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.

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Pandora Radio is different from other Internet radio sites. Instead of relying on genre, user connections or ratings, it uses a Music Genome. What is this Music Genome and how does it know what songs you like best?

By Julia Layton

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.

By Julia Layton

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.

By Marshall Brain


Now almost anyone can be a disc jockey, talk show host or recording artist, thanks to podcasting. Find out what a podcast is, plus how to listen to and make one.

By Stephanie Watson & Chris Pollette

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?

By Jonathan Strickland & Ed Grabianowski

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?

By Chris Pollette

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.

By Marshall Brain


How do web pages, email and music move to and from your computer? It's thanks to the amazing global network we call the internet. Find out more about its infrastructure.

By Jeff Tyson & Chris Pollette

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.

By Chris Pollette & Stephanie Crawford

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.

By Curt Franklin

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?


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

"" 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.