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I wrote my first book about the Internet, called Easy Internet, for Que back in 1994. As hard as it is to believe from a post-millennium perspective, there was a time when the Internet was not a household word, when only an elite few were connected, and when the World Wide Web was but a gleam in the eye of Tim Berners-Lee.

Back in 1994, so few people were connected to the Internet that Que put on a roadshow of sorts, sending me to bookstores around the country to demonstrate the Internet to a very interested public—and, not coincidentally, push sales of Easy Internet and other Que books. I would set up my monitor in the front of the room and show the audiences pictures of e-mail, newsgroups, Internet relay chat, and this interesting new thing called the Web. (Extra credit for any old-timers who recall the NCSA Mosaic browser—and 100 bonus points for anyone who remembers Cello!)

The funny thing is, those Internet demos drew huge crowds—really huge crowds. I remember one in particular, in a Barnes and Noble store in midtown Manhattan, where hundreds of people were packed into the upper level of the store, the aisles full and the crowd over-flowing back down the stairs, a bigger crowd (or so they told me) than Stephen King drew in that same location a month prior. While I would like to think that all those people showed up because of my superior presentation skills, the truth of the matter is that they came to find out more about the Internet—and, ultimately, to become Internet users themselves.

It’s amazing, really, how fast and how big the Internet has grown. We’ve gone from having only a literal handful of Internet service providers in the entire country to being able to receive e-mail and access Web sites through handheld cell phones and at neighborhood Internet cafés. The phrase “dot com” has ingrained itself in our everyday language, and it’s the rare individual who doesn’t have access to his or her own personal e-mail account.

I put forth this bit of history as background to the book you hold in your hands. Unlike that first Internet book I wrote almost a decade ago, Special Edition Using the Internet and Web doesn’t have to explain to you what the Internet is, or how it works—I can now assume that you know enough about the Internet to get right to the “using” part of the book’s title, without the need for an introductory course in Internet theory and technology. I can also assume that you’re more interested in getting stuff done than in randomly surfing strange new Web sites, and that you’ve purchased this book to help you accomplish even more with your time online.

Frankly, I think that makes for a much more interesting—and more useful—book than those first Internet books from the mid-1990s. As you proceed through the chapters, I hope you agree.

How to Use This Book

This book has a single purpose—to help you complete your most common online activities more effectively and more efficiently. Given this, what’s the best way to approach this book?

If you’re already a veteran Web surfer, you shouldn’t feel obligated to read every page of this book, cover to cover. Instead, pick and choose which chapters contain the specific information you need for today’s activities. Jump around as necessary, and consider this book a handy reference.

If you’re less experienced online, you should start at the beginning and read those sections that directly apply to how you use the Web. Peruse Part I for a refresher course on Internet connections and basic browsing, then read through the other sections where you need help and instruction.

In addition, all users should browse through the book liberally, looking for specific hints and advice to make your use of the Internet more fun and less frustrating. Pay particular attention to the various Web sites listed throughout the text; chances are you’ll find a few jewels that you didn’t know about before.

How This Book Is Organized

Special Edition Using the Internet and the Web is organized by the most common activities of Internet users. Where most general Internet books focus on specific pieces of software and their underlying technologies, this book concentrates on what you do, and how to do it better—the specific software instructions are secondary.

To that end, the book is organized by type of activity, into nine major sections. As you progress through the individual chapters, you’ll advance from basic (but essential) activities like connecting to the Internet and launching a Web browser, through online communications and searching, all the way to creating your own Web page and posting it on the Internet for all to see.

Part I: Getting Connected

The first part of this book takes you through the basics of going online, from finding an Internet service provider to using a Web browser.

Chapter 1, “Choosing and Connecting to an ISP,” shows you how to select an Internet service provider and establish a dial-up connection.

Chapter 2, “Making the Broadband Connection,” discusses high-speed DSL, cable, and satellite connections—and shows how to tweak your system to handle the faster speeds.

Chapter 3, “Sharing a Connection,” takes you through the networking procedures necessary to connect multiple computers to a single Internet connection.

Chapter 4, “Connecting on the Road,” discusses the special considerations of going online while you’re traveling—even in other countries.

Chapter 5, “The Wireless Web,” shows you how to connect to the Internet via a Web-enabled phone—and presents some Web sites that have been optimized for mobile phone use.

Chapter 6, “Browsing the Web,” gets you started with basic Web surfing, using both Internet Explorer and Netscape.

Part II: Surfing Safely

Part II is all about protecting yourself and your family online.

Chapter 7, “Family-Safe Browsing,” presents several kids-safe search engines, shows where to download special kids-friendly Web browsers, and offers suggestions on how to protect your kids from inappropriate content online.

Chapter 8, “Ensuring Privacy and Security,” discusses the various online threats to your personal privacy and the security of your computer system, and shows how to protect against online fraud.

Chapter 9, “Protecting Your System from Viruses,” presents the very real threat of computer viruses—how they invade your system, and what you can do to protect yourself from their damaging code.

Chapter 10, “Protecting Your System from Outside Attack,” discusses how hackers and crackers try to break into computer systems connected to the Internet, and how you can protect your system with a firewall.

Part III: Communicating Online

The most common online activity is communicating, and Part III presents the many different ways we talk to each other over the Internet.

Chapter 11, “E-mail,” shows how to send and receive e-mail messages (including those with files attached), and presents specific instructions on how to use Outlook Express for e-mail.

Chapter 12, “Newsgroups, Message Boards, and Mailing Lists,” discusses message-based communication in Usenet newsgroups, Web-based message boards and forums, and e-mail-based mailing lists.

Chapter 13, “Chat,” introduces several different forms of real-time group communications, including Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Web-based chat services, and America Online’s chat rooms.

Chapter 14, “Instant Messaging,” shows how to communicate one-to-one in real time using AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger.

Chapter 15, “Webcams,” demonstrates how to set up your own live Webcam, and presents a selection of Webcams from around the world.

Chapter 16, “Videoconferencing and Internet Telephony,” shows how to conference together with sight and sound using Microsoft NetMeeting, and talks about how to use the Internet to phone anyone in the world, for less than you would pay through your normal long-distance phone service.

Part IV: Searching and File Management

Part IV is all about finding stuff on the Web—and how to deal with any files you come across online.

Chapter 17, “Smart Searching,” shows you which search engines and directories generate the best results, and presents a plethora of tips to help you fine-tune your online searches.

Chapter 18, “Searching for People,” covers all the ways to search for people online—from simple name and address queries to more sophisticated email and genealogy searches.

Chapter 19, “Working with Files,” shows how to download files with your Web browser or an FTP client, and discusses the best ways to compress large files you intend to send as e-mail attachments.

Chapter 20, “Online Backup and Storage,” offers a number of Web sites you can use to store and transfer files, including some that completely automate the backup process for your valuable data.

Part V: Buying and Selling

This part of the book covers the many different ways to buy and sell items on the Internet—including via online auctions.

Chapter 21, “Online Shopping,” discusses why online shopping is perfectly safe, and presents the best online merchants for a variety of different merchandise—from books to cars.

Chapter 22, “Online Auctions,” focuses on the booming business of Internet auctions; you’ll learn how to list and bid on items at eBay—and how to win auctions with last-minute sniping.

Chapter 23, “Online Travel,” tackles the fun job of researching vacations and making reservations via the Web’s many travel-oriented sites.

Part VI: Managing Your Money

Part VI is all about money—how to invest it, what to do with what you have, and where to find more of it.

Chapter 24, “Online Investing,” presents a wealth of resources for researching big financial decisions, and shows how to buy stocks and other securities online.

Chapter 25, “Online Banking,” shows how to do all your banking online—including paying all your monthly bills.

Chapter 26, “Online Loans,” discusses the best sites to use for home mortgages, auto loans, and student loans.

Chapter 27, “Online Job Hunting,” offers you the best sites—and the best advice—for using the Web to look for your next big job.

Part VII: Information and Entertainment

Part VII presents many the many different types of “content” you can find on the Web.

Chapter 28, “Online News (and Sports and Weather),” presents various types of news sites on the Web (from breaking news to comprehensive news archives), along with sites for sports, weather, and entertainment news.

Chapter 29, “Online Health,” shows how to research health problems, find a doctor, and buy prescription drugs online.

Chapter 30, “Online Education,” takes you from grade-school homework help to studying for your college finals—and everything in-between.

Chapter 31, “Online Games,” presents the best sites for playing both simple single-player and complex multiplayer games.

Chapter 32, “The Internet for Kids,” is a treasure-trove of exceptional, entertaining, and educational sites for kids of all ages.

Chapter 33, “Surfing for Seniors,” demonstrates that the Internet is for users of all ages, by presenting sites of specific interest to older Americans.

Part VIII: Sounds and Pictures

Music, pictures, and movies are covered in the chapters in Part VIII of this book.

Chapter 34, “Online Music,” discusses the entire MP3 phenomenon, and even shows how to hunt for digital music files using Napster, Gnutella, and other file-sharing services.

Chapter 35, “Internet Radio and TV,” shows how to receive streaming audio and video on your desktop—and presents the best sites for live Webcasts.

Chapter 36, “Online Photos and Graphics,” presents where to find photographs, clipart, and other graphics online, and discusses the emerging trend of online photo hosting and printing.

Part IX: Establishing a Web Presence

Part IX shows how to put yourself on the Web with your own personal Web page and home page hosting.

Chapter 37, “Creating a Simple Web Page,” discusses the Web’s many free home page communities, and shows how to create your first Web pages at Yahoo! GeoCities.

Chapter 38, “Basic HTML Editing,” is a crash-course on the basic HTML codes you can use to create your own Web pages—or spruce up your item listings on eBay.

Chapter 39, “Web Site and Domain Name Hosting,” shows how to reserve your own unique Web address—and find a professional hosting service for your developing Web site.

Chapter 40, “Running Your Own Web Server,” concludes this book with a look at the pros and cons of serving as your own Web site host.

Special Features in This Book

The first book I wrote for Que was published in 1989, and for at least that long Que has had a long track record of providing the most comprehensive resource books for users of computer hardware, software, and the Internet. This volume includes many features to make your learning faster, easier, and more efficient.


These are pieces of advice—little tricks, actually— that help you use the Internet more effectively or maneuver around problems or limitations


If you know the IP address for a specific domain, you can enter that number instead of the text-based URL and go directly to that site—often faster than you can by using the URL.


Notes provide information that is generally useful but not specifically needed for what you’re doing at the moment. Some are like extended tips—interesting, but not essential.


You’ll find different versions of Internet Explorer installed on different computer systems. From version 4 on, all the different versions work in a similar fashion, with each subsequent version incorporating additional features and functionality.


These tell you to beware of a potentially dangerous act or situation. In some cases, ignoring a Caution could cause you significant problem—so pay attention to them!


When you enter a URL into your Web browser’s Address box, you have to enter the address exactly as given. If you misspell a word or leave out a backslash, it will have the same effect as leaving a number out of your street address—it will cause your browser to look for the wrong address.


Surfing the Web has its share of potential pitfalls, so we end each chapter with a special Troubleshooting section. This section presents problems common to the topic at hand, and advice on how to solve the problems or avoid them completely.

Shortcut Key Combinations

Shortcut key combinations in this book are shown as the key names joined with plus signs (+). For example, Ctrl+W indicates that you should press the W key while holding down the Ctrl key. (This particular key combination closes the current browser window—useful if you’ve been plagued with a bunch of advertising pop-ups without the normal Close Window controls.)

Menu Commands

You’ll see instructions such as this everywhere in this book:

Choose File, New.

This means that you should pull down the File menu and select New. (This particular example opens the New dialog box in most Internet applications.)

Web Addresses

There are a lot of Web addresses in this book. They’re notated as such:


In all cases, the beginning http://, necessary only in older Web browsers, is assumed.

There’s More on the Web

All 2000+ links in this book are available online at www.molehillgroup.com/webdirectory.html. Here you’ll find a comprehensive listing by topic of all the Web sites featured in this book. Just find a topic and click a link—no typing required! So go online to make surfing easier—and to get the most updated URLs!

Let Me Know What You Think

I always love to hear from my readers. If you want to contact me, feel free to e-mail me at using@molehillgroup.com. I can’t promise that I’ll answer every e-mail, but I will promise that I’ll read each one!

If you want to learn more about me and any new books I have cooking, check out my Molehill Group Web site at www.molehillgroup.com. Who knows—you might find some other books there that you would like to read.

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