In the last session, we worked with word processing and files. In this session, we'll move on to work with the Internet, but it will revisit those two systems frequently so feel free to ask questions about them at any time.

The Internet

The Internet is a large computer communication network that spans hundreds of countries and includes millions of computers. It is a heterogeneous network of networks, all communicating via the TCP/IP communication protocol, that provides a number of valuable services, including:

In the next two sessions, we'll work with email and then the web but before we do that we need to get your computers ready for the internet. First, we need to attach your computers to the Internet. For now, we'll do this by connecting your Network Interface Card (NIC) to the Local Area Network (LAN) in the lab. We'll talk about other ways to connect to the Internet in a later session.

Connecting to the Internet

The WWW, or web, is an Internet service, so to use it you must connect your machine to the Internet. There are a number of ways to do this, including:

We can frequently find good deals on modems if you are interested.


Once you get connected to the internet, the web is accessible through a standard web-browser (e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer). You just need to tell the browser the "Internet address" (or URL) of the page you want to download (see the image to the right).

Image of the Project Connect home page

There are any number of useful websites, covering a vast range of information resources. Here are some examples:

There really is not limit to the number or variety of websites on the web.

Searching the Web

The Web is so large and is growing so quickly that it's increasing difficult to keep track of it all. For this reason, search engines have become a necessity. A search engine allows you to enter search terms (e.g., "Calvin College") and will return a list of websites that may be relevant to those terms. The most popular search engine these days is Google (

Image of the Google home page

To get used to using Google, do the following things:

  1. Visit the Google help page ( to learn the basics of searching. Do this even if you think you know Google well, I learned some things when I looked through this help, and I use Google hundreds of times per day.
  2. Use Google to find a website of interest to you. I would be very surprised if you have any interest that is not the subject of at least one website. And if you can't find a site for your subject, perhaps you should be the first to make one.

You can also search Google for "free games" or "educational games".

Protecting Yourself on the Web

As in real life, not everything on the web is good, and some sites can be dangerous. Here are some things to watch out for, and some things you can do to protect yourselves and your families on-line:

As Cerf's essay says, your best protection on the Web is your own good judgment. In addition, McAffee has a useful site adviser system (see


We'll take a break here. If there is interest, can practice web searching by looking for used cars or jobs on-line.

Electronic Mail

Electronic mail (Email ) is a service that allows you create, send and reply to messages, world-wide, in an inexpensive and convenient way. To use email, you need to have access to the Internet (as discussed in the last session) and an email service account. There are a number of companies that offer free email service, including:

Set up an account for yourself now by going to one of the given companies and following their instructions. We'd suggest using Gmail because it provides a good email client. Here are some things to note:

When you are finished setting up your account, find and read the "Help" documentation at your email company site. This documentation will tell you how to read your email, to send messages, to reply to messages, and to deal with attachments. Here are some pointers to get you started:

Gmail home page

Protecting Yourself on Email

As with all things on the Internet, Email is a very useful tool, but carries with it dangers. Here are some things to look out for and what you can do about them:

You can find further information on all of these topics at Wikipedia ( Webfoot has a guide to writing effective email (

Here are some examples of scam emails I have recently received. Don't respond to emails like this, just delete them.

Two scam emails I received today

Further Practice

You can continue to practice sending/receiving emails if you'd like to do so.