December 1998

TECH TIPS FROM FREDů

By Fred Henning

CHOOSING AN INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER, INTERNET E-MAIL AND YOUR OWN HOME PAGE

Many families have purchased new computers this holiday season and are anxious to get to the Internet. Actually, there is more than one Internet. Most of us are connecting to a part of Internet I called the World Wide Web (www). The 'Web' is the user friendly, graphical view of the Internet. Internet II is a much faster network, set up for the same purpose as the original Internet, connecting Universities, Research Facilities and Government Agencies.

Almost all PCs, being sold today, include some type of Internet Access 'bundled' with them. The access may cost between $9.99 and $19.95 per month for a fixed numbers of 'on-line' hours or unlimited access. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) could be America On Line (AOL), Microsoft Network (MSN), etc. You always have the option of canceling a service and switching to another ISP.

An important difference between ISPs is how much it will cost for the telephone call that connects your computer MODEM to the ISP and Internet. BE CAREFUL! Your cost isn't only $9.95 to $19.95 per month but the ISP's cost PLUS the telephone call costs.

Many ISPs have extensive list of local calling numbers. For the least expensive local calling costs, you want the number you call to be in your local (within 0-8 miles) calling area. My average cost per call 0-8 miles is 4 cents, over 15 miles the average cost per minute is 7 cents. Check the numbers offered by the ISP to confirm if one is within your 0-8 mile calling area.

Another important consideration in choosing an ISP may be the Parental Control Features it offers.

Most of you will be interested in an Internet E-mail address. The following is an example of how the setup might work. Your computer might automatically call an ISP when you are initially setting up your computer. If your vendor was nice, the set up would let you establish an internet connection later. When you do have the computer place its call to the ISP's 800 number, you will be asked questions on how the service will be paid for, etc. and then it might suggest an E-mail user name or ask you to input a name. If the name you choose is already used on that ISP's system you will be asked to select another name. Some systems automatically assign a user name but allow you to make up 'screen names' which are also E-mail addresses. Try and select something that your friends can remember. I have several E-mail addresses and I try and keep them the same. henningf@aol.com (I just canceled this one) henningf@mc.net, henningf@abeg.hbocvan.com (my ABMC address) and fred@henning.com (associated with my web site). You will also need to choose a password.

A note about E-mail. Typing in all CAPITAL LETTERS is called 'shouting' and considered impolite. You should also try and keep the lines to 60 characters to be compatible with some older E-mail systems. If you want to send a long letter consider using your Word Processor to compose the letter. Save the letter in TEXT format NOT the standard Word or WordPerfect format. In this way the person receiving the letter doesn't need to have the same Word Processor as you. Attach the letter to a short E-mail message about the letter's topic. You can also attach photos or graphics to an E-mail. Try and save the photo or graphic in a generic format such as .BMP (bit map). Any Windows program should be able to view a .bmp attached photo.

Next time I will discuss setting up your own 'Home Page'.