One Small Voice
by Laura McGaffey
Articles originally published in "The Voice in the Desert"
Home, Home on the Web
I am often asked which ISP I use for my websites as well as how and through which "server" I am connected to the Internet. Sometimes people want to put up a website of their own and want me to recommend how to go about advancing beyond their @vtc.net email account. I'm going to address these questions in as much detail as possible here, including information about Valley TeleCom Group, and then anyone interested in asking anything further can call me at 826-0128.
First I'll answer the questions about my systems to help you understand a little about how the Internet works. I am connected to the Internet via a Valley TeleCom DSL telephone line. It is a dedicated line in that I DO NOT use it to make phone calls although I could. In other words it is an ADSL line, the "A" standing for the "analog" telephonic component of the dual-use line. I merely choose to have two phone lines.
As far as my web sites are concerned they are hosted on an ISP (Internet Service Provider) named OMNIS.com located in Torrance, California. In other words, my website files are hosted on a computer in California that I've never seen. I maintain the files and put them onto the computer from my computer here in Sunsites but engineers I'll never meet make sure the computer in California keeps working properly so users all over the world can look at my website whenever they want to day and night. Now, of course, those people over in Europe or Asia don't find my web sites by typing in "www.OMNIS.com. They type in my web site names. There is a specialized set of computers known as the DNS servers "out on the 'net" keeping track of all the web site names and the routes to the appropriate host computers. These DNS servers are the reason why the user in Bangladesh finds his way to the OMNIS.com host computer instead of to the Valley TeleCom computer or to an AOL computer when he types "www.hidessw.com" into his browser.
Okay, so let's get started. First off, not all Internet connections are the same. But you knew that already, didn't you? You've heard of dial-up, DSL, high-speed DSL, wireless. You also know that speed is of the essence! How fast is your computer? How fast is your modem? How fast is your connection? Of course you also want to know how many email addresses you get. One? Two? Fifty? A hundred? Unlimited?! Whoa, don't need that many. Okay, so, how much webspace do you want? How much what? Webspace? You know, uh, where you put your website? How much do you want? 5 megs of personal gonna do it? 10? Or do you think you're gonna put up a small business site and need maybe 50? Or more?
Back up you say? Oh, all you want to know right now is how much it's all gonna cost? Ah, yes, I see. All you really want is to start at the beginning. What are your options? Fair enough and a really good question.
Breaking It Down
There are four (4) basic areas to cover when considering your options on the use of the Internet.
1. Connecting to the Internet
Obviously, you have to first get yourself connected to the Internet. Here in the Sulphur Springs Valley we have only one place to go - Valley TeleCom Group. No matter who you use for your email or who you have host your website Valley TeleCom Group is going to connect you to the Internet. This is a good thing too. I've dealt with all the biggies - Earthlink, AOL, Covad, et.al. and plenty of the little guys in all those strip malls in Silicon Valley, California. I'm here to tell you that none compares to Valley TeleCom. They are great people.
Depending on where you live you have two of three potential ways to connect to the Internet. Valley TeleCom offers Dial-Up, Wireless High Speed and DSL High Speed. Dial-Up is offered everywhere. Wireless High Speed is only offered in Benson and Willcox while DSL High Speed is offered as an alternative to Dial-Up everywhere else they operate (except Safford and Sierra Vista) but availability still also depends on the distance of the facilities to the customer's location. This is normal and will always need to be taken into account. It's the nature of the beast.
There are various ways to proceed to get connected. Valley TeleCom has very good information on their website about what the options are. Next month I will put the information into this column.
All of Valley TeleCom's connection options offer at least one email account. Depending on the option your email address may end in @vtc.net or it may end in @yourname.com where yourname is the name of your domain. I don't have enough room here to go into detail about all the possible options you have available. For most a @vtc.net email address suffices.
Browsing the 'Net
There are two primary Internet browsers - Internet Explorer and Netscape. I'm sure you've heard of the first and there's a good chance you've even heard of the second. I use Netscape. But don't assume I'm avoiding Internet Explorer to boycott Microsoft. I'm a big fan of Bill Gates even if I will take C++ Builder or Delphi over Visual C++ any day. But, I digress. Internet Explorer is not a bad browser. Netscape is free if you download it however that can take quite awhile on a dial-up connection. It costs $15.00 if you order a CD which comes with a booklet. You can go to www.netscape.com and click on "Browser" on the left side to see what Netscape looks like.
Your Home on the 'Net
Valley TeleCom offers various amounts of web space for various types of web sites. If you want to put up family photographs or keep your church group calendar online or advertise the items that will be on sale at the school bazaar a web site at Valley TeleCom would be perfect. But one thing Valley TeleCom admits they can't do is offer online payment acceptance programming. At least not the last time I spoke with them. If they've since added that ability I hope someone will contact me and let me know. The number one reason we went to OMNIS.com was because they do have that ability as well as many fancy web site development tools that I find very useful as well as to use.
So you see there are a lot of factors to consider. Remember that next month I will put the information from Valley TeleCom's website into this column for those who don't have access to the 'net.