Using The Internet
Speaking for the Byron Shire, but generally true of everywhere (apart from Cable connections and the NBN - I wish!) we have available 3 main types of broadband coming into the home or business: ADSL, Satellite and Wireless.
Do not confuse Wireless to the premises with a Wireless network inside the premises! You can create a Wireless Network inside your home or business which sends your internet connection wirelessly all over the building no matter what type of broadband you have.
The best type if you can get it is ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) as it isn't affected by weather and allows the fastest and easiest connections. In some non-metropolitan areas like here in the Shire, it isn't available and then you need to fall back on either wireless or satellite, but always try for ADSL first.
ADSL is marketed with 2 influences on the price: speed in Kbs (Kilobytes per second) and download quantity in GBs (gigabytes) per month. Speeds start at 1,500Kbs but over 5Kbs is preferrable. In some areas of the Shire ADSL 2 is becoming available with speeds up to 20,000Kbs.
As all these speeds are relative, to give some perspective the government's Broadband initiative to construct a fast country-wide service will have speeds 100 times faster than our current 1,500Kbs! But it's going to take at least 8 years...unless you live in the Tallowood Ridge suburb off Left Bank Raod, Mullumubimby which has full NBN. Lucky buggers.
Next factor is how much data you can download per month and here its a matter of what you do online, or what you would do if you had a fast internet service. Visiting regular websites and checking email doesn't use a huge amount of data unless the websites are to look at video clips like YouTube or to watch movie trailers. Using Skype to talk to relatives and friends overseas also uses some particularly if you have the video switched on as most people do.
But there's a lot of competition so look around and visit this website called Whirlpool which is a very good independent assessment of ISPs (Internet Service Providers).
Generally all the deals include a 12 or 24 month contract committing you to the deal and include a ADSL modem, preferrably a wireless router modem so you can have a wireless network inside your home which is handy if you have one or more laptops and iPads, iPhones in the house or want to position your desktop machine somewhere that doesn't have easy access to a phone line for the modem to connect to. With a wireless network it can be placed anywhere in the house, unless you live in a mansion!
If You Can't Get ADSL or you want a wireless system so you can take your laptop and connect anywhere that you travel to that has a mobile phone network. (ADSL is limited to the address that it is connected to : it cannot me moved around and changing addresses takes about a week).
Then you need a Wireless USB Modem which comes as part of the deal that you agree to with either Telstra, Optus or one of the others. Telstra has the best coverage but not the best deals. Optus and the others like Dodo have better deals than Telstra but mostly use Optus's network which isn't as good as Telstra. If the carrier you are looking at uses the Vodaphone network forget about it round here!
In my experience USB mobile modems don't offer the same speed as ADSL but many people use them as an extra for when they are travelling.
If you want broadband in your house or business but can't get ADSL then the next option is wireless, via one of two companies: Linknet and WWires both of whom offer wireless broadband from their transmitters on places like St Helena hill above Byron and assorted other positions. They cover a lot of the ground for people with no ADSL access.
These systems have a satellite type dish on the building with a router inside which can usually offer a wireless network inside as well, just like regualr ADSL. They cost a lot more to set up and install but assessment is free so they will come out to your house and check line-of-sight to their transmitter. Linknet are a long established local firm and their deals seem to be the better.
The absolute last chance saloon of broadband is Satellite, to and from one up there in the sky — a real satellite! This is expensive, difficult to set up and unreliable so please avoid unless absolutely necessary, ie you have tried everything else. You get this via the Bigpond website.
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To surf the World Wide Web we use a 'browser' to 'browse' the pages — a bit of Library jargon surely! All Macs come with a pre-installed copy of Safari, Apple's browser but there are plenty of other contenders. Occasionally a particular website won't load properly in Safari and then I try Chrome and it works!
The most popular is Google's Chrome but you can also download Firefox and a heap more. Click the icons to go to their download sites. For more help go to Downloading and Installing Files.
Each page is a file and each is part of your download quota that you have agreed with your ISP (Internet Service Provider). If you click to watch a movie that is just another file to the browser, down it comes and is displayed as the page creator decreed in their page coding.
The window of the browser can contain one website or several, in Tabs. The key to happy browsing is to use Tabs so that you don't have to leave a page when you want to look at a different website. Say for example you are looking at the Sydney Morning Herald front page. Maybe clicking away at different links and reading them. Then you remember that there was an important football match (or election result or Apple product announcement — whatever!) that you want to find out about but you don't want to lose the article you are reading.
You simply open a new tab from the File menu at the top of the browser which opens blank waiting for an address, type in the address and off you go to the news. The Sydney Morning Herald page is still there — look at the top of the page and you will see two tabs in the Tab Bar (under the Address bar) which probably only appeared when you opened the new tab. Open several and go to different addresses. Click between them and when you are done click the Close X to close the tab. It's like windows within windows.
Now when you have got used to working with Tabs here's a great tip: if you always start online by going to the same five or six sites every time you open your browser you can save then all as your Home Page! The Home Page is the first page that your browser goes when it first opens and it can be set to whatever page you want, even blank. Many people use Google, but to change it go to the site you want as your Home page, then go to the browser Preferences which are always under the main menu with the name of the application. (This is true whether it's an online app or not — every application has Preferences under it's main menu and this is how you change different aspects of how it looks or behaves).
Open the Preferences and you will get this window, if you aren't using Firefox don't worry, all the browsers have very similar windows:
You can see the Home page address and a button saying Use Current Page/s which you click to make your choice of website your Home Page. Or as you can see with mine all the tabs I had selected became my Home page! This means that when I open Firefox it opens with seven tabs all showing different web pages. Cool it is, saves a heap of time loading the same pages that I visit daily.
And remember you change this as often as you like.
Some background: everyone who surfs the web downloads files. I get plenty of people saying "but I don't download anything, I just do email and surf the net". Each webpage and each email is a file downloaded onto your computer. If you disconnect from the web the email is still there and so is an open webpage visible in your browser: they've all been downloaded.
However, there are downloads and there are downloads. If you want to download a file and install it or download a video file to view, or some music, these are all file downloads that you do something with rather than automatic downloads that your email or browser do for you.
Lets look at a typical process to download and install some software, in this case Google Earth. Other software downloads have the same process even if they look a little different.
There are 4 steps:
1. Download the software
2. Install the software
3. Delete the installer package
4. Open the application you have installed
1. First we go to the website at http://earth.google.com/ and click on the blue Download Google Earth 5 button:
It offers us an Agreement page. Not all software does this, sometimes the download just begins but sometimes as here you need to click to agree to a heap of conditions which no-one but lawyers reads, so in case of litigation the manufacturer is covered!
Click the Agree and Download button and the software installer will be downloaded into your Downloads folder which is inside your Home folder. (This is the folder with your name on it and an icon of a house. See The Finder Window for more info).
You locate the installer, called googleearth-chrome-bundle-intel.dmg and double click it. The .dmg identifies it as a Disk Image, a file type commonly used for installers.
It will open into a Volume and mount on the Desktop of your computer. Mounted volumes can be seen on the left of a Finder Window and this one offers the Chrome browser as well as Google Earth (and a Web Plug-in which we'll ignore):
2. We are finally at the Install part of the process! Different installers now do different things, in this case you need to drag the Google Earth.app across to the left and drop it on the Applications folder in the Sidebar. (All Applications go in here, all of them).
While it copies a little Progress bar in blue will appear, which disappears when it's done:
3. Delete the Installer package. To do that we must first unmount the Volume with the Google Earth and Chrome applications in it. Just click the little Eject button at the right of the Google Earth volume in the Finder Window you have open:
It will disappear then you can go back to your Downloads folder and throw the googleearth-chrome-bundle-intel.dmg file into the Trash and empty the Trash.
Job done! Go to your Applications folder find Google Earth and double-click it to open it. After asking if you are sure you want to open it and to Accept and Install it will open.
The other type of installer will open with an actual program that does the installing for you such as this Flash installer:
Double-click the Adobe Flash Player.pkg and it will open a window that you just click Continue until it asks for your computer password and then installs.
Again, eject the Volume and delete the installer as previously.
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As with browsers there are many applications for checking your email, but I will concentrate on the main email client Apple's Mail that comes on all Macs. Mail uses the Contatcs application as it's addrerss book and that syncs with your iPhone, an important consideration.
Any other email clients like Thunderbird or Outlook do basically the same thing even if they look slightly different. Configuration is similar too but they don't sync seamlessly with your iPhone.
Before we start we need to get clear that we are talking about email that is downloaded into an email application, called POP or IMAP email rather than browser email like Hotmail or Yahoo that you view via a browser window in Firefox or Safari. Just to confuse things, on newer Macs you can download your Hotmail and Yahoo into the Mail application as well!
Browser email means that each message has to be accessed individually which takes time. Since Gmail came along browser email has had a revolution. Now you get the best of both worlds: the flexibility of browser email is that you can access it from any computer in the world, all you need is your user name and password with the emails also being downloaded onto your computer if you are on it. With a Gmail account — or several — you can do both. It also has a built-in 'vacation responder' so you can have a message sent to all incoming emails if you are away on holiday. You can also retrieve email from any other account like Hotmail or any POP email into your Gmail account so these advantages can be applied to any of your previous accounts.
I heartily recommend using Gmail as your main email for these reasons.
So whether we are configuring Apple Mail for a POP/IMAP account or for a Gmail account the process is the same.
If you open Apple Mail it will lead you through an assistant asking for the various settings which you get from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). The User Name and it's Password are the main things you will need along with the Mail Server settings. It attempts to make it an automatic process but sometimes asks you for certain settings.
Open Mail to get the first window:
From the list of choices you canfind your account - maybe! If it is a Gmail select Google, if it's Hotmail choose the Exchange, the others are obvious. If its not there then choose Add Other Mail Account... this goes for a Bigpond account for example.
Here you are asked for the first bit of information, your Email Address and the Password that goes with it which will have been supplied by your ISP. In the Full Name box you enter whatever you want to appear on emails you have sent. It has no bearing on how the email works and you can enter anything.
Hopefuly it will find the settings and the account will setup and your email will work - hooray!.
But maybe not, in which case you will get this window telling you the account must be manually configured - Mail needs more info.
The Mail Server is the computer out there on the internet that stores your email until you collect it. Usually it is mail.yourisp.com.au but sometimes it is something else. Get this info from your ISP or try mail.yourisp.com.au or whatever it's domain name is.
User name is your email address. Password is as before.
IMAP or POP??!! The big question. In the old days of email everything was POP email. We generally had one device for our email so where it was sent from wasn't an issue. Gradually we gained more and more places where we sent and recieved email and the problems began. With POP if an email is sent it appears only in the Sent mail of the device that sent it which is hopeless if your email appears on multiple devices! So along came IMAP email which syncs the mail across multiple devices. Doesn't matter where you sent the email from it appears in Sent mail across all devices.
Gmail is IMAP and generally most ISP offer IMAP email but you might have to ask for it. The other huge plus is that IMAP email sends your email through it's own mail server which means that is doesn't matter how you are connected to the internet, the email just works. This is a huge plus with many people moving onto laptops and i-Devices.
So go for IMAP if at all possible.
Now it might ask for the port number and whether you need to select SSL or not:
All this information comes from your ISP, often available on their website under the Support page.
Generally IMAP email has SSL ticked.
The next window, the Outgoing Mail Server, which is usually the same as the Incoming Mail Server and is the same as your ISP that is providing your internet service:
It may well be that no User name or Password are needed for Outgoing Mail server and you can see that it it is Optional to reflect that.
So at this point it will either work or it might prompt you to Save the pagge but warn you that it might not work. Save, always Save!
The Accounts page which can also be accessed under the Mail menu then Preferences then Accounts looks like this:
Mail's main window with the Inbox, Drafts and Sent mailboxes:
Click the Compose new message button with the little pad and pen icon to create an email:
You will see the address box, called To: which is where you enter the email address of the person you want to send a message to. This is case sensitive and must be exactly correct with no spaces. If you have entries in your Address Book then enter the first letter of the name and it will appear along with any others with the same letter. Choose the one you want. This saves typing the entire address each time.
To Reply to an email: with the email selected click the Reply or Forward button above the emails and a new window will open with the text from the email sent to you and the cursor waiting for you to type a reply.
In the message window you can click the Photo Browser button to access images from the iPhoto application if you have photos you want to include in the email:
Locate the image from the panel on the right and drag it into the email. Repeat as required.
If you want to use Stationery which gives the email a style, click the Stationery button and choose from a style. Change the text to your own entry and the picture to one of yours:
The last thing to look at in Mail is the Preferences. These are found in all applications under the Application's own menu. Look under the Mail menu and open Preferences:
This setting determines what application will open when another application wants to send an email.
For example if you are on a website in Safari and the site wants you to send it an email, when you click to send it whatever is set here will open. So leave it on Mail. The rest of this page you can leave alone unless you see anything to alter.
Moving along to the Junk tab (and ignoring RSS for now) we get more choices:
You have the main choice of leaving Junk mail in your Inbox or having it moved to a special Junk mailbox, which is my preferred choice. If yu agreee click the Move to the Junk Mailbox button.
If you do this you must check it regularly because messages will end up in it that aren't actually Junk so you need to locate them and tell Mail that they aren't Junk by clicking the Not Junk button!
Its worth mentioning at this stage that you should always add anyone real to your Address Book so their messages don't get flagged as junk...
The next pane lets you choose what Fonts you prefer:
Ignore the next two panes and go straight to Signatures:
Signatures are very handy time saving features that let you add some pre-created text and images to an email, automatically or manually. Typically you would have your phone numbers and maybe address on a signature, or a little special saying, or an image. Whatever you like really.
Select your account on the left and click the + button to add a Signature. Enter anything you like including dragging an image into the signature pane, give it a name and you're done. Here you can also set it to be added automatically to your email. Once you have a lot of signatures, one for each occasion, you can add them manually from inside the email message window.
Close the Preferences window and that's done.
That's the basics of Mail although there are more features we haven't looked at here...
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