Comms Corner 7 - originally published in the February 1996 issue of PCW Plus.

Last month, we laid the foundations for exploring the World Wide Web on the PCW. It's now time to reap the benefits of that work and venture onto the Web.

Having loaded EMU and logged onto your provider, the next thing you should do is run Lynx. You may be able to do this from a menu or you may have to type LYNX [RETURN] at the Unix shell prompt: it depends on your provider and the type of access you have. It's also possible that your provider either doesn't offer Lynx or doesn't have his own Web server. See below for a potential solution to this dilemma.

Once in Lynx, you'll find yourself located at the main screen. This is a list of hopefully interesting hyperlinks, but differs from provider to provider. The first time you run Lynx, you should type [O]ptions at this point and elect to number the links (via [K]eypad). This will make selecting links from busy screens much faster and easier. Choose to save the option changes (with >) and then return to the main screen. Your provider may have disabled this facility, in which case you'll just have to cursor to your chosen hyperlink.

Lynx's main command is [G]oto. After typing this letter, you will be prompted for a URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, or Web document address in plain English. Most of these start with http://, but you'll see other kinds, too. Try entering and then pressing [RETURN]. This will take you to Future Publishing's home page. From here, you can cursor to another link (or, if you've elected to number the links, enter the link number directly) and then surf to it by pressing [RETURN]. Remember that the link you travel to may be another page in the same document, a separate file or even a document located on a computer thousands of miles away.

Other useful commands in Lynx are [V]iew bookmarks file and [M]ain screen. Bookmark is Net jargon for a record of the URL to one of your own favourite sites. You can thus compile a personal list of links to interesting sites, so that you can zap to each of them from a single menu without having to type in those infuriating URLs each time. You can add to your bookmarks file by pressing [A]dd.

Both newcomers to the Web and experts alike make heavy use of search engines: computers put on the Web to help people find whatever they might be looking for. A list of popular search engines is included in this article. I recommend you try each of them out and put the URLs of the ones you find the most useful in your bookmark file. Get into the habit of making these your first ports of call whenever you aren't quite sure where to find what you're looking for. Otherwise, you'll quickly discover that the Web is a massive, sprawling chaos that is virtually impossible to navigate; a fact that your next phone bill will also reflect.

Another very useful Lynx command is [P]rint. This doesn't actually print the document you're viewing - don't forget that your PCW is just a terminal connected to a larger computer - but gives you the opportunity to save a document to disc or e-mail it to someone. If you save it to disc, you will only be saving it to the disc space allocated to you on your provider's computer: you will still need to download it from there to your PCW in the usual fashion. Alternatively, you can mail the file to yourself and then pick it up as part of your post.

You leave Lynx by typing [Q]uit. Back at the CP/M prompt, EMU can be switched off and removed from memory by typing EMUOFF [RETURN], although it's worth bearing in mind that EMU can also be used off-line in conjunction with another program to display, for example, the contents of your QTERM capture files as they originally appeared on screen. Enter TYPE <capture file> [RETURN].

You should be able to find the on-line manual for Lynx on your provider's computer. Perhaps it's available from a menu or, if you have Unix shell access, you can view it with the command man lynx [RETURN]. Alternatively, man lynx > LYNX.DOC [RETURN] will copy it to a file called LYNX.DOC, which you can then download and read off-line. It's well worth spending a bit of time reading this, as it will enhance your Web pleasure considerably.

For those of you whose provider either doesn't offer Lynx or doesn't have its own Web server, it's useful to know that the University of Birmingham has a public Lynx server that can be accessed via Telnet. Of course, this moves the onus to having a provider that offers Telnet, which is another story. Should this happily be the case, you can use Lynx by telnetting to and logging in as lynx. No password is required. Lynx will then start up and you can use it as if you were running it on your provider's computer, although you'll notice a slight lag in the response time, as each character is first relayed over the Net to your provider and then down the telephone line to you.

Here are those search engine URLs I promised you:

Search Engine URL
Alta Vista
World Wide Web Worm
Web Crawler
World Wide Web Virtual Library
Whole Internet Catalogue

Next month, we'll take a break from traditional comms and have a look at the other half of the modern modem: the fax capability.

© 1997. Page last updated 31st December 1997