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Information Technology
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Jul 31 - Aug 06, 2000

Kicker Many facets of IT — I

Many people think the Internet and the Web are simply two names for the same entity. Given the prominence of the World Wide Web, it is easy to forget there is a great deal more to the Information Superhighway than the Web itself.

If we view the Internet as a pie, the Web is a slice. A good-sized slice to be sure, but still only a fraction of the whole.

The Internet originated in order to spur communication between researchers and the military. In addition, people in general wanted to be able to connect to any computer on the network, no matter where it was located.

What follows are some of the tools developed to meet these needs. Obviously, some are more popular than others:

Electronic mail: E-mail was the original — and is still the most important — service provided by the Internet.

E-mail allows users to send messages to one another. Currently, all types of files can be attached to e-mail messages, including word-processing documents, video and audio clips, as well as images.

To read mail messages, you need a mail client, such as Microsoft Outlook Express.

News: Newsgroups resemble the old bulletin-board services of the early PC days.

Most newsgroups use the "threaded discussion model."

When someone posts a message, everyone on the Internet can see it by entering that newsgroup. Other users can then add their messages in response to the original, thereby creating a thread of discussion.

People also can create new message threads. To view and respond to newsgroups, you need a news reader. Such a client is provided with Outlook Express.

Telnet: From the very beginning, the Internet provided a means for logging into a remote computer and running programs. Telnet services provided this capability.

Although Telnet is much less frequently used today, it can still connect with remote computers.

A good example of using Telnet takes place when connecting with a remote library computer to search the card catalog or with a remote server to locate a file list.

FTP: The File Transfer Protocol was developed as a means of moving files among online computers.

Currently, FTP is the most common method of publishing pages on the Web and downloading files from the Web. Internet Explorer 4.0 has some FTP capabilities built in.

In other cases, you may need to secure a third-party FTP application, such as the shareware program Cute-FTP.

Real-time collaboration: Chat — simultaneous communication — has been part of the Internet since its inception. IRC (Internet Relay Chat). MIRC and ICQ are client programs that continue to be popular among people.

With the expansion of multimedia capabilities and the drop in the prices of video-capture devices, real-time audio and video-conferencing with programs such as Microsft's Net Meeting has become extremely popular.

World Wide Web: The Web's popularity among Internet services is so preeminent, people often mistakenly think that's all there is to the Internet.

The Web is a method of presenting richly textured documents, which can include graphics, sound, video clips, and hypertext links to other sites on the Internet.

Web content is presented in pages — documents created in hypertext markup language, or HTML. To view HTML pages, you need a browser such as Explorer 4.0 or Netscape Navigator.

M. Shahbaz Alibaig is a Web designer as well as the co-founder of www.foxvalley-guide.com. To ask him a question, e-mail to penews@postcrescent.com or mail to The Post-Crescent c/o the Fox Valley Inc. Editor. P.O. Box 59, Appleton 54912.