Email 101 Part 1

Email 101.

by John Goodwin.

If you like those little machines that give you 24 hour access to your bank account, you'll love the Internet. I suppose there are still people who, given a choice, will go to a drive-through teller just so they can deal with a "live person" instead of a machine. But even those people will admit that it is nice to have the option of doing things for yourself, on your own schedule, anywhere. Do you remember what it was like before automatic tellers? Banks closed at 3 p.m. on weekdays.

Each Saturday you had to guess how much money you would need for the following week. If you were wrong you had to cash a check at a food store (and maybe buy something you didn't want). And if you were out of town? Well, there were always credit cards.

We don't do that anymore. I think many people go to the automatic teller because they like the privacy of handling their own business without having to explain it all to someone else. And we like the illusion of having access to our "own" account anytime we want.

There are disadvantages to using an automatic teller card too--you may have to pay a fee each month or even for each transaction--and you have to remember to deduct those fees from your account balance or you will bounce checks. But I'll bet you feel pretty competent using an automatic teller and don't lose much sleep worrying over the fees.

This course is designed to give you that same sense of freedom and competence with the Internet that you have with an automatic teller machine or the telephone. With a home computer, a modem, and communications software, you can connect to other computers over the phone line to exchange electronic mail (E-mail), trade files, or search for information. Many of those computers are connected to the worldwide network called the Internet. Some few of them will--for a fee--let *you* connect to the Internet. From there you can dial any of 900,000 or more computers, send E-mail to any of 25 million people, and access hundreds of free, informative services.

In short, you are on the verge of a new method of communicating with people and machines called "internetworking." Internetworking lets you:

o Avoid playing phone tag;

o Sign up to receive special interest electronic newsletters and journals;

o Access hundreds of information services and document collections in exactly the same way--no need to have hundreds of sets of different instructions or hundreds of (expensive) special purpose software packages;

o Find and communicate with other people who share your interests.

Internetworking is an essential skill for the '90s. Your children will find it as common as viewing television or using the telephone. It still has a few rough edges--but we'll explain those.

There is actually no single network owned by one company called the Internet. Instead, many medium-sized networks have grown together to create a "phone system" that connects together nearly a million computers. Many hundreds of these computers allow some form of public access. You can get the latest news or weather, download information about Government programs or high-tech products, search on-line library catalogues and databases, download free software, and do many other things, with little or no monetary investment beyond the cost of your home computer.

Using the Internet need not be expensive: you can get on the Internet for as little as $10 a month if you own (1) a home computer, (2) a $50 modem, and (3) some communications software (under $100). There are more expensive ways to connect to the Internet, of course. These ways make sense for businesses or organizations that make heavy use of the network. But in this course we will discuss methods that cost in the $10-$40/month range. These methods are suitable for exploring the net after hours and for casual use. We will provide some basic information about more expensive methods of connecting (Appendix C) so that you can make informed decisions if your networking needs should increase in the future.

Internetworking well means mastering a whole host of skills--connecting two computers together using the Internet is just the beginning. You have to learn methods for transferring information from the remote computer to your own. This is a complex task that may involve using a file transfer protocol and compression techniques.

Because the information world is so vast, your biggest problem will most likely not be connecting to the Internet. It will be finding what you want. Thus, this course covers not only the mechanics of making a connection and transferring files, but techniques for locating material as well. And of course you will want to be savvy about the costs of different connection methods. This means estimating whether it will cost you more per Megabyte to transfer the information or to have it faxed to you by a friendly librarian.

This course is intended for the general public--students, businesspersons, librarians, teachers, writers, journalists--in fact anyone who needs to find information and communicate with others.

Whether you are researching a paper, writing an article, or trying to get technical information on a product, you will use these techniques over and over.

Chapters marked with an asterisk are omitted from this edition.


1 : The Past and the Future of Internetworking

2 : What Is the Internet?

3 : How Do I Connect to the Internet?

4 : Who Pays for the Internet?

5 : Internet Basics

6 : Getting on the Internet Step by Step

7 : Programs and Pictures

8 : File Compression Methods for Faster Transfer

9 : What to Do When You Only Have E-mail

10 : Employee Development: How to Get Your Employees Internetworking

Part II Special Concerns

11 : Special for Businesses

12 : Special for Students and their Parents

13 : Special for Writers, Journalists, Publishers, and Printers

14 : Special for Elementary and High School Teachers

15 : Special for Librarians

16 : Special for Scholars

17 : Special for Churches, Synagogues, and Mosques

Part III Research, Organization, and Writing

18 : Research Methods I: Basic Navigation Methods

*19 : Research Methods II: Usenet Newsgroups

20 : Research Methods III: Advanced Techniques

*21 : Organizing Information

*22 : Information Structures

*23 : Boolean Logic

*24 : Writing for an Internetworked World: Basic Problems

*25 : Writing for an Internetworked World: Getting Through to your Audience

Part IV Resources

*26 : The Internet Address Book

Chapter end

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