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Internet 101, Lesson 1: Equipment Checklist

What you need before you dive the Internet!


Senior couple at home using a laptop
Oliver Rossi/The Image Bank/Getty Images
November, 2013

There's much more to using the Internet than just having a computer.

For starters: 'surfing the internet' is a misleading description. It is really more like 'scuba diving the internet', with complexities of equipment, navigation, understanding the wildlife, and knowing which dark caves and unpleasant fish you want to avoid.

This first article focuses firstly on the equipment you''ll need to be a successful internet 'diver'. What follows is a list of required and optional web-browsing equipment.

Here is some good news as you browse the shopping lists below: if you use the internet from your work, many of these software items will be provided for you. Just be careful to know and follow your company's code of conduct and appropriate use when you browse the internet at your office.

Internet User's Equiment Checklist

1. Computer or mobile device with internet connection. PC or Macintosh is fine, as is an Apple or Android tablet. You can also browse the Net with a WebTV, a Citrix or Sparc workstation, and even a Playstation console, if it is setup correctly. As you might know, there are coffee shop 'internet cafes' that will rent usage of connected computers to you.
2. Internet account with a connection provider. Often called 'ISP' (Internet Service Provider), these are usually phone or cable companies that charge you $20 to $80 USD a month for internet access. Note: if you browse the Net from work, your company eats this cost as part of their operations. They also will have rules for you to follow. If you browse from an internet cafe, you will need to pay perhaps $3 to $6 USD per hour.
3. Internet browser software. The most popular browers are Chrome by Google, Internet Explorer by Microsoft, and Safari by Apple. Other browser choices include: Firefox, AOL, and Opera.
4. Anti-virus software. Symantec or McAffee are common choices. Avira Antivirus is my personal favorite. These will help defend you against nasty programs that will erase parts of your hard drive.
5. Email software. You can choose from the very popular Gmail, Outlook.com, Outlook 2013, or less-common email softwares like Eudora or Groupwise. Some of these email services are based online, while others require you to install them directly onto your computing device.
6. Plug-In software. This is a big topic in its own right, but here are the most-common you will need: Java Virtual Machine, Adobe Flash Player, Windows Media Player, Real Audio music player, Apple Quick Time. For the most part, these plug-in products will prompt you automatically to install when you need them.
7. Optional: headset with microphone, stereo speakers, and webcam. These hardware devices will allow you to hear game sounds, do internet telephoning, video conferencing, and send images/video to your friends and family.
8. Optional: Anti-Spam software.
9. Optional: Censorware, to help police what your kids can see.
10. Optional: graphic software, so you can edit pictures you like.
11. Optional: printer.
12. Optional: wheel mouse, to quickly scroll pages up and down.

"Wow. I need all that? Can you explain all of these to me, and how I get those items?"

Click here for the next lesson: Equipment Checklist and Plug-ins!

Back to Internet for Beginners...

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