Facebook, email, electronic commerce, and collaborative sites for both work and leisure are a normal part of our everyday computing activities. Personal information entered on these websites become partially owned by the sites themselves. Deleting items never really gets rid of them. 100-150 Words
After reading this week’s course materials, describe what Internet users should know about one of the following topics:
After your primary post, respond to at least two of your classmates’. (2-3 Sentences)
I chose the following topic for my discussion.
Why is Anti-spyware software important to my online security?
Anti-spyware is very vital to online security because of it's purpose. This particular software is used to scan and detect spyware on your computer. Not only will it detect these viruses and/or Trojan horses but it will remove them or advise the user to do so. I know from experience that once a virus has corrupted your computer, it can be very frustrating getting rid of it. Viruses and worms that have taken their place on your computer cause lots of damage and even open up room for potentially even more viruses. It is very difficult sometimes to handle but anti-spyware will do the trick to aid and prevent and will keep your privacy secure.
After reading this chapter, you should be able to complete the following:
Summarize the development of word processing, the importance of Microsoft® Word, and its alternatives. Analyze the key features of PowerPoint® and presentation software. Describe the importance of Microsoft® Excel™ and spreadsheets. Explain how databases work and alternatives to Microsoft® Access®. Evaluate the different types of multimedia applications. Describe mobile applications and their importance.
The Web of Knowledge
After reading this chapter, you should be able to complete the following:
Explain the key Internet basics. Describe the various aspects of a network and the key networking terms. Summarize the browser wars and the most common browsers. Describe how to build a Web page in six easy steps. List the Web accessibility standards.
Introduction You are the Internet. While you might think the Internet—officially defined as a vast worldwide connection of computer networks that also link smaller networks—is more about computers than people, this is not necessarily true. Without people, all of these computer connections would be sitting silently, with little meaning or purpose to their existence. The essential ingredient that makes the Internet revolutionary is that people enter into it each day, and they leave a footprint of knowledge and of themselves as they travel through the Web. Each time you purchase a new computer (a desktop computer, a laptop, a cell phone, and so on) and get connected, you create a new link to this worldwide Internet community and become the newest member of the global population. This becomes a window for you to see and communicate with every other online computer user on the planet, and it allows you to make your own contribution to the vast web of knowledge that is now growing at an exponential pace (Okin, 2005, p. 21). This chapter will introduce you to the Internet, discuss the programs you can use to navigate through it on your desktop and mobile devices, and describe how to create your own content. Welcome to the Web of knowledge.
5.1 Internet Basics Computers during the 1960s had a curious problem. Although the mainframes were growing ever larger and more powerful, and computer languages were enabling programmers to perform more complex computations, there was a significant limitation. It was completely impossible for one computer to talk to another. A message could not be sent between two computers in the same room, let alone two computers in different countries. A computer was an isolated machine, alone and separated from the rest of the world, as were the users. This situation would soon change so dramatically that in the coming decades, nearly every computer in the entire world would become connected to every other computer. This section will discuss how this network became a reality.
The Internet had its beginnings as the ARPAnet during the 1960s, when the Cold War threat was at its peak. ARPA, the United States Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency, was focused on the nation's computer security. The ARPA network was designed as a way to link computers at laboratories across the country for the purpose of sharing computing resources (Hafner & Lyon, 1996). Once exclusively the domain of scientists at elite universities such as UCLA, MIT, and Stanford, this computer network has now gone mainstream.
While there is some debate about the reasons for developing the ARPAnet, it was first and foremost an excellent idea whose time had come. Computers simply needed to talk to each other, and the technology had advanced to the point where this became possible. But the ARPAnet also had a defense component. The 1960s was the heart of the Cold War period, an era when the Soviet Union and the United States were building massive arsenals of nuclear weapons and pointing them at each other. In a world where nuclear war could easily eliminate an entire city in the blink of an eye, how could a nation ensure communications were maintained in such a doomsday scenario? A communications network that was centralized in one place was vulnerable to attack. But if you could decentralize that network, spreading communications and content among the computers throughout the United States, then command and control could be preserved in a nuclear war (Rabinovitz, 2004, p. 10). We will see how this could happen later in this chapter when we discuss packet switching. Thus, ARPAnet solved a fundamental communications problem for computers, and helped guarantee a secure communications network for the United States during the Cold War. But it also paved the way for an even more revolutionary development.
A Web of Computers
Today, the ARPAnet has disappeared, officially becoming extinct in 1989 when the Internet—which has become a massive public and private web, connecting millions of people together and supplying them with an apparently limitless amount of information—replaced it. The best way to think about the Internet is to use the metaphor of a web. Just as a spider's web is both a random and a defined pattern (with its threads connecting and strengthening itself), the Internet is a connection of computer networks that link to each other all over the world. What are these connections? Instead of the spider's thread, standard copper telephone lines and coaxial cable (the type of wire typically used to receive a television signal) connect the Internet. Newer, faster, and more efficient ways of connecting computers have also been developed in recent years. This includes fiber optic cable and satellite connections. Connections to the Internet now also include the wireless kind, which we will discuss later in this chapter.
What is being sent through all of these connections? Packets of information. A packet is a small quantity of information represented in binary form as a series of zeros and ones. The way it finds its path from the sender's computer to its destination is through a technique called packet switching. Each message is essentially subdivided into smaller "packets" of data and then "routed" to the next relay point in a communication path, as shown in Figure 5.1. The idea of packet switching and routing actually dates back to the use of telegraphs during the 19th century. If you were on the East Coast and wanted to telegraph a message to the West Coast, there was no direct connection. Telephones did not yet exist. So, the telegraph operator on the East Coast sent the letter through Morse code (a series of dots and dashes, which is eerily similar to binary coding today) to an intermediary, which was the nearest direct connection. This intermediary might be located in Pennsylvania. The information at this switching center forwarded the message on to another center, and eventually the telegraph message found its way to the intended destination on the West Coast. The other interesting aspect of this communication system was that a copy of the message was kept at each of these centers, so if a problem occurred along the way, the operators could backtrack, find the message, and resend. This is technically called Store and Forward Packet Switching (Campbell-Kelly & Aspray, 1996, pp. 290–292).
Figure 5.1: Packet switching
Data moves through the Internet with packet switching technology. This allows a message to be sent through the Internet by being broken up into different "packets," which are sent to the same destination via different routes (or nodes).
The basis of the telegraph system is exactly the same principle that is used for the Internet. Each computer in the world is not directly connected to every other one. Not only would this be physically impractical, but it also would be impossible to easily add new computers to the system. That's why the ARPAnet designers decided to borrow the old telegraph packet switching principle. There was a backbone of nodes (a node is any device that is connected to the Internet) that acted as automatic packet switching centers. If one of these nodes became busy (or, for example, was eliminated during a disaster such as a nuclear war), then the packets could be easily rerouted along a different path. Sometimes, a long message was broken into several packets that actually traveled through different nodes to eventually reach the destination.
This routing system is controlled through established protocols, which refers to the way computers talk to each other (Okin, 2005, p. 20). There are many different Internet protocols, such as those that define how an instant message or email is sent, or how a file is uploaded or downloaded to your computer. One example of this is HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), which defines how Web content is transmitted. You can see the letters HTTP in front of every Internet browser address line. It is the destination computer's responsibility to receive all of these packets and put them together in the correct order. Users never realize this is happening, and the speed is incredible.
How do you send and receive these packets of information? By means of a computer modem. The U.S. military made the first modems in the 1950s to communicate data related to air defense. The word itself was a new one that combined the terms modulator and demodulator. Essentially, what a modem does is convert the data you create on your computer (in its digital form of ones and zeros) into sound (electrical impulses). These were originally carried or transmitted through standard telephone lines. The modem also works in the opposite way. It can receive these electrical impulses from the outside world and convert them into digital data that appears as images, text, or numbers on your computer. More recently, modems are being replaced by faster technology that is all digital. There are several types of Internet connections.
A cable modem is typically the fastest connection, meaning it can transfer more data per second than almost any other type of home Internet connection. An Ethernet wire is connected to the cable modem box, which is then connected via a coaxial cable to the round jack in your wall. Once you set up and pay for an Internet plan through your cable provider, you are ready to access the Internet. This links you to the larger Internet grid that often transmits data through fiber optic cable. If you do not want the cable company involved, you could opt for a DSL or Digital Subscriber Line that connects you to the Internet through standard telephone lines. In a later section, we'll discuss the speed comparison between these options.
Packet switching allows large amounts of data to travel from one point to another without clogging a network. Used with radio waves and then telephone lines, packet switching ultimately lead to the development of the World Wide Web.
Once you select a cable or DSL connection in your home, you might want to also create a Wi-Fi connection. The name Wi-Fi means wireless fidelity and is intentionally similar to the term Hi-Fi or high fidelity that once described high-end home stereo systems. With a Wi-Fi connection in your home, you can connect multiple Internet devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet, or even a game system such as an Xbox® or a Wii™) wirelessly to your main Internet connection. Smartphones will typically connect to a Wi-Fi zone, as this will reduce their cell tower data usage, which is typically limited each month. More on the topic of wireless Internet connections will be covered later.
Questions to Consider
1. Why is the Internet important? 2. Where is the Internet? 3. What is a definition of the Internet? 4. What does ARPA stand for, and what is its relationship to the modern Internet? 5. What are some of the ways that computers are connected to the Internet? 6. What is a packet? 7. What is the difference between a node and a protocol? 8. What does HTTP stand for? 9. What is the name of the computer device that is both a modulator and demodulator, and what is its function?
Packet Switching From Title:
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In a client/server network, a powerful computer server controls the individual networked workstations, or clients. Network administrator positions involve working on both servers and clients. Does such a job appeal to you?
5.2 Networks While in the past, connecting a personal computer to a network might have been a nice feature, today it is essential. Without a network connection, you would not be able to attend online school, chat with your friends, or successfully compete in the workplace. Networks are the lifeblood of computing in the 21st century. Most businesses find them essential for sharing files and information among employees, developing collaborative projects, and sharing the use of applications. The network enables computers to share hardware. For example, instead of having a printer connected to each computer, in a network all the computers can share the same printer. And after the workday is over, you can retreat to a friend's house with your laptop to engage in some multiplayer networked computer games.
In this section, we will look more closely at terms and configurations involving networks. While the Internet is most commonly thought of when people hear the word network, other types of networks also exist. In all forms, however, a network at its most basic level occurs anytime there are two or more computers that are linked together through either a wire (Ethernet) or a wireless connection (Odom, 2004).
Basic Network Terminology
If you have several computers at work or home that are connected together, this is called a local area network (LAN). Computers that are connected together through telephone lines, satellites, and so on, and that are not at the same location are called a wide area network (WAN). The Internet is an example of a WAN, and a group of friends bringing their computers over to your house to connect together and play a game is an example of a LAN. Between these two common types of networks is a metropolitan area network (MAN). These networks include a city, or at least part of it, and are often operated by the government. An intranet provides many of the same functions as the Internet (email, databases, documents, and so on), but is only available to a private group of people with passwords. A large business might have an intranet that is accessible to employees only. An extranet is a network with limited restrictions, such as requiring a user ID and password, but it is used for selected outsiders of a company. That same company might have a Web page that is accessible to everyone. A bus is another important network term. It is found in a LAN network in which every workstation is connected to a main cable. This cable is the bus that shuttles data back and forth. In comparison, a star network is one in which each workstation connects only to the main server.
The way that computers interact within these networks is called the architecture. There are two main types of computer architecture. The first is called peer-to- peer. This means that each computer in the network has the same capabilities and privileges as any other computer. They are all equal in terms of what they can and cannot do. However, the second type is called client/server. You will often find this network architecture in businesses where there is one main computer—a very powerful one—called the server. The individual, less powerful, workstations are the clients. A dedicated server is a computer that does nothing but control the other networked computers, the clients. You might also have a printer server (for controlling how the network users share the printer), a Web server (for hosting your own Web page), or a file server (which specializes in managing all the users' data files). In other words, no one is using any of these servers on their own to run an application like Word or Excel®. The clients are the individual computers at the employees' workstations. These are also sometimes called the users. They will all have limited access to the server and have far less network privileges than the server (Institute for Career Research, 2008, p. 1).
There are other important networking terms with which you should become familiar. The first is a hub, which is simply a device that shares data with all the other devices connected to it. Some hubs support only a couple of computers, while others might connect 50 or more. Workgroups are subsets of computers within a network that all share the same resources. These are often used today in the home environment. Second, a related device is a switch. This is more intelligent than a hub because it can discern what type of device is attached to it and only send relevant data. For example, in your home you might have a switch for your digital phone and television. The switch would know to send voice data to the telephone only, while the latest digital movie would route to the television. Switches are important because they can send only certain data to a particular node or workstation. This can improve network security because it prevents everyone from sharing the same information (Parsons & Oja, 2010, p. 261). Third, a router can send data from one network to another. You might also see a router and a switch combined together in one device.
Additional terms are associated with Internet networks. These include protocols like HTTP, discussed earlier in this chapter, which is the protocol for Web traffic. In general, the protocols define how one computer talks to another, including computers as different as Macs® and PCs. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) governs how files are shared on the Internet. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) controls the flow of email traffic. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) controls how data packets are split and then reconnected (recall our packet switching discussion from the previous section). Also, in order for any of the individual terminal computers or personal computers to connect to the Internet, they will need a network interface card. This card plugs into
an open socket on the motherboard (the main circuit board on every computer that contains the memory and central processing unit, and controls the input and output devices), and is then connected to a hub or router (Habraken, 2004).
Finally, you should also be aware of network addressees. An IP address is the actual number that identifies a device (the node) connected to the Internet. This is the way that computers can locate and talk to each other (much like a telephone number). The IP address is assigned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that you select (more on this later). A static IP address is one that is unchanging, and every time you log on you have the same IP address. ISPs also issue dynamic IP addresses, which are temporary. This number is assigned to you when you log on, but when you disconnect, another computer is given the address. There are benefits and limitations with both. A static IP address is better for a company's main computer server because it enables faster file transfer. Another benefit of having your own IP address is that you do not risk having it shut down if someone who shared it with you barraged the Internet with spam email. The dynamic IP also has advantages in the security realm because the user has a different IP address every time they connect to the ISP.
Taken together, TCP and IP are known as the Internet protocol suite and identified as TCP/IP. A computer represents all IP addresses in four bytes, or four numbers from 0 to 255 each, separated by dots (this equals 32 bits of information).
A Look Further: Find Your IP Address
A fun way to try this out is to see what your own IP address is if you are connected to the Internet. Open your Web browser and type whatismyipaddress.com and you will see a number that looks like xx.xx.xx.xx (this is sometimes called a dotted quad). This Web page will also tell you the name of your ISP and your city and country. Try it out and see what your IP address is, and find out if the Internet really does know the city and state from which you are connecting.
Technology Today: Network Neutrality
The Internet is quickly evolving into the world's central communications platform. Many people already log onto the Internet not only to receive email but also to listen to music, watch their favorite television programs, download movies, and play video games.
Even as it takes on a central role in our personal lives, the Internet will remain the primary engine-driving business communication as well. Recognition of the increasingly important role the Internet is playing in society has spurred concern about who should control access to this vital communications pipeline.
Currently, most people gain access to the Internet by opening an account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), which in most cases is a large cable television or telephone company. For the most part, the ISPs have been allowed to set their own rates for granting customers Internet access.
There were few complaints about this system when the primary means of accessing the Internet was via dial-up modems that connected strictly through telephone lines and could only transmit limited amounts and types of information. As we moved into the broadband era, and new methods of transmitting data—such as cable modems and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technology—allowed for easy transmission of more data, including photos and video, a whole new set of issues emerged.
These issues include the following:
Will ISPs begin to set prices that might prevent some people from being able to afford access to broadband Internet? Will ISPs—particularly cable television companies—block access to content created by companies they view as competitors?
The U.S. Congress was so concerned about these issues that in 2009, it directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop a National Broadband Plan to promote a concept known as Network Neutrality—or the idea that every American would have equal access to broadband Internet capabilities. The FCC was a logical choice for developing this plan because the agency oversees the telecommunications sector as well as the radio and television industries.
Content Discrimination or Prudent Network Management?
As the FCC set out to tackle this objective, however, it ran into some unexpected hurdles. The biggest of these hurdles surfaced when the FCC ordered Comcast, a major cable television company and ISP, to stop blocking its customers' access to files from BitTorrent, a popular file sharing site.
BitTorrent allows users to download exceptionally large data files, such as feature-length movies, and then share those files with other Internet users. Comcast argued that it was blocking BitTorrent downloads because they hogged bandwidth on its network, causing the network to work slower for other customers. It is also important to note that BitTorrent often violates copyright laws.
In ordering Comcast to stop blocking BitTorrent downloads, the FCC said the ISP's actions amounted to discrimination against a certain type of content. Comcast argued that it was practicing "prudent network management" rather than content discrimination. The company took the matter to court and ultimately prevailed when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, ruled that the FCC does not have the
Wireless networks have increased access to the Internet in cafés, shops, and public spaces around the globe. Where is the most remote place you've ever logged on?
Mike Theiss/National Geographic Stock
authority to tell Comcast how to manage traffic on its network. In essence, the court was saying the FCC does not have the same authority over ISPs that it has over telephone companies (Kang, 2010).
While it was a clear victory for Comcast, this ruling did nothing to resolve the other issues related to Network Neutrality. For instance, public interests groups have joined companies like Google and Amazon.com in arguing that this ruling handcuffs the FCC from stepping in if Comcast decides to prevent its customers from receiving content that doesn't slow network traffic. There is nothing in the ruling about setting prices for broadband access, either.
Meanwhile, the FCC has released its National Broadband Plan, a 376-page document that outlines its vision of an Internet on which all citizens will have easy access to all legal content. It's unlikely that the vision outlined in that document will become reality, however, unless Congress passes new laws that spell out exactly who has the authority to regulate ISPs.
Links for More Information
Net Neutrality Sparks Lots of Talk, Very Little Action http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/70181.html (http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/70181.html)
Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan https://www.fcc.gov/general/national-broadband-plan (https://www.fcc.gov/general/national-broadband-plan)
The dramatic expansion of wireless networks has significantly changed when and how we go online. When you walk into a bookstore or coffee shop, you will often notice that the establishment has a Wi-Fi network. This is a wireless Internet connection you can log onto with your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. You can also create a Wi-Fi network at home by using a wireless router. Then you can take your laptop to your backyard and surf the Internet, or log into your classroom. Make sure you set up passwords so neighbors or strangers passing by will not be able to see your private information or log onto your network for free.
To log into a network, each user will need a password. There are levels of password security that are known as strong and weak passwords. A weak password is something a hacker might easily guess, like the first name of your child. A strong password is something that has no relation to you, and that combines different character sets such as numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and also special characters such as #$%&. "David" is an example of a weak password. "DaVid39x" is an example of a strong password. A strong password is impossible to guess, making it extremely difficult for an automated hacking program to gain access to your network (Dale & Lewis, 2006, p. 490).
How fast is your Internet connection speed, and how much data can you send and receive at one time? A high bandwidth means you can share larger amounts of information more quickly. The larger the bandwidth (sometimes called the pipeline), the better. Different types of network connections have different bandwidth capabilities. There are three main types: voiceband, medium band, and broadband (the largest). Just as we saw in regard to measuring the speed of a CPU, there are also measurements for the speed of the dataflow. Bits per second (bps) is the most basic number (Shinder, 2001). Remember, a single letter requires 8 bits to represent it. So, a modem that could transmit 80 bits per second has the capability to send or receive 10 letters each second. Thankfully, modem speeds have increased …
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