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To Do

Here's a review of what you need to do before you're ready to use the rest of this book.

  1. Get a computer. I used a Windows 98 computer to create the figures in this book, but you can use any Windows, Macintosh, or UNIX machine to create your Web pages. The speed of the computer itself doesn't matter much for accessing Web pages, but the speed of the computer's modem or network interface card (NIC) should be at least 56Kbps, and faster is better. If you are buying a new modem, be sure that it's compatible with the V.90 56Kbps standard.

  2. Get a connection to the Internet. You can either dial up an Internet service provider (ISP) by using the modem in your computer or connect through the local network of your school or business. An old UNIX shell account won't do the trick; it has to be a modern PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) connection, which most ISP companies now offer for about $20 per month. The ISP, school, or business that provides your connection can help you with the details of setting it up properly.

    There are also many deals you can make with ISP's concerning Internet access. Some offer free service and indeed are exactly that, provided you provide personal information and are willing to put up with online ads. These ads range from the unobtrusive to the downright annoying. In most cases, you must also give your email address, which can lead to a large number of unsolicited junk emails. Other providers also will give you a valuable discount on a computer, provided you sign up for their service for an extended period of time. I would caution you to be very careful when you consider this. Banner ads can be much less annoying than being locked into a particular ISP for several years.

    Not sure how to find an ISP? The best way is to comparison-shop online (using a friend's computer that's already connected to the Internet). You'll find a comprehensive list of all the national and regional ISPs at http://thelist.internet.com.


  3. Get a Web browser program. This is the software your computer needs to retrieve and display HTML Web pages. The most popular browsers are the Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape lines. Both companies have many versions available, with the current version of Internet Explorer being 5.5 and Netscape Navigator 6.0 now in preview release 3. Together, these two browsers are used by more than 90 percent of the people who look at Web pages, so it's a good idea to get them both. You can buy them in software stores, or get them free through the Internet at http://www.microsoft.com and http://home.netscape.com. However, if your Web page targets a specialized audience that tends to use a different browser, you might want to target it.

    In this book, the acronym IE will always refer to Internet Explorer version 5.5. Similarly, Netscape will be an abbreviation for Netscape Navigator 6.0 preview release 3. In both cases, if it is necessary to reference an earlier version, the version number will be given.


  4. Explore! Use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator to look around the Internet for Web pages that are similar in content or appearance to those you'd like to create. Note what frustrates you about some pages, what attracts you and keeps you reading, and what makes you come back to some pages over and over again.


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