Dear PC Doctor:
I know I’m late to the game, but I just started using the internet, mainly because I got rid of my landline and now have a smart phone. There’s so much I don’t know, including just what things are. What’s the difference between a browser and a search engine? Between chat and social media? Do I need an email address? What else should I know?
Don’t feel dumb! When you didn’t use the internet, you didn’t need to know these things. Here are the meanings of some basic words and phrases that you’ve probably heard often:
A browser is a software program installed on your computer, mobile phone or any other electronic device, that can easily bring access to the internet. A search engine is also a program that can search for the keywords you enter.
Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Safari are web browsers. They would be installed on your device. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are search engines. You access them via your browser over the internet.
You need a browser installed on your computer in order to access the search engine on the internet.
When you go online, you’re viewing information accessed by a computer connected to the internet.
A web address is the unique name for a webpage, displayed in the browser’s address bar. (For example the Athol Library’s web address is: www.athollibrary.org.)
A webpage or website is a page (or connected pages) of information on the internet.
A link is an image or text that can be clicked on to go to another page.
Email used to be short for “electronic mail.” (No one says that anymore.) Email is a way to send messages, documents, pictures, and links to websites instantly to anyone in the world using the internet. Examples include Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook. To use email, you have to sign up for an account. Most internet commerce and social media sites require you to have an email address in order to use them.
Blog is short for “web log.” A blog is a website that is updated frequently with articles,
pictures, and videos, typically centered around one topic or theme. People sometimes use these as we used to use a journal. There are many free blogging sites that are as easy to use as word processing documents.
Social media sites are websites which let millions of people share thoughts, pictures,
videos, and favorite websites, and to connect with friends. Examples include Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. You can have private social media accounts or ones that anyone can see.
Chat is another way of communicating over the internet. You type a message or have a camera taking a live video of you to communicate instantly with anyone in the world. Examples include Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangout, and Zoom. With chat sites, you usually communicate with one person (or group) who is expecting your call.
And, since you’re new to the internet, here are questions to ask yourself while you’re viewing sites on the internet:
When was the site created or updated? Is there a date shown?
Is the information presented related to your question?
Is the author revealed? Does that person have expertise on the topic in question?
Are there spelling errors or links that don’t work?
Are they selling something?
Until next time,
Editor’s Note: Questions should be directed to PC Doctor, care of the Athol Public Library, [email protected] or Athol Public Library, 568 Main St., Athol, Mass. 01331, or dropped off at the library.