Everyone must be a beginner at something sometime in his life.

Internet Basics - Getting Started

Everyone must be a beginner at something sometime in his life. And at some point, all of us were new to the internet. Even the most arrogant webmaster who can create sites with his eyes closed was, once, struggling with the concepts of the vast network that now connects most of the planet.

So what's the best course of action when you are a beginner? I mean, most people want to look like they know what they are talking about. Sometimes the hardest thing in the entire world is to admit you know nothing or very little about a subject.

Yet, when you are a beginner at something, that's what you have to do. You must admit to yourself (at least) that you are a beginner and you must understand that there is something to learn about the subject. Learning about the internet is no exception to this rule.


My advice is to just jump in and start learning all you can learn. How you learn about the internet depends upon your own preference and style. Also remember that you can combine learning styles as desired or needed to suit your taste.

High School or college courses - Some people learn best in a scholastic atmosphere. Personally, this drives me up the wall, but others thrive on a campus with lecture halls, teachers, home room and hall monitors. If this describes how you best like to learn, then by all means go for it. If you are pressed for time, remember there are night and weekend classes available at most educational facilities. Not much money? Try community colleges - they are inexpensive and often have excellent computer curricula.

Informational Web Sites - Our site has a large amount of information designed to help people learn about the internet. There are many other such sites and some of them are quite useful indeed. In fact, we learned much of what we know from many of these sites, and use them to this day to expand upon our knowledge. Just be careful, however, that you understand the motivation of these web sites - often they are honest, but sometimes they are attempting to get you to purchase something that you may not need.

Trade Courses - You can find many trade schools which offer courses. These differ from college in that they very short (a day to a week), they are usually very expensive (a few hundred to a few thousand per class), and they are of limited focus and duration. Courses are great for focused, specific knowledge or for earning a certification - and they are wonderful when the bill is picked up by the company you work for. Otherwise, there are cheaper, better ways to learn your skills.

Books - Don't forget books. Your local library or bookstore is one of your best friends, if used properly. It never ceases to amaze me to watch people spend small fortunes on books, courses, tapes, and classes when a book checked our from their tax-supported library would serve their purposes just fine. Think about it - how often will you be reading that book on Microsoft Excel again?

On The Job Training - This is the absolute best way to learn. If you want to be a webmaster, then pick up a book, learn the basics, then find a client who will pay you a few hundred bucks to create a web site. If you want to become a computer specialist, then go get a job as a computer operator. This is the best way to learn.

Some Information Sources

There are many other ways to learn a subject, but what about when you want to just find out information?

Search engines and directories - These are some of your best friends. Use the search engines and directories, and learn how to use them to find what you want.

Ezines - Subscribe to a few ezines on subjects that you like. I would recommend that you get a free mail.com email address for each ezine. Forward the mail to your primary email account. This way, you will find out which ezines are selling or giving away your email address. Those are the ezines that you cancel.

Good ezines to start with? Check out zdnet.com, internet.com and cnet.com. Then expand to smaller ezines as you find them.

Newsgroups and message boards - These can be excellent sources of information, especially if you need to ask questions. Just be aware that you should never spam (advertisements, even to look at your web site), and you should expect an occasional idiot to flame you for whatever reasons suits their fancy. Ignore the flames.

What do you need to learn about?

Tools - Learn about your tools. Start by learning about your browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, AOL, Opera or whatever). Follow with your email client (Outlook Express, Outlook, Eudora, Netscape and so on), then your FTP client, newsgroup reader and whatever else you use.

Follow that with the tools which help you do what you want to do. Interested in graphics? Learn about Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro and so on. Want to be a webmaster? Find out about web tools such as Frontpage, Dreamweaver and Notetab.

Now, learn more about how it all works. Internet tips and secrets is a great place to start, and there are dozens more web sites which can help. If you are interested in graphics, then learn all about graphics - how they are stored, created, displayed and optimized. Become an expert on graphics. Want to be a webmaster? Learn HTML, ASP, PHP or whatever else you need.

Start cheap

There is no need to spend a lot of money at this point in time. You will need a computer and a connection to the internet, of course. Beyond that, a free web host will work fine while you are learning how to create a web site. There are demonstration copies available (30 to 90 day try outs) for just about everything - take advantage of those before you choose which tools you want.

Stay Ethical

Follow the golden rules - don't violate copyrights, don't steal software, don't flame and, well, be good. Remember, what goes around comes around. If you tend to treat others as you would like to be treated, then you will generally get treated that way in return.

The Bottom Line

If you are new to the internet, then don't be afraid to admit it. You will find many people willing and able to help. We've all been new at one time or another, and we've all needed an occasional bit of help. Just keep learning, continue communication and start creating.

About the author: Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at http://www.internet-tips.net - Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.

Author: Richard Lowe