Internet 101/Testing the Waters
Part II of our series explains installing and configuring the software
needed to surf the Internet, plus basic cruising tips
Last month, we reviewed the computer equipment you need and the kinds
of services available to connect you to the Internet (see Professional
Jeweler,July 1998, pp. 112-113). Now, let's get started.
If you've decided to use a commercial on-line service (also called a
"membership network") such as America OnLine or Microsoft Network,
the service will send you a CD-ROM or disk containing the software and configuration
instructions your computer will need to connect to the service. The software
will include a specialized Web "browser" to read pages on the
Internet and World Wide Web.
If you're using a smaller Internet service provider (ISP) or "independent
provider," you can connect directly to the Internet using your choice
of software without having to navigate through the commercial service's
setup. While you'll probably have fewer busy signals when you're trying
to connect to go on-line, loading the software and following configuration
instructions for smaller ISPs can be more difficult, though certainly not
impossible (see "Loading and Configuring Your Software" on the
This month, we'll give you instructions for using the two most common
services. For Web TV and @Home cable service (the two other kinds of Internet
hook-ups), check with those services for instruction.
Make sure your phone line is free and the computer is plugged into the phone
jack. Also, if you have to dial any prefixes when you make a phone call
(such as "9" to get an outside line), add that to the phone number
you'll dial to connect to your service provider's server. (Your service
provider will give you a list of local phone numbers.) When you type in
the number on the screen, it helps to add a "space" between a
dialing prefix (such as "9") and the actual phone number to give
the dial tone time to recognize the command. To do so, type two commas:
"9,,555-5555." The place to enter a prefix varies with each service
Next, open the connection software (PPP, FreePPP or Winsock). If you
have a commercial provider such as America OnLine, the connection screen
will open automatically. If it doesn't appear, the connection software is
often stored in the control panels of your computer. Though screens vary,
most feature two buttons that say something like "Open Connection"
and "Close Connection." Double click "Open." Your modem
will begin dialing. You may hear a series of long, shrill screeches; these
mean your modem and the server's modem are talking to each other, and it's
the sign of a healthy connection. Once the sounds stop, the "Open"
button should fade and become inoperable, and the "Close" button
will light up you're connected.
If your modem doesn't connect as described above, here are some messages
and signals you might encounter:
- "Modem Did Not Respond" or "Modem Did Not Initialize."
Be sure your modem is on and correctly connected to your phone line. Be
sure the phone cord is plugged into the right jack. If all looks correct,
get out the instruction sheet or call your ISP technical support hotline
- No dial tone detected. Make sure the phone cord is securely plugged
in to the wall and the back of the modem or computer and that the line
- Busy signal. Too many people are dialing in to the same access phone
number. Try connecting during the day instead of the evening (7-10 p.m.
are the busiest hours) or change to a smaller service provider.
- "PPP Timeout!" The PPP software is programmed to "timeout"
or terminate the connection if it takes too long to connect. Continue trying;
if the problem persists, restart your computer and try again.
- "The Server Is Busy or Not Responding." The server of the
site you're trying to access is down or too many people are trying to access
it. Try again, or if the problem persists, try again later.
You're on-line, so it's time to open your Web browser software (usually
Netscape or Internet Explorer) if you're affiliated with an ISP. Double
click on your browser's icon to fire up the software. If you have a commercial
service provider, the software will open automatically, offering options
for members. If you want to see the World Wide Web from here, click on the
button that says "Go to the Internet."
When the browser window opens, there will be some buttons and a long
bar across the top of the screen. The bar is where you type the address
of the site you want to visit. All addresses begin with the prefix http://
and will usually (but not always) include the letters "www." and
then the name of the site and a suffix (popular ones are ".com"
for company, ".net" for network, ".edu" for educational
institutions and ".org" for organizations). Each part of the address
is separated by a single period, such as "http://www.professionaljeweler.com"
in our address. To view a particular Web site, type the address in the bar
and press "Return" or "Enter" on your keyboard.
A few navigation basics: move back and forth between the sites you've
visited by using the "Back" and "Forward" buttons on
your menu bar at the top of the window. When text within a site appears
blue and underlined, it's a hyperlink or link click on it with your
cursor to go to that page or site. If your cursor changes to a pointing
hand when you pass it over a graphic, the graphic is also a link to another
page or site.
To get started, try these addresses:
- http://www.yahoo.com This is a popular "search engine"
site because it indexes many sites on the Web by topic. Click on the broad
topics (for example, "Computers and Internet") to find subtopics
and pages that interest you.
- http://www.polygon.net The Polygon Network is a collection of
jewelry organizations and magazines. You must register for a password,
which will involve filling out an easy on-line form. Once you're a member,
you can visit the Web pages of associations such as Jewelers of America,
the American Gem Society and the Jewelers' Security Alliance.
Next month: Using e-mail and advanced Web surfing.
Loading and Configuring Your Software
If you use a smaller Internet service provider instead of a big commercial
service such as American OnLine (which make connecting a quick task), follow
these instructions. Enlist the help of a volunteer or paid computer expert
if the going gets tough. It's not worth the hours you'll waste if you are
a computer novice.
Once you've loaded the software provided by your ISP, your hard drive
should include software called TCP/IP (this establishes a connection between
your modem and your Internet provider's server) and another application
(generally PPP, FreePPP or Winsock) that helps flip the switch.
You will probably have all or most of the following: a Web browser (Netscape
Navigator and Internet Explorer are the most common), e-mail software (Eudora,
Pegasus Mail), File Transfer Protocol or FTP (Fetch, Anarchie), telnet and
Many Internet service providers have the foresight to "configure"
your software for you. Somebody has to program the server address and other
routing information (usually complicated rows of numbers and punctuation)
into your TCP/IP software so it will instruct the server to dial when you
finally try to connect. Often Internet companies will customize the software
they send you so you can simply push a button.
When you sign up for your monthly service, ask three questions:
- "Is the dial-up software preconfigured, so I don't have to do
- "Could you please fax me a step-by-step instruction sheet on connecting
for the first time?"
- "Could I have your technical support number, just in case?"
A "yes" to all of these inquiries will make your first connection
experience much less painful.
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.