At the bottom of the screen is a Glossary. Click on any highlighted text in the main document to find further information about the term. You can also click on highlighted words within the glossary for a description of those words. This ability to link from one location to another is an example of hyper-links, a big feature (in fact an integral part) of web pages. These pages are deliberately plain and simple.
To continue, just click on one of the subjects below, or scroll down to read the whole thing. If you can't be bothered with all this technical stuff and just want to talk to someone about your own website, click here and fill in the form. We'll then contact you as soon as possible - and we promise we won't get technical on you.
In brief: Imagine lots of computers in a building or company connected together so they can share data. This is a network. Then imagine some means of linking the networks together across the globe so that one computer in one network can communicate with another computer in another network in another town, or another country or continent, more or less instantly. That's the Internet.
When two or more computers are connected together, and have the necessary software to communicate with each other, they are said to form a network. This enables messages to be sent from one to another and for one computer to use programs or data stored on another, usually a central "server", computer. Both programs and data are stored more economically and it is easier to ensure that everyone has access to the most recent information.
Computers within an office, or in the same building, are usually connected by cabling running through ducting in a similar way to power cables, or increasingly by low-powered wireless connection. Often, though, a company will want to connect to other branches throughout the country, or internationally. In this case lines will be leased from a third party, usually a telephone company or other type of communication organisation.
Because telephone lines were originally designed to carry a representation of sound it is necessary to use a modem to convert the noughts and ones of binary code, which computers use, into analogue signals, which are carried by telephone lines.
In addition to the familiar telephone cables, fibre-optic cables and micro-wave and radio-wave transmissions are used as they can carry far more signals. Satellites are being used, increasingly. Also, the conventional telephone system is allocating lines specifically for digital transmission, called ISDN or broadband connection.
Since the nineteen-seventies many of the larger networks have been able to communicate with each other, initially for military and then academic use. Thus the internet was born, although for many years it was the province of a very few specialists. With a "network of networks", controlled using procedures called TCP/IP and routers, it is possible for two computers to communicate via the best available route, and so the failure of one network does not mean the failure of the Internet as a whole. This was particularly important for military users during the cold war.
Apart from the ability to send messages to specific individuals, software evolved to post messages on virtual bulletin boards, which could then be read by any interested party. At first the province of electronics hobbyists, this facility began to be used by businesses, mostly computer-orientated, as a forum for support problems, "bug" fixes and general information. This was usually provided via BBS facilities
This was the situation, more or less, until the early nineteen-nineties. Then two things happened. Firstly, the World Wide Web and browser technology meant that there was a common interface for "surfing the net". Secondly, in 1995 the Internet finally moved from the control of academia and the military and became a commercial organisation. Businesses were starting to realise the potential of this medium. At first it was computer-related businesses who could see another opportunity to sell more PCs, but very soon other industries realised the potential for advertising their companies, keeping customers up-to-date with product and support information and then actually selling goods on-line, a procedure known as e-commerce.
At the same time there was a huge increase in non-business activity, with people using the Internet to communicate with families overseas, special-interest clubs, research for students, genealogy, to name a few. If more than half-a-dozen people are interested in something, chances are there is a web-page either in existence or being planned.
Also, the cost for an individual to use the Internet has fallen. For an individual, sitting at home or in a small company, the way into the Internet is via an ISP. At first, ISPs made both a monthly charge as well as a charge per minute for time spent on-line. This, in the UK at least, in addition to telephone company charges. Prices have fallen generally. Also, all ISPs are now accessible at local telephone rates. Since 1998, ISPs have become available which are completely free to the user and are paid for by advertising. With greater competition in the telephone industry, cable systems, faster modems and ISDN lines (which means that access time can be greatly reduced) and free ISPs, it is now very cheap for anyone with a reasonably modern computer to access the Internet.
There are some negatives:
Everyone has heard about the rampant pornography that is supposed to inhabit the Internet. It is, however, very easy to avoid if you don't go looking for it.
The technology to record visitors to certain sites (including pornographic) is quite sophisticated, so if you use a search engine to find a particular type of site, the chances are that you will receive email ("spam") giving you the URL of similar sites, or simply advertising related projects.
Another problem well-known to the newspapers is the danger of your computer becoming "infected". Any two computers with access to the Internet can communicate with each other. This does not mean that anyone has access to files on your computer which you don't want them to see, although, in theory this can happen if the ""spy" is clever and lucky. With some exceptions, you are in control of what you allow to be downloaded to your computer. However, although it is more or less impossible for a remote computer to, say, read your word-processing documents, it is possible to unwittingly copy a virus into your computer.
In brief: It's not a spelling mistake.
An intranet is an internal, private network, usually in a company or large organisation, that looks and acts like the Internet (actually more like the WWW) but isn't usually available to the outside world via the Internet. The same browser technology is used. Often hyper-links will take the user to external Internet sites. Apart from giving the user a common interface, an intranet is a very cheap way of keeping employees up-to-date with company news, policy, managerial structures, product information, etc.
In brief: A web site is is a collection of html-based document files, often with some graphic files to display still or animated pictures and/or audio files for speech or music, viewed using a browser, usually created with a common theme, e.g. for a company, club or individual, with hyper-links between the pages.
Usually, as in the Wolff Systems web site, part of which you are currently viewing, there is a main menu from which you can select other areas of the site. Sometimes a link will take you to another line in the same document (e.g. see the "Up Arrow" icon) or to another document within the site (e.g. to the Glossary, below), or to a page which is part of a different site altogether.
The documents are usually stored on a server or "host" accessible via the Internet or within a private Intranet. You cannot drive or walk to a web site, you don't need to wear a hard hat, like a building site. It is not necessary to know the physical location of the web document files which go to make up a site. Often the creator of the site is unaware of which country it is stored in.
The idea of a physical site is perpetuated by the use of the term "address" for the URL of a site.
It is difficult to imagine a company or organisation which would not benefit, either now or in
the near future, from a presence on the Web.
Here we list just some reasons:
Reasons why you should have a web site
It is difficult to imagine a company or organisation which would not benefit, either now or in the near future, from a presence on the Web. Here we list just some reasons:
Most ISPs provide some space on their servers for their customers' own web pages. If you used FreeServe, for instance, your site address would be:
This is fine for family or club-related web pages, but for a professional-looking company site you really need your own domain name. Your own name is easier for your potential customers to remember, it is yours for life, once registered (so long as you keep up the payments) and it puts you on a par with the very biggest companies. Just having your own domain name on your stationery and advertisements gives a lot of credibility even if people never look at your site. It's crazy, but it's true.
Even if you really cannot justify a web site for your company now, chances are you will in a year or two, in which case it is important to at least register your company name now, while it is still available. For example, if your company is called Bert's Building Co., it is already too late to register yourself as BBC because it has been used for some years by the British Broadcasting Corporation (see their excellent site at www.bbc.co.uk). However, it may not be too late to register bertsbuild.co.uk or bbcompany.co.uk, but with each passing day the chances of availability are reduced.
In Brief: These days it is rare for a company to be without a fax machine. Increasingly, however, email is being used as an alternative. Email can be delivered directly to a specific employee's PC, does not require printing onto paper before being sent, can be sent anywhere in the world for the price of a very short local telephone call and can carry attachments.
Email, sometimes spelt with a hyphen (e-mail) is short for electronic mail, and is one of the most popular features of the Internet. With email and the Internet you can send messages to anywhere in the world for the price of a short local telephone call. Messages can be typed into your computer while you're off-line then a connection made just long enough to send the message. The message is first sent to your ISP and from there passed to the recipient ISP's server. When the recipient next connects to his or her ISP the message will be downloaded. People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that email is similar to a fax, and that it is being sent from one telephone to another. This is not the case. The message will be held in a server (think of it as your pigeon-hole) until collected by the receiver. This means that it is possible to send and receive your email anywhere in the world. As long as you have access to a computer with an Internet connection you can communicate with all your customers and friends from your holiday island in the Caribbean, and they'll never know the difference!
As well as sending simple text messages, it is possible to attach other files to your message. These can be programs, word-processed documents, spread-sheets or pictures. Unlike a fax, these will be sent digitally so no deterioration in display quality will be experienced.
Every sender and receiver of an email has an email address. This is in the form of yourname@yourdomain, eg firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters, numbers, hyphens and underscores can be used, so email@example.com would be ok. When you register with an ISP you will be given, or allowed to choose if available, an email address. For instance, if you use CompuServeTM you will be allocated an address like firstname.lastname@example.org. With Dixon's FreeServeTM it would be yourfirstname@email@example.com. People abbreviate their names to make the address more manageable. johns or jsmith would be popular (if they were available) or sometimes nicknames are used for non-business addresses.
If you have your own web site (and, therefore, domain name) you can use the form firstname.lastname@example.org which is, firstly, far more professional-looking for a business and, secondly, yours for life. If you use your ISP's domain name but want to change your ISP at some time in the future you have to change your email address (and your stationery, brochures, business cards, etc.)
All the above points apply to product prices. Also, prices can change even more quickly than
the product details themselves. This is often because of currency fluctuations. With a web site,
it is possible to have overseas prices automatically updated daily, if you wish,
linked to currency exchange rates.
E-commerce is a big step for any organisation and it is vital that it is approached in a committed and professional manner. Properly implemented, it can be an important and significant marketing opportunity. It does require greater levels of security than other "brochure" web sites (so that credit card details cannot be accessed by others, for example) and a larger investment in web hosting facilities. However, this must be offset against resources in other areas, such as sales and telephone order-taking.
Even if you have no plans to introduce e-commerce in the foreseeable future, it is something which you would be better prepared for in the future if you at least have a brochure-type site in place.
It is also possible to arrange for your suppliers to take their instructions from your web site, with links to your computerised stock control system. Obviously, the usefulness of this varies depending on the type of company you are.
People may not have an immediate need for your product or service. However, if they find your company interesting they may well store your URL in their Favourites list and come back to it later.
Particularly useful is where a group is meeting at different venues. A web page can make sure that everyone knows where they should be going, and when. Examples are: orienteering, running and walking, theatre and local history clubs. Genealogy (family trees) is very popular and, again, ideally suited to the web.
Don't be tempted. Nobody cares!
If you want to tell your relatives about your life, e-mail them. Don't involve the rest of us with a web page. Thank you.
£80.00 to register your name, set up email forwarding, and
£480.00 for us to create a simple web site, incorporating up to six separate pages, unlimited links, your company logo and some other graphics, including background.
Every year, on the anniversary of first registering:
£25.00 to continue email forwarding
and server space, and a further
£25.00 for our administration of these services (if you wish us to provide this service).
After every two years from the anniversary of first registration you will be charged:
£80.00 to continue domain name registration.
To summarise, you could have your own domain name, unlimited email addresses and a web site for only £560.00, with nothing more to pay for a year.
You own the domain name, you own the web pages and are under no further contractual obligation to us.
Significant subsequent modifications to your site will be quoted for separately. Because everyone's needs are different, we have to reserve the right to quote individually.
© Wolff Ltd., Wolff Systems, Martin Wolff Associates
The ownership and copyright of linked sites is acknowledged.