Gary H. Peterson
Articles

 
 

 

 AN INTERNET PRIMER FOR LAW FIRMS  

 Gary H. Peterson  
Gary H. Peterson, 1996

Table of Contents    

Introduction
Historical Origins of the Internet
What is the Internet
TCP/IP
IP Addresses
Domain Names
Super Information Highway
What Do I Need
Computer
When Should I Buy?
Which Processor Should I Buy
How Much Memory Do I Need
What Level of Compact Disc Should I Buy
How Fast Should the Serial Port Be
What Type of Monitor Do I Need
How Fast Should the Modem Be
Do I Need a Graphics Card and Sound Board
Do I Need a Tape Backup
What Type of Operating System Do I Need
How Much Will I Have to Pay
Telephone Line
Standard Voice Line
Digital Connections
ISDN
Frame Relay
T1 Lines
T3 Lines
Types of Internet Accounts
FreeNets
Commercial On-Line Services
On-Line Services and ISP's Distinguished
Dial-In Shell Account
Lynx
SLIP/PPP
Username/Password
TCP/IP
What Services Does the Internet Offer
E-Mail
No Additional Phone Charges
How Do I Get Someone's E-Mail Address
How Do I Read an E-Mail Address
Attaching Documents to an E-Mail Address
The Problem
The Solution
How Do I Use Uuencode and Uudecode
How Do I Process Graphics Files
Additional Problems
CompuServe
American-On-Line
FTP
Gopher
Telnet
UseNet/Newsgroups
"Lurk" Before You Leap
IRC
World Wide Web
Search Engines
How Do I Get My Own Home Page
How Secure Is the Internet
PGP
Where is the Internet Going
 
 Introduction

 For the past year, I have had a wonderful opportunity to teach the Internet to a wide-range of students interested in learning what the Internet phenomenon is all about. From information systems personnel, to individuals who are using a computer for the first time, to others who are interested only in "lurking" on the Internet before jumping in with both feet - all share some common interests and goals. First, they want to understand what the Internet is. Second, they want to understand what the Internet hype is all about and what is causing the Internet’s phenomenal growth. Finally, they want to know how the Internet can assist them personally - typically, how the Internet can be used to expand their business interests. Generally their interests can be outlined under the following seven categories:

  • What is the Internet?
  • What do I need to get on the Internet?
  • What services does the Internet offer?
  • What is the World Wide Web?
  • How do I get my own home page?
  • How secure is the Internet?
  • Where is the Internet going?

The lawyers I have taught have been intrigued by the same issues and have expressed additional interests: how they can use the Internet to market their law practices; how they can use electronic mail (e-mail) to rapidly exchange information with clients and other attorneys; and how they can satisfy their ethical obligations associated with the confidentiality of client data.

These issues are at the very core of what the Internet is today and what it will likely become in the immediate future. This article discusses the Internet in the context of the issues set forth above. Particular emphasis is given to the multiplicity of sites and functional Internet tools available to attorneys on the Internet today.   Return to Top

Historical Origins of the Internet

 The origins of the Internet can be traced to 1969. What is today referred to as the Internet began as an experiment financed by the Department of Defense under the auspices of the Advanced Research Projects Administration (ARPAnet). The purpose of the experiment was to develop a high-speed, reliable networking capability, based on the concept of packet switching, that would allow the Department of Defense to link with various military contractors, educational institutions, and research institutes. Perhaps more importantly, the Internet arose out the need to ensure that the United States military could survive a nuclear attack on its communication facilities. In the event one or more critical computers were knocked out as a result of a nuclear attack, critical information would continue to exist on other computers at other locations on the network.

 The concept proved to be insightful. In fact, the planners’ basic assumptions were proved correct in a most unlikely way. During the Gulf War, Iraq's command network survived numerous attempts by United States military action to knock it out. It turned out that the Iraqi military leaders were using standard Internet routing equipment and technology to maintain their military infrastructure.

The original ARPAnet project was designed to link only four computers in California and Utah. Academic and research institutions quickly realized that the emerging network could be utilized to share information and facilitate rapid communications between their respective institutions and faculties, and the educational community rapidly became a part of the emerging network. Universities in Canada and other parts of the world soon devise methods of linking their own academic institutions with those in the United States, and the Internet as an international entity was born.

With the rapid influx of the educational and research institutions, the ARPAnet became difficult to manage. It was ultimately divided into two segments: MILNET, which contained only military sites, and ARPAnet, which serviced only nonmilitary sites.

In the 1980s, the National Science Foundation (NSF) set up five supercomputer centers dedicated to research projects. The NSF originally planned to use the ARPAnet infrastructure to communicate between the five centers. That plan ultimately failed, and the NSF decided to build its own faster network, the NSFNET, to connect just the supercomputer centers. The NSF set up regional centers to connect the users in the various regions, and the NSFNET was used to connect all the regional centers. The plan was so successful that by1990 most of the ARPAnet traffic had moved to the NSFNET and the ARPAnet was shut down.

 For many years, the Internet was the exclusive playground of academics, governmental agencies, and research institutes. Then in the late 1980s and early 1990s, hobbyists and other corporate entities learned how to link their networks to the NSFNET backbone for e-mail and conferencing purposes.

 As long as the backbone was financed by the NSF, commercial traffic was strictly prohibited on the Internet. In 1992, the NSF issued the Acceptable Use Policy, which was an attempt to ensure that the portion of the Internet funded by the NSF would be used to further the interests of research and educational activities and not to further the interests of commercial activities. In its pertinent part the Acceptable Use Policy provided:

 NSFNET backbone services are provided to support open research and education in and among U.S. research and instructional institutions, plus research arms of for-profit firms when engaged in open scholarly communication and research. Use for other purposes is not acceptable. (National Science Foundation, 1992)

 The prohibitions against use of the NSF-funded portion of the Internet to support commercial traffic remain in effect for university, governmental, and research institutions to this day.

 As more and more corporate and private organizations began linking to the Internet, the distinction between "commercial" and "non-commercial" activity became blurred. For example, was use of the Internet to announce new hardware and software products a "commercial" or "educational" use of the Internet?

In the early 1990s, commercial links to the Internet became available that were not subject to the Acceptable Use Policy. The movement away from the strictures of the Acceptable Use Policy resulted in the exponential growth in the number of Internet service providers offering commercial access to the Internet. Today it is estimated that at least 27 percent of Internet traffic is for commercial purposes. This trend will only become more prevalent as the Internet continues to double in size every year. Return to Top

What Is the Internet?

The Internet is nothing more than millions of computers linked together worldwide in one huge "internetwork." No one owns the Internet. Other than a volunteer organization (the Internet Society), there is no overall governing body that controls the operation of the Internet. Subgroups of the Internet Society regulate the assignment of domain names and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, set interconnection standards, keep track of emerging technology developments and their impact on the Internet, and promote the research and development of new networking standards where standards are absolutely needed for the worldwide operation of the Internet.

The Internet is in large part an entity unto itself. Currently, 7 million computers are linked directly to the Internet - not counting the estimated 30 million PCs that have access through individual accounts with thousands of Internet service providers (ISPs) worldwide. Over 200 million computers have been identified that could, and probably will, be linked to the Internet in the next few years. Many users have access through their corporate or business local area networks or corporate wide area networks. Thousands of university students and academics have access through educational links to the Internet. Somewhere between 30 to 50 million individuals may currently have access to the Internet - with that figure growing daily. The World Wide Web is estimated to be doubling every 58 days.

The Web's phenomenal growth has been due in large part to the release in 1994 of graphical browsers such as Mosaic, subsequently followed by the Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. These Web browsers, capable of being operated under familiar Windows and Apple operating systems, have opened up the Internet to millions of users worldwide who previously had no expertise in the cryptic, esoteric world of the UNIX operating system. Even the Denver Public School system has announced that it is implementing access to the Internet at the kindergarten level. What makes this all possible is a common set of rules and regulations referred to as TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). Return to Top

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)

Simply defined, a protocol is a set of rules that govern communication within a specific context. For example, the protocol of this paper is the English language. Sentence structure, word usage, word definition and the entire set of rules governing use of the English language provide the basis of communication between me, the author, and you, the reader of this article. The principal core protocol of the Internet is TCP/IP, which in turn supports more than 100 concomitant protocols based on the two core protocols TCP and IP.

TCP/IP permits the routing of small packets of information across a multiplicity of computer platforms and computer networks. IP controls how packets get from the sender to the receiver. TCP controls data flow and error correction The practical effect of the adoption of these core protocols is that computers from the largest, most powerful "supercomputer" running the UNIX operating system, to a PC running under DOS or Microsoft Windows, or a Macintosh computer using the Apple operating system, can communicate with one another on a peer-to-peer basis. The result has been the "internetworking" of all levels of computer platforms worldwide and the worldwide linkage of computers, networks, and communication systems into a peer-to-peer computer web known generically as the "Internet" or, more concisely, the Net.
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 IP Addresses

Every computer linked to the Internet is identified to all other computers on the Internet by a unique 32-bit IP address. A bit is the smallest element of data and is represented as a 1 or 0. It is the fundamental building block for all operations performed by a computer. An IP address is expressed as four numbers separated by periods (referred to as "dot"). An example of an IP address is 128.233.3.1. By analogy, an IP address can be compared to your home or business mailing address, or to your unique telephone number. In some cases, large blocks of IP addresses have been permanently assigned to corporate entities and to large Internet service providers (ISP). Individuals can also apply for their own unique IP address, which can be moved from Internet service provider to Internet service provider.

Only a limited number of IP addresses exist, and the total number of unassigned IP addresses is rapidly being depleted. For this reason, typical dial-in accounts are usually assigned an IP address "dynamically." Under this configuration, each time a user dials into his or her ISP, the user's computer is assigned an IP address for use during that single session. As long as the session remains open, the IP address provides the means to communicate with all other computers linked to the Internet. When the user terminates the session, the IP address is returned to a "pool" of IP addresses. When the next user dials in, he or she may receive the same IP address that was previously assigned to your computer. Through this "dynamic" assignment of IP addresses, hundreds or thousands of users can share a given body of IP addresses. There are new IPs currently under development, but it will be several years before they are adopted and implemented as an international standard. Return to Top

Domain Names

Just as the world is divided up into continents, countries, states, provinces, counties, and ultimately to metes and bounds and individual addresses or apartment numbers, the Internet is divided into smaller and smaller units called domains. Every country having access to the Internet has been assigned a two-letter code. The United States, for example, has been assigned the letter code .us. We generally do not use the .us designation, but most other countries do use their country codes. The following are some examples of country codes:

.au Australia
.de Germany (Deutschland)
.gu Guam
.nz New Zealand
.se Sweden

To continue with the analogy, an Internet "continent" can be thought of as falling within one of the following six categories, sometimes referred to as the "Big Six":

.com commercial sites
.edu educational sites
.mil military sites
.net network-Internet service providers
.org nonprofit organizations
.gov government sites

Through an organization called the InterNIC, an individual or a corporation can apply for its own unique domain name. A domain name is a mnemonic that is related to an IP address. For example, a law firm might apply for a domain name such as patent.com. A corporation might apply for a domain name that uniquely identifies the corporate entity, for example, microsoft.com. A university system might have a domain name such as colorado.edu. Once obtained, domain names become property rights that can be switched from ISP to ISP at the owner's pleasure. There is an initial fee of $100 to obtain a domain name, which is good for two years. Thereafter, there is an annual charge of $50 to maintain each domain name assigned by the InterNIC.

It is important to note that domain names and e-mail addresses are almost always expressed in lowercase letters. Although e-mail addresses are not supposed to be case sensitive, I have found that it is always wise to write e-mail addresses in lowercase. Remember, the Internet comprises millions of computers, not all of which have equal computing capacities. If you choose to address e-mail in a manner some of the older machines or applications cannot understand, your message may not get through.

Legal issues associated with domain names that conflict with federally registered trademarks are already being raised in intellectual property law circles. There are some very well written papers freely available on the Internet that discuss these intellectual property issues in some depth. See http://www.kuesterlaw.com for an excellent listing of Web sites related to intellectual property. We will return to the use of country codes, "Big Six" domain names, and individual domain names in the section on e-mail a little later in this paper.   Return to Top

Super Information Highway or an Amish Horse and Buggy?  

Although significant improvements have been made in the capabilities of the Internet since its birth in 1969, and even though some choose to refer to the Internet as the "super information highway," in fact the Internet is still in its embryonic stages.

When I think of the Internet, as currently constructed, I am reminded of a vacation my family took to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a few years ago. What impressed me the most is a picture I have of an Amish family returning home in a horse and buggy while modern vehicles passed them slowly on two-lane country roads. The buggy had a dark orange triangle affixed to its back indicating a slow-moving vehicle. When I hear the term "super information highway" today I invariably recall those Amish buggies and the incongruities associated with them in a high-speed modern world. The Internet today is much closer to the Amish horse and buggy with the bright orange triangle, on a two-track dirt trail, leading to a "super highway" - currently under construction. It will not take much "surfing" on the World Wide Web before you run into home pages that label themselves "under construction." It is this unique aspect of the Internet and the ever-changing nature of the Web that makes the Internet such an interesting place to visit. Return to Top

What Do I Need to Get on the Internet?  

One of the first questions I always get in my Internet courses is: "What do I need to get onto the Internet?" Until just a few years ago access to the Internet was limited to those individuals having corporate, institutional, or governmental accounts. This type of access was usually through large mainframes running the UNIX operating system and linked to the Internet through Internet service providers (ISPs) who dedicated their resources to large corporate or institutional clients.

Today, all of that has changed. With the proliferation of public service providers, the Internet is available to anyone who has access to a computer, a modem, a standard telephone line, a user name, a password and account with an Internet provider, and appropriate Internet access software installed on the user's PC. Let's look at each of these components individually. 
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Computer  

When Should I Buy?  

One of the frustrations associated with computer technology is that no matter how complete a computer system you purchase today, it will always be outdated long before you are willing to plunk down the cash to either upgrade or replace your current model. As of this writing, Intel has released its Pentium Pro chip (formerly code named P6) and has announced Pentium level chips running at 150 MHz and 166 MHz. The Pentium chip will run all the "legacy" 16-bit computer applications and will remain the chip of choice for most home and small business users for the next few years.

The Pentium Pro chip is designed to work with a "true" 32-bit operating system such as Microsoft Windows NT, UNIX or OS/2. The Pentium Pro chip is not designed to run "legacy" applications and will run most of the "legacy" applications slower than the Pentium level chips. Machines embodying the Pentium Pro chip are now beginning to appear in several of the mass-produced computer lines such as Dell, Hewlett Packard, and Micron computers. They are intended for network servers and high-end engineering stations.

The key question is: "How do I decide what computer configuration is appropriate for my needs in accessing the Internet?"

A dichotomy in purchasing computers is that the newest, fastest processors will always command a premium price. At the same time, if you don't purchase a computer at least close to the outer limits (sometimes referred to as the "bleeding edge" ) of the currently available technology, your purchase will be outdated just that much sooner. At the time this article is being written (mid February, 1996), the following configuration is an acceptable compromise for those who want to have reasonably fast access to the Internet. Return to Top

Which Processor Should I Buy?  

Choose a Pentium computer with a VLB or PCI local bus, at least a 100-MHz processor and a Plug-and-Play BIOS built in. If you can afford to purchase a faster processor, do so. Intel is already developing the P7 and P8 chips, and if history repeats itself, the Pentium will be a "legacy" chip within the next 18 to24 months. Return to Top

How Much Memory Do I Need?  

Equip the computer with at least 16 Megabytes of random access memory (RAM) and a hard disk with at least 1.2 to 1.6 gigabytes of hard disk storage. If your budget can afford it, purchase EDO (extended data out) RAM with 256 kilobytes of L2 pipeline burst caching. If you have to select between giving up the EDO RAM or the pipeline burst caching, keep the pipeline burst caching and replace the EDO RAM with standard asynchronous RAM options. Return to Top

What Level of Compact Disc Should I Buy?  

Make sure the computer comes equipped with a 4X compact disc (CD) reader. 6X and 8X CD readers are available, but their price differential doesn't justify the expenditure since most CD software on the shelves today was written for 2X capabilities. A 1X CD reader has a transfer rate of 150,000 bytes per second, a 2X can transfer data at 300,000 bytes per second, a 3X at 450,000 bytes per second, and so forth. CD readers come in both IDE and SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) formats. Standard IDE drives are much slower than SCSI drives. Adding a SCSI card to your system will cost a few dollars more but gives you the option of adding up to seven devices such as hard disks, tape drive backups, and other SCSI compliant devices to a single interface card. If you are looking for high-end performance, consider adding SCSI II capability to your new computer system.   Return to Top

How Fast Should the Serial Port Be?

Make sure that your serial port is certified as being a 16550 UART high-speed serial port. You can't run an external 28,800 baud modem on a slower UART. Also make sure that the computer you purchase comes with at least two serial ports. It is not uncommon to want to connect both a serial mouse and a stand-alone modem to separate serial ports. Return to Top

What Type of Monitor Do I Need?  

A 15-inch, VESA or PCI, 1028 x 768 monitor with .28 pitch is the most common low-end configuration today. Seventeen-inch monitors are expected to decrease in price during 1996. If they do, you will want to seriously consider upgrading to a 17-inch monitor. If you are considering running multimedia applications, a high-end monitor and a good video accelerator board with as much memory as you can afford are desirable upgrades.   Return to Top

How Fast Should the Modem Be?  

Not long ago, a 9600 baud modem was considered fast. The 14,400 baud modem rapidly replaced the 9600 baud modem, and today the price of good, reliable 28,800 baud modems has dropped into the $100 range, making them an absolute requirement for any computer designed for accessing the Internet. 28,800 baud PCMCIA, or PC modems, are also available for reasonable prices. Purchasing a stand-alone modem versus an internal modem will give you greater configuration options, particularly with the new Microsoft Windows 95 operating system discussed below. Return to Top

Do I Need a Graphics Accelerator Card and Sound Board?  

If you want to be able to download audio, graphics, motion pictures, games, and other similar types of multimedia applications from the Internet and play those applications on your PC, consider investing in a good graphics accelerator card, a good sound card, and speakers that match both your audio requirements and your budget. Return to Top

Do I Need a Tape Backup?  

Make sure you equip your new computer with a tape backup compatible with the operating system you are running. A SCSI tape backup will reduce the time necessary to back up a large hard disk compared with that required with a standard IDE tape drive. Return to Top

What Type of Operating System Should I Install?

My personal choice for an operating system is Microsoft's Windows 95. If you are planning on accessing the Internet, Windows 95 comes with a TCP/IP stack and Winsock.dll built in. In my experience, the Windows 95 Winsock application and TCP/IP stack are more stable than many of the other Winsock dial-up and scripting applications available for Windows-based Internet applications on the market today. Return to Top

How Much Will I Have To Pay?

You can expect to pay somewhere between $2500 and $3000 for a computer configured with the above components. Expect to pay more for a good notebook with similar components. There is a direct correlation between the amount you spend and the quality of the system you ultimately assemble. Just as with automobiles, computer systems can have all the amenities ranging from a Yugo to a Lexus. Pricing your system somewhere in the middle is usually the best decision. Even if you choose to purchase your system through a mail-order catalog, you can always request upgrades to the "teaser" configuration being offered. Remember - if the deal a vendor is tempting you with sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
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Telephone Line

Standard Voice Line

A narrow-band standard home or office phone line will give you reasonably fast dial-up access to your Internet provider if you use a 28,800 baud modem. 28,800 baud modems are pushing the outside limits of how fast data can be pushed over a standard voice-capable telephone line. We will most likely not see another generation of modems trying to squeeze the last 20 to 30 percent of capability from standard, narrow-band voice lines. Rather, for those entities needing greater capacity, we will see a shift into the midband telephone communications such as ISDN, discussed in the next section.   Return to Top

Digital Connections  

Integrated Services Digital Network 

If you need faster access or greater bandwidth consider installing an ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) line in your office or home. You can lease ISDN lines that will provide up to 128,000 kilobytes transmission rate rather than the 14,400 or 28,800 baud access commonly used by dial-up users today. ISDN lines can be ordered through your ISP or directly from U.S. West Direct. ISDN service is still limited in Colorado, but it is currently available and will become more readily available in the next few years.  Return to Top

56/64-Kilobyte Frame Relay 

For your business you might want to consider installing a 56-kilobytes frame relay digital line. This will require a local area network (LAN), appropriate routers, DSU/CSU units, applicable Internet software, and possibly a "firewall" to protect your LAN from unwanted hackers and other security problems. This type of installation can be very expensive to install and to maintain. Your needs may necessitate this type of installation, but explore all of the alternatives before making a final decision.  Return to Top

T1 Lines 

Larger law firms may want to explore leasing T1 or fractional T1 lines if their needs necessitate that kind of bandwidth. These lines are expensive to install and maintain and require high-end routers and other access equipment requiring the expertise of consultants familiar with this level of wide area communication parameters.  Return to Top

T3 Lines 

On the very high end are T3 fiber optic lines, satellite links, and other options needed by only a small percentage of Internet consumers. Contact your ISP or your local phone company for additional information on these options.   Return to Top

Types of Internet Accounts  

FreeNets  

There are a multiplicity of ways to obtain an Internet account. Many communities, such as Denver, have access to "FreeNets." FreeNets are local bulletin boards that provide access to the Internet. An example is the Denver FreeNet. Another example is NYX, provided by Denver University. Both are free to the user, but NYX requires a more stringent sign-on procedure. As you might expect, both sites are very busy and one frequently has difficulty logging on to either site during prime time.  Return to Top

Commercial On-line Services 

The next level of access is through commercial on-line services such as CompuServe, Prodigy, America Online (AOL), GEnie, AT&T Interchange, and the Microsoft Network. These are large computer systems serving millions of users. Until recently, most of these services only provided e-mail access to the Internet. GEnie was one of the first commercial services to provide its users with full Internet access. During 1995 the other major commercial services have opened up the Internet to their subscribers, at least on a limited basis. Most of the commercial services have their own log-on software that provides various services to the remote user. Most of the commercial services have also added Web browsers permitting their users to experience the pleasures (and frustrations) of "surfing the Net."  Return to Top

Commercial On-line Services Distinguished from Internet Service Providers

The distinguishing characteristic between a commercial service provider, such as AOL, and what I refer to as a "full" Internet service provider is that with a provider such as AOL you are generally limited to the resources made available to you by the on-line service. Additional capabilities may not be offered by your particular provider. For example, if you want to attach a Word document to an e-mail message you may find that function either unavailable, difficult to use, or limited in capability. Sending a message from a user on many of the commercial on-line services into the Internet or vice-versa from the Internet to a user on a national provider can frequently take hours, rather than minutes, to accomplish. If you are interested in exploring the Internet with tools resident on your PC rather than on a service provider's computer, look for an ISP that can offer one or more of the following types of accounts.  Return to Top

Dial-In Shell Account  

Many true ISPs offer users without access to Microsoft Windows applications the ability to dial in to the ISP's mainframe using standard communications software such as Procomm, Terminal, or Windows 95's new HyperTerminal. When a user dials into an ISP using this method, the user is linked to a menuing system provided by the ISP. The user can then access the services provided on the ISP's menuing system by selecting the appropriate number or letter on the menu and pressing the Enter key. This type of account requires the mastery of at least a limited number of UNIX commands in order to operate the resident e-mail, ftp, Gopher, and other Internet applications.  Return to Top

Lynx - Word Wide Web Text Browser 

One capability that is frequently offered by ISPs for dial-in accounts is a text-only World Wide Web browser called Lynx. Lynx enables a user to surf the Web in a strictly text context. You are not able to see any of the graphics on a home page. You can, however, read all the text associated with a home page. Using Lynx allows you to move between the hypertext links much more rapidly than is possible with browsers running under Microsoft Windows applications such as the Netscape Navigator. To use Lynx, ask your ISP whether the service is available and where to locate it on your ISP's menuing system.
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SLIP/PPP 

If you are interested in running Windows applications that require a true TCP/IP connection, you must obtain either a SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) or PPP (point-to-point protocol) account. Some ISPs also offer a CSLIP (compressed serial line Internet protocol) account. Both accounts provide a means of running TCP/IP applications over your PC's serial port into your ISP's server and from there into the Internet. To run the various types of TCP/IP applications, you must also have a TCP/IP (Winsock compliant) stack open allowing a Windows-based machine to convert "Windows talk" into "Internet talk." (See TCP/IP Software below.) If you have the option, choose a PPP account. PPP technology is newer, more reliable technology, and will provide a faster link into your ISP’s server.   Return to Top

User Name/Password  

Your ISP will generally provide you with a user name you choose and an initial password that will permit you to log on to your Internet account. You can change your password at any time after your initial log on. Frequent change of passwords is recommended to maintain proper security.   Return to Top

TCP\IP Software  

If you are running Windows 3.1 or 3.11, you must install a program called Winsock or Winsock API, which provides a set of programming calls that permit Windows applications written to interface with TCP/IP software to operate properly. Windows 95 has its own resident Winsock API. Most TCP/IP Windows software being written today is written to use the Winsock interface. The Trumpet Winsock dialing and scripting program is an example of application software that has been written to interface with the Winsock software. If you intend to run Netscape Navigator as your World Wide Web browser, you must be communicating in TCP/IP.  Return to Top

What Services Does the Internet Offer?  

E-Mail  

Despite the media hype given the World Wide Web, the fact is that the most useful service provided by the Internet is still e-mail. The ability to communicate worldwide in a matter of minutes or hours is one of the most unique and satisfying uses of the Internet. Until very recently, sending e-mail meant using outdated, nongraphical e-mail packages such as Elm or Pine that typically were provided on UNIX systems. Today, e-mail programs like Eudora and Pegasus have applied the graphics and user-friendly interfaces associated with Windows-based PCs to the world of e-mail communications. Sending a message between offices or literally around the world is as simple as filling in a person's e-mail address, for example, garyp@teal.csn.net; typing an appropriate Subject: category; copying the message to appropriate recipients; attaching any binary files, such as a Word or WordPerfect document, to the e-mail for the recipient’s review; and clicking on the Send button to start the message and all attached documents on their way to the recipient or recipients.  Return to Top

No Additional Phone Charges? 

One area of confusion among new users is the belief that if they are sending e-mail into Europe, Australia, or Antarctica they will incur additional phone charges similar to those assessed by AT&T and other international phone companies. The truth is, you pay only your ISP's charges for use of your connection. Using the worldwide "internetwork," your message travels from computer to computer until it is ultimately routed to the proper recipient. If you put an inaccurate e-mail address in the To: box, your message will not be able to find the recipient computer and will be "bounced" back to you.  Return to Top

How Do I Get Someone's E-mail Address? 

A question that always arises is: "Where do I go to find someone's e-mail address?" The answer is that, today, no single source exists, such as an operator-assisted information service provided by telephone companies, that can be accessed to locate all national or international e-mail addresses. Some organizations and educational bodies have information about the individuals on their computers that you can "Finger." The easiest way to obtain someone's e-mail address is simply to call them. 

Most of the e-mail packages have a means for building your own e-mail address book. For example, in Eudora you use a feature called Nickname to associate an e-mail address with an individual or a group. The next time you want to send a message to the individual or the group all you do is highlight their Nickname. The individual's or group's e-mail address or addresses are automatically inserted for you. There is no need to remember the many e-mail addresses you work with - they are all associated with a Nickname. The most important benefit of using Nicknames is accuracy. Once you get the e-mail address typed in correctly, it will always be correct until your recipient changes his or her e-mail address. 

Work is progressing on building and indexing e-mail addresses throughout the United States and other parts of the world. See, for example, the White Pages, which can be found at http://home.mcom.com/home/internet-white-pages.html. It probably won't be many years before there is some sort of dial-up service that will give you an individual's most recent e-mail address. For now, the telephone is still the fastest way to get someone's e-mail address.  Return to Top

How Do I Read an E-mail Address? 

An e-mail address can be broken down into its component parts using the IP addressing scheme discussed above. For example, my e-mail address is garyp@teal.csn.net. You read an e-mail address from right to left. Therefore, .net indicates that my e-mail account is on a network service provider's account. The .csn means that I am connected to the corporate entity having the domain name csn. (SuperNet used to be known as Colorado SuperNet, the .csn originally meant Colorado SuperNet). The .teal means that my e-mail account is on a computer named Teal. Network administrators almost always give computers names that distinguish one server from another. The garyp designation is my username. If you look carefully at an e-mail address you will see that everything to the right of the @ indicates WHERE my account is located. Everything to the left of the @ indicates WHO the user is. In this fashion every user can be assigned a unique e-mail address that distinguishes that user from all other users in the world. Your Internet e-mail address is as unique as your private telephone number. Each e-mail address is protected by your password. Don't give your password to anyone you don't want reading your personal e-mail messages.  Return to Top

How Do I Attach Documents to an E-mail Message? 

Another area of confusion is how to attach documents to an e-mail program and have them arrive at the destination in a readable format, rather than in a nonsensical jumble of ASCII characters. Knowing how to correctly attach documents that are binary in format to an ASCII e-mail message is mandatory for the full utilization of the Internet e-mail capability. 
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The Problem 

The problems encountered when attempting to send anything other than plain ASCII text via the Internet arise because, historically, the Internet was designed to accept only straight seven-bit ASCII transfers. Such as Word or WordPerfect documents are eight-bit binary files. It is typically the eighth bit that contains the formatting such as boldfacing, indentation, and underlining. Strip the eighth bit and you have a plain ASCII document. When the Internet was operating in an straight seven-bit ASCII format, there were no problems associated with e-mail transfer. However, as soon as there was a need to transfer binary files, for example, Word, WordPerfect, sound, video, and .GIF and .JPEG graphic files, a method had to be developed to convert binary files into seven-bit ASCII format to attach the binary files to e-mail messages and transfer them across the Internet. Another problem occurred because some older e-mail packages were not capable of transferring e-mail messages longer that 50 kilobytes. If you tried, your message might be either truncated or dropped altogether.  Return to Top

The Solution

The problem was handled by changing the format of the binary document to a format that was compatible with ASCII requirements. This process is called "encoding."  

One of the earliest encoding techniques developed in the UNIX world is a protocol called Uuencode (UNIX to UNIX Encode) and its counterpart Uudecode (UNIX to UNIX Decode). To use this method, both the sender and receiver had to have available on their computers both Uuencode to encode messages and Uudecode to decode messages. In the UNIX world Uuencode\Uudecode was freely available and could be downloaded to your computer in minutes if you needed a copy. The same is true today. The Uuencode\Uudecode programs are easily retrievable from the Internet. Just use the ARCHIE program to look for various locations around the world where Uuencode\Uudecode can be obtained. Frequently your ISP will have a copy of these programs on its server. Two other encoding methods have recently emerged. The first was BinHex (Binary Hexadecimal), which was used primarily to transfer files between two Macintosh computers or between two IBM compatible machines not having access to either Uuencode\Uudecode or the newer MIME standard. In the last few years MIME (multipurpose Internet mail extensions), has rapidly emerged as the standard method to encode binary files attached to e-mail messages. MIME is the standard that has been implemented on the Microsoft Network and America Online services. 

Most of the more modern e-mail packages, such as Eudora and Pegasus, are MIME compliant. If a file attached to an e-mail message has been encoded in MIME format, an e-mail package that is MIME compliant can decode the attached binary file on the other end. In practice, this means that I can attach a brief or a contract written in Word or WordPerfect, tell Eudora to use MIME encoding, and simply click on the Send button. The brief is automatically encoded on my end and decoded on your end. The person sending the message and the person(s) receiving the message are usually unaware that anything is occurring unless they get a bunch of gibberish on the other end. When both e-mail packages can handle MIME encoding, this process usually works very well. Some e-mail packages, such as the commercial versions of Eudora and Pegasus, give the end user the option of encoding the attached file in either Uuencode, BinHex, or MIME. If you know the capabilities of the receiving computer, you can ensure proper receipt and decoding by using the appropriate encoding protocol when you attach a document to your e-mail message. The encoding format is selected at the time of sending a message. For example, if you choose MIME as the encoding format and the receiving e-mail reader is not MIME compliant, the receiving e-mail package probably won’t be able to read your attached MIME-formatted document. Most of the e-mail packages in use in the Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 world have a MIME option that can be selected as the default encoding format. If you don't know which decoding protocols are supported by your recipients’ e-mail package, send them an e-mail message and ask. One of the cardinal rules on the Internet is: "If you don't know, ask." In Eudora, the most commonly used Windows e-mail package used on the Internet, select Special, then Settings, then Attachment. In the noncommercial version, you can default Eudora to MIME or BinHex at this location. I usually leave my Eudora program defaulted to MIME. The noncommercial version does not have a Uuencode/Uudecode option. The commercial version does have Uuencode as a third option. The 1.5.2 shareware version of Eudora has a nice graphical user interface and is freely available at http://www.qualcomm.com. Eudora will automatically detect whether the file is encoded with BinHex or MIME. The commercial version will also detect Uuencoded documents and automatically Uudecode them for you. If you are getting a number of messages that end up as junk on your end you might want to get a copy of the commercial version of Eudora.  Return to Top

How Do I Use Uuencode and Uudecode?

Let’s turn now to a discussion of how to Uudecode a message or graphic encoded with Uuencode. The process is intricate and requires a step-by-step procedure that never ceases to confuse people who have never worked with the Uuencode/Uudecode programs before. 

I am assuming that you have downloaded Uudecode from the Internet or from one of the bulletin boards where it is located. If not, you need to start there. If you are familiar with a program called WSARCHIE use it to look for Uudecode and ARCHIE will tell you where in the world you can find servers that have the latest version. Use your file transfer protocol (FTP) client such as WS_FTP to download the file which is usually in a .zip format or an .exe, which is a self-extracting zipped file created with the zip2exe utility (also available on the Internet). Once you have downloaded Uudecode, you are ready for the next step. If you receive an e-mail message with a bunch of ASCII characters in the text (each line beginning with the letter M), you probably have a Uuencoded document. All is not lost, however, and you will still be able to recover the file using the Uudecode program. The following explains how to Uudecode a Uuencoded file. 

Bring up the e-mail message containing the encoded document with all the strange-looking ASCII characters. Highlight the characters including the portion that usually says -Begin Here-. Copy the highlighted portion to the Clipboard by pressing the <CTRL> + <C> keys. Open Notepad, or another true text editor. Don’t use a standard word processor. Press the <CTRL> + <V> keys to write the ASCII text from the Clipboard to the Notepad document you are creating. Name the new Notepad document and save it. I usually use a .uue extension so that I know it is an encoded file (for example, test.uue). To Uudecode the document enter the following command: Uudecode test.uue test.txt. Sometimes just the command Uudecode test.uue will be sufficient, but one should usually designate the name of the file the document will be Uudecoded to. If everything works fine, the Uudecode program will find the text.uue document and convert it back to a text file or to a Word or WordPerfect document. Now bring up your word processor and load the document you have just Uudecoded. To encode a message, simply perform the reverse steps, but use the Uuencode program instead of the Uudecode program.  Return to Top

How Do I Decode Graphics Files?

The Uudecode process also works for downloading graphic files such as .GIF or .JPG (JPEG). Many of the graphics files you'll find in various UseNet usegroups have been divided into multiple parts such as Part 1 of 5, Part 2 of 5, etc. Most of the files will be around 50 kilobytes for each part, but not always. Download each of the associated parts and store them in a download area of your hard disk. When you have downloaded all the parts, use the Uudecode program to begin decoding the file designated as Part 1 of x. The Uudecode program will then find all the associated parts and Uudecode all back to the unified graphic image, which can then be viewed by Lview, Thumb, or another graphics viewer of your choice. For example, I download a Uuencoded file of a graphic image of a painting that was originally in a .GIF format. The file names of the parts I downloaded are Flower1.uue, Flower2.uue, and Flower3.uue. I enter the following command: Uudecode Flower1.uue Flower.gif and then press Enter. The Uudecode program takes over, and I end up with a file named Flower.gif that I can then view with a .GIF viewer. Return to Top

Additional Problems 

As lawyers move into wide area networks and communication across those networks, they are finding that the ability to transfer attached files from the Internet into other providers such as AOL and CompuServe can be tricky. Some lawyers now maintain separate AOL and CompuServe accounts for transferring e-mail within those environments, just to make sure that attached documents get to their intended recipients in a readable format.

Obviously, for transparent exchange of e-mail and attached binary documents, the most practical solution may be for some of the older commercial online services to implement MIME-compliant capabilities so that the transfer of binary files can occur without the user ever having to be concerned about encoding and decoding techniques. That is not the case today. As lawyers rapidly move onto the Internet, they need to know how to successfully implement wide area communications with their clients. I hope that this paper will provide some initial instruction on how to make these transfers successfully.
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CompuServe

If a CompuServe subscriber wants to send an e-mail message with an attached binary document into the Internet, the attached file must first be encoded with Uuencode, which means it will also have to be Uudecoded by the recipient. CompuServe does not yet support having attached files automatically MIME-encoded at the point of origin. A technician at CompuServe told me that if a message with a MIME-encoded attached binary file is sent into CompuServe, CompuServe members will be able to read it. Uuencode/Uudecode is available on CompuServe in a file area called Intersource.
 
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America Online (AOL)

The following information was received from the AOL technical staff. It details AOL's process of encoding and decoding documents attached to e-mail messages.

"There have been some very recent changes in AOL transfers, with these transfers being automatically MIME encoded. To send, use your ‘send’ button as you normally would. When you receive an Internet message with a single file attachment, it will appear in your mailbox with that file decoded and attached, just as if it was sent from another AOL member. To use the file, select Download to copy it to your computer.

When someone is going to send you several files through Internet e-mail, you should request that each file be attached to a separate message. Alternately, they can pack the files into a single archive file (ZIP, ARC, etc.) and then attach it to a message. This will make receiving the files easier for you, since we currently cannot decode messages that contain more than one file attachment.

If you do receive an Internet message with multiple file attachments, it will arrive with a single file attachment, the encoded MIME document containing all of the files. After downloading this attachment, you will need to use a separate MIME-decoder to turn it back into usable files. You can search the software libraries (keyword: file search) on the term MIME to find a number of publicly available decoders. Large text messages will no longer be broken into multiple parts. Instead, you will receive the first 2K of the message as text and the entire original message as a file attachment that you can download and read in a word processor or text editor.

Note for PCAOL users: If you download a text file or a MIME document, you will need to process it with the program AOMAC2PC (available in the software libraries) before you can do anything with it."
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le Transfer Protocol (FTP)  

After e-mail, the second most widely used Internet service is file transfer protocol or FTP. This service enables one to download files free of charge from numerous locations throughout the world. When used in conjunction with the ARCHIE search tool, a user is able to locate files and programs of interest on numerous sites throughout the world. 

One of the most widely used FTP programs on the Internet is a program called WS_FTP or WS_FTP95, which is freely available on the Internet. To find WS_FTP log on to your ISP and activate the ARCHIE server program. Type in the name of the file, WS_FTP, select an ARCHIE server located somewhere in the world that is not busy, and hit the search key. The ARCHIE program will search a database of ARCHIE servers and display a listing of various sites throughout the world where copies of the WS_FTP program are located. Click on the file you want to download, and in seconds or minutes the file will be downloaded from the mainframe directly to your PC's hard disk. The FTP server you access to get your file can be located in the United States, Japan, Korea, or at many other sites in the world. 

Internet "Netiquette" requires that you log on to a FTP server with the username "Anonymous" and that you use your e-mail address as the password. Look for the file you want to download and begin the transfer procedure. Don't worry about making a mistake. You can't break the Net! If you make an error, simply start over.   Return to Top

Gopher  

The Internet service referred to as Gopher started at the University of Minnesota, whose mascot is a gopher. The University of Minnesota is still the premier Gopher site in the world. Gopher is a menu-driven system that allows you to click on level after level of menuing systems in a drill-down fashion until you arrive at the document you are looking for. Gopher is primarily a compilation of ASCII text-based documents, but some graphics, video, and audio files now exist on Gopher servers and are available for download by the end user. 

Just as FTP is searchable with an ARCHIE server, so Gopher has developed its own unique search tools called VERONICA and JUGHEAD. If any of you remember the old ARCHIE comic strip a lot of this vernacular is becoming all too familiar. However, on the Internet VERONICA is supposed to stand for Very Easy Rodent Oriented Netwide Index to Computerized Archives and JUGHEAD for Jonzy's Universal Gopher Hierarchy Excavation and Display. Could it be that some computer science students had a little too much time on their hands? 

Although not as glitzy as the World Wide Web as viewed through today's Web browsers, Gopher nevertheless is a repository of millions of pages of textual data on almost any subject matter you might want to address. Use VERONICA to search all the Gopher servers in the world or use JUGHEAD to search the contents of a computer at a single location. You will find that Gopher is a rich accumulation of information on almost any area of interest you might want to research. 
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Telnet  

Telnet permits a remote user to log on to a mainframe computer and run programs on the UNIX server. In today’s world, Telnet is most frequently used to search an electronic version of a library's card catalog. One of the most frequently accessed services is CARL (Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries). Use your Telnet client to log on to database.carl.org. Select VT100 as your terminal type and press Enter. From this point on follow the instructions given to you by the UNIX menuing system. 

Another interesting Telnet site for Colorado attorneys is the University of Colorado Law School Library. Telnet to 128.138.161.92, select VT100 as your terminal type, and follow the instructions. 

Telnet can also be used to connect with your DIALOG account and your LEXIS/NEXIS account. You will have to use VT100 as your terminal type and you will not have access to the unique Windows features built into the DIALOG and LEXIS/NEXIS access software. You must also have an assigned account number and password to utilize either of these services across the Internet.   Return to Top

UseNet/Newsgroups  

The UseNet and its more than 10,000 newsgroups can best be compared to a worldwide bulletin board that addresses the individual and group interests of the Internet community. Communication on the UseNet is not in real-time as is Internet relay chat (IRC). Rather, someone will start a subject that he or she would like to see discussed. These major subject categories are called "threads." Individuals who want to express an opinion about one of the threads being discussed, or answer a request for assistance, can "post" a response to the newsgroup using newsgroup reader software freely available on the Internet. One of the best ways to access the various newsgroups is through the news function on the Netscape Navigator browser. Netscape provides a graphical view, in tree-like format, of the various newsgroups, their subgroups, and the various threads. One moves between the newsgroups and the threads with just a click of the mouse button. 

Because the newsgroups cover such a vast area of human interest - currently running at somewhere around 100 megabytes per day - a method had to be devised to break the whole into usable categories. That was accomplished by the formation of the Big Seven. The Big Seven are the primary categories of the UseNet from which branch thousands of other subgroups. The seven primary categories are: 

  • comp topics related to computer issues
  • misc topics that don't fit under any other category
  • news topics related to UseNet development and administration
  • rec topics related to recreational activities and hobbies
  • sci topics related to scientific research questions
  • soc topics related to world cultures, current events, and religion
  • talk debates on controversial subjects such as abortion or Bosnia

In addition, the alt* (alternative) newsgroups are dedicated to a discussion of controversial topics. Many of the topics discussed in the alt* groups are considered to be immoral, illegal, or in general bad taste. The alt*-sex groups, for example, have been the primary cause of many of the attacks and legislation related to pornography on the Internet. Because of the nature of the alt* groups, not all Internet providers carry a complete feed of the groups located under this category.

There are standardized procedures for establishing a new group under the seven primary categories. Most Internet providers will carry most of the newsgroups composing the Big Seven. Anyone can start an alt* newsgroup, but there is no guarantee that the news-administrator for any particular service provider will opt to carry any particular group. Nevertheless, because of the alt* group’s popularity, most service providers do carry them. 

The clari* (ClariNet) category is unique because Internet providers incur an additional cost to provide the information contained under this category. The clari* category distributes articles appearing in newspapers from around the country. Because of the additional cost, not all Internet providers choose to carry the clari* newsgroups.   Return to Top

"Lurk" Before You Leap 

If you have never been on the UseNet, you might want to follow a practice referred to as "lurking" before you jump in with both feet. Lurking is simply the practice of reading various postings to newsgroups without posting your own response. Lurking allows you the time to sit back and observe the culture of any newsgroup in which you might have an interest before you become an active participant. Once you have learned how things are done, go ahead and join in. You'll generally find that meeting new people and participating in the various discussions that are going on can be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience. But not always! If you violate the "Netiquette" of the Internet you may find yourself the object of a "flame." Flames on the Internet are crude, oftentimes profane responses to ideas you have expressed, questions you have asked, or requests for help you have posted. There are even areas on the UseNet dedicated to flaming for those individuals who seem to enjoy this type of behavior. The best advice if you are ever flamed is to forget it and not get involved in any "flame war." Having to deal with hundreds or even thousands of e-mail message every day is not anyone's idea of a good time. 

It is very important that you not ask questions that have been asked many times before and are covered in the newgroup's FAQ. FAQ (pronounced "fak") stands for frequently asked questions. A FAQ is a series of questions that have been previously asked and previously answered many times. To shortcut this activity, most newsgroups have developed FAQs to explain to new users the general procedure on the newsgroup and to have a common place for users to obtain answers to common questions. 

Remember that someone has spent many hours writing a FAQ as a public service to Internet users. It is expected, in return, that someone new to the newsgroup will first check any available FAQs before posting a question to the general newsgroup that will then be carried on various feeds worldwide. If you can't find a FAQ applicable to the newsgroup you are interested in, try FTPing to the FTP server at M.I.T. (rtfm.mit.edu). You will generally find all the FAQs posted for any newsgroup in a directory labeled /pub/usenet/<groupname>. <Groupname> is the name of the newsgroup you are interested in learning more about.   Return to Top

IRC (Internet Relay Chat)  

If you are the type of individual who enjoys CB radio, or just generally chatting with people from all over the world, IRC, or Internet relay chat, is a part of the Internet that could easily become addictive. IRC is an Internet program that allows people from all over the world to talk (type) to one another in real time. The experience can sometimes be chaotic due to the number of people talking (typing) at once. IRC is not very different from the chat groups frequently available on many bulletin boards. The big difference is that the chat group is a worldwide conference with many diverse conversations going on simultaneously. If you want to check it out, download a program called mIRC from the Internet and have at it. Most of the people in my classes have become quickly absorbed in the multiplicity of subjects being discussed. If you are new to IRC join one of the "newbies" channels. Questions and mistakes are expected. If you want to see what IRC can really be, join the conversations going on in a channel labeled "hottub." If you're offended by frank, explicit conversations about almost any subject matter known to mankind, don't enter IRC! Return to Top

What Is the World Wide Web?  

What is today referred to as the World Wide Web (WWW), or simply the Web, dates back to only 1989, when scientists at the European Particle Physics Laboratory (CERN, the French acronym) in Geneva, Switzerland, put together a proposal for the development of "a hypertext system" that would facilitate the easy sharing of various types of Internet content among the high-energy physics community. A browser was developed in 1990 but wasn't put to actual use until May 1991 and wasn't announced to the high energy physics community until the end of 1991. By January 1993, only 50 Web servers were in existence worldwide. 

1993 also saw the introduction of the Mosaic browser developed by Marc Andreesen at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Champaign. Perhaps more than any other event, it was the release of the Mosaic browser with its ability to link in a hypertext format to almost any content on the Internet that caused the phenomenal growth of the World Wide Web. The Internet became available to "normal" people and not just to the "byte heads," researchers and other academic types that had previously enjoyed the Internet as their private playground. 

In 1994, Marc Andreesen and others left NCSA to form the Mosaic Communication Corporation. That corporation is known today as Netscape Communications Corporation, and its Netscape Navigator Web browser is used by over 75 percent of all Web Surfers to access home pages around the world. The latest version of Netscape Navigator can be obtained from http://home.netscape.com/home/internet-search.html 

The protocol of the World Wide Web is HTTP (HyperText transfer protocol). Translate HTTP as "multimedia." All forms of "content" can be accessed and retrieved using a Web browser capable of reading home pages written in HTML (HyperText markup language). Text, graphics, sound, and video can all be linked together using the magic of the HTML format. Various Web servers are linked together with "hypertext" links written into home pages containing uniform resource locator (URL) links. The user moves from one home page to another either by typing in an http address such as http://www.microsoft.com or more commonly by simply clicking on a hypertext link and automatically accessing the cited link wherever in the world it may be located. The World Wide Web is content driven. A home page is visited, and then revisited because it offers the user something of value. If you want users to return to your law firm's home page on a regular basis make sure you change or improve its content on a weekly basis. Provide something worthwhile on your home page so that users feel they are benefiting by visiting your page. Eighteen months ago there were approximately 5000 home pages. Today there are over half a million, with 5000 new services being created daily. Make your law firm site one that is fun and informative to visit - you have a lot of competitors already with more coming on-line daily.  Return to Top

How Do I Find What I'm Looking For? 

With the exponential growth of the World Wide Web, the current problem is not having enough Web sites, it's figuring out a way to index and access the information that is already there and doubling every 58 days. The development of computer programs known as "spiders" has facilitated the indexing of the current crop of Web sites. Spiders are software programs that reach out to all known home pages and update an index to their content on a regular basis. 

Various search tools such as Web Crawler, Alta Vista, Open Text Index, Excite, and the Lycos home page assist the user in finding the specific information he or she is looking for. But the spiders and the search tools are still in their embryonic stages. They are improving, but no single source on the World Wide Web has arisen as the "killer" search tool. Several of the search tools are worth mentioning, however. One of the most famous is Yahoo. Yahoo was started by two Stanford University students to index their favorite home pages. It grew into one of the most famous sites on the Internet. Almost any subject matter can be keyword searched in Yahoo's search engine. Yahoo can be found at http://www.yahoo.com. More recent additions are Alta Vista (developed by Digital Equipment Company), InfoSeek, and Excite. If you would like to see a home page that lists and provides access to the best search tools on the Internet, check out the All In One home page at http://www.albany.net/allinone/Return to Top

How Do I Get My Own Home Page?  

There are a number of ways you can obtain a personal presence on the Internet by posting your own home page for the world to visit. Home pages are written in a simple language called HyperText markup language (HTML). There are a number of software applications available on the Internet or from Microsoft at ftp.microsoft.com that can help to quickly turn a word-processed document into the proper HTML format. Alternatively, there are a number of commercial ventures that will write a home page for you. One of the most complete HTML resource books I have come across is Netscape & HTML Explorer, by Urban A. LeJeune with Jeff Duntemann (ISBN 1-883577-57-8). There are also a number of other books available at your local bookstore that describe, in great detail, the process of writing a home page. 

Once you have written your home page, or had it written for you, contact your ISP for instructions on how to upload your home page from your PC to your ISP's server. Most ISPs today offer you the option to store your home page on their servers. Some ISPs charge for this service. 

You can, of course, choose to set up your own Web server and run your home page right out of your home or office. The UNIX and Microsoft Windows NT operating systems are the two systems most commonly used for managing Web servers. Unless you are very computer literate and understand the mechanics of setting up a Web server, this is not a recommended way of introducing yourself to the World Wide Web. Like the television ads say: "Don't try this at home."  Return to Top

How Secure Is the Internet?  

The most immediate problem slowing the continued expansion of the Internet is the lack of security for e-mail messages and transmission of confidential information such as credit card numbers and client data. Because of the way e-mail messages are transmitted from computer to computer across the Internet, there is always the chance that the privacy of your e-mail message and any attached documents may be compromised. To some extent the concern about Internet privacy approaches paranoia. When you consider the volume of traffic on the Internet every day, the chances of your particular transmission being intercepted by unsavory types is probably de minimis. However, we all read the newspaper articles describing those instances where some computer hacker has broken into a system and created havoc. There appear to be even more frequent attempts to intercept credit card numbers sent across the Internet in an insecure mode. There is no question that security is the biggest single item preventing the Internet from achieving the vision of becoming a commercial "superhighway." 

Corporate entities wanting to do business on the Internet are well aware of the problem and are working to correct it. Companies such as Netscape Communications and Microsoft are perfecting secure methods to ensure the privacy of Internet communications. A new Internet protocol, known as IP Version 6 or IPv6, is currently under development by representatives of the Internet Society and companies such as Sun, Digital, and Hewlett-Packard. IPv6 has enhanced security provisions built into it along with better multimedia capabilities and better addressing capabilities. The problem lies not so much with the technology as with the export laws of the United States and other countries that prohibit the exportation of certain types of encryption techniques. 

Lawyers have an additional area of concern presented by CBA Formal Ethics Opinion No. 90 (November 14, 1992) entitled: "Preservation of Client Confidences in View of Modern Communications Technology." The Summary of the Opinion states: "A lawyer must exercise reasonable care when selecting and using communications devices in order to protect the client's confidences or secrets from unintended disclosures." The communications products addressed by the opinion include facsimile machines, voice messaging, computer modems, cordless telephones, and cellular telephones. The Opinion concludes that: "…regardless of technological developments, the attorney must exercise reasonable care to guard against the risk that the medium of communication may somehow compromise the confidential nature of the information being communicated." The strictures of this Ethics Opinion certainly protect the confidentiality of client communications and data transmitted by a lawyer over the Internet. Remember this Opinion the next time you transmit confidential client information across the Internet in an insecure format. The solution to the apparent dilemma for transmissions occurring in the United States is to encrypt the data in a format secure from prying eyes or data packet "sniffers."  Return to Top

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) 

Under the U.S. export laws, certain types of encryption software receive the same treatment as guided missiles, tanks, and artillery shells. If you are concerned about privacy, the best piece of encryption software you can get today is a product known as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) written by Phil Zimmermann of Boulder, Colorado. PGP uses a "private key" - "public key" encryption algorithm to encrypt your e-mail messages, attached documents, credit card numbers, and the like so that they cannot be read by anyone other than the individual to whom the message or file is addressed. Someone who has my "public key" can encrypt a message that can only be decrypted by using my "private key." PGP supports 1024-bit keys, with 2048-bit keys under development. The longer the key, the more difficult it is to break the encryption scheme. Messages encrypted with a 1024-bit key are virtually unbreakable with modern decryption techniques. 

Exporting encryption software that creates a key greater than 40 bits can subject you to the wrath of the United States government. By allowing PGP to be posted to the Internet, Phil Zimmermann subjected himself to years of investigation as an "arms smuggler" that only ended on January 11, 1996, when the federal prosecutors in San Jose, California, dropped a probe they had been conducting into whether the posting of PGP on the Internet was a violation of the U.S. export laws.

The issue of security on the Internet is a topic requiring a separate paper to discuss in any detail. If you want to obtain a copy of PGP, it is available from M.I.T at http://web.mit.edu/network/pgp.html. The file name is pgp262.zip. You will also have to fill out a form certifying that you are a U.S. citizen and that you will not export PGP to any foreign country. The form is available at http://bs.mit.edu:8001/pgp-form.html. If you want to learn how to run PGP under a Windows shell, I highly recommend that you download the Windows program WinPGP from http://www.vmedia.com/pgpw.htm. The file name is pgpw40.zip. I also recommend that you purchase PGP Companion for Windows, by Peter Kent (ISBN 1-56604-304-2). This is the only book I've ever read that makes PGP understandable and, more importantly, easy to use.  Return to Top 

Where Is the Internet Going?  

The Internet is truly in its infancy. The next few years will see a continued explosive growth in the number of users and in the quality of the content provided across the Internet. Telephone and video conferencing will become a reality. Internet shopping malls will proliferate. Books, magazines, audio tapes, cars, and computers will all be available at our fingertips. Almost instant communication worldwide will become commonplace and expected by clients. 

For lawyers, we will see even greater access to the primary sources such as statutes, cases, rules, and regulations freely available on the Internet. We probably will have full law libraries available in an easily retrievable format. We will definitely be filing complaints, motions, and briefs by electronic means - most likely over IP connections. The security issues currently associated with the Internet will be solved in the next few years. We will see the implementation of electronic data interchange EDI across the Internet. Publishing of both good and bad treatises on almost any legal subject matter will continue to grow, and lawyers will have to sort out the wheat from the chaff. 

Our law practices will definitely become more national in nature. Many firms have a national practice already, but that tendency will only increase. Need to file a case in Florida or California? Use the Internet to find associates in the local jurisdiction and you're on your way. Need to find an attorney or law firm that is an expert in the laws of Canada or Japan? Just post a request to a national automated e-mail system referred to as a listserv such as Net-lawyers at net-lawyers@lawlib.wuacc.edu and ask for information you need. Someone on the listserv will have access to and be willing to provide you with the necessary information. Need to find an Internet service provider in Japan? Click over to Yahoo at http://www.yahoo.com and type Japan Service Provider in the Yahoo search engine. All the information you need about Japanese Internet service providers will be immediately available. 

For some, the Internet will provide a means for escaping the confines of an established office. Given the connectivity provided by the Internet, there is no reason why "virtual" law offices can't function as well as the established edifices on 17th Street. The primary criterion will continue to be the value of the content provided by any individual. If that content can be provided from home, by satellite from Telluride, or from a beach in Hawaii using cellular connections, all of these methods will be accommodated by the Internet as new and different ways of practicing law emerge. 

Expect to see the United States Congress enact sweeping changes to the U.S. Copyright Act sometime in 1996 to cover copyright issues directly related to the Internet. 

Some writers have suggested that, in its full implementation, the Internet will have as great an impact on the way we live and work as did the steam engine, the telephone, the automobile, the airplane, and electricity. Are they being hyperbolic? Only time will tell. One thing is certain - the Internet is here, it will continue to grow at exponential rates for the next decade, and whether any of us like it or not, the Internet is going to impact our personal lives - perhaps in ways we can't even yet imagine.Buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life. It ought to be a fascinating experience! Return to Top