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Porters, Handymen, and Doorman, or PHD's Blog
For Internet Newcomers

Are you brand new to the internet? At the Supers Technical Association, we believe there's nothing wrong with being a newbie. We just don't want you to be a clueless newbie! Don't be embarrassed and don't worry - here's help for you.

Spend some time here, browse the links we gathered for you and in no time you'll be a pro! Surfing the net and communicating via email -  fun, entertaining, educational!

If you've come across a website that has been helpful to you as a newcomer but don't find it listed here, let us know about it. We'll share it with all our visitors!

Email Etiquette (useful information for you if you're new to using email).


Places for you to start: More sites of interest:


One of the first and most important things for an internet newbie to learn is email etiquette. There are right ways and wrong ways to do many things, according to those who've been around the net for the last several years, and doing things the wrong way can anger and turn off the old-timers on the web.

  • Use lower case letters for e-mail addresses (even though it really doesn't matter). Note, however, that URLs (Uniform Resource Locator, or web addresses) for the WWW are case-sensitive and must be entered exactly as designated (sometimes a combination of upper and lower case letters).
  • To delete several sequential e-mail messages at once, use the shift key when selecting each one. Alternatively, to delete all sequential messages at once, select only the first message and the last message in the series using the SHIFT key.
  • Sometimes you will want to copy and paste text between e-mail messages and Web browsers and the COPY/PASTE commands will not be available in the menu. [For the shortcuts below, if you have a Macintosh, use the COMMAND key (apple logo) instead of the CONTROL key.]
    • Select the text by highlighting it (to select all text, hold down the CONTROL and A keys together).
    • To copy text, press the CONTROL and C keys together.
    • To paste text, press the CONTROL and V keys together.
  • Send attachments to people only if you know that:
    • they have the originating software (e.g., MS Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc.);
    • they have the same version or later version of the software (if they have an earlier version, you will need to do a "save as" and save the file in the lower version;
    • they know how to receive and open attachments;
    • you have checked with them first.
  • Most warnings about viruses (Trojan horses, worms, etc.) that "wipe out" all computer files are hoaxes. Be very careful about passing along information about viruses; try to verify that it is real before you do so. More information about real viruses and hoaxes can be found at these Web sites:
    • Hoaxes
    • Virus info
    • CERT-advisories from the Computer Emergency Response Team at Carnegie Mellon University. A dangerous new virus, worm, etc., would be near the top of the list.

Do not pass on these virus hoaxes to friends (or mailing lists) without searching Deja News or another search engine for the supposed virus's name. When you get the results of the search, look particularly for hits in the newsgroup alt.comp.virus.


  • To prevent being infected via e-mail, never open attachments from someone that you do not know well. Never open attachments that end in ".exe" no matter whom they are from.
  • If you do not have a virus protection program such as Norton AntivirusTM, get one! Then protect against new viruses with free weekly visits to the company's Web site.
  • Do not get snookered by chain letters. A chain letters is any e-mail that asks you to pass the letter to someone else, usually as many people as possible. Either delete the letter or pass it to your system administrator.
  • Once you have e-mail it will be difficult to give it up when on holidays, although you probably should. <;-)
    • To access e-mail while traveling, get a free e-mail account from Hotmail, AltaVista, Yahoo, etc. Let your friends know the address and consider having e-mail from your regular e-mail account forwarded. With the free account you will be able to access your e-mail anywhere that you can use a computer that is connected to the Internet, providing that it has a Web browser (Netscape, MS Internet Explorer), which would be the norm.
    • Look for cybercafes where you will be traveling. Another possibility is university computer labs, which typically are accessible by anyone who wanders in when they are not booked.


  • Do not use all capital letters, as this is considered SHOUTING.
  • Unfortunately, the written word often comes across as harsh without the benefit of eye contact, voice inflection, and body language. That's why we have smileys (emoticons) such as <:-( and <8-) If you are joking, use an emoticon or type "grin" inside less than and greater than symbols.
  • Do not forward personal messages that you receive to others without the knowledge and permission of the original sender. Like all mail, the senders of e-mail have the right to expect that their correspondence with you is private. It is common courtesy that you would not break that trust without their consent.
  • That said, consider everything that you send by e-mail to be public. You never know where it will end up. It is simply too easy for people to forward messages by e-mail. Because of this, make it a rule never to say anything in an e-mail message that you would not say in public.
  • Be aware that employers have the right to examine e-mail that is sent and received on company e-mail accounts. In effect, the e-mail is their property. This also applies to student e-mail privileges on university accounts and laboratory information systems. Often an employer or university will use this right only when investigating wrong-doing. Keep in mind that laboratory information systems are to be used only for laboratory-related business.
  • Technologists love acronyms, which is a good thing since communicating on the Internet is full of them. When you use one with a friend for the first time, give the explanation. For example:
    • BTW (by the way)
      TIA (thanks in advance)
      C4N (ciao for now)
      LOL (laughing out loud)
  • Always use a subject line. Some people discard e-mail without them.