Get on the Info Superhighway

By: Jeff Littrell

I mentioned a while back that my wife spends late evenings helping me put together Sempre Ferrari by typing in many of the faxed articles that I receive. Usually, this information comes from a print-out of an already typed version. Recently, a couple of members have sent me content via the Internet and it is such a time savings to me and convenience to them that I thought I'd mention it, in hopes that others might have accounts with online providers while I still have time to save my marriage.

While a whole treatise on the Internet is not possible here, suffice it to say that the Internet is the current incarnation of the much touted "Information Superhighway." Started many years ago as a way for government and education researchers to share information, it has recently been exploding in size and reach. Today many mere mortals have access to the Internet and its vast array of information. Heck, even my Mother is on the Internet.

There are a number of basic things one can do on the Internet:

  1. Send and receive electronic "mail" messages
  2. Use programs on other computers by "logging onto" them
  3. Get and put computer "files" from/to other computers
  4. View "information" (text, pictures, sound, etc.) on other computers
For the purposes of this explanation, I want to focus on sending "electronic mail" messages to other people. E-mail is typed information sent from one computer user to another. The way the two computers connect is by using a modem and a telephone line to "dial into" some provider service. This service provides, for a fee, a program that runs on your computer and a facility for addressing and receiving electronic messages via the computers on the other end of your phone line (at their home office). It then forwards the message to the other user's service provider (or to the user's electronic mailbox if both users use the same service). The message sits there waiting for the recipient to dial into his/her provider and then, viola, the message is received.

Popular providers today include America Online, CompuServe, the Microsoft Network, Prodigy, etc. The fees are usually monthly or based on the amount of time spent "online" with the service, or a combination of the two. In addition to facilitating electronic mail, these service providers offer a wealth of online information and ways to interact with people of similar interest. For example, there are very active "forums" of people discussing things like Formula 1, autocrossing, racing, etc.

If you like to stay in touch with these sorts of things and own a computer with a modem, you might want to give one of the providers a call and establish an account. The $10-20 per month could be a good investment. If you buy the new version of Microsoft Windows, Windows 95, you'll already have access to the Microsoft Network, which is one of the newest and most technically advanced services.

If you have an account on one of these types of services (or get one in the future), inquire as to how to send mail to the Internet and send me some articles for Sempre Ferrari. My Internet address is: Sempre_Ferrari@msn.com and I'd love to hear from you. I've also established an account especially for the Club at: Sempre_Ferrari@msn.com.

If all this sounds interesting but you're still confused, be sure to attend this month's General Membership Meeting on September 26th at Microsoft's offices in Santa Monica. Get that account and next month I'll tell you how to access a whole wealth of online information about Ferraris!