BOOT CAMP 58
BACK TO BASICS PART 2 INTERNET BROWSERS
If you've decided to get connected to the Internet one of
the first things you have to do is get to grips with a program called a
'Browser'. The browser's job is to open a window onto the Internet by translating
data coming down the telephone line into a form that can be processed and
displayed on a PC. The browser helps you to find your way around the Internet
and locate web sites, by typing in those odd-looking addresses or 'URLs' (see
Jargon Filter) that begin with 'http' and 'www'. A browser is also a gateway
for e-mail and if required, it will store messages, act as an address book and
list 'bookmarks' for frequently accessed or 'favourite' web sites.
Browsers have become one of the bogeymen of the PC world and
they are probably responsible for more problems than all other types of
programs put together. They cause crashes, squabble with other types of software
and behave in mysterious ways that can make a PC user's life an absolute
misery. You may well be lucky and get on-line and onto the net without any
problems but find some wood and touch it fast! Trust me, your time will come!
That time will come sooner rather than later if you fiddle
around with your browser's critical settings, and there are plenty of them,
tucked away on the various menus… That is not to say you shouldn't configure
your PC to work the way you want it to, however be patient, especially if you
are new to PCs, Windows or the Internet.
Before you touch anything get know your enemy. Browsers fall
into two basic categories. Internet Access Providers (IAPs) such as Cable &
Wireless, Pipex etc., who supply only basic Internet and E-mail facilities,
generally use one of the two most popular browsers, Netscape or Internet
Explorer. Internet Explorer version 3 (IE3) was included with Windows 95.
Internet Explorer 4 (IE4) appeared with later releases of Windows 95 and it is
an integral component of Windows 98. Netscape Navigator (version 3) and the recently
released Netscape Communicator are also loaded on most new PCs as a matter of
The second type of browser is a customised version of Internet
Explorer (occasionally Netscape Navigator), these are mostly supplied by the older
well-established Internet Service
Providers (ISPs) like AOL and CompuServe that have their own unique content
(on-line shopping, news, sports, travel, forums etc,).
When you sign up for Internet access the browser software is
automatically installed or configured on your PC, and at that stage you have
little say in the matter. However, there is no reason why you have to put up with
it. You may well want to change,
particularly if you find you don't get on with the supplied browser or you are
used to another program. There are quite significant differences in the way
browsers operate and perform. Some make it easier than others to find and
display Internet pages; e-mail facilities also differ widely and you may not
want all of the extra bumf or advertising that comes with a custom program. You
might even want to use two different browsers -- one for e-mail, the other for
the net -- either way making the change is not too difficult.
It is better to do this kind of thing quite early on as some
browsers -- especially the custom versions -- can make it difficult or even
impossible to transfer address books and bookmarks to other programs. After
only a few weeks on the Internet these lists can grow quite large! We'll look
at the two most common scenarios: changing the default browser on your PC, and replacing
a custom browser with Netscape or Internet Explorer.
If your current browser is Internet Explorer (version 3x or
4x) and you want to switch to Netscape then open Internet Explorer (stay
off-line), go to the View menu and click on Internet Options. Select the
Programs tab, at the bottom of the dialogue box there is a tick-box marked
'Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser'.
Uncheck the box and the next time you start Netscape it will ask you if you
want to make it your default browser, click OK and it's done.
To use Netscape or Internet Explorer instead of the one provided
by CompuServe, say, click on My Computer and open Dial-Up Networking. There you
will find at least two icons, one for creating new connections the one other
for your current ISP connection. Click on it and enter the requested password
and user name information. You will need to re-configure the mailbox in CompuServe
as it uses a proprietary e-mail system. If you want to use your new browser to
pick up CompuServe mail it has to be changed to the more common 'POP3' (see
Jargon Filter) protocol. It's not difficult but once the change has been made you
won't be able to alter your e-mail address or user name. POP3 can be switched
on during a CompuServe session (Go popmail) but it’s a good idea to read the
FAQ first (Go UKHF, Files > Sending e-mail > POP3 Services). AOL's highly
modified Internet Explorer browser is truly horrible, the simplest solution is
to log on and then run plain vanilla Navigator or Internet Explorer over the
top of it; you will however still have to use the AOL browser for e-mail.
Next week, Internet security and covering your tracks…
HyperText Transfer Protocol -- a set of rules used that
governs how text is displayed on Internet documents plus a means of moving
around inside documents and accessing other web pages by clicking on
highlighted or underlined 'links.
Post Office Protocol version 3 -- widely used Internet
e-mail standard, compatible with popular Windows 'client' software (Outlook,
Outlook Express, MS Exchange/Windows Messaging, Eudora etc), on PCs and palmtop
computers (Psion Windows CE)
Uniform Resource Locator -- a standardised address format
for Internet web sites
One of the main complaints about the Internet is how long it
sometimes takes to access and download pages. There's an easy way to speed things
up and that is to just load text. Instead of all the pictures, graphics, advertising
banners and sounds you will just see icons. If you want to see or hear an item just
right click on the icon and you will get the option to load it. In IE 3 go to
View on the menu bar then Options > Advanced and uncheck the Show Pictures
box. On IE4 the procedure is View > Internet Options > Advanced, scroll
down to Multmedia and uncheck the appropriate boxes. A similar facility in
Netscape Navigator 3 is listed under Options, simply remove the tick next to
Auto Load Images, on version 4 it s listed under Preferences on the Edit menu,
click Advanced and uncheck the Automatically Load Images box.