Internet 101/ Beyond the Web
You've mastered your surfing skills, now it's time to take over the
Many people think "Internet" and "World Wide Web"
are synonymous, but the Internet is a much more inclusive term and virtual
"place." Once you've connected to your Internet service provider's
(ISP) server, you can use different types of software to take full advantage
of the Internet's capabilities.
|This is the fourth and final installment of Professional Jeweler's
"Internet 101." The series, which began in July, offers step-by-step
instructions on getting acquainted with the World Wide Web and making the
best use of it in your business.|
Electronic mail is the most widely used feature; experts predict e-mail
soon will be as ubiquitous as fax machines. As it becomes a new medium of
communication for your store, it's important to use it effectively:
- Find an e-mail software program that suits your needs. Your Web browser
software will read e-mail, but you also can get software that customizes
the way you receive and send your mail. Look for programs that more efficiently
handle attached files, route mail with designated properties to different
storage folders and send automatic responses when you're away from the
- Check your e-mail regularly (at least a few times a week) and reply
to all inquiries. If you link an e-mail address to your store's Web site,
assign somebody to read the mail every day and forward each message to
the person who can answer it.
- Use your e-mail to communicate with customers. Collect e-mail addresses
with other customer information and use the medium for customer surveys,
greetings, promotions and newsletters. Never send an unsolicited promotional
message make sure your customers know they'll be on your mailing
- Avoid attaching large files; they can take several minutes to download
and annoy recipients. Also, any formatting you use in a message, such as
italics, font color or boldface, will be lost by the time the message arrives.
Use ALL CAPS or a line on each side of a word (_underline_) to add emphasis
instead. Never type an entire message in all caps it's the equivalent
of shouting and is considered rude in the on-line community.
- Add links to Web pages within an e-mail message simply by typing the
entire URL, including the "http://." To link to another e-mail
address, type "mailto:" and the address with no space between
them (e.g., mailto:email@example.com). Always type your e-mail
address underneath your name in the message closing in case it doesn't
show up in the mail header.
Software called file transfer protocol (FTP) does exactly that; it transfers
files from an Internet server to your hard drive and vice versa. If you
have your own Web site, you'll use FTP software (Fetch and Anarchie are
two popular ones) to "put up" the pages you've created on your
computer for the rest of the world to see. Your ISP will let you use your
user ID and password to gain access to your little piece of hard drive space
on its server.
You also can use FTP to download free software, images and plug-ins.
FTP software provided by your ISP will often have preset "bookmarks"
of servers (a popular one is an archive housed by the University of Michigan)
that store software and games available to the public. You can browse these
archives, or you can do a search at www.filez.com for fonts, software, movies,
graphics and sound files.
Usenet is a network of on-line communities called "newsgroups"
where you can share information about hobbies or business, ask and answer
questions, and meet others with similar interests. You can download news
"reader" software such as NewsXPress or Free Agent that allow
you to read news posted in the groups to which you subscribe; you can look
also at newsgroup archives and post your own messages at Web sites such
as www.dejanews.com and www.reference.com.
There is a newsgroup for every topic, including jewelry (alt.rec.crafts.jewelry)
and marketing (misc.business.marketing.moderated). Look for moderated newsgroups
to avoid promotions.
With telnet software (such as NCSA Telnet, Hytelnet and Net Term), you can
use your Internet connection to log in to a remote computer terminal, much
the same as if your modem were communicating directly with the remote computer's
modem. Once you've "telnetted," you have access to the remote
"host's" capabilities services, memory and disk storage
space. This is especially useful for connecting to on-line catalogs, research
databases and information services. Most organizations' Web sites will provide
links to their telnet-accessible services.
Internet relay chat (IRC) and other programs like it allow you to chat in
"real time," writing back and forth with other users who are logged
on at the same time. It's a contrast to bulletin boards, where users generally
post their messages then wait hours or days for responses. Depending on
the "channel" you use, there can be thousands of people connected
at one time. You can anonymously have conversations with people all over
the world and, depending on which "room" you enter, you can discuss
topics important to you with like-minded people. To find lists and ratings
of IRC channels visit www.liszt.com/chat.
Services such as America Online and Microsoft Network also have their
own chat rooms, and you now can find Web-based chat services on sites such
as Yahoo! (www. yahoo.com) that use Java so you don't have to download chat
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.