Making yourself at Home on the Web
by Tonya Engst, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[I gave this talk to the Seattle chapter of American Society of Women Accountants in in February, 1997. Read on if you are curious about the bare bones basics of the Web or about an overview of the basic steps in becoming Web-savvy and setting up your own Web site. This page was converted to the Web from a Word document. I copied and pasted out of Word into an HTML editor called Globetrotter, and did minimal touch-up while in Globetrotter.]
Tonya Engst is one of four people who compose, edit, publish, and generally manage TidBITS, a seven-year-old, free, electronic newsletter distributed weekly on the Internet. TidBITS publishes news, views, and reviews regarding the computer industry, with an emphasis on the Macintosh and on the Internet.
Before quitting the 9-to-5 world and becoming self-employed, Tonya worked at an Apple dealership and at Microsoft. She has and written two books about Microsoft Word, but for the last several years, she has focused on the Internet, and her most recent book, co-authored with her husband, Adam Engst, is Create Your Own Home Page. Tonya is also a frequent contributor to MacWEEK and MacUser, and her articles in these publications tend to cover Web authoring software, tips for creating Web pages, and other Internet-related topics. Find out more about Tonya via the World-Wide Web at: <http://www.tidbits.com/tonya/>
In this talk, we'll get started by examining key basics like, "What is the Web?", "Why is the Web so popular?", "What's a home page?", and "What's a URL?". After apologizing for the rampant jargon and abbreviations so prevalent in the Internet world, I'll move on to show what sorts of Web pages people generally make, and I'll look particularly at Web pages accountants might make. I'll also touch on the steps you'll need to follow in order to create your own Web pages. By the end of the talk, I hope you'll have a better idea of what the Web is like and whether or not you want a home page of your own.
What is the Web?
* The Web is a global, interconnected system of computers running Web server software, software that makes it possible to access those computers and view the Web pages stored on them.
* These computers are connected by all sorts of things: phone wire, fiber optic cable, satellite, and even possibly chewing gum and duct tape.
* What makes the Web so important, is the many people using it to share and sell ideas, information, services, and products.
* Unlike older Internet services, the Web can handle eye-catching layouts, graphics, sounds, movies, and so on.
* Another key feature of the Web is hyperlinks. Hyperlinks connect Web pages. For instance, an accountant might link from her Web page to the IRS's home page: <http://www.ustreas.gov/>.
Web Sites and Pages: Vocabulary 101
* A Web page is a discrete piece of the Web, with its own address. It might resemble a business card, résumé, letter, poster, or newsletter.
* Every Web page has a unique address, in much the same way that each household on a street has a unique postal address. A Web address is called a URL (Uniform Resource Locator), pronounced you-are-ell.
* A Web site is a group of Web pages that go together, much as a magazine is a group of articles and ads, or a book is a group of chapters.
* A home page is the main page in a Web site. Typically a home page introduces the site and has links to other pages on the site.
Home Page Examples: A Sampling of Pages Currently Online
* Eugene Heinlein (an online business card): <http://alim.com/commerc/EugeneH.htm>
* Cathy Sorensen's page (an online résumé): <http://www.accountingnet.com/firms/wa/kvg/cathys.html>
* Ashok Kumar: <http://www.kumar-cpa.com/firm.htm>
* Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants: <http://www.wscpa.org/>
* Accounting Net: <http://www.accountingnet.com/>
Six Steps to a Successful Web Site
To provide the details of how you, personally, should get online and set up a Web site requires more time than we have here. There are many ways to approach this task (including hiring someone to help you), but here's a possible approach:
1. Get an Internet account with an ISP (Internet Service Provider).
An America Online account will also work, and has the advantage of being easy to start. But AOL accounts have cumbersome Web access, and the simplicity that makes it easy to start may prove limiting after you learn your way around, plus AOL has recently been plagued by connectivity problems. Normal Internet accounts are not hard to use. Look in the yellow pages to find an ISP. Personally, I've been happy with Northwest Nexus. Macintosh users -- for a big boost, I recommend my husband's book (which I helped with), Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, Fourth Edition: <http://www.tidbits.com/iskm/>.
Make sure that you'll be able to put Web pages on your ISP's Web server. Inquire about rates. Many ISPs provide a small amount of server space at no extra charge. AOL has an area where AOL users can place Web pages. As you decide on an ISP (or AOL), consider the URL. Some providers offer simple URLs; others are awkward to remember or type.
2. Use email.
People visiting your Web page will expect you to have email. Plus, using email will help you learn the mindset of an Internet user - email allows information to flow freely and conveniently.
3. Surf the Web and check out other accounting Web sites.
To understand the Internet mindset, use the Web in your normal life. Here are a few sites that I frequent regularly:
* FedEx (track shipments): <http://www.fedex.com/>
* Ticketmaster (order tickets without waiting on hold to speak to a phone droid!): <http://www.ticketmaster.com/>
* Seattle Hometown News: <http://www.halcyon.com/normg/snews.html>
* Internet Travel Network (check flight availability and even book tickets): <http://www.itn.com/>
4. Decide on content and organization for your site.
5. Create the pages or find someone who can help you create them.
There are plenty of good tutorials on the Web, and a chapter from a book I wrote a while ago is available through the Create Your Own Home Page link at: <http://www.tidbits.com/tonya/onlinehelp.html>. In addition, software, such as Claris Home Page, Symantec Visual Page, or Adobe PageMill can automate much of the process.
6. Transfer the pages to the Web server run by your ISP.
You need an FTP client to upload them to the Web server. FTP stands for file transfer protocol, and it's the main technique used on the Internet to copy files from one computer to another.