Internet Basics

In Internet Basics, learn about the basic components of the World Wide Web and common tools that can make or break your Internet experience: search engines, Web browsers, RSS, spam and more.


Where can a person get $28,000 for a partially eaten grilled cheese sandwich that may or may not contain the image of the Virgin Mary? On eBay, of course. Find out all about the largest auction site in the world.

The basic idea behind any wiki is very simple: It's a collection of articles that multiple users can add to and edit freely on-line. Learn all about wikis and the communities that keep them alive.

Now almost anyone can be a disc jockey, talk show host or recording artist. Find out what tools you need to record and receive podcasts and see what industry analysts have to say about the future of podcasting.

In June 2008, the Mozilla Foundation released the third version of its popular Firefox Web browsing software. Why has it been eating away at Internet Explorer's market share?

Short for Really Simple Syndication, RSS is a way to subscribe to a source of information, such as a Web site, and get brief updates delivered to you. So what should you subscribe to, and what happens next?

You block it, you filter it, you unsubscribe from lists you actually want to be on, and still it lands in your inbox. If you have an e-mail account, chances are you also have spam. Learn where spam comes from, who's doing the spamming and how to stop it.

Do you ever wonder how the Internet really works? How do Web pages, e-mail and music move to and from your computer? Learn all about the amazing global network we call the World Wide Web.

Your IP address is one of 4.3 billion unique numbers that identifies your computer on the Internet. Learn the different IP classes and discover how your computer gets its own address.

The funny little "a" with its tail circling back around it is probably one of the most commonly used symbols today. So it is truly amazing to learn that there is no official, universal name for it.

To make it easier to pick out a particular link from your list of favorites, Internet Explorer versions 5.0 and higher include custom bookmark icons for some sites. Learn how they do it and how these icons make your web surfing easier.

Internet search engines are special sites on the Web that help people find information stored on other sites. There are differences in the ways various search engines work, but they all perform three basic tasks.

Once you spend a good deal of time on the Web, you start learning the language of internet addresses. Have you come across sites that use something in place of www? (Hint: you're on one now!)

While .html may be the most common file extension, what do the others mean? What about .htm, .asp or .php?

When you try to leave a Web site, either by using the Back button or by closing the browser window, the site reappears in a new window. Or maybe the site pops up in three or four new windows when you try to leave it. What's going on here?

One of the funny things about the Graphical User Interface is that while the interface is graphical, the help files are textual. Learn how to overcome this dilemma.

How do large Web sites handle the load of millions of visitors a day? Learn about Domain Name Servers and load balancing switches.

"Howstuffworks.com" is a domain name. The com portion of the name is called the top-level domain name. See the other standard top-level names and who uses them.

Cookies have, for some reason, gained a rather sinister image, but a cookie is just one or more pieces of information stored as text strings on your machine. Find out how they work and how they got their dangerous image.

It's a frustration most of us encounter daily - the broken link. It's especially annoying when you're really looking forward to that page you expect to load! Find out what (besides human error) creates broken links.