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Hello? Hellooooo? Is anybody there? Nobody reads introductions. I don't know why I bother.

Oh well, looks like it's just you and me. So welcome to Sams Teach Yourself the Internet in 24 Hours, the book that gets you into and all around the Internet in a single day's worth of easy lessons. Each of the 24 chapters in this book is called an "Hour," and is designed to endow you with new Internet skills in one hour or less. (That means you and I can spend only a few minutes here in the Intro and keep on schedule.)

Before we get started, it has come to my attention that a few among the more than 100,000 readers of previous editions of this book were involved in mysterious accidents. For example, a florist in Weehauken arranged and delivered a bouquet of cellophane wrapped in roses, and a surgeon in Phoenix transplanted an appendix. An investigation revealed that these readers suffered sleep deprivation from taking the book's title too literally; they went cover-to-cover in a single, non-stop 24-hour period. Please spread your time with this book across multiple sessions totaling 24 hours, and keep your arms and legs inside the book at all times. Thank you.

Oops, one more thing. To save time and paper, and to help you begin learning the lingo, I may refer to the Internet here and there as "the Net," with a capital N. You'll know what I mean.

Who I Wrote This Thing For

That settled, let me tell you what you're in for. We've designed this book for people who:

  • Are absolutely new to the Internet

  • Want a quick, easy, common-sense way to learn how to use it

  • Don't appreciate being treated like an imbecile

(By the way, being new to the Internet doesn't mean you're an idiot or dummy. You just have other priorities. Good for you.)

This book is system neutral, which is another way of saying you can use this book no matter what kind of computer you have. As you'll see, using the Internet is pretty much the same no matter what computer you use. Setting up each type of computer for the Internet is a little different, however, so I show you how to set up a PC or a Mac for the Internet in Hour 4, "Connecting to the Internet."

You do not need to know a thing about the Internet, computer networks, or any of that stuff to get started with this book. However, you do need to know your way around your own computer. With a basic, everyday ability to operate the type of computer from which you will use the Internet, you're ready to begin. I'll take you the rest of the way.

Don't have a computer yet? In Hour 2, "What Hardware and Software Do You Need?" , I'll help you choose one that's properly equipped for the Net.


Overwhelmingly, most people on the Internet use either of two programs for most of their Internet activities: Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Netscape's Navigator (a.k.a. "Communicator").

So it's just common sense that examples in this book showing step-by-step techniques for some activities show the steps you would use in the latest versions (at this writing) of these "Big Two" programs: Internet Explorer version 5 and Netscape Communicator version 4.6.

Note, however, that there's plenty in this book for you even if you don't use one of these programs. Most of the instructions in this book are not specific to one program, but work with most Internet programs. And since both of these Big Two programs are free, you'll also learn in this book how to get one for free, if you want to switch over.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into six Parts, each four "Hours" long:

As you can see, the Parts move logically from setting up for the Net to using it, and from easy stuff to not-so-easy stuff. So no peeking ahead to see how it ends.

After Hour 24, you'll discover an appendix, "Fun Web Sites to Visit," which offers up an easy-to-use directory of Web pages I think you might enjoy visiting.

Finally, there's a Glossary, although I must point out that I use very, very little technical terminology and I explain it very well when I do. So you'll probably never need the glossary. But just in case you want a glossary, you've got one.

Things You'd Probably Figure Out By Yourself

There's a long tradition in computer books of using the Introduction to explain the little tip boxes and other page elements that are absolutely self-explanatory to any reader over the age of six. Just call me "Keeper of the Flame."

Instructions, Tips, and Terms

Here and there, I use step-by-step instructions to show you exactly how to do something. I will always explain how to do that thing in the text that precedes the steps, so feel free to skip 'em when you want to. However, anytime you feel like you don't completely understand something, do the steps, and you'll probably get the picture before you're done. Sometimes we learn only by doing.

I call attention to important new terms by tagging them with a NEW TERM icon. It won't happen often, but when it does, it'll help you remember the terms that will help you learn the Internet.

You'll also see three different kinds of handy advice set off in boxes:


A Tip box points out a faster, easier way to do something, or a cooler way. These boxes are completely optional.


A Note box pops out an important consideration or interesting tidbit related to the topic at hand. They're optional, too, but always worth reading (otherwise, I wouldn't interrupt).


A Caution box alerts you to actions and situations where something bad could happen, like accidentally deleting an important file. Since there's very little you can do on the Net that's in any way dangerous, you'll see very few Cautions. So when you see 'em, take 'em seriously.


At the end of every hour, there's a fast, fun Q&A (Question & Answer) session that delves into a few common questions related to the Hour you've just read. Again, the Q&A is optional, but it's a great place to learn just a little more about the topic at hand before moving on.

One More Thing…

Actually, no more things. Start the clock, and hit Hour 1. Twenty-four working hours from now, you'll know the Net inside-out.

Thanks for spending a day with me.

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