DEAR WALDMANS: My wife and I own and manage a successful self-storage facility. We hear a lot of people talking about the Internet, and it seems to be a very popular item on television and in the newspapers. We can't seem to get away from it. Are we missing out on something important? We hate feeling ignorant, so we wondered if you could explain what "http," "home page" and "e-mail" mean? Please help us understand what all this commotion is about. Should we be investing in a computer, even though we are doing an excellent business without it? Also, like a lot of people from our generation, we are not computer literate. Are we too old to learn? Maybe you can shed some light on what all this is about.
--Reader In Maryland
Dear Reader: You are certainly not alone. There is so much information concerning the Internet, e-mail and home-page addresses all over the media; it seems that everyone wants a piece of the action. Don't worry, though, there are many people that are just like you. There is so much to learn and the technology changes constantly. If you were to purchase a computer today, it could be out of date before you took it home and set it up. Not that it wouldn't be a good computer, but changes are being made so rapidly. So, make sure you get the latest technology at the time you purchase the computer.
The next step is to hook up to and explore the Internet, defined as an international network of computers linked by certain rules and guidelines. To do so, you must first find an Internet service provider (ISP), which will likely charge a monthly fee--not unlike that of a phone company--allowing you access to the Internet. Once you go online, you'll probably want to explore the most popular aspects of the Internet, such as the World Wide Web, also known as "WWW" and "the Web." A lot of businesses are investing in Web sites, where potential clients my go to read about the company's products and/or services. Try to find some of the Internet "home pages" for self-storage facilities. You'll probably be surprised by what you see.
Some novices call every page on the Web a "home page," which is really not correct. The term "home" refers to the first page, or screen, of the site. Pages other than a home page should probably be referred to simply as "pages," while the grouping of pages is typically referred to as a Web site.
Then there's the thing called e-mail, more formally known as "electronic mail." E-mail is a great way to communicate with people all over the world without incurring long-distance charges. Your ISP will provide you with your own e-mail address, which is your ticket to this new form of correspondence. Several businesses post an e-mail address on their home page in order to receive requests concerning their products or services. It's an inexpensive way to advertise. HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) is the system that allows people to view Web pages on the Internet. Without it, documents would be illegible.
Sounds pretty complicated, doesn't it? After a few lessons, and mainly hands-on experience, you will find the Internet to be fun and challenging. Whether you use it for pleasure or business, it will be an entertainment like nothing you have seen before. Try it. You just might like what you see. If you don't, you will never know what all that commotion is really about.
| The Waldmans, a father-daughter team, are self-storage owners/operators
and attorneys. In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a Master's degree in Labor and Employment
Law from Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading
series of books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies &
Procedures and South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask the Waldmans are their
colorful posters designed exclusively for the self-storage industry.Comments and questions
for ASK THE WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413;
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: www.askthewaldmans.com
Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors. Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.