In This Chapter
Defining the Internet
Exploring Internet technologies
Comparing Internet connection methods
Checking your PC's minimum hardware and software requirements
Although the Internet continues to grow and change before our eyes, it seems to be getting more complex rather than simpler to use. Ancient search tools (such as Archie and Gopher) once used to locate stuff before the arrival of the new millennium are practically extinct now, and more everyday uses for the Internet become less exotic seemingly every month: instant messaging, webcams, streaming Internet radio stations, social networking and blogs. Some folks have told me that they're ready to throw their modems out the window and return to the blissfully ignorant days when we all wrote letters with (gasp) paper stamps affixed.
If you're somewhat wary of the Internet, however, don't give up hope. In this chapter, I explain what's available online, using actual English words of fewer than five letters. (Usually. I might have to hyphenate some of the technonerd terms, however.) If all you do online now is visit sites on the Web and communicate through e-mail, you're missing out on a ton of cool activities, and you're likely several years behind the latest Internet technologies. Hey, I live for this stuff.
So, stick with me here to gain a good grasp of what you can do via the Internet and which types of Internet connections are, well, hip and happening. You can then jump to the other ...