Jargon Buster

Now, to bust some jargon:

Browser – a computer program that displays the internet graphically (in a human understandable, way).
Metcalf’s Law – the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of computers connected to it.
Source code – ‘raw’ computer code written and understood by programmers.
Open source – open source software is software distributed along with its source code.

It's Your Internet

Does anybody remember the great browser wars of the 1990s?

Don’t worry, most people don’t. It was epic, David vs. Goliath, stuff. Netscape vs. Microsoft. These two fought battles that came to define the mode of competition on internet time. The war was, basically, over browser dominance. Netscape had developed and introduced one of the very first browsers. This had landed them a commanding share of the market. Giant Microsoft soon realized the value of the internet and launched its own browser: Internet Explorer. Thus, the war began.

Of course, back then, the internet was still relatively new and unchartered. Do keep in mind that it had all started as a research project of the US Department of Defense, later joined by universities before spreading to the rest of us. The internet users back then were, generally, people in love with technology: mainly students and research types. These people mainly used the internet to share information and to keep in touch with each others’ work.

A few years down the road, the internet had become somewhat more accessible to the average person. At this point in time, the internet was still used to share information albeit not just academic and research material. Newsgroups, discussions forums, bulletin boards and a host of other similar things had sprung up. The internet community had just got bigger. Since the net was not yet a major commercial attraction, what drove its continual growth and rise in importance?

Man is social. The possibility of the development of human relationships in a virtual, online community was and still is the real driving force behind the internet. That’s why online villages, centered on information sharing, were springing up and spreading like wild fire.

Besides, the usefulness of any network increases as the number of users of that network increase. It is actually some sort of infinite cyclic process – a useful network attracts more users who make it more useful thus attracting even more users, and so on. This is Metcalf’s Law. But I digress. Back to our story.

The great browser wars ended with the defeat of Netscape. Microsoft used its financial muscle and showed impressive agility to beat its younger rival into submission. After sinking into loss-making Netscape fired their last salvo of the war: they gave away their browser’s source code free to anyone who could access the net. This is like Coca-Cola publishing their secret formula on every coke bottle! Why would Netscape do this?

Many of the people at Netscape back then were hardcore technology buffs (infact, many had helped develop the first web browser). Back in those days, such people were still the majority of internet users. They were amongst those who believed that the internet should be a place of freedom and community. Think equality and anonymity; freedom of expression and association. The internet was a beautiful idea. Surprisingly (or perhaps not-so surprisingly) many people back then belonged to the so called ABM (Anyone but Microsoft) crew. Corporate giants were seen as foreign invaders who did not care at all about the beautiful new idea.

Netscape was thus perhaps something of an e-martyr. They gave up their browser, their labor of love, just so that their internet was not destroyed. The mozilla project was born in 1998 when Netscape made their source code public. Mozilla Firefox is now an award winning browser widely regarded as the best. It is still free and open source. (You can download it here.)

Moral of the story? In our lovely country, the internet is grossly underused. I am convinced that you cannot gain substantially from anything unless you understand and/or love it. You surely benefit in someway when you send email, but do you want to limit your gains to just that?

The internet is still a beautiful idea: It is still community based. The only difference is that it is now also commercial. The only way to ensure that you substantially gain, financially or otherwise, from the internet is by embracing it and loving it. Get involved. Join the internet community.

Possibly, a good starting point may be one of the most fascinating internet projects: wikipedia – the free, online encyclopedia that anyone can edit and contribute to!

If we increase our presence on the internet, it will become more useful to us.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Microsoft Rising: …and other tales of Silicon Valley

The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time

Now, to bust the jargon in this post.

Confessions, and the church of Google

The CHURCH of Google From Site: The Church Of Google believes a convincing argument can be made stating that the search engine Google is the closest mankind has ever come to experiencing an actual Deity. It is the ultimate bridge between people and information.

Online Confessions From stumblupon.com: They say that confesssion is good for the soul and having tried it on this interesting site, I must agree. Reading confessions by others is a little bit like being a priest, I guess. My purpose is to listen to (rather, read) the sins of others, and while fascinated, I feel a tiny bit dirty.

jux2 Meta search engine From Stumbleupon.com: A meta search engine allows you to enter keywords in the search box and your search is simultaneously sent to several search engines. Those search engines are queried and the results you get back are from each individual search engine’s database. A meta search engine does not have its own database and does not accept submissions. With the jux2 meta search engine you can compare the leading search engines and see the relevant results. You might be surprised to find that on average only 3.5 of the top ten search engine results are the same. Using jux2 ensures that you save time and get better search results.

Ten Minute Email
You can register and sign up for a free email account. you can send and receive email just as you can with any toher email service provider. However, your account will expire after ten minutes.

File-Swap An excellent method of killing time. Basically, upload any file to this site and you will get back a random file, for free. Its totally pointless but quite addictive. (You have no idea what random file you’ll get!)

Want links to more cool sites? Go here or check out this blog on the sidebar as shown below:

Using Google

Undoubdtedly, google is the King of search. It is the place to go for the best search results. The question is, do you utilise all of google’s power i.e do you get the most out of google? Click below to find out:

Get the Most out of Google.
The Official Google Cheat Sheet.

What The Internet Can do for you

Ah, the internet. One of the most talked about things ever. Indeed a lot has been said about the internet. About the opportunities it avails. About how it changes live everyday. About billionaires born on the internet. I could really go on and on. But what does all this mean to you and me; to the average Joe?

I can say that the most important thing about the internet is that it empowers us. The internet gives all of us the power to access information from all over the world. Since lots of people like to say “we are now in the information age,” this should be a good thing right?

That is all well and good. Still lots of people continue to have many questions. “What’s all the fuss about internet? What do people do on the internet?”

The internet is vast. It is an international network of networks of computers. There are millions of ‘places’ to go, ‘people’ to meet and ‘things’ to do on the internet Yet many people typically just check their email, visit some news sites and check some sports news. People tell me all the time that they can’t spend more than 30 minutes on the internet because they get bored. Scandalous!

Does our beautiful country gain anything from the internet? Certainly. Does our lovely country gain as much as it should from the internet? I think not. Why? As an answer to this I would like to tell you about something I believe in with every bone in my body: no computer literate person is justified to sit his behind down and claim that he is unemployed. Unless, of course, he is just lazy, stupid or simply must have that blue collar job that he so badly wants.

Anything is possible on the internet. I’ll show you how. Join me as we explore the wide, wild, web and expose the possibilities it brings knocking at your door.

This being the first step of the journey lets look at the usual things you can and should be doing on the net.

Let’s face it. Email is faster, cheaper and in many ways simply better than snail mail. There are many free email providers out there but I recommend Yahoo! Why? Started as Jerry’s guide to the World Wide Web – possibly with a rather interesting backronym: Yet another Hierarchical Officious Oracle, yahoo is essentially a web portal first. Therefore, a yahoo email account gives you access to much more than just an outstanding email service. You also get access to other yahoo services: yahooligans, yahoo personals, geocities…..

As noted earlier, the internet is very, very large. Finding specific information can be tricky if you are not using a search engine. In such endeavors, I highly recommend googling. Google isn’t just the most comprehensive and efficient search engine (you can search in Kiswahili!); it is also one very big technology company offering many cool services, and, with a corporate motto: ‘Don’t be evil’ it’s, quite frankly, my search engine of choice.

You may also like:

Using the Internet: How to Get Started and Find What You Want for Business, Education and Pleasure

Steal This Computer Book 4.0: What They Won’t Tell You about the Internet

Now, to bust some jargon:

Snail mail – plain old postal mail
Web portal – a site that acts like a kind of gateway or directory to the other sites
Backronym – a kind of acronym that was originally an ordinary word but later interpreted as an acronym e.g. kisses may mean Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Search engine – a service for searching internet.
Googling – using the Google search engine.