Friday, September 19, 2008

COMPUTERS - Networking

The biggest growth in computing has been networking, specifically the World Wide Web (WWW or WEB).

Is there anyone in the industrialized world who have not heard at least one of the terms Google, Amazon.COM, eBay, YaHoo, Facebook. Then there's all the referenced on TV problems about "visit our WEB site."

How many business have made the WEB a part of how they do business? I can shop at Albert son's or Vons for groceries on the WEB.


What is a Network in the context of computers? I could go into a long winded explanation but Wikipedia's Computer Network article has it all.

The following are quotes from the article on WWW:

"The underlying ideas of the Web can be traced as far back as 1980, when, at CERN in Switzerland, Tim Berners-Lee built ENQUIRE (referring to Enquire Within Upon Everything, a book he recalled from his youth). While it was rather different from the system in use today, it contained many of the same core ideas (and even some of the ideas of Berners-Lee's next project after the World Wide Web, the Semantic Web)."

"In March 1989, Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal,[2] which referenced ENQUIRE and described a more elaborate information management system. With help from Robert Cailliau, he published a more formal proposal for the World Wide Web on November 12, 1990.[3] The role model was provided by EBT's (Electronic Book Technology, a spin-off from the Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship at Brown University) Dynatext SGML reader that CERN had licensed. The Dynatext system was considered, however technically advanced (a key player in the extension of SGML ISO 8879:1986 to Hypermedia within HyTime), too expensive and with an inappropriate licensing policy for general HEP (High Energy Physics) community use: a fee for each document and each time a document was charged."

"On April 30, 1993, CERN announced[8] that the World Wide Web would be free to anyone, with no fees due. Coming two months after the announcement that the Gopher protocol was no longer free to use, this produced a rapid shift away from Gopher and towards the Web. An early popular Web browser was ViolaWWW, which was based upon HyperCard."

"Scholars generally agree, however, that the turning point for the World Wide Web began with the introduction[9] of the Mosaic Web browser[10] in 1993, a graphical browser developed by a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (NCSA-UIUC), led by Marc Andreessen. Funding for Mosaic came from the High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative, a funding program initiated by then-Senator Al Gore's High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, also known as the Gore Bill.[11] (See Al Gore's contributions to the Internet and technology for more information.) Prior to the release of Mosaic, graphics were not commonly mixed with text in Web pages, and its popularity was less than older protocols in use over the Internet, such as Gopher and Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS). Mosaic's graphical user interface allowed the Web to become, by far, the most popular Internet protocol."

"The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded by Tim Berners-Lee after he left the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in October, 1994. It was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT/LCS) with support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- which had pioneered the Internet -- and the European Commission."

Most users are aware of how networking operates even though details may not be known. Most users of Windows now of Internet Explorer (IE) browser, but be unaware of all the details on how it works. So here's my minimalist information on Networking on a PC.

  • You physically connect to a Network (and thereby the WWW) via Dial-Up or Local Area Network (LAN) connection in your PC.

  • Dial-Up = a card/adapter that uses a normal phone line, and tones (like in Touch-Tone) to talk or pass data to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

  • LAN = a card/adapter that uses Ethernet technology to communicate, and uses Packets protocols to send data.

  • Packets are a much faster way to send data, especially when using fiber optic cables. This has also become what our modern digital phone system uses because one fiber optic line can carry multiple-thousands of calls.

  • Your LAN cable usually connects to a Cable/DSL Modem or Router, and from there to your ISP.

  • For both types of connection, your ISP will tell you how to setup to communicate with their systems (Computer Servers). Most ISPs also provide your email service (email Servers), and include hard drive space on their system for publishing your Web Pages or as a dropbox (a location where you can share files with others, drop files into a "box").

About email Servers:

  • Most ISPs use POP/SMTP email Servers. These type of servers use a special Internet Protocol (IP), TCP Ports specification for email services. They hold your "mailbox." A POP Server is where you download your email from. A SMTP Server is where you send your email to.

  • Another type of email server is represented (by example) by a Microsoft Exchange Server. Many companies use this, or similar servers, for email because it has advantages; like being able to keep your email profile (Outlook account & settings, email files, etc.) on the Exchange Server, which means you can logon to your email account from any PC without having to setup the account on that PC first.

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