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It's a Busy Highway


Highways or Interstate Freeways are full of all different sorts of vehicles. There are cars, trucks, taxis, motorhomes, motorcycles, and more.

In my first article, "Web For Dummies," I used an analogy that compared your Browser (e.g. Microsoft Explorer, Apple Safari) to an automobile that travels down the internet highway. Much like your automobile, your browser enables you to get to places like business or personal websites.

Did you know that there are other technologies that use the same internet highway that your browser does? However, these technologies use different type of vehicles, such as FTP, Telnet, peer-to-peer, and others. Before we discuss some of them, let's first define some terms (source: Wikipedia.com) that will be used in some of our discussions about these technologies:



Server
The word 'server' can have many meanings. However, in the context of the web, we mean a dedicated computer running special server software that is connected directly to the web backbone. A server is usually owned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Normally, this computer is put in a very clean, temperature-cooled and -controlled room. The server stores web pages that have been created and uploaded to it by the ISP's customers.

Co-Located
Some companies have huge websites. These websites require a lot of space on the server. That can be very expensive for the company to rent enormous amount of space from an ISP. Some companies find it cheaper to provide their own server and 'co-locate' it at the ISP's location. The ISP charges them a fee for allowing a customer's server computer to be at their location and connected directly to the web backbone.

Protocol
A protocol is a set of rules which is used by computers to communicate with each other across a network.

TCP/IP
The Internet Protocol Suite (commonly known as TCP/IP) is the set of communications protocols used for the Internet and other similar networks. The Internet Protocol Suite, like many protocol suites, may be viewed as a set of layers. Each layer solves a set of problems involving the transmission of data.

Internet
It is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private and public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope that are linked by a broad array of electronic and optical networking technologies.


HTTP
Hypertext Transfer Protocol
(HTTP) is request/response standard typical of client-server computing. In HTTP, web browsers or spiders typically act as clients, while an application running on the computer hosting the web site acts as a server. The client, which submits HTTP requests, is also referred to as the user agent. The responding server, which stores or creates resources such as HTML files and images, may be called the origin server.


Spider or Web Crawler

A Web crawler is a computer program that browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner. Other terms for Web crawlers are ants, automatic indexers, bots, and worms or Web spider, Web robot, or Web scutter.

This process is called Web crawling or spidering. Many sites, in particular search engines, use spidering as a means of providing up-to-date data. Web crawlers are mainly used to create a copy of all the visited pages for later processing by a search engine that will index the downloaded pages to provide fast searches. Crawlers can also be used for automating maintenance tasks on a Web site, such as checking links or validating HTML code. Also, crawlers can be used to gather specific types of information from Web pages, such as harvesting e-mail addresses (usually for spam).

A Web crawler is one type of bot, or software agent. In general, it starts with a list of URLs to visit, called the seeds. As the crawler visits these URLs, it identifies all the hyperlinks in the page and adds them to the list of URLs to visit, called the crawl frontier. URLs from the frontier are recursively visited according to a set of policies.


Search Engine
A web search engine is designed to search for information on the internet. The search results are usually presented in a list of results and are commonly called hits. The information may consist of web pages, images, information and other types of files. Some search engines also mine data available in databases or open directories. Unlike Web directories, which are maintained by human editors, search engines operate algorithmically or are a mixture of algorithmic and human input.


SPAM
No, it's not the canned meat you buy in the grocery store. Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media: instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam, Web search engine spam, spam in blogs, wiki spam, online classified ads spam, mobile phone messaging spam, Internet forum spam, junk fax transmissions, social networking spam, and file sharing network spam.



Now that we have defined some terms, let's discover some of the other 'vehicles' using the internet highway:

File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
Is a standard network protocol used to exchange and manipulate files over a TCP/IP-based network, such as the Internet. In layman's term, FTP is used to transfer files from your computer to another.

So who uses FTP? Here's some examples:

1. Web page designers usually design their web pages using a program on their computer. Once they have completed their design work, they upload the page/s to a server owned and operated by an ISP.

2. Print shops set up FTP servers which allow their customers to send them big graphic files.

3. Have you ever purchased a software program on the web? Some companies will mail you the program, but others allow you to download it directly from their site. They use FTP to transfer the file.


When you access a web page, you may type:
    http://www.web_page_name.com

When you access a FTP site, you may type:
   ftp://ftp.web_page_name.com -or-
   ftp://ftp.web_page_name.com/directory_name/

VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a general term for a family of transmission technologies for delivery of voice communications over IP networks such as the Internet or other packet-switched networks. Other terms frequently encountered and synonymous with VoIP are IP telephony, Internet telephony, voice over broadband (VoBB), broadband telephony, and broadband phone.

Internet telephony refers to communications services — voice, facsimile, and/or voice-messaging applications — that are transported via the Internet, rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

In layman's term, it means you can use the internet instead of land telephone lines to talk to other people. Households can use a standard telephone. Service providers include Vonage, Lingo, Voip.com, Broadvoice, Packet8, ViaTalk, and others.

Probably the most famous of all the VoIP companies is SKYPE:
Skype (pronounced 'skaip') is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. Calls to other users of the service and, in some countries, to free-of-charge numbers, are free, while calls to other landlines and mobile phones can be made for a fee. Additional features include instant messaging, file transfer and video conferencing.

Telnet
Telnet is an older protocol used primarily to transfer text over the internet. It isn't secure and does not encrypt the data it transfers. Telnet clients are still used, often when diagnosing problems, to manually "talk" to other services without specialized client software.

 

Peer-to-Peer

A peer-to-peer, commonly abbreviated to P2P, is any distributed network architecture composed of participants that make a portion of their resources (such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth) directly available to other network participants, without the need for central coordination instances (such as servers or stable hosts).

Peers are both suppliers and consumers of resources, in contrast to the traditional client-server model where only servers supply, and clients consume. P2P was popularized by file sharing systems like Napster.

Today, there are a number of private P2P networks that use the internet to transfer files back and forth. Special access software, usually free, is downloaded from a web site and then installed on your computer. This software allows you to access a specific P2P network. There may be literally hundreds of thousands of other people (peers) just like you connected at the same time to the same P2P network.

The main purpose of most P2P networks is to file share; such as applications, software, music, movies, etc. You remain anonymous on most of these P2P networks. 

IPTV

Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is a system through which digital television service is delivered using the architecture and networking methods of the Internet Protocol Suite over a packet-switched network infrastructure, e.g., the Internet and broadband Internet access networks, instead of being delivered through traditional radio frequency broadcast, satellite signal, and cable television (CATV) formats. See Internet television.

IPTV services may be classified into three main groups: live television, time-shifted programming, and content (or video) on demand. It is distinguished from general Internet-based or web-based multimedia services by its on-going standardization process (e.g., ETSI) and preferential deployment scenarios in subscriber-based telecommunications networks with high-speed access channels into end-user premises via set-top boxes or other customer-premises equipment.

NNTP
The Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) is an Internet application protocol used for transporting Usenet news articles (netnews) between news servers and for reading and posting articles by end user client applications.


Extranet
An extranet is a private network that uses Internet protocols, network connectivity. An extranet can be viewed as part of a company's intranet that is extended to users outside the company, usually via the Internet.


IP Camera
IP cameras are Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras that use Internet Protocol to transmit image data and control signals over a Fast Ethernet link. As such, IP cameras are also commonly referred to as network cameras. IP cameras are primarily used for surveillance in the same manner as analog closed-circuit television. A number of IP cameras are normally deployed together with a digital video recorder (DVR) or a network video recorder (NVR) to form a video surveillance system.

Summary
We have only touched on some of the most prominent 'vehicles' that use the internet highway. Who would have thought that this highway was so busy?