This is a an HTML marked up version of a document I wrote in 1993 and make available here for historical interest.

A Short Catechism on the Internet

Michael Newbery
Information Technology Services
Victoria University of Wellington
revision 8—Date: 3 June 1993

Introduction

You may have heard about electronic networks such as "Tuia" or "TuiaNet", the "Internet", network news and such. This document tries to give a summary of the Internet, as it is available in New Zealand. It is presented in a question and answer format.

Some of the information is from the particular perspective of Victoria University, and given the rate of change on the Internet, may be obsolete by the time you read this. Any prices quoted exclude G.S.T.

Catechism

What is Tuia?

Tuia is a cooperative society interested in research and academic networking in New Zealand. The name means "bound together" in Maori. Its current members are the Universities, the Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and the National Library.

Tuia was responsible for connecting New Zealand to the Internet and for the inter-networking of the CRIs (after the break up of the DSIR), the Universities and the National Library.

This network is often referred to as "TuiaNet" and is made up of CRInet, Agnet and Kawaihiko. It provides the "backbone" of network connectivity within New Zealand and also the connection to the Internet-it is the Internet within New Zealand.

Other sites within New Zealand can connect to the Internet by connecting to a TuiaNet site.

What is the Internet?

The "Internet" (always written with a capital "I") is a global network of computer networks. It reaches sixty countries on every continent, including Antarctica, with links short of full connectivity to another seventy.

Networks in the Internet communicate using standard protocols, currently TCP/IP.

How big is the Internet?

There are currently 1.776 million hosts on the Internet and it is growing rapidly. Hosts range from personal computers to large mainframes and there are probably 3 to 5 million users.

Who is on the Internet?

Very roughly:

Who is on the Internet in NZ?

Who owns the Internet?

No one owns the Internet. There is no Internet Corp. or Department of the Internet. The Internet is a cooperating network of networks, spanning the world. Within any particular country the government usually funds the network infrastructure: In the USA it is through the National Science Foundation, Great Britain has JANET, in Australia AARNET. In New Zealand there is no direct government funding.

Who runs the Internet?

The constituent network administrations cooperate. There is no central administration of the Internet. The closest thing to any central administration is the Network Information Centre, in the USA, which allocates unique network numbers. There are also various standards bodies and the ad hoc Internet Engineering Task Force committees which are funded by individual organisations and which develop the network protocols which the Internet uses.

Within New Zealand, Tuia runs the Internet.

What is Kawaihiko?

Kawaihiko was the New Zealand Universities' network, which joined with CRInet and Agnet (the DSIR and MAF network) to set up TuiaNet. Within Tuia, Kawaihiko is now the management group representing the Universities and responsible for such things as setting network charging rates to its members.

Kawaihiko means Computer Network in Maori.

What is USENET?

USENET news is a service found on the Internet but not restricted to it. It can be thought of as a sort of global bulletin board, with discussion groups organised into several thousand 'newsgroups' covering nearly every possible interest, from comp.dcom.lans.ethernet to rec.sport.cricket.

As an example, for the month of May, 1993, there were over 600,000 articles posted to the approximately 2200 newsgroups currently received in New Zealand, or about 43MB every day!

The quality of the information on USENET is variable, to say the least, but in some areas the information is so valuable as to constitute an organisation's main justification for network access.

Although some people mistakenly refer to being on 'the USENET network', USENET is not a network but a service.

Within New Zealand, USENET is administered by the NewZnet project.

What does an Internet connection involve?

Strictly, an Internet connection means a permanent connection to an Internet connected site, using the TCP/IP protocols. However, there are other ways of accessing the Internet, or at least some of its services. An Internet connected site may let you use its facilities, or let you dial up to one of its hosts and use the facilities that way. This is the cheapest and easiest method and is offered by a number of bulletin board system throughout New Zealand.

You can also have your computer automatically dial up a host site at regular intervals to exchange queued files. This is also quite cheap but only gives you access to electronic mail (E-mail) and USENET news.

If you want the full benefits of an Internet connection, you need a permanent connection: see below.

Who can join?

You can.

What restrictions are there?

There are currently no restrictions on traffic within New Zealand, but traffic overseas is currently required to be research or education oriented. Traffic of a purely commercial nature may be unacceptable. This situation may change.

What resources do I need to connect?

To use one of the bulletin board systems you only need a modem and either a personal computer or a terminal.

For e-mail and news only you need a computer (personal or otherwise) with suitable software and a modem.

For a full Internet connection you will need a leased line to your host site and a router. The later can range from a piece of software running on your existing hardware to over $10,000 worth of dedicated hardware, depending on the nature of the connection.

How much does it cost?

Typical first year costs for a connection to Victoria University range from $8,000 to $23,000 (including network hardware and estimated usage charges), and in following years about $4,000 per year for usage.

A minimal, e-mail only connection can be had for the cost of a suitable modem and about $500 per year usage charges.

A connection via a bulletin board (not available from VUW) is typically less than $100/year.

Certain services available on the Internet have their own charges which are paid by you directly to the service provider, e.g. NZBN.

See the attached sheet for details of Victoria's charges.

What services are available?

On line

On-line services involve logging on to a remote system ('remote logon', 'telnet') and operating as a terminal to that system. You generally need to have an account on the remote system. This method is typically used to query remote databases. It is only available with a full Internet connection and you will need a high speed link if you want to have large numbers of simultaneous users.

Telnet software is widely available for Macintosh and MS-DOS computers.

Of particular interest to many New Zealand users is the ability to access the National Library's NZBN database this way, including support for IBM 3270 terminals if required (however this requires some extra equipment).

A large number of library On-line Public Access Catalogues (OPACs) are also available, both in New Zealand and overseas.

A number of overseas databases are also available this way, at significantly lower cost and better performance than PACNET access.

Some of the on-line services available are:

E-mail

Electronic mail (E-mail) allows you to send messages electronically from your desktop to any accessible user on the Internet and, through gateways, to users on other systems such as Compuserve. There is gateway software available to translate between local formats (such as Novell, CEO and Word Perfect Office) and the Internet standard format.

E-mail reaches lots more sites than have full Internet connections. Within New Zealand over 70 companies are accessible via e-mail, not counting those whose access is via one of the 30 or so bulletin board systems.

For users of the OSI X.400 mail standard, there is an X.400-Internet mail gateway running at VUW.

FTP

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and is the standard way of copying files around the Internet. In order to copy files your normally need an account and password at the other site, however most sites support 'Anonymous FTP' where you log on as user 'anonymous' and give your e-mail address as the password. This gives you access to a special public file area which you can copy files from. (Some systems also allow you to copy files to the public area).

A number of sites around the world hold large archives of freely available software and other information: for instance, the VUW ftp server has over 125MB of MS-DOS related material, over 30MB of anti-virus utilities and over 34MB of documents available in electronic form, such as the works of Shakespeare. (And that is in compressed form!)

Archie

Archie is a service that helps you find software in the anonymous ftp archives. Archie servers keep local copies of the file directories of the major archive sites which they update regularly. By then searching the Archie database you can quickly find the nearest site with a copy of the information you require.

Is there a phone book?

No. With over 1.5 million systems and no central administration an Internet directory is a difficult project. Nevertheless, it is being attempted via a number of approaches. One that is encouraged in New Zealand is the X.500 system (X.500 is an international standard developed by the C.C.I.T.T.). Watch this space.

What is Cyberspace?

Several years ago, users of the Internet began to notice that despite there being an ever increasing amount of information available, finding that information was becoming harder and harder. Work was started on this resource discovery problem and the new technology of information navigation is the result of that work. This view of the Internet as a vast web of information is sometimes known as 'Cyberspace'. Some of the tools for navigating cyberspace are:

WAIS

Wais stands for Wide Area Information Server and was developed by Thinking Machines Corporation. It is based on the Z39.50 ANSI standard protocol for information retrieval and provides a full-text database system that can be queried over the network.

There are a number of WAIS servers available on the Internet with a wide range of data.

GOPHER

Gopher provides a menu system for documents, remote logons and searches to provide a more friendly view of the Internet. It was developed at the University of Minnesota, hence the following definition:

gopher n. 1. Any of various short tailed, burrowing mammals of the family Geomyidae, of North America. 2. (Amer. colloq.) Native or inhabitant of Minnesota: the Gopher State. 3. (Amer. colloq.) One who runs errands, does odd-jobs, fetches or delivers documents for office staff. 4. (computer tech.) Software following a simple protocol for tunnelling through a TCP/IP internet.

WWW

Whereas Gopher's strength is its simplicity, WWW (standing for World Wide Web) goes for power. WWW has the vision of a program (a 'browser') that can access every piece of information either directly or through a gateway. Current browsers can utilise gopher, anonymous FTP, telnet, USENET news, WAIS, X.500, Archie and WWW's own protocol, HTTP.

HTTP is a transport protocol for a hypertext system that WWW browsers use. Hypertext documents in WWW are marked up in HTML (HyperText Markup Language, a document type for the ISO standard markup language, SGML).

Can I reach other networks through the Internet?

Usually you can exchange e-mail with users of other networks but access to any other services will vary from nil to full access. Currently, e-mail only access is the norm but this is changing.

Whom do I contact for a connection?

If you want a simple dial in connection, start with one of your local bulletin boards. In Wellington you can try

Actrix Information Exchange

           Telephone (modem): (04) 389 5478

Once you have connected you will be presented with joining information.

Citynet:

Write to Citynet at the following address and ask for a Citynet access application:

               Computer Services
	       Wellington City Council
	       P.O. Box 2199
	       WELLINGTON

For a full connection, start with your nearest University or Crown Research Institute.

The contact for Victoria University is:

           The Network Group
	   c/o Information Technology Services
	   Victoria University of Wellington
	   P.O. Box 600
	   WELLINGTON
	   Tel: 495 5327   Fax: 471 5386