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Internet 101: Domains
By Bob Hubbard

Geek Speak” is rapidly invading the mainstream. You’ll often hear people say things like “Whats the URL” or “Do you have a domain?”. But what are they really talking about? In this article, I will explain what a Domain Name is, why you should have one, how to get it, and what to do next. To help you understand some of the “Geek Speak”, I’ve included a small dictionary of terms at the end of the article.

What is a Domain Name?
It is your address on the Internet.

Why should I have a Domain Name?
Having a domain name allows you to have an easy to remember address. Think about it. Which is easier: widgit.com/~413/business or mysite.com? Having your own distinct domain name also looks more professional.

How do you get a Domain Name?
Obtaining a domain name is relatively easy. You would first contact a Domain Registrar and search to see if the name you want is available. If it is, you then would pay a small annual fee ($10-50 usually) to reserve it for your use. While there are many places to register, they are all associated with the main registrar, thereby reserving the name for you. Your registered domain name will remain yours as long as you continue to pay your annual registration fee

Ok, I got a name, now what?
Now you have to point it at where your website is located. Your web host will give you the information you need to do this step. Basically, you would tell the registrar (usually by signing into a special management area) where the “Name Servers” or “DNS” settings are. “DNS” is the “Map” or “Phone Book” for the Internet.

Once you have told the registrar what your “DNS” is, you need to wait a day or so for the Internet to update so it knows how to find you. (If you think “Change of Address Notices” and the post office, you’ll be close.)

Once you have a domain, have updated the internets “map” and people can now find your site, you’ll need to put something in there for them to read. I’ll cover that in my “Internet 101: WebSites” article.

-Terms-

Cyberspace - Refers to the various information resources that are available through computer networks and the Internet, as well as to “communities” which have developed through their common use of such resources, and to the culture which is developing in such electronically connected communities. May also be used to distinguish the physical world from the digital, or computer-based world.

Domain name - Domain names are the alphabetic names used to refer to computers on the Internet. A Domain Name includes a suffix such as .com, .org, .gov, or .edu. The suffix indicates what type of organization is hosting the site.

  • com - Originally stood for “commercial,” to indicate a site that could be used for private, commercial purposes, but now the best well known top level domain, and used for a wide variety of sites
  • net - Originally intended for site related to the Internet itself, but now used for a wide variety of sites
  • edu - Use for educational institutions like universities
  • org - Originally intended for non-commercial “organizations,” but organizations now used for a wide variety of sites
  • gov - Used for US Government sites
  • mil - Used for US Military sites
  • int - Used by “International” sites, usually NATO sites
    A example of a domain name is irs.gov, aol.com, etc.

Internet - A global connection of computer networks, also referred to as the “Net,” which share a common addressing scheme. (See also “World Wide Web”)

IP Address (or IP number) - A set of four numbers, each between zero and 255, separated by periods (eg: 192.168.0.5). The IP address uniquely identifies a computer or other hardware device (such as a printer) on the Internet.

URL - A “URL” (Uniform Resource Locator) is an address on the Internet. The URL for the Internal Revenue Service, for example, is http://www.irs.gov.

Web – Short for “The World Wide Web”. An Internet system to distribute graphical, hyper-linked information, based on the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). The World Wide Web is also known as WWW or W3. The Web is not synonymous with the Internet; rather, it is just one service on the Internet. Other services on the Internet include Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and Newsgroups. The Web is accessed through use of a web browser.

Web site - A collection of “pages” or files linked together and available on the World Wide Web. Web sites are provided by companies, organizations and individuals.

The Internet works on IP addresses to connect people to websites. Each domain name is translated behind the scenes into an IP address. A domain name however is much easier to remember than an IP address.

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Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts portal site MartialTalk.com and president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists. A student of all the arts, he is currently studying Modern Arnis.
Bob can be reached at kaith@martialtalk.com


Published
March 2004 MartialTalk Magazine

Copyright ©2004 Bob Hubbard - All Rights Reserved