Johns Hopkins Gazette: April 10, 1995

Hopkins In Cyberspace

By Mike Field

     For the past year, we've explored the wonders of JHuniverse,
the gopher-based information system that allows computer users
connected to the Internet to "visit" the Hopkins campuses and
retrieve all sorts of useful information. Do you need to know
when Peabody undergraduates will register for next year's
classes? Look under #6-Calendars, then #4-Academic Calendars,
then #4-Peabody. In only a few easy keystrokes you've got your
answer: April 13 & 14. Faster than a phone call!

     Want to know the names of all the physicians providing
physical exams, OB/GYN exams and eye exams through the
university's new Blue Cross/Blue Shield health maintenance plan?
Go to #11-HR Info, then #1-Benefits, then #2-Providers and the
whole list is at your fingertips. Or maybe it's grant money
you're in need of. By entering #9-Research Info, then #3-NIH,
then #4-Grants and Research Info, you can keep abreast of the
latest offerings at the National Institutes of Health.

     All this and much, much more is available through the
JHuniverse gopher, a clear and easy-to-use system of menus and
files open to anyone with access to the Internet. But what about
all the really neat stuff, the pictures and soundbites and
interactive text (called hypertext) that are splashed across the
pages of Time and Newsweek? How do you get to go shopping or tour
the White House? How do you visit Newt?

     In order to take full advantage of the Internet you will
need a web browser, such as Mosaic or Netscape, which is a piece
of software that resides in your computer and enables it to
receive pictures, sound, movies and hypertext from the Net. For
DOS machines, these programs require Windows. Remember, your
computer at home, connected to other computers via a modem, will
not achieve this level of Internet connectivity without
additional special software. However, most university computers
are already full linked to the Internet and ready to go. For
these machines it is only necessary to load the correct software
before taking a hypertext tour of the Internet universe.

     Some of you may already have Mosaic, one of the first web
browsers, on your computer. For a time Mosaic set the pace, but
in the past six months it has become evident that Netscape,
designed by 23-year-old Marc Andreessen (who also developed
Mosaic), has become the industry standard. Netscape (known
officially as the Netscape Navigator) now holds three-quarters of
the market for browsers. Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle
reported that 19 companies led by Microsoft, IBM and Apple have
agreed to use Netscape's Secure Socket Layers technology for
Internet security, effectively establishing the industry

     Security is a big issue on the Internet, especially when it
comes to through-the-Net shopping, which requires the electronic
transmission of credit card numbers. Netscape's security code is
already built into the Navigator (wasn't that clever?) which
means anyone online with Netscape can begin electronic shopping
right now. Today. So for those of you with plain old Mosaic, now
is the time to upgrade to Netscape; those without either should
take this opportunity to get on line and start surfing the Web.

     In Gazette issues of Feb. 6, 13 and March 13 we reviewed the
basic procedures of file transfer protocol known as ftp. You can 
review those columns online through JHuniverse by looking under
#12-Publications, then #1-Publications, then #4-The Gazette.
Previously, we discussed ftp in the context of moving text files,
such as the U.S. Constitution. However, ftp can be used to move
software programs as well as text. Just be sure to click on
binary as opposed to ASCII when making the transfer.

     Since Netscape wants to set the industry standard, they have
opted to give their software program--the Navigator--away for
free. In fact, they've made it remarkably easy to load the
program on your computer by creating a self-extracting file that
essentially loads itself; all you have to do is create a
directory and import the file. Once that is accomplished it's
like a prepackaged inflatable life raft--simply pull the string
and wumpf! you're on board.

     These self-extracting Netscape files (different versions are
available for Mac and Windows-based machines) are available from
the Netscape home office, as it were, by starting from your
system prompt (if you have a DOS machine) and typing the
following: ftp with a space between the first
and second ftp. Note the double use of ftp: you will be ftp'ing
to a location titled ftp dot netscape dot com. Mac users with the
program Fetch or PC users with WinFTP can get to
using their mouse to point and click.

     However, no matter what system you use, don't even bother
trying to get to Netscape if you're hoping to download during
extended business hours (say from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Almost
inevitably, you'll get a message telling you that about 20
quadrillion other users are currently signed on to Netscape and
there are no additional openings for your request. Try again,
you'll be told.

     But not to worry. Lucky for us, those efficient folks in
Homewood Academic Computing have obtained a copy of the
Navigator, customized it especially for Hopkins use, and have
posted it on the JHUnix computer, available for all to visit and
retrieve. That file can be imported into your computer using
anonymous ftp from Those of you eager to get
started right away will find the Mac version of Netscape by
following apple-mac_software to Internet to World_Wide_Web to
Netscape to the file you want, Netscape1.ON.hqx. IBM compatible
PC users will need to follow a different path: pc-msdos_software
to Windows to the file you want, ns16-100.exe.

     For those still new to ftp and a little unsure yet, stay
tuned: in the next column we will visit, retrieve and install
Netscape step-by-step so you can follow along.

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