I work as a computer programmer at Medfax Corp. in Fort Mill, SC. Often, I speak with someone who wants to get on the Internet but doesn't know just where to start, or someone who is on the internet already but isn't taking advantage of all of its features and wants to learn more. I have created this page to be a starting point for those people, to help them get the software that they need to fully take advantage of their internet access and to provide information on how they can make the internet work for them. On this page I assume that you have some basic knowledge of computers, an IBM compatible PC running Windows(3.1 or 95), and a means of connecting to the Internet.
If you are totally new to the internet, you may want to check out this Internet Tool References page. It will give you a great explanation of the Internet itself, how it can work for you, and alot of the resources available through its use.
Once you have an account with an Internet Service Provider, you are going to need to get a program that does nothing but connect your computer to the internet by dialing your service provider (if you do not already have an Internet Service Provider, try Netcom). Trumpet Winsock is such a program. I only recommend using it if you are not running Windows 95. Windows 95 comes ready for the internet by including Dial-up Networking, which is the same type of program as Trumpet Winsock. Because the setup of the dial up programs is different for every service provider, you will need to check the home page of your provider for instructions on how to set one of these programs up with your account. To download Trumpet Winsock click here.
The first thing that you are going to need to better your internet experience is a great web browser. The explosion of the World Wide Web over the last couple of years has given the internet the popularity that it has today. The 'Web' allows you to access information on almost any subject imaginable with only a few keystrokes. Your web browser is the centerpiece of your internet software. Any good browser will also provide programs which allow you to read and respond to your e-mail. Microsoft offers a great browser with Internet Explorer and it is totally free! Click here to download Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Once you're on the internet, you will see programs online that you will be able to download to your computer with the click of a mouse. Most of these programs consist of many different files. To make it easier and quicker for you to download these programs, all of the files are compressed into one large file. In many cases you will need a special program to uncompress that file. Winzip is my favorite of these programs. Click here to download Winzip.
"Its better to be safe than sorry." No one wants a virus on their system. By downloading files from the internet you are risking infection. A virus scanner is a necessity. McAfee has been producing anti-virus software for years. The latest version of their software will allow you to keep a virus scanner running in the memory of your computer as long as the computer is on. This will alert you if it detects any virus behavior on your system and will stop it before it can harm anything. It will also combine with Winzip to allow you to scan every file that you download before you install it onto your computer. Click here to download McAfee VirusScan.
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)is another popular part of the internet. With IRC you can participate in live chat with others on the internet. You are allowed to select your Chat Room (channel) from a list of thousands divided up by topic. There is a topic about almost every subject imaginable, but if you don't see one you like you can create your own! My favorite program for IRC is mIRC. It will allow you to do all the basic IRC functions, and is very easy to use. Advanced users can take advantage of mIRC's 'script language' which will let you create 'robots' in channels that will respond to your commands or whatever you program them to do! For more information about mIRC, here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. Click here to download mIRC.
Newsgroups are a part of the internet that will allow you to read and respond to messages posted by other members of the internet. Like IRC, newsgroups are divided up by topic. There are currently close to 20,000 newsgroups in existance, so chances are you will find quite a few that you like. There is most likely an option in your News Reader that will allow you to list all of the newsgroups, so you can scroll through and choose which ones you would like to subscribe to, or it will allow you to just enter the address of the newsgroup you want to check out. After you have subscribed to your favorite newsgroups your news reader will automatically load the new messages from those newsgroups everytime you load it. Newsgroups are great for people who like to stay up to date on a particular topic. They are also a good place to go if you have a question about a topic and you cannot find it elsewhere on the internet, because you can simply post a message and most likely you will get a few responses quickly from other internet users. Forte's Free Agent is about the best program out for newsgroups. It will allow you to send and receive files over newsgroups, sample newsgroups before you subscribe, and also read messages offline. Click here to download Free Agent
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is exactly what it says. It is a function of the internet which will allow you to download files to your computer from servers across the internet. Most all web browsers have FTP capabilities built in, so newbies to the net do not have to worry about a seperate program for this. If you require one later, WS-FTP gets the job done. It comes in a 16-bit version for Windows 3.1 users, and also a 32-bit version for Windows 95 or NT users. Click here to download the 16-bit or the 32-bit versions of WS-FTP.
If you are a real loser, check out the Loser Club homepage!
I hope you found the page useful. Click here to mail me your comments.