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An Introduction To The Internet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   An Introduction to The Internet

by J. H., Bedford, MA

As you may know, there are many different net works, or groups of computers interconnected with each other and the biggest and most interesting by far is The Internet. Groan, you say, computers ... but wait, it's better than it sounds. The Internet has many different features. For example, you can: (a) send e-mail (b) cyber-talk with people (c) download tons of great computer programs (d) travel around the world in less than a second (e) learn many new and fascinating things and (f) hack around the Internet.

But before you can do any of this, you must have a computer with access to the Internet, a modem and communications software. First off, you need access. If your parents have it, plead, beg, clean your room, anything, to get it. If they don't, then you will probably have to resort to paying hard-earned dollars to some company for access. If you have an account on one of the big networks, you've got access already.

The Internet often uses a line-based system called UNIX. So to do anything, you must learn a few commands.

E-mail: To send e-mail, the command usually goes something like mail or mailx. To send mail, just type mail [email address of person you're sending the message to]. Then there may appear a prompt asking for a subject. Type a subject and press return. Then you can get down to business. After you're finished, type Control-D (or some other combination, ask someone who knows about this kind of stuff). To see if you have received mail, just type the e-mail command alone. But, you say, what if I actually want to talk to a real live person? MUDtime.

Cyber-Talking: To talk to someone on the Internet live, you can just zip over to a MUD and get to it. But to get there, you use something called the telnet command. The telnet command is simple. Just type telnet [the telnet address of the computer you want to zip over to], then just follow the instructions. Some good computers to telnet to are: michael.ai.mit.edu (my account is Lig_Lury_Jr. If you want to talk to me, give me a ring) In fact, send me a message at hastings@ikarus.mit.edu, and I'll give you a list of over 300 BBSs.

Downloading Tons of Great Programs: But, you say, what about all those cool programs you talked about? Well, there's an entirely different command for logging onto computers in order to get programs. It's called ftp. Ftp is simple. All you have to do is type: ftp [the ftp address of the computer you are going to log on to]. If all has gone well, you will soon see a prompt for a username. Type "anonymous." It will ask you for a password. Type your complete e-mail address. Once in, type dir (for directory). A list of directories will appear. Type cd [name of directory you want to open] to open the one you want. The dir command will show you the directory. If you see a program you want, type get [the name of the file you want]. Other commands are cdup (to go to the directory above the one you're in) and bye (to leave), among others. Once safely back on your computer, if the file is readable, type more [the name of the file you want to read]. If the file has some cryptic three-letter suffix at the end of it, you will need a program to expand it into readable and runnable form.

Travel around the world in less than a second: Simple, call a computer on the other side of the world.

Learn many interesting things: If you travel around the Internet, you will, I guarantee, learn a lot of stuff and meet many new interesting people.

As you can see, the Internet is a complex network you can spend years on and not know everything. If you want to get more information, or just want to send me an e-mail message: hastings@ikarus.mit.edu.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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