Monday, 15 June 2015 12:32

Computer and Internet Basics


In the modern world, wide usage and the easy accessibility to computers and the internet has increased people’s dependency on technology. Computers and the internet have become the vital hub for people’s various needs. Therefore, acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge regarding computers and the internet have become significant for their efficient use. At least a minimum amount of knowledge and skill is required to navigate around the system effectively. Although it is difficult to find one single manual to learn basic computer skills or to learn the use of applications, there are many ways to increase one’s knowledge in computers varying from short courses, articles to magazines etc.


Computer Basics


Computer is the primary tool that you will use in accessing the internet. Hence acquiring skills in using a computer is imperative. Just like learning a new language the process of mastering the language of computers requires practice and feedback. However, with the increased use of Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the decreased reliance on typed command labels and text navigation has enabled the beginners to learn the language of computers faster. Nevertheless, there are still some core skills you need to develop in increasing your computer aptitude.


  • Be systematic – Document all the complicated steps
  • Be creative – Look for alternative ways to accomplish a task
  • Practice – Apply what you learned in the real world
  • Be patient – Be positive. Learning from your mistakes is a crucial element in the process of computer education
  • Do not be afraid to ask – There are people who are always willing to help. When you ask, you may find someone who has encountered the same problem.
  • Internet Explorer
  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Apple’s Safari
  • Opera
  • .com - commercial businesses
  • .edu - educational institutions (universities, colleges, K-12, etc.)
  • .gov - nonmilitary government agencies and departments
  • .net - Network resources
  • .org - Other organizations


Useful Terms for Beginners


Operating System (OS): This is the program that is initially loaded into the computer by a boot program and then manages all the other programs in the computer. [Source:]


Graphical User Interface (GUI): This is a program interface that takes advantage of the computer's graphics capabilities to make the program easier to use. Properly designed graphical user interfaces can free the user from learning complex command languages. [Source:]


Universal Operating System (UNIX): This is one of the first multitasking, multi-user computer operating system developed by Bell Labs in early 1970’s.  UNIX is a small, flexible system designed to be used exclusively by programmers. [Source:]

This is also one of the most popular operating systems for internet servers. UNIX has a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that provide an easy to use environment. There are different versions of UNIX, the most popular being Sun Solaris, GNU/Linux, and MacOS X.


Application: This refers to a program or a group of programs designed for the end user. Application software is divided into two categories; system software and application software. Application software includes database programs, word processors, web browsers and spreadsheet, etc. []


Internet Basics


Although the internet is independent of the operating system hardware and software platform you use, to use the internet effectively, it is necessary to know your way around your hardware and software systems. A crucial element that you should gain an understanding is about your computer's operating system (OS). Users may have very different experiences with the internet depending on the operating systems they are using, and the applications they are running. The same task can require very different commands on different operating systems, and other software. For example sending an email through Apple Mail on OSX may require a vastly different set of actions than sending an email through MS Outlook on Windows 8. 


Internet Surfing vs. Internet Searching


Internet surfing refers to the casual browsing of material on the World Wide Web. This may involve just casually reading a newspaper, going through the weather report to jumping from one site to another looking for an interesting piece of information. However, one could also stumble upon valuable information in the process of internet surfing.

On the contrary, Internet searching refers to more serious research done with a definite purpose in mind. In other words, using the internet specifically as a research tool. This may involve finding information to support a debate, write a report, develop a proposal, plan a presentation or just to keep up with the current issues in your field.


Useful Terms for Beginners


Web Browser: This is a software that allows you to access the internet. In other words, it is the gateway to access the knowledge on the internet. A user can type in a site address in a browser’s search box and visit websites, do other activities such as login in, view multimedia, send and receive email, etc.  Your computer’s operating system will determine the type of browser you will use.

Some of the most popular browsers in the market includes;


Uniform Resource Locator (URL): This refers to the address that you use to locate your resource material on the internet. A URL will guide the user to a particular website or a page on the internet. It is also used to access any document or launch an application on the internet. URL is similar to citation used in referencing an article. A citation provides the author’s name, title of the publication, page number and other relevant information to allow any interested parties to follow the author’s work. In the same way, a URL is used to refer to a document or resource on the internet.

Example of a URL


Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP): In the above URL, HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, the standard that controls the transfer of documents on the World Wide Web (WWW) followed by colon (:) and a double forward slash (//). ‘Nypl’ is the domain name while ‘org’ is the Top Level Domain. sitemap/ indicates a folder containing the document, and index.html refers to the name of the document file requested.


Internet Protocol (IP):  This refers to a unique address that computing devices use to identify itself and communicate with other devices in the Internet Protocol network. [Source:] In other words, it is a unique number provided to your computer connection by your internet service provider. It is a combination of four numbers (not greater than 256) separated by dots. An IP is assigned to each user on the internet since they are a part of a vast network.


Domain Name: This refers a unique name that identifies a website. It is a series of words used as identification labels to make it easier for us to remember. They are used to identify one or more IP addresses and to access web pages. Domain names provide names to Internet resources that are easily remembered by the users so they can be remembered and accessed when needed. Frequently used in URLs, they can be used to identify a particular web page and allow your web browser to guide you to the page. When you put in the web address of a website, i.e. the domain name, the computer automatically converts it into the numerical IP address.

Examples of Domain Names

All domain names have a suffix that identifies its top-level domain (TLD). There are only a limited number of such domains.

Examples of Top Level Domain Names

Email Address:  This refers to the name that identifies an electronic post box on a network where an email is sent. In other words, this is an individual’s unique identifier on the internet. It comprises of the local part and the domain name. Email addresses come in handy when communicating over the internet, since it indicates which mailbox an email should be delivered to.

For example, in This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., johndoe is the local part while the part after @,, is the domain name.

Email addresses aren’t always for individuals only. Sometimes a company, or a department might have a single email address; such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Having such generic email addresses makes it easier for customers, and other interested parties to remember them. 


Written By: Elizabeth T. Weinstein


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

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