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Grab your modem, it's time to try surfing the Internet

Dec. 10, 1995


The information superhighway. Cyberspace. The Infobahn. The Net.

These often-used terms describe the global network of interconnected computers called the Internet. And since August, this network is within easy reach of most Hardin Countians.

The Internet began in the late 1960s as a network of military computers. It allowed military contractors and researchers to exchange messages and information quickly.

As it network grew, the military sites moved to a separate network, leaving what has now evolved into the Internet.

Look over any brochure or advertisement concerning access to the Internet and you'll find a mind-numbing number of acronyms and abbreviations: FTP, Usenet, World-Wide Web, IRC, Gopher and more.

These are all individual components of the Internet. All of them deal with ways of sending and receiving files and information from one computer to another.

THE WEB. The fastest growing part of the Internet is the World-Wide Web. The Web offers a point-and-click graphical interface, much like that found on a Macintosh or a computer running Windows software.

Until the Web was developed in 1989, the Internet was a text-only system. The Web changed that forever.

Want information on the status of legislation in the Senate? It's available on the Web. Want to know the touring schedule of your favorite alternative rock band? Take peek at exhibits at the Smithsonian? Or find a tip about fly fishing? This information is available on the Web.

GETTING ONLINE. Internet access if available from four local providers.

To get online, a user needs an MS-DOS compatible computer running Windows 3.1 or higher, or an Apple Macintosh running System 6.0 or higher. A modem Ï a device that lets your computer communicate with another computer over a telephone line Ï is also necessary, preferably one faster than 9,600 baud. Most providers support modem speeds up to 28,800 baud.

Buying the fastest affordable modem is usually good advice. Time is money on the Internet, and the less time you spend waiting for information to download into your computer, the more you can accomplish online.

CHOOSING A PROVIDER. Internet providers offer access in hourly packages. For example, a provider may offer 10 hours of access for a $9.95 a month.

Ten hours may sound like a lot of time, but over a month, it isn't difficult to use three times that much time if you become a regular Internet user.

Other points to consider when choosing an Internet provider:

· Does the provider offer all Internet services, including e-mail, for one monthly rate? Paying extra for e-mail is costly.

· What is the cost-per-hour for usage above the monthly amount? This typical runs from from 75 cents to $2 per hour.

· Is there a charge for the software? A top-notch Internet provider will offer a software package that is easy to setup and use. Configuring software yourself can prove to be a tremendous headache.

· Does the provider offer technical support? Software that configures and installs itself makes getting online easier, but problems can still arise. Can you call for technical help at 1 a.m. on a weekend night? A provider dedicated to serving its subscribers will offer technical support when you need it Ï not just during business hours.

· How will the monthly charges be billed? The fee can often be charged to a debit card, credit card or checking account. Most also accept payment by mail, and may offer extra access time for payments sent in advance.

The investment of a little time researching a provider can help you make the best of your time Ï and money Ï when you decide to try your hand at surfing the Internet.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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