Primer to using the internet

I look after a few people's computers, who're not very familiar with what they're doing on the them, and I'm frequently asked to advise about using the internet.  This set of documents will explain some of the basics behind how it works, and what some different internet things are—so that you understand what you're doing, and should then be able to work out the specifics of how to do it with your own equipment.

Computers are different from each other, and so is the software that different people use.  You'll have to learn how yours work, it should have its own help guides for that.  It's impossible for me to explain how to use your browser specifically.  Think of this like learning to drive—you learn the road rules and how to drive a car, then you apply that knowledge to driving your car.

And on that note, I strongly advise that you read the information, think through what it means, and pay more attention to understanding it than just blindly following any examples.  Each section covers the principles behind the topic, concentrating more on explaining the concept than the intricate technicalities of it, although it's impossible to avoid technicalities in a technical arena (i.e. computing and the internet).

The usual problem that occurs when someone simplifies technical issues is that they dumb it down until the point that it's inaccurate and misleading.  So I shall avoid over-simplifying things, or only discussing an issue in one context.  But this is only a primer—an introduction—it's not going to be a highly detailed set of explanations.

e.g. How you use Internet Explorer is not how you web browse, it's only how you use Internet Explorer.  So, for instance, if something discusses bookmarking a page, it'll merely say to bookmark a page, and you'll work out how your browser does that (hint, look in your menus—read all of them, and think about what the different options mean).  It won't spoon-feed you with click on this, then that, specific instructions, which can only apply to specific browsers.  The program menus are called a “menu” for a reason, you're supposed to look at what's on offer, and pick from them.

You're encouraged to experiment, but thinking carefully about what you're doing, first.  You'll learn more about it if you work out how to do something.

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