A: Every computer on the Internet has its own unique address, from your desktop PC's modem connection to the machines that host Yahoo's Web site. Actually they have two addresses: One is a numeric, computer-friendly address called an IP number, and the other is the text people-friendly one called a domain name (e.g. www.inquiringminds.com). The way the Internet was designed allows you to pick what text address goes with the numbersfor a fee.
A company called InterNIC charges $100 to establish your domain name. It's good to register names that you might want to use, especially any that you have trademarked.
However, before you can register any name, you have to have a machine for that address to go to (whether you actually have a Web site there or not).
So for this you need to contact an Internet service provid-er. The ISP will probably charge you more than the $100 to set up your the account for your site, as well as a monthly fee.
By the way, if you're curious about whether the domain name you'd like is taken, you can do a search on the InterNIC page.
Q: How do I get a search engine on my site?
A: This is one of those budget-related questions. There are many options for getting a search engine; it just depends on how robust you need it to be and how much you can shell out for it.
At the low end, you can get some simple search programs (especially for UNIX-based servers) for free. You install it, you configure it, and for the most part, you support it. Can't beat that price.
Excite, for example, offers a version of its search engine for free, but charges a yearly fee if you want support services and upgrades.
You can also buy search engine software. Many companies offer off-the-shelf search engines for all platforms, from Mac to Windows 95 to UNIX.
The third choice, and most likely the most costly, is to develop your own. Programmers aren't cheap. The benefit is that you can customize all the features, such as the way users can search, the flexibility they have, etc. You can database your information and create a search that sits on top of it and sorts the database.
For my money, I'd recommend going with one of the store-bought engines. They are ready to go, beta-tested, and tend to offer a wide variety of features themselves. Talk to your Web developer about what you're looking for, and see what they recommend. They probably have a couple of favorites already that they can discuss with you.
Q: What do you mean when you say "Web page?"
A: Someone called the IM desk the other day. They had seen us talk of Web pages and wanted to know just what was meant by that. Is a Web page the same as a printed page? Is it entirely different? Is there some sort of technical definition?
The short answers are: No, no and no. But Inquiring Minds is a little more helpful than that . . .
A Web page is what you get when you point your Web browser (e.g. Netscape) at a URL (Web address). Like a printed page, it could contain text and pictures, but it could also contain links and embedded video, etc. When you scroll to the bottom of the file, you might have seen several printed screens of information, but you've only seen one Web page.
Follow a link to take you to the next one and before you know it, you have become a Web surfer and are on your way.