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Tech Talk: How to get on-line with your computer

written and compiled by Dr. Dale L. Cook and Tim Ponder

As Internet access becomes available, we realize that there will be a variety of questions. Some of you are beginners and some of you are probably already familiar with the Internet or one of the online services. The purpose of this memo is to help the beginner get "on-line" and to begin using Electronic mail. As time goes on and the OLRC grows, we hope you will grow with it. We will be available to help you along the way through memos/updates similar to this one and by phone and mail contact. If you have questions ... please contact us at the numbers listed at the end of this memo.


Electronic-Mail or e-mail is a relatively new communications technology. It originated on local computer networks, such as those within a school system or large corporation, as a means of sending messages back and forth using desktop computers. It is not designed to replace a telephone, fax machine or regular mail. What e-mail does is enable people to communicate files and messages more quickly than regular mail, to see a hard copy instead of a simple phone message, and to be more interactive than a fax.


The Internet is a network of networks, joining school systems, businesses, and numerous other groups together worldwide. In other words, you can type a message into your computer and send it out to other persons in the state, across the country and around the world just as easily as if they were in the office next door. Through the Internet, communication with a variety of people as well as to countless documents and resources are possible from your desktop.


Communication between adult literary providers in the state of Ohio is our immediate goal. By using e-mail, you can more quickly and easily share information and resources, as well as questions, answers, comments and ideas with us, the ODE staff, and your colleagues throughout the state. You will also have access to a variety of resources worldwide. Once again, E-mail is not meant to replace all other types of communications, but to enhance the sharing of information throughout the state, be it from you, the Department of Education, the OLRC, and others. This can greatly increase the speed of communication as well as the number of people you can share ideas with.


The connection to the Internet is made from your computer to a host or server computer, through a telephone line. This can be a line dedicated to just the modem or your regular phone line. The computers communicate with each other through a modem, which is a piece of hardware that works with communications software which translates electric impulses into data that your computer can then process and display. You may or may not have a modem in your computer. To find out, check your documentation, ask your computer support people, or look at the back of your Computer to see if there are two telephone type connections similar to those found on an answering machine. If you do not have a modern, one can be purchased to either install inside your computer or remain external. A modem installation is simple for someone with intermediate computer experience. You or a member of your staff can probably do it. If not, call the OLRC for assistance. One thing to be very careful of though, is the modem setup, especially if you have many other add ons such as a mouse, a cd-rom, soundcard, etc., or if you run Microsoft Windows. If you are not familiar with the terms IRQ, DMA, Memory Address, or Com Port, you will probably want to get outside help.


There are several choices to make in obtaining a modem. As mentioned, internal or external is the first decision. In general, there is not much difference between the two except the external takes up space on the desk and the internal takes up space, if you have any, inside the computer. The next major area is speed. This is measured in baud rate, such as 2400 baud. The faster the modem, the faster the communication between your computer and the outside source. In the beginning, 2400 baud will be fine, but as you expand your use, you will possibly want a faster modem. Many modems also have fax capabilities. This is a nice option, but not necessary, and you need to be sure that you can send and receive with it. Some fax modems will only allow you to receive faxes. In general, a 9600 baud modem should be affordable ($50-$l00) and take care of your needs. If speed is not an issue, a 2400 baud can be found for under $50.


There are many different types of communication software. One that is quite popular and can be obtained for free is called Kermit. Kermit is very functional; however, all instructions are typed in from a blank command line, it is not mouse compatible, and it is generally not user friendly. If you use Microsoft Windows, there is a program in the accessories group called Terminal. This is an easy program to use if you are familiar with Windows and is quite functional. There are many other communications software packages out there. Find one with the functions you think you might use. Most of the people at the OLRC use one of the Procomm products. They make several versions and it is a good solid package. We are not recommending it over any others, but we do have a great deal of familiarity with these packages. Software packages range in price from twenty to several hundred dollars.


Once you have the modem installed and configured, the software running and the phone line connected, you are ready to dial the host computer, which is the computer thorough which you'll access the Internet. If you are using your regular phone line and have call waiting, you should disable it, as the incoming call could disrupt your modem connection. The instructions for this are in your phone book. The access provider should have a local phone number, so there should be no charge for the time you are connected. Your access provider should have sent you instructions on how to connect and what to do the first time you get on line. Follow these carefully. Each system is different, so it is impossible to cover all possible options for connecting and sending mail here.


An e-mail address is similar to a regular mail address. It is made up of a combination of identifying pieces which direct the message to the right person and place.

For example, is our center address.

olrc: identifies the person or organization the message is going to. These are often real names, but can be nicknames, numbers or even symbols.

@: separates the person from the place

kentvm: identifies the machine and/or network that the message is going to. There are several mainframe computers and networks at Kent, and this identifies which one to route it to.

kent: identifies the institution or the place for delivery.

edu: is another identifier of the type of network edu for educational institutions, gov for government, etc.

All parts of the address are separated by a period. There are no spaces. If a space is needed, the underline_ is used. Some are upper/lower case sensitive and some are not. If you received it from someone or over the phone, try using all lowercase or all uppercase, do not mix them. There are of course exceptions. In general, if your message is undeliverable as addressed, your network machine will tell you. Usually a minor change or even correcting a typo will do the trick. If not, check with your support people or contact the OLRC.

One additional point: we are often asked, "How do I find someone's Internet address?" The easiest way of course is to call them and ask. If you don't have their phone number, there are a few sources on the network itself for finding addresses. If you would like these sources, please call or e-mail the OLRC.


There are mistakes you can make and places you can get stuck, but as far as damaging a system, there is little or no chance of that happening. The only real damage you can do is to get frustrated, pick up the machine and throw it across the room. You should try to logoff or logout of your session whenever possible. If you happen to connect to a proprietary service such as Delphi or Compuserve, you should be especially aware of this; otherwise you may be billed for time you are not actually online.

When you are connected, please send a message to the address below. This will enable us to send you updates, items of interest and further help memos through e-mail. Feel free to send any questions to the same address, or call the number given below. Thank you and welcome to OLRC! The Ohio Literacy Resource Center e-mail address is (1-330-672-2007).

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