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How to Use the World Wide Web

Paul Halsall


For this course, many of the documents distributed in class, along with a significant number of other texts, photographs, and computer programs are available on a World Wide Web page. Although some of you may be worried about using computers, or using electronic data sources, in the modern world you need to get over any fear you may have. Once you have, you will find a whole new world has opened up to you in terms of gaining information and doing research.

The World Wide Web is the name of one way of using the Internet (the world network of millions of computers.) It used to be difficult to use the Internet, which had to be done through complex strings of typed commands, but all has now become simpler with the Web. Now you can jump from one part of the Internet to another with the click of a mouse button, as well as see pictures, and sooner or later hear sounds and watch movies.

Although you can access the course homepage via any outside computer account which has access to the Internet (for instance America Online, Compuserve or local Internet access provides such as Pipeline, IDT or Netcom), all students have been provided with accounts on the college computers. You must activate these accounts within two weeks [I will check!] To do this, go to the Computer Lab in Dealy Prof. Halsall's HSFC1202 section and that a "VAX account" has been set up for you. You will have to sign a form that you will not abuse the account, and then follow the instructions to sign on and change your initial password. You can use this account for any academic purpose - I tell you how to use it to access the Web below.

Signing On: Follow the written instructions given in Fordham IT lab exactly. The staff can help you, but most of the problems students have signing on come from not reading the instructions. You will be forced to choose a new password.

Other things you can use your account for: Your VAX account has been set up specifically so that you can access information relevant to your class. You can also use it, however, to become familiar with both VAX programs and the Internet as a whole. For the latter, a really useful book is the Idiots Guide to Internet, available in most major bookstores.

Email: your account can also be used for email. Ask in the Atrium about this. If you need to contact me by email, the best address to use is

halsall@murray.fordham.edu


How to Access the Medieval Page

if you already know how to use the Web.

You can access the page at URL http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/medieval

The page works best with a browser like Netscape 1.1 or higher, although the browser provided with America Online, or any other online service, will work fine.

 

How to Access the Medieval Page

even if you have no idea what a computer is!

The computers you now have an account on run a powerful operating system called VMS. VMS can also be a little bit difficult. But it should not be too difficult for college students! Follow the instructions below.

  1. Switch the terminal on and wake it up by hiting return twice
  2. type "c murray"
  3. enter your account name
  4. enter your password
  5. If you want you can always get help by typing "help"
  6. Type "lynx" and the URL you want to open. For this course it is http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/medieval

Navigating the Web

The various parts on the Web are usually called "pages". They are linked to each other through addresses called Universal Resource Locators, or URLs. A URL for any web page is in the form http://address.of.the.page Note the exact use of punctuation! "http" stands for "hypertext transfer protocol" (I think!) Sometimes you see a URL in the form gopher://address.etc or ftp://address.etc. Do not worry. These will work just as well on the browser (that is the program, such as Netscape, through which you browse the Web), although they refer to older forms of getting things from around the Internet.

You will need to play around a little bit with the program to get the hang of it. You will discover that there are links to the entire electronic world, as well as to directories of Internet services such as YAHOO. You can also save files to a disk, and print files out.

Although you may find some aspects of using this technology frustrating to begin with, I guarantee that in a year or so's time, you will be thankful that you have had to learn how to "cruise the Web."