Tips & Definitions:
Internet, the, international computer network linking together thousands of individual networks at military and government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, industrial and financial corporations of all sizes, and commercial enterprises (called gateways or service providers) that enable individuals to access the network. The most popular features of the Internet include electronic mail (e-mail), discussion groups (called newsgroups or bulletin boards, where users can post messages and look for responses on a system called Usenet), on-line conversations (called chats), adventure and role-playing games, information retrieval, and electronic commerce (e-commerce).
The public information stored in the multitude of computer networks connected to the Internet forms a huge electronic library, but the enormous quantity of data and number of linked computer networks also make it difficult to find where the desired information resides and then to retrieve it. A number of progressively easier-to-use interfaces and tools have been developed to facilitate searching. Among these are search engines, such as Archie, Gopher, and WAIS (Wide Area Information Server), and a number of commercial indexes, which are programs that use a proprietary algorithm to search a large collection of documents for keywords and return a list of documents containing one or more of the keywords. Telnet is a program that allows users of one computer to connect with another, distant computer in a different network. The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is used to transfer information between computers in different networks. The greatest impetus to the popularization of the Internet came with the introduction of the World Wide Web (WWW), a hypertext system that makes browsing the Internet both fast and intuitive. Most e-commerce occurs over the Web.
Each computer that is directly connected to the Internet is uniquely identified by a 32-bit binary number called its IP address. This address is usually seen as a four-part decimal number, each part equating to 8 bits of the 32-bit address in the decimal range 0-255. Because an address of the form 126.96.36.199 could be difficult to remember, a system of Internet addresses, or domain names, was developed in the 1980s. Reading from left to right, the parts of a domain name go from specific to general. For example, www.irs.ustreas.gov is a World Wide Web site at the Internal Revenue Service, which is part of the U.S. Treasury Dept., which is a government agency. The rightmost part, or top-level domain (or suffix or zone), can be a two-letter abbreviation of the country in which the computer is in operation; more than 250 abbreviations, such as "ca" for Canada and "uk" for United Kingdom, have been assigned. Although such an abbreviation exists for the United States (us), it is more common for a site in the United States to use a specialized top-level domain such as edu (educational institution), gov (government), or mil (military) or one of the four domains designated for open registration worldwide, com (commercial), int (international), net (network), or org (organization). In 2000 seven additional top-level domains (aero, biz, coop, info, museum, name, and pro) were approved for worldwide use, and other domains have since been added. An Internet address is translated into an IP address by a domain-name server, a program running on an Internet-connected computer.
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