BOOT CAMP 086
We humans are a shallow bunch but the fact remains that
people and organisations often make judgements about you and your lifestyle based
on nothing more substantial than where you live, your postcode or even the
first few digits of your telephone number. Now you can add Internet web site addresses
or 'domain names' to the list.
To be fair there are practical implications in having a brief
and distinctive Internet address. For example, let us suppose that you run a high-street
florist business called 'Blooms R Us' and you wish to promote your products and
services on the Internet. If you take up the offer of free web space from an
Internet Service Provider (ISP) you could end up with a long-winded address.
It's not the sort of thing that's going to get you noticed,
it will look dreadful on letterheads or the sides of your delivery van and it
reduces the chances of potential customers finding your site. On the other hand,
if you have a short snappy web address like www.bloomsrus.co.uk, your web site will
be much easier for others to find and remember. Better still, if your domain name
ends in .com it will give your business the ultimate cachet, an impression of
size and the appearance, at least, of being a multinational operation.
If you want to get ahead on the Internet you need a
memorable domain name, and in a moment we'll show you how to go about finding
one, but first, it helps to understand how it all works. Internet domain names
are designated according to an internationally agreed set of protocols called
the Domain Name System or DNS. The server computers that make up the backbone
of the Internet automatically translate web addresses into an Internet Protocol
(IP) number. This is a unique numeric code assigned to each and every web page;
you may see an IP number flash up in your browser window's status bar: 22.214.171.124
is the IP number for the Connected home page on the Electronic Telegraph web
Domain names are split in to three levels, separated by full
stops or 'dots'. The 'top level domain' (TLD) is the two or three letters following
the last dot in the address (i.e. .com, .edu, .gov, .net, .org, uk, etc. – see Jargon
Filter). TLDs like .com and .org etc. are mostly assigned to US or multinational
organisations; otherwise it is a simple country code (.uk - United Kingdom, .fr
- France, .jp - Japan, and so on).
The second level domain is the bit that goes before the
final dot. It could show a company name -- in the case of addresses with a .com
or .org suffix -- or it signifies the organisation's status (.ac, .co, .sch, .ltd,
.plc etc.) in the case of a web site ending in a country code. The third level domain
comes before the second dot from the left, so in our fictional web site www.bloomsrus.co.uk it would be the name
Clearly it is preferable to have a .com domain since the
address will be shorter. There is also a certain amount of snobbery associated
with a .com name. It suggests that the user is a large multinational
organisation and that the user has been on the Internet for some time since domain
names are issued on a first-come first-served basis. A web site address ending
in '.co.uk' would therefore be second best to a coveted .com domain for a
British company. (The BBC recently spent a considerable sum buying 'bbc.com'
from Boston Business Computing in the US.
So how do you go about acquiring a domain name, and what
does it cost? The first bit is easy. Go to any of the web sites listed below (see
Contacts). These are some of the companies responsible for domain name
registration; simply type in your chosen name in the Search field and you will
be able to see straight away whether or not it is available. The chances are if
the name is a common one it will be taken, though it may not be in use since a
lot of names have been 'banked', by individuals or companies planning to use or
sell them at a later date.
There are several ways to buy a domain name. Check with your
Internet service provider since some ISPs offer a registration and hosting service
for commercial web sites. However, it can be quite expensive and in addition to
the one-off registration fee there may be costly annual or biannual administration
charges. The alternative is to use your free allocation of web space to host
the site and buy a domain name from a registration company (see Contacts) accredited
with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN (www.icann.org). Prices vary but the initial
registration fee for a .com domain is typically £100-£150 plus an annual charge
of £25 or so. Less prestigious .co.uk domains are usually a little cheaper at £100
or less, with lower annual maintenance fees and you may get a discount for
registering names in 'bulk'.
Registration takes only a few minutes though it may be
several days before your domain is operational. Once it is up and running DNS
databases will direct visitors keying your address into their browsers to your
web site, wherever it may be -- even if it is a free allocation -- so you are
not permanently tied to an ISP to host your site. The registration fees
normally include automatic redirection of Email sent to the site, and this will
be forwarded to your nominated email address.
Next week – Installing a second hard disc drive
COMMON FIRST AND SECOND LEVEL DOMAIN NAMES
UK academic organisation
worldwide 'commercial' entities, individuals or companies
UK based commercial entity, individual or company
assigned to higher level educational establishments,
colleges universities etc.
reserved for US government agencies and organisations and
similar bodies in other countries when preceded by the relevant country code
UK Ministry of Defence establishment web sites
organisations which are part of the Internet infrastructure –
i.e. Internet Service Providers etc.
UK national health service web site
originally reserved for non-profit making organisations (charities,
political bodies, professional institutions, trades unions etc.) but now issued to some commercial enterprises
UK schools domain
If you regularly need to switch between two settings on your
printer (i.e. portrait and landscape mode, etc.) when printing from different
applications, you can avoid a lot of messing around by making Windows believe
you have two or more printers. Open the Printers folder in My Computer and
click on Add New Printer and follow through the installation procedure for your
existing printer. At the point when Windows asks the printers name change to
default, Printer 2 for example. When the setup is complete right-click on the
new printer icon, select Properties and change the settings as required. Now
all you have to do is select the new printer in your application's Printer
Setup dialogue box, or simply drag and drop the file onto the Printer 2 icon.