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Help Everyone Learn About the Information Age.

Help for New World-Wide Web Users.

This page is intended to provide assistance to new World-Wide Web surfers who are using MS Internet Explorer, Netscape or Mosaic for the first few times.

These explanations are sometimes very much over-simplified in order to get you started without bogging down on a lot of technicalities and more advanced options. For those new to Information Age activities in general, and new to the Internet in particular, an excellent Introduction to the Internet (105 Kb) is contained in the Appeals Court decision overturning the CDA on June 12th, 1996. A short description of the Internet and the distinctions between the Internet and corporate intranets may be seen in the "definitions of terms" below.

 Please refer to other sources for greater detail, more advanced information or additional help. In Mosaic, the HELP item in the menu bar at the top of the screen is particularly good. It is very straightforward, and does not bog you down with a lot of extraneous questions in order to get what you want. Netscape has an innovative approach that supplies HELP as an on-line hypertext file. There is a HANDBOOK which also has current news from Netscape; and there is a large FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) file that is a little more technical. Internet Explorer has "Help Topics," which is the usual internal on-line help available in MS products, and "Web Tutorial," which is similar to Netscape's help via their website. The tutorial even offers a subscription (for a fee) to a hard copy newsletter devoted to using Explorer. Just click the HELP menu item at the top right of the screen for any of them.


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Here are some definitions of terms:

They are in the order you might encounter them, and are intended to be read as a first-time tutorial. The bold words identify other defined terms.

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Graphics and Images:

Most web pages have text AND graphic images. The images may be pictures, or diagrams, or bullets and buttons, etc. They may also be animated (have the appearance of moving). They are usually in color, and they make the page more interesting. Some pages have such large graphics that you can go for coffee while they are loading, especially if you are using a slow connection. Graphics and images are usually loaded automatically after the text has been loaded. You can stop the graphics by clicking on the red STOP button at the top of your screen once the text appears. In Netscape and Mosaic it is the shape of a stop sign; In Internet Explorer it is a circle with an "X" in it. There is usually a little marker on the page in the text where the images should go. These might show "error" or some such when you do that. But it will allow you to avoid the wait when you don't have time. If you decide later that you want the images, just click on RELOAD near the top of the screen (Internet Explorer calls it "Refresh"), and wait. In fact, if you come back to that page later in your session, the browser will again attempt to load the graphics at that time.

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Using "Forward" and "Back" to get around:

All three browsers keep track of the web pages you have seen as you trip around. If you want to go back to the prior page, just hit "Back" or "Backward." Instead of requesting it again from the web, the browser reloads it from your PC's memory. Once you have gone back a page or two, and want to go "Forward" the remedy is at hand. There is some limit to the number of pages that each browser keeps in these so-called caches or stacks. If you need to go back to a page you have already seen, but the browser has forgotten it, just do whatever you did do get there in the first place. The page is requested again from the web.

 All three browsers also have the ability to go directly to a page you have visited in the current session. See the topic: Using "go" and "Navigate" to get around, below.

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Using "Go" and "Navigate" to get around:

Sometimes you know exactly what page you want to recall. If you visited it quite a few pages back, you might not want to cycle through the "Back" button to get to it. In that case, follow the steps below.

 In Internet Explorer and Netscape, it is the GO button at the top of the screen. When you click on that button, you see a list of the pages you have already visited. Pick one, and the browser will load it from memory, or request it anew from the web. In Netscape version 2 and later, there is also a History item on the Window menu which accomplishes the same thing.

 In Mosaic, it is the NAVIGATE button. When you click it, you will see HISTORY part way down the window that opens. Select HISTORY to see a window which displays all the sites you have visited in this session. Select the one you want, and the browser will load it from memory, or request it anew from the web.

 Both Internet Explorer and Netscape have a pull down window on the Location box (Internet Explorer calls it the Address box) which can serve this purpose too. Pull down the window, select the location you want to revisit and click once.

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Surfing to a Web Page when you Know its URL:

Sometimes you see a web address (also called a URL or even a link) in a magazine, or your friend suggests you check out some "cool" website. The web address of a page usually begins with http://www but sometimes they are printed starting only with the www. Either way, you need to enter the web address into the Address window in Internet Explorer, or into the Location window in Netscape, or into the Web Page window in Mosaic. We will use the Internet Explorer term "Address" window in this discussion.

 For purposes of this example, let's say the web page's URL is (an interesting website containing a directory of zillions of web pages). The following are the detailed steps to go to that known web page (and some options if it fails):

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Using "Find" to locate a word or character string on a web page:

Sometimes, when you load a big web page, you will need some help locating specific words or character strings. This facility works about the same in both browsers, and is comparable to "search" in WordPerfect, or "Find" in WORD.

 In Netscape, click the FIND button (it has a pair of binoculars).

 In early versions of Mosaic, click the FIND button (it has a magnifying glass). In later versions, it is the Edit menu and then Find.

 In Internet Explorer it is the Edit menu, then Find (on this page) or Ctrl+F.

 In all cases, a FIND window pops down into which you can enter the search string. The trouble is that both Mosaic and Netscape positioned the FIND window right over top of the first line of text in the main window. When the string is located, the line is placed right behind the FIND window. Dumb. So before hitting < enter> or clicking the "ok" button for your search string, move the FIND window down a little.

 To do this, position the mouse pointer in the blue margin at the top of the FIND window. Press and HOLD the left mouse button, and drag the window down a little, say to about mid-screen. When you release the mouse button, the FIND window stays where it is. Then hit < enter> or click the "Find next" button. The browser locates the desired string and positions the line in which it finds it at the top of the main text window. You can click on "find next" as many times as you need to in order to locate the context you desire. Click on "cancel" when you have what you want. The FIND window closes.

 All three browsers let you specify that you want to match case; but only Netscape and Internet Explorer let you search either up or down (down is the default).

 Of course, if you forget to re-position the FIND window, you can do it after the first search, too. Just follow the same procedure.

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Printing a web page:

Sometimes you encounter a page you want to keep as a printed page. In Internet Explorer and Netscape, there is a PRINT button near the top of the screen with a picture of a printer on it. Just click that button. A print window opens to ask you about the pages you want printed. Since you can't tell what constitutes a "page" from looking at the screen, you can usually just print the whole thing by clicking "ok."

 In Mosaic you need to click on the FILE menu in the upper left of the screen. A window pops down on which you can select PRINT... Ctrl+P (about half-way down). You then get the same window about what pages you want. Hit the "ok" button to print them all.

 Neither Mosaic nor Netscape are what we would call consummate printers. Mosaic gets confused about what is called pre-formatted text (it looks like typewriter font), and usually loses the rest of the print job. Netscape sometimes leaves off the buttons and other graphics - sometimes not. But both work flawlessly at times; and the printed page is usually good enough for most purposes. Future versions will no doubt become more printer-proficient.

 When you print a page, remember that most web pages do not indicate where they came from. HTML standards call for showing the URL on each web page; but most web page authors ignore it. [Notice how thoughtfully we provide this information at the bottom of this page < g> ]. The point here is that about the time you have collected half a dozen pages, you will want to go back to one and follow one of the hot words. Too bad: you probably don't know how to find it anymore. The solution to that is BOTH to print the page AND to save its link or URL in a hotlist or bookmark or Favorites (see below). Fortunately, Netscape 2.0 and Internet Explorer also print the URL in the header or footer of each printed page. Be careful not to rely on it too heavily, however. Sometimes a long URL is abbreviated. Then you are really guessing when you need it later (if you did not make a bookmark).

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Saving a web page to a disk file:

Sometimes you encounter an interesting page that you want to save as a file. This can be particularly important if printing the page fails. Here again, Internet Explorer and Netscape have the more predictable procedure. Just click on the FILE menu in the upper left of the screen. A window pops down on which you can select SAVE AS ... and then specify the location as usual. You can clutter up the network directories or your c:\ drive pretty quickly with this stuff. I usually save these files to a floppy where they can't cause too much harm if I forget about them. Pick a good file name, though. You will be surprised how soon you have a nice collection of pages on file, and you cannot remember which goes with which printed page (or image in your mind).

In Mosaic saving a file is a little less intuitive. Mosaic has forgotten what the file looked like by the time it displays the page on your screen. Therefore, you will need to RELOAD the file in order to save it to disk. Before you do that, however, you need to click on the View menu, or on OPTIONS in the upper left of the screen and then select LOAD TO DISK MODE. Notice that there is space for a little check mark to the left of LOAD TO DISK MODE. When you click it, the checkmark appears (though you don't see it, because the window closes immediately). Anyway, Mosaic is now ready to put on disk anything you request from the web. Click the RELOAD button (it has a circle with an arrow on it) to instruct Mosaic to re-load the page again. It looks like it is not doing anything because the screen does not change at all. The status line at the bottom of the screen tells you what it is doing, the file size, its progress etc. In due course, the file is re-loaded and dutifully copied to disk as you asked. REMEMBER, however, that you have set the LOAD TO DISK MODE so that it is active. Whatever you request, now, will be forever loaded onto disk until you change it by clicking on OPTIONS again, and selecting LOAD TO DISK MODE. This time the little check mark is there; and when you click it, it goes away (though again you do not see it because the window again closes immediately).

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Saving links to web pages (Favorites, Hotlists or Bookmarks):

Whenever you find an interesting web site, you will want to save its address (or link, or URL). You will otherwise be surprised how often you remember seeing a good web page, but cannot (for your life) remember how you got to it. Even if you printed it or saved it to a file (see above), you will not be able to find it unless you saved its URL. That is the purpose of Favorites in Internet Explorer, Hotlinks in Mosaic, and Bookmarks in Netscape. Mercifully, they are all very intuitive to use.

 [[As an introductory aside here, favorites, bookmarks and hotlists can be arranged by topic. The difficulty initially is that you do not know the taxonomy of the subject areas you will be encountering and saving; and it is therefore very difficult to identify headings that are both meaningful and provide for a reasonable balance of numbers of items in each one. My suggestion is to do the best you can to start. Mosaic gives you some topics to start with; and you can just make one big list in Netscape. As you gain experience, you can make headings that are personally meaningful, and move the entries as needed.]]

When you have loaded a web page that looks even mildly interesting, save its URL as follows (you can always easily delete it later):

In Internet Explorer, click on FAVORITES. You will see Add to Favorites and Organize Favorites (into folders). Click on Add to Favorites. Explorer says it will add a shortcut in your favorites file. If you click OK, it sticks it in your favorites folder alphabetically. Alternately, you can click on Create in > > . In that case, you can then select the folder in which you want it stored.

In Netscape, click on BOOKMARKS. You will see ADD BOOKMARK and VIEW BOOKMARKS as the first two lines in the window that pops down. Below that are all the bookmarks you have already saved. If you click on ADD BOOKMARK the Location (link or URL) and its Name (page title) are both saved among your Bookmarks. You can add headers, etc., to put your bookmarks in subject categories when you get a little more experience. It works about like the "hotlists" of Mosaic, below.

In Mosaic it is almost as easy, and a little more useful. Mosaic comes stoked with a bunch of interesting sites in its HOTLISTS window (would you believe the picture of a list on a burning piece of paper?). They are arranged in "hotlists" according to subjects like "Personal Favorites," "Business," "Hobbies," etc. You double-click on the hotlist you want, and then select ADD. It asks if you want to add a DOCUMENT or a FOLDER. Document is the default; and it means a link to a web page. A "folder" is a subject heading within a hotlist. If there are folders, pick the most appropriate one. Anyway, when you click the ADD button, it adds the current web page's URL and Title to the items under that heading.

Pretty simple. The difficulty with favorites, hotlists or bookmarks comes when you want to find a document the next time. Since you have never seen either the title (Netscape and Internet Explorer call it the Name) or the URL (Netscape calls it the Location), you may have trouble locating what you want when it comes time to retrieve one of these favorite, bookmark or hotlist items. My cure for that is to EDIT or VIEW or ORGANIZE the bookmark as it is being added to the Hotlist, Bookmark or Favorites window.

In Netscape 1.0 I do not use the ADD BOOKMARK item; rather, I select VIEW BOOKMARKS on that first window that pops down when you click on BOOKMARKS. That causes a new window to open in the left third of the screen where you can see ADD BOOKMARK again in its upper left. Click on it there. The item is added at the bottom of your list (which you can see in the window). Then, there is an EDIT> > button at the bottom right of this window. Click on that, and another window opens up in the other two-thirds of the screen, showing all the detail of what has been added. Edit the Name until it says something you will remember (particularly the first word). And then close the bookmark windows. There is even room for comments, etc., all to help you remember which is which when you get a few hundred bookmarks entered.

In Netscape 2.0 the "View Bookmarks" item is not present. Instead, there is a "Go To Bookmarks" item. So add the new bookmark first. Then, when you select the "Go To Bookmarks" item, you can edit, organize and re-arrange your bookmark file, or the bookmark you just added. Highlight the new entry (at the bottom of the list), and select "Item" and then "Properties." A window pops up called "Bookmark Properties," in which you can make additions to the Name, Location (URL) or Description of the bookmark you just added. I find a few minutes invested when the new bookmark is set pay off handsomely later (especially if it is much later when I next want it). Be sure that the keywords you associate with that website are contained in the name of the bookmark. Just add them anywhere in the name field. Later, when you use the FIND function, they will be there.

In Mosaic it is about the same. Before storing the new hotlist Document (in the Add Document window), fix the Title until it says what you want. Notice that the Title is all blue. Hit the right arrow key to keep what is there in order to fix it up a little. The background goes white when you hit the right arrow.. If you hit a letter or number when the background is all blue, it is all lost, and you start from scratch. When you have what you want, click on "ok" to save the Title and URL in your hotlist items.

In Mosaic, hotlists can also be inserted into the menu list at the top of the screen. After clicking on the HOTLIST button (in the Hotlists window), check the box labeled: "Put this hotlist in the menu bar." An "x" appears. For some circumstances, this is a more convenient arrangement.

In Internet Explorer it is like Netscape. Add the bookmark, then go to Organize Bookmarks, and "Rename" if needed. Remember that some web page authors do not bother to put a title on their web pages. In such a case, the URL or filename is stored as the name of the page. That will be substantially useless in finding the page you want later. If you rename it as you store the favorite, then those keywords will be there when you want to return to that page.

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Importing and exporting Hotlists and Bookmarks:

This topic is a little advanced for this help page, so I won't say much about it here. It is important to tell you, however, that the hotlists and bookmarks are powerful tools in keeping track of your web sites and their locations. Both Netscape and Mosaic provide for exporting these items to disk as HTML files. What this means is that you can load them into the browser like a web page with a zillion links, import them into text files, or files to send to others, edit them in those files, and re-load them into hotlist and bookmark item lists.

Since I use both Netscape and Mosaic (whose bookmarks and hotlists don't otherwise mix), I routinely export these lists to HTML files, along with other people's hotlist and bookmark items, index files, site lists, etc. Then I combine them into a single big file. Thereafter, when I need to find a site from the dim dark past, I just load that combined file of all the sites I have ever catalogued or indexed as if it were a giant bookmark or hotlist file. Then I use the FIND function to locate the keywords of the pages I want to visit. It works like a champ. Just be aware of it for now; and be prepared to use it when you get a little more experience (and a lot more bookmarks and hotlists).

Unfortunately, Internet Explorer does not use HTML to store its favorites. Plan on organizing them carefully over time. As long as you do not switch to another browser, you will have your favorites where you need them.

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Opening a local file:

Sometimes you want to look at an HTML file that you have on disk. This might be a file you saved (see above), one you got from a friend, or one you received in a newsletter. Since these are just plain text files, there is a very rich field of sources. Now that the web is really catching on, we will see HTML as one of the preferred media to exchange information with others, I think. It is a very simple and compressed way to exchange information (including graphic images) with just about anybody who uses the web and has a browser (and no matter what computer or software they use otherwise).

Anyway all browsers handle this easily: click the OPEN button on top of the screen (Internet Explorer requires Open in the File menu; Netscape has an arrow to the right; and Mosaic has an open file folder, or use Open Local File in the File menu). In Netscape, a window opens on which you enter the file location as usual. If you want the usual Windows "Open" window where you can select the drive, path-name and file name, Mosaic will do it right away. To get that window in Netscape, use the "File" menu, and then select "Open File..." rather than using the "Open" button. Any browser then reads that file just as it would if the information was coming off the World-Wide Web. [[In Netscape, use forward slashes everywhere in path names. Remember, this is the UNIX world we are in now.]] If you haven't loaded the graphics on the disk, then you will not get them on the screen. The browser may actually try to find the graphics by connecting to the network and asking for them. Just hit the STOP button if any of that is not wanted. The browser may also say that it could not find some of the image files. Just hit "ok" so it can go on. The text is always displayed, including any hot words in the original file. Here again, if you click on a hot word, the browser may attempt to hook up to the network in order to find it. And that may be exactly what you want.

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Cautions about Privacy and Security
... including ways to reject "cookies" for privacy:

Those who are cautious about the kinds and amounts of information they provide to others may wish to set their browsers to reject so-called "cookies." In a nutshell, cookies are snippets of code or data which a web server puts onto your hard drive when you visit their site, and then retrieves on later visits. It can be used to keep track of passwords for sites requiring registration, for example. It can also be used to track what pages you visit, how long you stay, etc. For further information and an explanation of "cookies," see the cookie caution elsewhere.

For those more broadly concerned about privacy in the Information Age in general, see also our page on privacy: "Privacy & Intellectual Property Rights Index."

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Related Sites for New Internet Users:

The NetLinks Newbie Help Link ("the ultimate newbie resource page on the Internet") has a frequently-asked question (FAQ) section including tips and a help file, that answers many of the questions of new users; and their copy of Arlene Rinaldi's Netiquette 101 section gives tips on Internet conventions, mannerisms (and what might also be called prejudices, traditions, arbitrary preferences and biases). It will help those who want to be careful not to embarrass themselves.

The Complete Web Guide from Chris Ward at MIT may also be helpful for some new Internet users.

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Page last updated: 30 March 2012 (N4.8, w/SC). Page created: 15 June 1995.