The Internet leaves most computer novices spinning their wheels. For those still in the “driver education” stage of computer use, a few simple steps can get you cruising the Web in no time.
Before browsing the Web, you need to access the Internet. Students interested in registering for Internet services can do so through the BYU CougarNet service. To register, go to the CougarNet homepage, choose the account manager, enter your social security and pin number, and choose the desired account.
Now you are ready to start. One of the easiest ways to search a topic is through a search engine. Search engines find websites that deal with specific terms or subjects.
Yahoo! and Infoseek found overwhelming praise in a recent USA Today survey. To access these programs, log on to the Internet and type in their addresses. A website address acts as a kind of phone number to link you to that program or page.
Yahoo! can be reached at http://www.yahoo.com, and Infoseek is found at http://www.infoseek.com. If you are using the Netscape program through CougarNet, simply click on the appropriate icon. Netscape has its own directory for Yahoo!, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos and Magellan.
Yahoo! led the USA Today survey in the categories of “easy to use,” and “extremely useful,” while Infoseek beat it by nine points in “sites liked best.”
“Yahoo! is probably the best search engine to start with because it is categorized,” said Brian Harris, a sophomore from Sacramento, Calif., who works at BYU computing services.
After accessing the search engine, the hunt begins. Enter a term and wait to see how many possible hits are brought up. If it is a broad subject like “fire,” as many as 200,000 hits may be accessed.
In Yahoo!, the search can be narrowed using “and, or” cues. For instance, by typing “fire and prevention and Utah,” you would greatly narrow the scope of your search.
Each search engine has varying benefits, Harris said. “Infoseek publishes the most comprehensive listing, but Yahoo! is faster and its sites are better categorized.”
Yahoo!, developed by two Stanford students, offers a new way to refine Net searches. This program, Harris said, may be most useful for broad subjects. Infoseek is categorized by topic, and Excite breaks searches into sub-genres.
Other programs, like LookSmart, a consumer oriented navigation service, can make your Internet search a little easier. LookSmart catalogs a base of 100,000 sites from the millions on the Web. It offers more than 6,500 categories including travel, business and access to local geographical labels.
“The best way to learn how to use the Internet is practice,” Harris said. “There aren’t any foolproof programs. Most people just use what they are familiar and most comfortable with.”
Teaching assistants in the BYU computer labs are there to help apprehensive users. Computer labs located in the Morris Center, Cannon Center, 1058 TMCB and the Jesse Knight Humanities Building are open to any student with a CougarNet account.