Frequently Asked Questions

faqsIf you have never used the Internet before or are totally new to computers, it can seem very overwhelming to suddenly have a worldwide network available to you at the tip of your fingers. This page is designed to give the beginner users an overall concept of the Internet, and how to use it to their advantage.

This page provides an overview of various topics related to the Internet. Feel free to read over them in order, or select a topic that you’re interested in.

The Internet

In a nutshell, the Internet is a massive global network connecting hundreds of thousands of computers together.

The Internet's beginning lies in an experimental network known as ARPANet. It was sponsored by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the mid 1960's.

At this time the Cold War was nearing its peak, and the research group was instructed to develop network technology, which could be relied upon in the event of a war with Russia.

In the sixties the US military was becoming increasingly reliant on computer networks, which handled much of the logistics, planning and coordination of operations. It was therefore imperative that these networks were resistant to sabotage or destruction.

ARPANet began as a network linking four computers at research institutions in California and Utah. While such a project would require little more than an afternoons work today, this was a major undertaking at the time, involving the development and implementation of revolutionary networking principles and technology.

This new network was a success, allowing real-time communication between different computer networks, each of which consisted of different computer technology. This success encouraged researchers and the military to invest in further study of the new networking technology. Overtime ARPANet grew to encompass many computers both in the US and abroad.

The military, concerned by the increasing civilian presence on the network eventually disconnected from ARPANet, creating its own network MILNet that is still in use today.

ARPANet grew quickly, and eventually became known as the Internet.

Today the Internet is accessed by millions of people on a completely global basis. The speeds of data transmission are ever increasing for the average home user, with the introduction of broadband. The e-business industry is rapidly expanding, with most businesses owning an online presence.

The Internet has no owner - no country, company or individual can claim ownership. Similarly it has no ruling body. This means that there is no committee which dictates the progress of the Internet or who may access it.

However, the Internet is subject to some administration. There are numerous technical bodies which review and implement new developments affecting Internet technology. Similarly, as the Internet has become an increasingly important medium for doing business, groups have been established to investigate and report on issues raised by online commerce.

If you have concerns over any type of Internet related criminal action, please visit the following website: http://www.web-police.org/.

And now for an animated version of How the Internet Works: (courtesy of The Common Craft http://www.commoncraft.com/)

  • Enables us to communicate with friends and relatives instantly
  • Enables worldwide communication instantly at a very low cost (think of the cost of a phone call to a friend anywhere in the world, as opposed to contacting them via the Internet)
  • Shopping online without even leaving your house
  • 24 hours 7 days a week access
  • Paying bills online
  • Access to information anytime, anywhere in the world
  • Fostering a global community where anyone of any background can express their opinions

In a nutshell, WWW stands for World Wide Web. If you are a novice, these short animated videos will help you understand the basic concepts of the Internet and how the "World Wide Web" has evolved since the Arpanet days when networks were limited to defense laboratories and university labs.

A short explanation of what makes the World Wide Web work: browsers, packets, servers addresses and links. (courtesy of The Common Craft http://www.commoncraft.com/)

Keywords are words or phrases that are used to match your ads with the terms people are searching for.

Selecting high quality, relevant keywords for your advertising campaign can help you reach the customers you want, when you want.

This article explains how keywords work, where your ads will show, and how much they cost.

To get your ads to appear when people search for your product or service, the keywords you choose need to match the words or phrases that people search for.

Also read: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/1704371?hl=en

How the keywords work:(Courtesy of Google)

It tells Google not to show your ad to anyone who is searching for that phrase. For example, when you add "free" as a negative keyword to your campaign or ad group, you tell AdWords not to show your ad for any search containing the term "free."

Also read: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453972?hl=en

How the Internet Works

A LAN or Local Area Network is essentially two or more computers directly linked together (usually by cable) in a room or a building. This type of connection enables users to share common resources, such as printers or a Fileserver (a central computer that stores information and software).

Each computer connected to a LAN can share information and communicate with every other computer and peripheral connected to the LAN.

When two or more LANs are connected, you create a WAN (Wide Area Network). The LANs that comprise the WAN may be on different floors of the same building, in different buildings or in different countries. Most WANs are connected by dedicated, high speed telephone lines. Sophisticated networks may even use satellites to share or swap data between the LANs which comprise the WAN.

In essence, the Internet is a massive Wide Area network connecting hundreds of smaller computer networks around the world.

All computers connected to the Internet share a common language, or more accurately a "protocol", known as TCP/IP.

TCP/IP is an acronym for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet protocol. This is a standard that regulates how all computers connected to the Internet must act when communicating with one another.

Every computer connected to a network running TCP/IP software is aware of every other computer on that network, thereby knowing the exact position of each computer on the "network map".

Knowing this, a computer can send information to the intended recipient by the fastest route without having to follow a predetermined path (which might otherwise have been blocked or congested). If it finds that a computer is not responding or is too busy to handle the information, then it would simply consult the network map (referred to as the network topology) to find another computer that can pass on the information.

TCP/IP is in fact two protocols in one. The TCP part of the protocol handles the way in which data is sent across a network while the IP part handles how computers locate one another.

When information is sent from one computer to another across a network, whether it is a short email message or a large document file, it is not all sent at once. Rather, it is broken down into smaller pieces (called "packets"), which are sent one at a time.

The reason files are broken into packets is fairly straightforward. To enable several computers to send information over the same telephone line, no single computer is allowed to monopolise the line. If this were the case, a computer sending a very large file would prevent others from sending information while it used the line.

To ensure all computers have equal access to the line, the information they are sending is broken into packets. These are sent down the line interspersed with packets from other computers. In this way, all computers can use a single line at the same time.

To ensure packets don't get lost, each contains information about the Internet addresses of the intended recipient and the original sender. They are also sequentially numbered so the recipient's computer can correctly reassemble them. The packets are passed from computer to computer until they reach their destination.

For instance, you may send email from your computer in Auckland to a friend in Tokyo. While there is not a direct Internet connection from Auckland to Tokyo, your ISP's computers will know, from the email address you supplied, exactly where on the Internet your friend is, and will pass the message on to a computer closer to Tokyo.

That computer might not be in Tokyo either, but it will send the packets on to a computer even closer to the destination. This "pass the packets" procedure will continue until eventually all the packets are received by the Tokyo computer.

As you can see the packets comprising your email message may pass through the hands of many computers before they are received and reassembled, then placed in the recipients email box.

All the packets might not follow the same path, but may be handled by different computers. Wherever they may pass, rest assured they will all end up at the specified email address.

It should be noted that the above steps (breaking the email or file into packets, individually ordering them, passing them on, being inspected by different hosts along the way) occur in fractions of a second. It should take less than a minute for email to get from one end of Australia to the other, and only a little longer than that to get from one end of the world to the other.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the means by which the thousands of separate and diverse networks are "mapped". Every time you connect to a computer over the Internet or send email to a colleague, you use the DNS. It is essentially a collection of large databases that are used by computers on the Internet to locate other Internet computers.

Every computer connected to the Internet is given an IP address. For the technically minded, an IP address is a 32-bit numerical address, represented by four 8-bit numbers which are expressed as decimal numbers in the range of 0-255 (inclusive) separated by periods ".". Each 8-bit component of the 32-bit address is referred to as an "octet".

An IP address might look something like this: 201.60.234.81

When your computer establishes a connection to the Internet via your ISP's dial-up access points or ADSL broadband, it is assigned an IP address, so that other computers connected to the Internet can transmit information to it as required.

Because humans have difficulty remembering numbers represented in such a fashion, computers are also given human-friendly names (known as domain names) such as: ulysses.co.nz which is significantly easier to remember.

Computers prefer to communicate with each other using numerical IP addresses. So in order for humans to use the addresses they can remember, the two names are cross-referenced.

The DNS takes care of this cross-referencing. When you specify an Internet address using the human-friendly domain name, your computer will first access a database known as a DNS nameserver, which contains both the human-friendly and numerical addresses of all computers connected to the Internet.

If it finds the domain name you specify, it will look up the corresponding numerical address, and use that to carry out the requested function. As a result, you need never bother memorising numerical IP addresses.

The DNS also imposes a uniform naming system onto an otherwise chaotic network of networks. For each of the separate networks that make up the Internet to act cohesively, they must recognise each other's existence and be able to transmit information without any confusion as to exactly where it is going.

E-Mail

E-mails, or electronic mail is now one of the most popular forms of communication. In fact, there are now more e-mails sent worldwide than actual post. Emails have many advantages:

  • Instant communication - worldwide.
  • Ability to send files (pictures, text documents, etc) to another e-mail box.
  • You don't have to run around trying to find that box of stamps you just bought. 🙂
  • Saves you money on postage.

In a nutshell, e-mail works a lot like traditional postal mail. However the e-mail is sent via a computer network. The e-mail message is broken down into packets, and each of these packets is sent to various computers along the way until it reaches its destination, where the packets are re-assembled. This process happens in a matter of seconds.

To send and receive e-mail you need to be connected to the Internet, and you need to be using mailbox software.

Some mailbox software can be completely web based where you access them through your browser - such as when you use your ISP's Webmail facility, or using Hotmail. In this case you simply need to log in to your mailbox, and you can send and receive e-mails directly off the mail server.

Other mailbox software comes as programs that are installed on your own computer. Popular e-mail programs include Outlook Express, Microsoft Outlook, Incredimail, etc. These programs work by establishing a connection to the appropriate mail server, and then downloading the e-mail to your computer (if you are receiving e-mail) or uploading e-mails to the server (if you are sending e-mail).

For example, if you wanted to use Outlook Express to receive your e-mail you would need to specify your e-mail account details before attempting to connect to the mail server. You would specify:

  • Your e-mail address, which looks like: username@ulysses.co.nz
  • The Incoming mail server (used to receive e-mail) which is: pop3.ulysses.co.nz
  • The Outgoing mail server (used to send e-mail) which is: smtp.ulysses.co.nz
  • Your username
  • Your password

When provided with that information, Outlook Express can connect to your ISP's mail servers and send and receive your e-mail for you.

When you create an e-mail address, you are creating the name for your e-mail box. This works just like your normal letterbox at home. The number of the letterbox combined with the street name stipulates where the letter goes, and the physical letterbox holds the letter until you empty it. E-mail works just the same way, you are simply using a computer. Your e-mail address stipulates where the e-mail goes, and the email box holds the email for you until you download it to your computer.

For example, the email address bob@ulysses.co.nz stipulates that the email is addressed to the user bob on the Ulysses server. That e-mail will stay on the Ulysses mail server inside the bob mailbox until that e-mail is downloaded to the person's computer.