E-MAIL - A SHORT INTRODUCTION
Let's start with the basics. Some of this is for folks that are reading this in a printed version. If you are online, you can skip down.
To get started you will need to have a computer with a modem installed. If you do not already have a modem I would recommend that you go to the extra expense of buying a modem that moves data at 56,600 baud. Take your time, read the descriptions on the packages and compare prices. If you want to be able to do faxes from your computer, make sure that the modem can handle this too. Some modems will also be able to handle caller ID, voice mail, and other features. Pick the one that you think will best meet your needs.
Now that you have a modem, you are going to have to hook it up to a service that will give you access to the Internet. For ease of use, some of the online services may be a good bet for your first few months on the Internet. They tend to have the easiest user interface and take less time to learn. Most offer unlimited connection time at about $20.00 a month. Once you get the hang of things, you can move on to what is known as an ISP (Internet Service Provider) in your area.
ISPs - Research before Buying
If you are thinking about selecting an new ISP, it might be a good idea to stop by at ZDnet's Anchor Desk to review some critical summaries of what ISPs offer, how well their services meet needs, and more. This website will also give you some suggestions on things you should look for when selecting an ISP. Another source of information on ISPs is at ISP Review, which provides user reviews of ISPs that can be very critical at times (not responsible for content).
Finding An ISP in Your Area
If you want to skip all this and just get to a list of ISPs by State and Locality, then you probably should visit
Cyberspace Today for a listing of ISPs by services offered,
ISP Meta List for a listing of ISPs by locality, or
The Library of Congress List of ISPs, which also includes links to listings of local freenets.
Get All the Features
Typically an ISP should provide you with all of the necessary software to access e-mail, surf the web, and use FTP sites. Often they will provide you with "lite" freeware/shareware versions of software. If for example you are provided with Eudora-Lite, it is worth the extra money to upgrade to Eudora-Pro to handle your e-mail. At most major shareware websites you can download full featured versions of commonly provided software. If you opt for an e-mail connection using a FreeNet (local networks offering free e-mail access only without access to the web), you may need to buy your own connectivity software; e.g., a package like Procomm Plus that will allow you to dial into local networks and emulate a compatible terminal for access. For more information on FreeNets stop by Mike Lewis' List of Freenets.
Once you begin to use E-mail you will learn that netiquette is important. Messages in all CAPITAL LETTERS are regarded as shouting and generally frowned upon. The sparing use of all capitals for emphasizing a particular word in an appropriate context may be appropriate to express a strong feeling, but you need to be careful not to offend others unknowingly.
Likewise you will find that flaming (personally attacking an individual rather than an idea) is not acceptable in most forums and lists. Rude conduct is neither necessary or acceptable. Remember to live the Scout law online. Be courteous and kind.
Abbreviations You May See
You probably will also find some strange abbreviations in E-mail messages. To help you decipher them, here is a partial listing of common abbreviations:
|24/7||24 hours, 7 days/week, full time|
|AFAIK||As Far As I Know|
|BTW||By The Way|
|FAQ||Frequently Asked Question(s)|
|FWIW||For What It's Worth|
|FYI||For Your Information|
|HTH||Hope this helps|
|IBACS||In Brotherhood and Cheerful Service|
|IMHO||In My Humble Opinion|
|IMNSHO||In My Not-So-Humble Opinion|
|IMX||In My Experience|
|IRC||Internet Relay Chat|
|LOL||Laughing Out Loud|
|OTOH||On The Other Hand|
|ROTFL||Rolling On The Floor Laughing|
|RTFM||Read The Fine Manual|
|WIITWD||What it is that We Do|
|WTH||What The Heck/Hell|
|WRT||With Respect To|
|TIA ||Thanks In Advance|
|TTFN||Ta Ta For Now|
|YiS||Yours in Scouting|
|YMMV||Your Milage may Vary|
Some Jargon You May See
|Flame ||A vitriolic attack in response to a post, generally on a
personal level. |
|Lurker ||Someone who reads a group, but doesn't post |
|Spam ||An article (almost always an ad or personal) posted to a large
number of groups which is clearly irrelevant to the group.
Technically, a spam is posted one group at a time, while a
Velveeta/Jello is cross-posted. |
Ways of Expressing Feelings/Emotions
You may also run across hieroglyphic-like punctuation marks that look like :-) . These are not slips of the fingers on the keyboard, nor are they electronic noise, but they are smiley faces. If you turn your head to the left, you see that the colon makes up the eyes; the nose is a hyphen; and the mouth is a parenthesis. Substituting a semicolon for the colon ;-), gives you a winking smiley face. There are many other variations on the smiley face, but most of the others are not used very often.
|:-) ||Your basic smilie. This smilie is used to inflect a sarcastic or joking statement since we can't hear voice inflection over Unix. |
|;-) ||Winky smilie. User just made a flirtatious and/or sarcastic
remark. More of a "don't hit me for what I just said" smilie |
|:-( ||Frowning smilie. User did not like that last statement or is upset or depressed about something. |
|:-I ||Indifferent smilie. Better than a Frowning smilie but not quite as good as a happy smilie |
|:-> ||User just made a really biting sarcastic remark. Worse than a :-). |
|>:-> ||User just made a really devilish remark. |
|>;-> ||Winky and devil combined. A very lewd remark was just made. |