set up a Telnet session, or to download a file–your Web client will take care of this, too. Your Web client connects (or “talks”) to a Web server to ask for information on your behalf.

The Web server is a computer running another type of Web software which provides data, or “serves up” an information resource to your Web client.

All of the basic Internet tools–including Telnet, FTP, Gopher, and the World Wide Web–are based upon the cooperation of a client and one or more servers. In each case, you interact with the client program and it manages the details of how data is presented to you or the way in which you can look for resources. In turn, the client interacts with one or more servers where the information resides. The server receives a request, processes it, and sends a result, without having to know the details of your computer system, because the client software on your computer system is handling those details.

The advantage of the client/server model lies in distributing the work so that each tool can focus or specialize on particular tasks: the server serves information to many users while the client software for each user handles the individual user’s interface and other details of the requests and results.

The Use of Local Clients:

Every computer should be equipped with basic client software packages that allow you to perform functions such as electronic mail, Telnet, Gopher, and FTP.

Electronic mail on the internet:

Electronic mail, or e-mail, is probably the most popular and widely used Internet function. E-mail, email, or just mail, is a fast and efficient way to communicate with friends or colleagues. You can communicate with one person at a time or thousands; you can receive and send files and other information. You can even subscribe to electronic journals and newsletters. You can send an e-mail message to a person in the same building or on the other side of the world.

How does E-mail Work?

E-mail is an asynchronous form of communication, meaning that the person whom you want to read your message doesn’t have to be available at the precise moment you send your message. This is a great convenience for both you and the recipient.

On the other hand, the telephone, which is a synchronous communication medium, requires that both you and your listener be on the line at the same time in order for you to communicate (unless you leave a voice message). It will be impossible to discuss all the details of the many e-mail packages available to Internet users.

Fortunately, however, most of these programs share basic functionality which allow you to:

*send and receive mail messages

*save your messages in a file

*print mail messages

*reply to mail messages

*attach a file to a mail message

Reading an Internet Address:

To use Internet e-mail successfully, you must understand how the names and addresses for computers and people on the Internet are formatted. Mastering this technique is just as important as knowing how to use telephone numbers or postal addresses correctly.

Fortunately, after you get the hang of them, Internet addresses are usually no more complex than phone numbers and postal addresses.

And, like those methods of identifying a person, an organization, or a geographic location–usually by a telephone number or a street address–Internet addresses have rules and conventions for use.

Sample Internet Address: custcare@aucegypt.edu

The Internet address has three parts:

1.a user name [custcare in the example above]

2.an “at” sign (@)

3.the address of the user’s mail server [aucegypt.edu in the example above] Sometimes it’s useful to read an Internet address (like custcare@aucegypt.edu) or a domain name from right to left because it helps you determine information about the source of the address.

An address like 201B6DQF@asu.edu doesn’t tell me much about the person who’s sending me a message, but I can deduce that the sender is affiliated with an educational institution because of the suffix edu.

The right-most segment of domain names usually adhere to the naming conventions listed below:

EDU   Educational sites in the United States

COM  Commercial sites in the United States

GOV  Government sites in the United States

NET   Network administrative organizations

MIL    Military sites in the United States

ORG  Organizations in the U.S. not covered by the categories above (e.g., non-profit orginaizations).

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