Surfing the WWW Computer Science Department, Bucknell University

Surfing the World-Wide Web
By Dan Hyde

1. Purpose

The purpose of this handout is to allow you to explore the resources on the Internet using the World-Wide Web. This handout assumes you are using Netscape on a Unix workstation, e. g., a Sun.

2. Introduction

The Information Superhighway is receiving a lot of media attention lately. Even Vice President Al Gore is in on the act. What is the Information Superhighway? What can it do for you?

The prototype for the Information Superhighway is the Internet. The Internet is a collection of computer networks which spans the world. Experts estimate that over 10 million computers are on the Internet from institutions as diverse as universities, research labs, military installations, commercial industries and government agencies. Even the White House has an Internet address! Recently millions of individuals have been given access to the Internet through commercial services like Compuserve.

Bucknell has decided to provide free Internet access to all Bucknell students, staff and faculty. In this handout you will learn how to utilize the resources of the Internet for your own needs be it researching a scholarly paper or pursuing a hobby.

2.1 Ways to Use the Internet

Some of the ways to use the Internet are the following:

electronic mail
sending and receiving messages between computers.

electronic bulletin boards where individuals post messages to whole groups. The group shares a specific interest, e.g., free software for the Mac, a rock group, science fiction, sports cars or a technical area like medical immunology.

file transfer protocol - a way to transfer files between computers.

a tree-like organization of information on the Internet.

World-Wide Web
a multi-media hypertext organization of information on the Internet.

2.2 The World-Wide Web (WWW)

Until about two years ago, an individual had to learn many arcane instructions in order to find information on the Internet. The Internet was the domain of computer hackers. But the World-Wide Web (WWW) has changed all of that. The World-Wide Web, one of the newest information services on the Internet, uses hypertext links to other textual documents or files. With this method, users can click on a highlighted word or words in the text to provide additional information in the form of more text, a colored image, a full-motion video (i.e., a movie) or a sound clip. The designers of WWW have cleverly incorporated many older services such as gopher, the newgroups and ftp into the umbrella of the WWW. Exciting stuff!!

In order to access the WWW, one needs a WWW server program such as Netscape which is available on the Suns, Macs and IBM PC compatibles. In this lab we will use Netscape to explore the WWW, or in the jargon, to Surf the Internet.

2.3 What is available on the WWW?

One should consider the WWW an awesome virtual library with a large variety of subject areas. One can transfer documents with colored images, full-motion video and sound to your local computer, e.g., your Sun workstation. If you live in Silicon Valley, California you can even order a pizza from Pizza Hut by way of the Internet. You can shop and order ski pants at a virtual mall. You can listen to underground music; read scholarly articles; find a phone number of a friend at another university; read the latest weather forecast for any city in the country; and much more.

3. Accessing the World-Wide Web on the Suns

3.1 Running Netscape

To run Netscape, type the following after the Unix prompt %:

      netscape &
You should see an ad for Netscape. Go to the Options menu and select General Preferences. Select the Appearance button. Now click on the box right next to Home Page Location and type in the following:
then select the Ok button.

Now select the Home button and you should see a hypertext document on Bucknell University. This page is referred to as Bucknell's Home Page. You may return to this page at any time by pressing the Home button at the top.

Use the scroll bar on the right to scroll through the document.

Each highlighted (underlined or in blue) word or phrase is a link to another hypertext document (possibly including text, images, video and sound). Using the mouse, click on a highlighted word or phrase to follow that link. Press the Back button at the top to return to the previous page. After you have visited a document, it is marked in light blue (or dashed if screen is black and white).

3.2 Exercise 1

On Bucknell's Home Page select Campus Information. Now, select the Campus Map and click on a building on the map to see a picture of the building. Try Dana Engineering. What happens if you click on Route 15?

Return to the Bucknell University Information page by selecting Back. Find yourself in the on-line directory. Is the information correct?

Return to Bucknell's Home Page and select Publications. Select The Bucknellian and browse through the latest issue.

Explore other highlighted items on Bucknell's home page but not Internet Information Services. We will do that one in a few minutes.

4. Using URLs

4.1 Exercise 2

One way to access information on the WWW is to type in a Universal Resource Locator (URL). Select the Open button at the top and type in the following URL in the small window to see Professor Hyde's home page.
Notice to make corrections in your typing in the box, you must press the Backspace key and not the Delete key.

Typing URLs are a pain. However, you only need to type them once. On the Bookmarks menu at the top, select Add Bookmark. This will save the URL in a file which can easily be retrieved. At any time you may add a WWW document to your Bookmarks in the same manner. Get into the habit of saving neat WWW documents to your Bookmarks. (The Bookmarks for Netscape on the Suns are stored in the file bookmarks.html in your .netscape directory.)

On the Bookmarks menu select View Bookmarks to see your current Bookmarks.

To see a neat home page by a Bucknell student, try the URL:

5. Using the WWW Off of Bucknell's Campus

To access WWW information off Bucknell's campus is the same as on campus. Just select a highlighted word or phrase. However, it may take a while to ship the information across the Internet from a off-campus computer to your machine. Therefore, you must be patient.

5.1 Exercise 3

Select Internet Information Services on Bucknell's home page. Now select American College and University Home Pages. Read Carnegie Mellon University's home page. Be patient!! It may take several minutes to transfer the images and text. Note the activity at the bottom of the window and the animated Netscape logo at top. The animated Netscape logo signifies a request is being loaded. You may stop a request by clicking on the Stop Sign at the top.

To allow you to roam faster through off-campus WWW material, you may want to turn off Auto Load Images on the Options menu. If Auto Load Images is turned off, you will obtain a document without the images but a lot faster. A small icon with filled square, triangle and circle is inserted where the images would be. You manually transfer each individual image by clicking on the icon.

Turn off Auto Load Images and load Bloomsburg's Home Page. Manually click on the image icons to load each image.

If you ever get tired of waiting for a request, you can cancel the request by clicking on the Stop Sign.

Turn back on the Auto Load Images feature.

6. The WWW Virtual Library: Subject Catalogue

One of the ways to search a library is to use the card catalogue. The WWW has a virtual library with a subject catalogue. Even though not everything is in the catalogue, it is still a valuable resource.

6.1 Exercise 4

To use the virtual library's subject catalogue, press the Open button at the top of the window and type in the following URL:

Find a subject area which involves your major or a possible major. (Don't investigate the non-academic ones now - that will come later.) Follow the links and see what you find on your area of interest.

7. Using Net Search

Another way to search a library is by a keyword search. On the WWW, you would use Netscape's Net Search button to search for a keyword or key phrase.

7.1 Exercise 5

Select Net Search. After the Net Search home page is loaded,

  1. Search for earthquake. Follow some links. (Notice that the search engine finds some hyperlinks which may not be appropriate.)
  2. Search earthquake joe walker to see list of current earthquakes in the World.
  3. Search for a topic of interest to you and follow some of the links Net Search finds.

8. Explore the Following URLs On Your Own

Page maintained by Dan Hyde, hyde at Last update February 11, 1996

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