INTRODUCTION TO THE INTERNET

Richard, CAP Youth Intern
What is it?
The Internet is a worldwide network of computers all constantly communicating with each other. To use the Internet you will need a computer with a "browser" program such as Internet Explorer or Netscape. This program can be opened from either the START menu or a desktop shortcut.
 
About Website's
Every location, or "page", on the Internet has a corresponding website address, each of which can be broken down into a prefix, body, and suffix, separated by dots. For example, the Morinville Library's address is www.morinvillelibrary.ca. The prefix is "www", indicating that the address is a web page. The body, "morinvillelibrary" gives the web page a clear address. The suffix in this case is ".ca", indicating a Canadian website. Suffixes can give you an indication of a website's content.
 
Common Suffixes
  • .com: a commercial site.
  • .net: a network site.
  • .gov: a government website.
  • .org: an organization.
  • .edu: educational.
  • .ca; .fr; .de; etc: indicates a page from a specific country.
 
The Interface
There are several components to Internet Explorer.
  • Address Bar: Here you can type in the address of a website you wish to visit.
  • Green Arrow/ "Go" Button: Press this or hit ENTER to go to the website in the address bar.
  • Address Bar Dropdown: A small downward pointing arrow on the right of the address bar. Clicking on this drops down a list of previously typed web addresses.
  • Back Arrow: Hit this button to go back to the last website you viewed.
  • Forward Arrow: Hit this button to go forward a page if you have used the Back Button.
  • Stop: This button halts all activity in the browser. This is useful if you have clicked on the wrong link.
  • Refresh: Clicking on this button or hitting F5 will reload the page you are currently viewing.
  • Home: Takes you to the computer's homepage.
  • Favorites: Opens a list of any sites that have been bookmarked on the computer.
  • History: Opens a list of all website's viewed on the computer for the last few weeks. (NOTE: the computers available for public use at the Library have their Histories erased on shutdown, and will not list sites viewed in previous sessions.)
 
Surfing the Internet
  • Type in the address of the site you wish to visit in the Address Bar.
  • Click "Go" or press ENTER. If you get an error message, then you may have misspelled the address, or you may need to Refresh the page.
  • To navigate within a page, you can click on links. Links are usually text that is blue and underlined, but may be other colours or even images. This will take you to another part of the site, or to another site elsewhere on the Internet.
 
Using a Search Engine
Search engines are valuable tools that can find website's using search terms. This allows you to find the information you need without memorizing a web address. A short search such as "cars" will likely net thousands of results, so narrow it down by being more specific (e.g. "repairing car engines"). Two good search engines to use are www.google.ca and www.yahoo.com.
Performing a Google Search: Google is one of the best search engines on the Internet. Knowing how to use Google can be a great help if you need information.
  • To start off, open your browser and go to www.google.ca. You'll see a field to write your search in, as well as some links and buttons.
  • First, select if you want to look for web pages, images, groups, news, or local information (maps, businesses, etc.), then write your search terms into the field and either click "Google Search" or press ENTER. For the most part, specific is better. If you want, you can choose to look only for Canadian web content by clicking "pages from Canada" under the field.
  • You will be taken to a results page listing the first 10 results for your search, as well as telling you the total number of results found. The pages will be ordered in terms of relevance to your search terms. If you don't find what you are looking for, perhaps your search was too narrow- try expanding the search terms. (NOTE: to be immediately taken to the first page result for your search, click "I'm Feeling Lucky" below the search field.)
 
Internet Safety
The Internet is not always a safe place. Programs like viruses and spyware can be hazardous to your computer. It's best to always have anti-virus software active, and such programs are usually available free. To avoid getting viruses in the first place, there are a few things you can do. Don't ever open an e-mail from someone you don't know, or if the subject line doesn't make sense. If a site requests that you download anything and you don't know what it is, click "cancel".