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Q&A

Q1:I've already started doing a little Web browsing on my own, and from time to time I hit a page that says I need a "plug-in" to continue. What's that all about?
A1: People are always inventing new kinds of content to put on the Web, such as faster, better forms of online video or interactive gaming. When something new goes online, all the browsers out there don't know how to play that new content yet.

plug-in is a program that adds a new capability to your browser so it can do something new, like play a new kind of multimedia. Because most of the plug-ins you're likely to need will be plug-ins for playing new forms of online multimedia, you'll learn about finding and using plug-ins in Hour 7.

Q2:I was on a page, and suddenly a box popped up reporting some gobbledygook about "Java." What did I do wrong?
A2: Nothing at all. (Stop blaming yourself!) Another way Web programmers teach a browser new tricks is by running any of several different kinds of program code in it. The two main kinds are called Java and JavaScript. You don't have to know how to do anything to take advantage of Java and JavaScript programs; they run automatically.

However, sometimes the program code contains mistakes, or you are using a browser that has little glitches in its compatibility with the program code. That's when you see these error messages.

The best way to prevent the messages is to try to always use the most recent version of Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator (see Hour 2). If you do, you'll see such messages rarely. When you do see the messages, just ignore 'em.

You'll learn a little more about dealing with program code in Hour 8, "Protecting Your Privacy (and Other Security Stuff)."

Q3:You said that the http:// prefix indicates that a URL is a Web page. If URLs are used only in Web browsers, why would a URL need to point to anything other than a Web page?
A3: Web browsers are the Swiss Army Knives of the Internet. Many Web browsers are designed to serve as a client for several different types of servers.

Of course,their main gig is showing Web pages on Web servers. But many Web browsers can also show newsgroup messages on news servers, and interact with other server types you'll learn about in Hour 19, "Tools for the Serious User: FTP and Telnet." Finally, a Web browser can be used to view various types of files that are stored not on the Internet, but right on your local computer or network.

For each of the different types of resources a Web browser can access, a different URL prefix is needed. For example, the URL for a resource on an FTP server begins not with http://,but with ftp://.

In upcoming hours, you'll learn more about accessing non-Web stuff through a Web browser. You'll also learn that it's often better to use a specific client for these activities, rather than your Web browser. A real corkscrew or screwdriver usually works better than the one in your Swiss Army Knife.


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