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Basically, the Internet is millions of computers--all connected to each other--all over the world. Over forty million people now use the Internet (including you!) And they are all linked together. Everyone on the Internet, including seniors, can now communicate and share information, ideas, and images with each other, whether they live in Brussels, Seattle, Hong Kong, Memphis, Podunk, or anywhere else on earth. Imagine that!

The Internet has several parts, including e-mail, file transfer, chatting, newsgroups, and the World Wide Web. Among these, the 'Web' is the most advanced and popular part of the Internet. In fact, as you read this page right now, you are 'on' the World Wide Web. (Sometimes people just call it 'the Web', or 'WWW'). Whatever you call it, it's fun, isn't it?

It's fun because the Web is like the biggest library you've ever been in, but with some special features. The Web lets you jump from one place to another, moving freely among millions of resources all over the globe. 'Surfing' like this will lead you to information, news, pictures, movies, sounds, and all sorts of other things. In fact, the Internet has vast amounts of information and ideas created just for seniors. Enough to keep you interested--and busy--for a very long time!

So let's look at some terms, tips and techniques that will help you enjoy the Internet even more.

Just as a library contains books, the Web consists of 'web sites.' For instance, the Senior Link Hotline has its own website, with the address:

http://www.seniorlinkhotline.com

This address is known as a URL. And like a book, a website has many pages. Our own site has a volunteer page, a page offering a free magnet, a Database page, and others. The starting point, or opening page for any web site is called it's home page. Like the cover page of a book, the home page is the first thing you see when you go to that web site.

You are using a 'browser' to look at web pages right now. A browser is a software tool that lets you see web pages, somewhat like a guide would show you books in a library. The browser you are using is probably called Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or maybe America Online. Most people use one of these three. And while each is different, they all work about the same way.

globeWe mentioned the amazing ability of the Web to let you jump from one site to another. This is because the billions of pages on the Web are interconnected, and all you do is click on text or a picture to go somewhere else. These are known as hyperlinks, and are underlined and usually a different color that the rest of the text. If you see an underlined word or phrase, or if you see your cursor arrow turning into a little hand with a pointing finger, you know you can click and go somewhere else. Then you can either keep going or go back to where you were. Clicking more hyperlinks will keep you going. To go back, click the 'back' button at the top left of your screen, or look for a hyperlink that says 'return to ' and click on that. This is an example of a hyperlink: go to another page.

The toolbar at the top of this page contains the controls for getting around the Web. It lets you stop, go forward, go back, or reload, among other things. The white 'window' below the toolbar displays the current Web address. To go to a new Web site, type that site's address (url) into the address bar 'window', then press 'enter' a wait a few seconds.

Those words across the very top of the page are called the 'menu'. The usefulness of the menu will become clearer as you explore the Internet. For instance, opening the 'file' command, you can save an Internet page as a document, or even print it out. A particularly helpful menu item is called 'Bookmarks', (or 'favorites' in Internet Explorer) it stores and remembers the Web sites you like and want to keep on file. When you find a site you think you'll want to visit again, just click on 'Bookmark, then drag your cursor to 'Add Bookmark.' Netscape will add it to a list of all the sites you have marked in this way, and you can return to any of them by just clicking on their name.

This basic information is intended to get you started on the World Wide Web. Now go ahead and try it! It may seem complicated or scary at first, but if you stick with it a few minutes, you'll see how easy (and fun) it is. There are lots of tutorials available for beginners on the Internet--many of them much more complete than this one. If you have a question or just want to learn more, go to our Links page and click on one of the tutorials we have listed for you. Then try out the techniques and tricks you're learning. Go ahead! You can't break anything. But remember, every click of the mouse can take you to a new and interesting place, so allow yourself lots of time. And happy surfing!


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