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Internet tools.

There are many tools for communication on the Internet. Since the Internet was created to allow people to communicate (not computers), there needs to be programs that allow human interaction on many levels.


Email

Email is by far the most important tool on the network. While I can write hundreds of web pages on this website, I am only doing a one way communication, and email is the best way to do that other than picking up the phone. When we use email, we send a message knowing that the other person may not answer right away, but we are usually confident that the email will get there eventually, and that the human on the other end will read it, and possibly respond.

Email has become a new interactive tool to speak to one another. Since the onset of the printing press, we have persued this one way communication that was really only broken by the telephone. Now we once again enjoy two way communication that speeds up our formerly slow snail mail process.

If you are a titleholder for a domain, you may even have your email originate from your domain name.


How email works

When you press the send button in the emailer, several things happen. Your email program will look up the outgoing mail server IP address using DNS, and send your email to that server. This is usually done on what is called “service port 25” which is the standard “email network channel” on the Internet. Of course there is no physical meaning to “port”, and it is simply a TCP/IP concept that your computer will figure out using the Internet protocol. Notation for this is, for example, mail.zedemail.ca:25.

Then your email program will start to send the text of the email and the headers with from and to information (the headers) to that mail server. Using various underlying programs, the email program will split up the headers and text into Internet Protocol datagrams, and send those to your network card which will forward the IP datagram within a Protocol Data Unit, or PDU as shown in figure 2: IP datagram within a packet, at the link layer of our familiar OSI model.

The outgoing mail server then sends the datagrams through the router to the recipient’s mail server identified by the MX or mail exchange record for the recipients domain as stored in the DNS system. The email recipient (usually using POP TCP/IP protocol) receives the email using his/her email program that will reassemble the datagrams from their incoming mail server.

Why don’t I have to dial long distance

A common question by people is “why do I not have to pay long distance?”. You do! You just do not know it. When you pay for your dial-up line, or ADSL or cable modem, you are helping to pay for the infrastructure for the Internet. Why phone companies think that they should charge for Voice over IP is really beyond me. It really is like taxing the tax.

Essentially, once your IP datagrams are on the Internet, they can travel anywhere they want “free” of charge.

email spamming

A major problem of late is due to the fact that many people have broken the time honoured net etiquette. Unsolicited email is not a minor problem, it is a major block to effective communication on the Internet. It clogs up email servers, and slows down bandwidth on the Internet causing millions of dollars in damage. Recent laws have helped a little, but it is still a huge issue. Never send email so someone that has not given you their email address, and never CC someone unless all parties already know everyone else’s email address. That is a provacy issue that the legal community is only now addressing.

With the spam comes promises of better sexual drive, magical hair replacement, and false promises for millions of dollars from poor African countries. Really do not open email that you do not recognise, and do not open attachments unless you are sure that they are OK.

World Wide Web – www

Email is not the only innovation on the Internet, and the world wide web, or www for short, is a great source of information that is getting bigger and bigger all the time. The world wide web is what most people recognise as the Internet rather than the Internet service that it is. Getting “online” is the latest thing, and it usually means opening your favourite browser (“explorer” is a browser too), and “surfing the net” for information, products, music, or just plain fun.

The world wide web service also works in a similar manner to email, except that it requires a higher level of service to get its data.

Essentially when you choose a bookmark, or type in a web address in your browser it will search for the web site’s DNS information for the IP address, and then go there to request a download of the website’s contents through the port 80. Again port 80 is the default port, and http://www.computerengineering.ca can also be notated as http://www.computerengineering.ca:80 . Remember that the domain name here is computerengineering.ca, and the host that you are connecting to is www.computerengineering.ca on port 80. This could just as easily be some other name such as the-world-wide-web-is-great.computerengineering.ca as long as there is a DNS record in the domain name on the authoritative nameserver that has the-world-wide-web-is-great defined. This usually throws people off as they are used to good old www.

web sites and web hosting

Web sites and the world wide web are an innovation of the early 1990’s. While most web sites are static and unidirectional, many are becoming more and more interactive. If you are starting a small business, one of the first things that you may consider is building and hosting a website.

SSL encryption and ecommerce

Ecommerce has been the buzz word of many for several years now.

If you have a website, and need to sell something on it, ecommerce is usually the way to go. By securely accepting credit cards from your website, you are joining the ecommerce craze.

Securely is the key word here. If you are accepting credit card numbers online, then there are a few rules. For one you should never keep credit card numbers on the website as a cracker could break in and take them if a vulnerability is found. Secondly, you should make sure that whenever private information such as credit cards are sent from a browser to your website, that the browser is using what is called SSL encryption.

SSL encryption is used to encrypt, or “make safe”, the Internet datagrams that are passed from a world wide web browser.

search engines and Google

Google is the number one search engine bar none. Yahoo is close, but it also uses google. Search engine optimization or Internet marketing is becomming a huge industry on the Internet, and it is now needed to get traffic, or other humans to visit your website.

getting found

Getting found on the Internet is an important issue for most people who rely on the Internet for a living.

To be found, you will have to spend some money

Just like in the traditional industries, to get customers to come to your office, you will need to learn more about your customers, and use this knowledge to effectively get them to be drawn to your website. It is a little bit like a dating game where the person putting the personal add wants only to get the dates that he or she prefers. Similarly, if you are selling bedrock, you probably do not care about people looking for marble unless they might decide that bedrock will do the job. You definitely do not want people looking for printer supplies if you are selling bedrock, so you wouldn’t put information about printer supplies on your website, right?

do not “spam” the search engines

Google changes its algorithm every once and a while. That is something that separates the Internet marketers from the search engine optimisers, or search engine spammers as they are more aptly called.

Spamming the search engines means tricking the search engine into picking your site because of other reasons other than what your site is actually there for.

The days of putting famous movie stars in the meta tags, and putting search engine directed text that is the same colour as the background of a web page are gone. Google’s complex mathematical algorithm sees it, and trashes it.

So to get ahead, you will need to build your website in a manner that is driected to your customers, and you will also have to get people from your Industry to link to your website to increase its value.

how to build a great website

To build a great website, do not do it all yourself. The best way is to get an experienced graphic design, and web development firm to build it for you. That does not mean that you should not be preparing the text for the website, but you should be making sure that your website has a polished look to it if you would like your customers to have a pleasant experience on your site that could therefor be memorable.

If you need someone to help you with a legal matter, you hire a lawyer, it you need to file your corporate taxes, you hire an accountant, and while you may have a book keeper, you would still hire the accountant to consult as to the best way to do things.

The same goes for a website. You need to have people who work in the Industry to help you because it changes so fast, and because they have the necessary experience to do the job

The Internet is becomming more and more polished, yet there are so many websites that are so poorly done, that you will likely be much better perceived if you use a professional graphic artist and web developer to prepare your website.

Really the days of hiring your relative to build your website just for their experience is over for those who want to be noticed.

If you do build the website yourself, consider purchasing the professional tools required to build the site such as the macromedia.com suite, and or the adobe.com suite of products including adobe golive, and photoshop, and avoid free web authoring tools such as Front Page that will only prevent you from creating a polished product.

If you do do it yourself, consider the steep learing curves that are out there, and the amount of time that you will take to build a site.

Other Internet services

Many other services exist on the Internet. gopher is a good example. This was a text-only precursor to the world wide web, and is rarely used now.

Other current popular services include chat or irc, ftp or file transfer protocol, ssh or secure shell (the secure decendant to telnet and ftp), pop3 (email reception), imap (also email reception), smtp simple mail transport protocol (email sending), netbios or smb (windows based file sharing), ntp or network time protocol (time adjustment), and nntp for raw Intertent news feeds from Internet user groups and thousands of other services.

To get relevent traffic to your site, choose a company that can do an Internet market study so that you can get the results that you need.

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