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Other homeplace pages like this one: Between the Hedges, Riza Eemirer, NYT 'Home Page' for readers and journalists
To be "on the 'net", you need the ability to pass data packets between your computer and another one anywhere in the world. The cost of packet-passing ($/month) is charged by the provider who supports the "last mile" between your computer and the Internet.
Varying technologies are available to implement the last mile to your computer(s) at home. There's dialup-modem or DSL via your phone line. There's fibre optic or coaxial cable. And there are some hybrids, like dialup-modem out together with satellite in.
To allow more than one computer, on a home network (LAN), to have internet access, your internet address will be that of a specialized computer you use, a 'router'. The router, 'on' both the internet and the home LAN, passes every incoming packet through to the computer in the home previously identified to the outside sending 'server' computer (by the router's address plus a 'port' used to identify that particular home computer). And it passes a packet from that computer to the internet when the packet address is non-local.
Some or all connections between computers (including the router) in the home can be over a wireless LAN (typically wi-fi). A 2-way radio in your computer and another at a wireless access point (a separate box or part of the router) implement the connection.
Varying technologies (cellular, PCS, ...) are also available to implement the last mile to your laptop whenever it's where a mobile phone can be used. You can even browse the internet while a passenger in an auto!
In addition to passing packets, most people like a "Portal" page --a 'desktop' for your worldwide web browser making your favorite 'favorites' a little more easily accessible. Ideally, a portal page makes everything on the Internet you want readily accessible. And it stays current as new items of interest become available and as your interests change.
The portal page service is totally separable from last-mile and packet-passing services, but the two are often bundled.
A portal like Yahoo or AOL will try to pick up a little extra revenue by trying to pass your packets.
Conversely, a mainly-last-mile vendor like Verizon or Comcast, when it installs your packet-passing hardware, will try at least to reset your browser's home page and likely even try to install their own version of the browser you use and install other stuff. This steers you to their portal page. There is in general no need to install *any* of their software!! (Just bookmark the URL of the last-mile vendor's technical support page and account management page.)
Most well-known portal pages steer you towards things they want you to think or buy. The portal page is free to you but earns money for the provider (by channeling you to sites that will pay to have that done). Here are some examples: NetZero, Earthlink, Verizon, MSN, AOL, Yahoo
These things have gotten way over the top, and even Microsoft recognizes that there is something better!
But you can go all the way and use your very own portal page.
This homeplace web page can be used as-is from chasegalleryconnect.org. (It can be used with Windows, Macintosh, Linux, or other operating system. The following discussion is Windows-oriented : contact webmaster aht chasegalleryconnect.org if you can help augment the following for those contexts.) Or it can be saved on your desktop, in 'My Documents', or anywhere on your hard drive. You can select it as your browser home page as follows.
For Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox you do: Tools >> [Internet] Options >> General >> Use Current Page.
For Netscape/Mozilla you do: Edit >> Preferences >> ...... >> Use Current Page.
To alter this page to your own liking (You can, for example, edit the zip code into yours and get near-instant local weather.), view it with Windows Explorer, right-click its name and do Send To > Notepad.
Or open 'Notepad' and then do Notepad>>File>>Open and chase down this very file to edit the text which describes the web page you're viewing. It will be at a location such as: "H:\Documents and Settings\JohnDoe\Desktop\homeplace.html"