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AOL Primer

This page is a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions from AOL users. Because so many new internet users come from AOL, and because the AOL properties are unique (as in proprietary) to AOL, users often have frustrating experiences on the "wide web"! Frustrations can be avoided or kept to a minimum by following some simple advice which I offer on this humble page... =) Have fun and feel free to write to me if you have more questions.

God bless! Tinidril (aka DearHeart)


Since you are an AOL user, I'd like to begin by having you make sure you have the right tools to make a website... =)

The browser AOL gave you is fine for use on AOL properties, but because it is an altered version of MS Internet Explorer, it doesn't always allow you to experience or use the internet the way others do.

For example, the AOL browser can read an image with the file extention .art, but other standard browsers cannot. So you go about your business of making your site and admiring your work only to have visitors ask you what's the matter with your images... they're just broken image icons (or little red "x"s)! Or you are using someone else's computer and suddenly see that your images "don't work". When you downloaded someone's graphic, the image compression settings on your AOL browser converted the .gif to .art (or corrupted the file)!

So, here is what you should do: Go to either the Netscape home page to download Netscape Communicator (which includes Messenger and Composer) or to the Microsoft home page and download Internet Explorer with the full internet tools package (which includes Outlook Express and FrontPage Express). It would be best to download both.

Once you have a standard browser installed on your computer you are ready to begin your adventure.

Connect to AOL as usual with your AOL-issue browser open, but minimize it. Then open your standard browser using this to do all your web creation work.

In your experience with AOL, you may already have had to download some other common internet tools like an FTP program, a Zip compression program or an HTML editor. If not, then please be sure to read the Adding Images and Music section.

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First find (or make) the image/music files you want to use. If you find these files somewhere on the web, you need to make sure it is OK for you to copy them. The page will usually say whether or not it is OK to copy the images or music... if it *doesn't* say, you need to ask permission by finding an email link to the page owner.

With permission, copy the images/music files by placing your cursor over the image [music link], RIGHT-click and choose "Save Image As" ["Save Link As"], choose a place on your hard drive to save internet downloads. It is a good idea to create a special folder for this purpose.

When you have the files you need on your hard drive you are almost ready to make a page on which to put them. Some programs which you will find very helpful for making web pages are:

Paint Shop Pro and FrontPage Express are optional, but handy to have. The other programs I highly recommend you download in order to make your web page creating experience happier... =)

A note about FrontPage: special FrontPage extentions are supported at GeoCities.

Now you'll be ready to learn HTML or to work with a web-page making program. A good place to start learning HTML is HTML Goodies where you will find tutorials for just about everything!

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If you have just signed up for an account at Yahoo! GeoCities, then you need to produce a new page soon. Using one of your stantard browsers, begin with making a page with either the Yahoo Wizards or PageBuilder. It doesn't have to be fancy, just something. Also, upload an image file of some sort so that your total disk space used is at least 2000 bytes

Your URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the basic GeoCities address with /YahooID tacked onto the end:

Substitute your actual Yahoo ID for "YahooID" above.

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I won't be able to begin helping you learn HTML using your AOL mail account because their mail reader renders the code making it "invisible" (I'm sure the code is still there in the message "source" but most people don't know how to find this). So, if you don't already have another web-based email account, or a POP3 compliant email, you should get one... try one of these services:

Your Yahoo! Email account will support what is needed to see the HTML code... You can either read your messages on-line or Yahoo also supports POP3 access, (if you agree to allow them to send you "special offers" via email), but you must have an email "client" to download your mail from the Yahoo email server... your AOL reader won't work for this purpose. If you downloaded Netscape Communicator, it comes with NS Messenger for receiving and sending email. If you downloaded MS IE with the full internet tools package, it came with Outlook Express. Or you could use a different program such as Pegasus Mail (freeware). If you have any trouble or other questions about email, just ask me.

When you have a POP3 compliant or web-based email we can use for learning HTML, and a standard-issue browser, let me know and we can begin at the beginning with a some basic lessons.

God bless! Tinidril

Last updated: October 22, 2002.