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A Beginning Computer Users Guide

The Internet / Web Computer Virus
A Browser Discussion Forums
Search Engines JPEG / GIF Images
A Hyperlink Bookmark
A Webmaster Uniform Resource Locator
Hypertext Markup Language Internet Service Provider
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Operating System
General  Terms About E-mail
A parents guide to Internet safety Lightning and your computer
Disable call waiting Drag and Drop
Cut and Paste Downloading files
Bandwidth Web Sites and Viruses
Vector Graphics Spam and Spoofing
 

The Internet / Web

The internet is a matrix of networks that connects computers around the world. The World Wide Web is an information server on the Internet composed of interconnected sites and files, accessible with a browser.

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A Browser

A Browser is a program that accesses and displays files available on the World Wide Web.

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Search Engines

Search Engines are web sites that have search capabilities built into them.  Access a search engine, type in a keyword of what you are looking for, click send then you will see listings for that keyword displayed from their database. Here are a few popular search engines to try:   Google    Yahoo!    MSN

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A Hyperlink

A cross-reference in an electronic document that, when activated (clicked), causes the application (browser) reading the document to load a different section of the document, a new document, or a resource that the application can display or use. A hyperlink is usually text, with an underline.  Top When clicked, will transport you to its destination file.

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A Webmaster

A person who is in charge of the design, marketing, developing and maintaining of a web site.

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Hypertext Markup Language

HTML is a language used to arrange documents in a web site.  This language is read by a browser and translated into a readable format. An example of HTML is: <a href="http://www.5starsupport.com">5 Star Support</a>  When read by a browser the example would look like this:  5 Star Support  It would be a clickable hyperlink.

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Hypertext Transfer Protocol

HTTP is a  protocol used to request and transmit files, especially Web pages and Web page components, over the Internet or other computer network. An example of HTTP in action is : HTTP://www.5starsupport.com The HTTP is instructing the browser to transfer the file name.

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Uniform Resource Locator

The URL is the means by which browsers are able to transfer file names throughout the internet. An example of a URL is:  HTTP://www.5starsupport.com/url.htm  The HTTP is the instruction to transfer the file. The two forward slashes introduce the main file name (www.5starsupport.com). The single forward slash indicates a sub file off of the main file (/url.htm).

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Internet Service Provider

The ISP is the company providing the internet access.  There are many ISP's to choose from and they all vary in price.  Depending on what you are looking for in an ISP would decide which one would best suit your needs.  It is not uncommon for people to change ISP's until they find one that they like.

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Operating System

Software that controls the execution of computer programs and may provide various services.  Examples of some Operating Systems are:  386BSD, AIX, AOS, Amoeba, Angel, Artemis microkernel, BeOS, Brazil, COS, CP/M, CTSS, Chorus, DACNOS, DOSEXEC 2, GCOS, GEORGE 3, GEOS, ITS, KAOS, Linux, LynxOS, MPV, MS-DOS, MVS, Mach, Macintosh operating system, MINIX, Multics, Multipop-68, Novell NetWare, OS-9, OS/2, Pick, Plan 9, QNX, RISC OS, STING, System V, System/360, TOPS-10, TOPS-20, TRUSIX, TWENEX, TYMCOM-X, Thoth, Unix, VM/CMS, VMS, VRTX, VSTa, VxWorks, WAITS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows XP.

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Computer Virus

A computer virus is generated by people.  It can have many different functions and all are generally destructive in nature.  A virus is usually transmitted through .EXE files or executable programs.  These are files that need to be downloaded in to your system and then executed.  Always use caution when downloading .EXE files.  A rule of thumb is, never download from an unknown source. You should always keep your anti-virus software up to date. Some anti-virus companies are:  Norton  McAfee  IBM.  Visit any of these companies to learn more about Computer Viruses and how you can protect your computer from harm. Also, visit 5 Star Support's Virus Information page.

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Discussion Forums

There are many hundreds of discussion forums on the web today. They are gaining in popularity constantly. 
They are a very quick and easy way to gain answers to questions and discuss items of interest. If you are looking for a specific type of forum, try searching for one in your favorite search engine.

The 5 Star Support forums can be found here:

5 Star Support's Free help Forums

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JPEG / GIF Images

The JPEG format (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is for photographic images where GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is for line-art images such as graphs, icons and other computer generated art work. The use of transparent GIF's are very popular due to the smooth transition into a web page.  GIF is the only format that supports transparency. 

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Bookmark

A bookmark is simply saving a web site to your favorite places area in your browser. AOL (America Online) has a little red heart that you can click on that resides at the the top right of your web page window.  It will allow you to insert the web site into an email, instant message or favorite places. 

In Internet Explorer, all you have to do is select favorites in the top toolbar, click on "add to favorites".  Name it whatever you want in the "Name:" area or the browser will pick up the name of the site automatically.  Choose "OK" to insert it into your favorite places.  The next time you click on "Favorites" at the top toolbar, you will notice that the web site is there now.  Just click on it and you will be transported to the selected site.

In Netscape, click on "Bookmarks" in the top toolbar. Select "add bookmark".  It will now be added to your bookmarks.  Click on "Bookmarks" again in the top toolbar and you will see the site that you added.  Click on it and you will be transported to the selected site.

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General Terms

Hardware  The physical components of the computer.
Software  Information which is used to control the hardware. 
Program  A collection of instructions which the computer can implement. 
Data  Information in the form which the computer uses. 
MHz or Megahertz Speed at which the various components of the computer works. One hertz is equal to one cycle per second. Mega = million. 
Byte  One computer word of information; equal to 8 bits. Bits are single digits when grouped into 8 digits, equal one computer word. 
Kb or Kilobyte  1024 bytes of information or 1024 times 8. 
Mb or Megabyte  One million bytes of information. 
Msec or Millisecond  One thousandth of a second. 
µSec or Microsecond  One millionth of a second. 
Nsec or Nanosecond  One 1/1000th of a Microsecond. 
File  A program or collection of data residing on a permanent storage medium. 

For a more in depth Glossary of terms compilation, visit 5 Star Support's Computer Glossary

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About E-mail

E-mail is a very simple device that anyone can use. You create your E-mail, log on to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and send your mail. Your message travels thru your ISP's mail server and routes it to the recipients mail server and then is placed in the recipients mail box.  The message will sit in the recipients mail box until the person accesses the mail. This whole communications process is done using TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol).
The E-mail address is broken down as follows:
YourName@ Domain.Com
   The first part, "YourName" can be any predetermined name that you have chosen with your ISP.  The "@" or (AT) symbol provides a break between "YourName" and the "Domain" name.  It shows that you are at a certain domain. The ".Com" is the type of institution. It can also be .Org, .Net, .Edu...etc.

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Lightning and your computer

Lightning can cause severe damage to your computer. A thunder and lightning storm miles away can induce surges of current along power and phone lines. Even a small spike in voltage could cause unpredictable problems. It is advisable to turn off your computer and unplug the modem from the phone line during severe storms. It's better to be safe than sorry!

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Disable call waiting

The call waiting feature on your phone line can interrupt your online session. You can disable this feature every time you dial out by adding *70, in front of your number.  This code depends on the phone company, so make sure that it is the correct code for your telephone service provider especially if you're not in the USA. For example, if your current dial-up number is 555-1212 change it to *70,555-1212. *70 actually does the disabling of the call waiting feature, and the comma (,) afterwards, adds a delay to bypass the acknowledgment of the command. If your dialer won't interpret the commas in the phone number, try using just *70. To re-enable call waiting, dial *72.

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Drag and Drop

To use the "Drag and Drop" method, move your mouse arrow over the file that you would like to move. Left click it one time and hold the click in its depressed position. Move "drag" your mouse to the location where you would like to place the file and let go of the click thus "drop" ping the file.

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Cut and Paste

To use the "Cut and Paste" method, move your mouse arrow to the text (as an example) that you would like to move.  Left click and drag your mouse thru the text which will highlight the text as you drag.  Let go of the click.  While the text is highlighted, hit "CTRL" then "C" on your keyboard. This will copy the text that is highlighted. Hit "CTRL" then "X" and this will "Cut" the text that is highlighted removing it from site.  To place the text in the area desired, move the mouse to your new location, click one time to place the cursor in the desired spot.  Once the cursor is flashing in the location of choice, hit "CTRL" then "V" which will "Paste" the text to that location.

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Downloading Files

Downloading from the internet can be very addictive because there is SO much free stuff. To download, follow the steps below:
  1. Create a special download directory. America Online (as an example), has its own download directory built in to the software. C://aol5.0/download  See "Making a download directory" below.
  2. Download the chosen directory. Here's a great place to find thousands of FREE downloads for just about any interest. http://www.download.com  See "Downloading" below.
  3. Unzip the file into your download directory. Here is a much needed tool Winzip for PC users and Aladdin StuffIt Expander for Mac users. See "Decompressing the file transfer" below.
  4. Install the software to your Hard Drive. See "Installing the software" below.
  • Making a download directory

Windows 95/98

1. Right-click on the Windows desktop.
2. Select New/Folder from the resulting menu.
3. A folder will appear on your desktop with its default name, "New Folder" highlighted. Type the word Downloads over the old name and press "Enter".

Windows 3.x

1. In File Manager, click the root directory (usually C:).
2. Select File/Create Directory.
3. Type the word Downloads to name the directory and click OK.

Macintosh

1. In the Finder, select "New Folder" under the File menu.
2. An untitled folder will appear on your desktop. Type the word Downloads over the folder's current label, then click elsewhere on the desktop.

  • Downloading

Download is done from FTP (file transfer protocol) or web sites. Where-ever you choose to download files is up to you.  I must caution you that downloading over the internet has some risk.  I recommend having an up-to-date virus scanner installed before doing any downloading.

To download: Click the "Download" link on the download site. This will start the download process. You will now have a window that will allow you to choose the destination directory where the file is to be downloaded to. In this case, make sure that you choose to put the file in your "Downloads" directory that you created earlier in the "Making a download directory" above. Click "OK"  

NOTE:  If your browser isn't configured to view compressed files, you'll get a message that states: "No viewer available for this file type. Do you want to save to disk?" You should uncheck the box that says "Always ask this question with this file type" (now in the future you will be able to begin downloading automatically) and click "OK". Then, select your Downloads folder as the saving destination. 

  • Decompressing the file transfer

Files are compressed to reduce the download time and keep all of the files together in one file transfer. There are many file extensions that are used when compressing files, but the most common type is the .EXE extension. It is (more than likely) a self-extracting file that will decompress when double-clicked. Other files with other file extensions like .ARC, .ARJ or .ZIP will have to be decompressed using a decompression software such as WinZip for PC users and Aladdin StuffIt Expander  for Mac users.

Here's how to decompress a file using WinZip: 

1. Double-click the file you want to decompress. WinZip will automatically start up and show you all the compressed files contained in the zipped file.
2. Click the Extract button.
3. Select a destination folder or directory for the files (to create a new directory, just type in a name for the new folder and press Enter) and click the Extract button. 

Here's how to decompress using Stufflt Expander:

Files that end in SEA, are  self-extracting files that you can decompress simply by double-clicking it. Files that end in CPT, HQX, or SIT, will need a decompression program like StuffIt Expander. Some browsers (including most versions of Netscape Navigator) already contain StuffIt as a helper application and will launch StuffIt automatically when you click a compressed file. If you don't have StuffIt Expander, you should download it now. After you install it, you can open compressed files by dragging and dropping them onto the StuffIt icon. 

  • Installing the Software
Even though you have decompressed the software, you still may still need to install it.

WinZip makes the install process easy. If a ZIP file contains a program called Install or Setup, WinZip detects it and creates a button labeled "Install" at the right end of the WinZip button bar. Before you click this button, check the software's "read-me" file for any special instructions. To continue, click the "Install" button.  WinZip will now setup and install the software for you. Since installation routines vary widely, you'll have to follow any instructions as they come up.

If the "Install" button does not exist, you will have to install the software yourself.  You will need to read the software's "read-me" file to acquire the correct installation procedures.

Mac users:  Open the "read-me" file after expanding the software to get specific installation instructions.

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Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the capacity of the network, usually expressed in storage divided by time. . .i.e. megabytes per second.

If they talk about megabits per second, they are usually trying for an impressive figure which should be divided by 10, as it usually takes a whole ten bits to send one byte [8 bits] due to start and stop bits. 

  • K = kilobyte = 1 thousand characters = the average screen of email 
  • M = megabyte = 1 million characters = the average 300 page book 
  • G = gigabyte = 1 billion characters = 1 thousand books 
  • T = terabyte = 1 trillion characters = 1 million books 
  • P = petabyte = 1 quadrillion characters = 1 billion books 
  • E = exabyte = 1 quintillion characters = 1 trillion books Compressed 

CDROMs can hold 1 gigabyte-- 1,000 of these can hold 1 million books and will fit in a medium sized suitcase Stack up 100 of these suitcases. . .and you can hold every word of the "Library of Congress."

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Web Sites and Viruses

Can you get a virus from simply visiting a web page?  Yes, you sure can!  This is something that was previously thought impossible... the delivery of a Trojan by simply accessing a web page. The user simply accesses the web site and "may" be presented with a download option (not always), however the download has already begun and cannot be stopped. What makes this dangerous is not the forced download but the fact that the downloaded program is run ... all without the user knowing anything is going on.

According to one expert there are actually a few ways to accomplish this; java script active x control (particularly HHCtrl...the active help control), perl, with an html 'internet zone' attack, and even a shockwave exploit.

However, it should be noted there is always a draw. The e-mail is the draw that sets up the web page and is the medium to draw unsuspecting users in. Usually something along the lines of "Did you know someone was talking bad about you? To check it out visit this web page." 

At this time all such attacks are PC oriented but with the advent of OSX this may open the Mac up to such attacks since it will be running a UNIX shell.

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Vector Graphics

The representation of separate shapes such as lines, polygons and text, and groups of such objects, as opposed to bitmaps. The advantage of vector graphics ("drawing") programs over bitmap ("paint") editors is that multiple overlapping elements can be manipulated independently without using different layers for each one. It is also easier to render an object at different sizes and to transform it in other ways without worrying about image resolution and pixels.

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Spam and Spoofing

What is Spam?

Spam is unsolicited, commercial or bulk email. Typically, a spammer buys or steals lists of email addresses, or harvests addresses from the Internet. If your email address appears in a newsgroup, a web site, a chat room, or an online membership directory, it may find its way onto these lists. The spammer then uses software to send thousands, or millions, of messages. There are four types of spam, with the first two accounting for 25% of the email messages on the Internet through 2002:

  • Pure-trash spam (e.g., fraudulent schemes, invalid senders, ads from pornographic web sites)
  • Chain letters, urban legends, and hoaxes
  • Honest individuals or businesses trying to make a living (i.e., junk mail)
  • Occupational spam from colleagues (e.g., from LISTSERVs)

What Is Email Spoofing?

Email spoofing is the deliberate forging of the sender's email address. The culprit pretends to be another person you may know or uses a name you may trust, for example:  "username@5starsupport.com"

What Should I Do When I Receive Spam Email?

  • Delete the spam email.
  • Do not send an "unsubscribe" message to the sender. This will not work. Pure-trash spammers would use this to confirm the validity of your email address.
  • Refrain from clicking on any links. Clicking on web links may expose your computer to a virus.

What Can I Do To Avoid Receiving Spam Email?

  • Never reply to spam.
    • Often, spam will have a "remove me" link. Complying with this action may confirm that yours is an active address.
    • The 'from' address may be spoofed or forged so replying to the originator will not work.
  • Be very cautious about displaying your email address in newsgroups, chat rooms, web sites, or online directories. Think carefully before you post to a Usenet newsgroup. Subscribe only to essential discussion lists, and make sure that someone moderates each one. If you are thinking of filling out a form on a web site, check the site's privacy policy first to be sure it uses secure technology, and the company does not share visitors' email addresses with others. If the site does not have a privacy policy that describes this to your satisfaction, consider not using that service.
  • Learn how to filter junk and adult content email. If you use Outlook and have questions on how to use the Junk Mail feature, or a Eudora user who wants to know how to automatically filter spam email from your inbox.
  • Be aware of web beacons, also called web bugs, pixel tags, or clear GIFs. Used in combination with cookies, a web beacon is an often-transparent, graphic image on a web site or in an email. The web beacon monitors the behavior of a visitor to a web site, or the sender of the email. Turning off the browser's cookies will prevent web beacons from tracking your activity. The web beacon will still account for an anonymous visit, but it will not record your unique information.
  • Know the applicable laws and your rights. It is illegal to forge the sender's address or other routing information in commercial email messages. The law also enables a provider to sue a sender of commercial email for violating the provider's policies if (1) the sender had actual notice of such policies, or (2) the policies were posted on the provider's web site and were communicated electronically to the sender's computer.

You can keep current on the status of the Federal Government bill, CAN-SPAM, at spamlaws.com/federal/108s877.html.

What Can Be Done To Protect Users From Spam Email?

There is currently no technical solution that will stop spam, without impeding legitimate email. Frustrating for users, as well as for technical support personnel, it is a basic fact of Internet life that if you use the Internet, you will get some unsolicited email. 

Fight and Report Spam
(additional links)

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