SURFING

OVERVIEW

This page talks a bit about surfing on the web. This means exploring or (more likely) searching for something in particular using keywords in search engines or by clicking through search directories (see details provided later on this page), instead of typing the URL of a known website into the browser’s address bar and pressing ‘GO’ (or selecting a favourites or bookmarked URL). Either way, you will find yourself in a search index.

SEARCHING

In the index made available by a search directory (such as Yahoo! or LookSmart), you are able to search for what you’re looking for down a manually-created menu tree that is based on topics or subjects. In the index made available by a search engine (Ref 38) (after its spiders have crawled all of the 2 billion+ websites on the internet), you find what you’re looking for by typing in pointers known as key words. Ask Jeeves and Google are major players in this arena and you may like to experiment in their indexes for a while, noting that these are partially or completely generated automatically and may therefore include out-of-context pages/frames inside a website that you’re interested in (if this happens, one answer is to delete characters in the URL that’s shown in the browser’s address bar from the righthand side towards the left to leave the website’s basic URL only displayed – then selecting GO)…..

You should now have some idea how it works. How ‘Advanced Search’ facilities work depends on the index you’re in, but it generally involves the typing in of more key words or the form-based selection of more defining details (just study the well-presented instructions in the current index).

PROMOTIONS

Obtrusive advertisements on the pages you’ve surfed to can be easily prevented (and should be) by proprietary software and also by software such as Norton Internet Security 2003. You may, however, want to get 250 good quality business cards zapped to you for the cost of the postage on a secure connection as I did, but I only hope there aren’t too many around me with the same design!). Just click on the banner, select a design, add your details, choose how to pay for the postage and go for it! ……

DOWNLOADING

‘Downloading’ refers to the process of transferring, normally using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), program and data files from a website to your PC. Common examples of situations when you will want to download files are:

When you’re prompted by a website (to which you’ve just surfed) to get one of the following:

Free media-playing software, such as Flash Player (from Macromedia) or QuickTime Player (from Apple) in order for you to see and hear everything in this website (it’s worth noting that 95% of surfers have these particular and similar programs installed on their PCs, as a result of this activity).

Compression/de-compression software, such as Winzip or Winrar, free versions of which are often necessary for expanding compressed files (which are typically installation files for Applications) and can be useful for compressing large files before you upload them to another PC on the internet. As you will appreciate, large installation files are compressed to make them smaller for faster downloading and need to be expanded by you before you can run them (and vise-versa).

A free trial, or a ’30-day free trial’ (which automatically times out) installation of a software application.

When you’re running a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) application, which is software, such as ‘Kazaa Lite’, that allows you to share software with other people (subject to copyright and licensing restrictions).

When you’re copying an image (right-click it>Save Picture As>etc) in a web page.

When you’re simply getting a file or files that you’re interested in from a website (where the necessary dynamics, via application forms, are taken care of by that website).

When you’ve downloaded a movie (up to three days to do using P2P software, depending on the speed of your Internet connection, because it’s up to 700Mb long!) and Windows Media Player can’t find the Coder/Decoder (CODEC) needed to play it, you’ll want to download and install the latest free player software from DivX. For the enthusiast, details on video files and High Definition Television (HDTV) can be found at Ref 5.

The first rule to remember in all cases is that you must have running and enabled Internet protection software (see The Personal Computer page for details), ie virus protection and a firewall (I have Symantec’s Norton Internet Security 2003, with icons in the taskbar at the bottom-righthand corner of my display, telling me when it and its antivurus software are or aren’t enabled, which automatically updates every day and seems to keep me safe enough, even if it does keep me busy configuring it – there may be better, but I doubt it). This rule applies whenever you’re online anyway, especially if you’re on broadband and permanently online (unfortunately, constant vigilance is needed).

The next rule to remember (unless it’s something from a known and trusted source) is to choose the option ‘save’ in the appropriate dialogue, selecting a specific folder (that you’ve previously created especially for it) where it’s to go, rather than the option ‘open’ in that dialogue (you will need to virus-check as follows first)!

The third rule to remember is to select the file that’s saved (which will normally be a compressed ‘zip’ or ‘rar’ file), or each of any uncompressed files, and then carry out a virus check (right-click it>Scan with Norton Antivurus – or whatever you have).

Double-click it if it’s a compressed file and your OS expands it automatically or you have Winzip + Winrar that you’ve installed (following the above rules) – then you’ll be asked where to dump the expanded file(s) to, in which case it’s a good idea to have a dedicated folder, because you want to know what belongs! At this point, you must virus check all expanded files as in the third rule above (see Note below). Then, either way, you’re normally expected to run an installation file (unless you just have a bit of media that you can run straight away, such as a sound or video file), in which case it’s normally safe to allow the ‘default’ location, etc) installation offered.

NOTE: Virus checking software (Norton, Mcaffee, Dr Solomon, etc) may not pick up all viruss in compressed versions of files, so virus checks are needed on the expanded program files (not just the original compressed files).

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