The Little Black Book of Internet Addresses

Don’t you hate people who understand computers, find Windows interesting, and delight in memorizing dot-com lists? Take heart: You don’t have to be a technology expert when it comes to those pesky Web site addresses. There used to be a saying among computer programming experts that one should never have a computer do something that a human can do better … and memorizing Web addresses is a task best left to a computer. The Internet uses addresses called Uniform Resource Locators—URLs for short. For example, http://www.gemology.com is a URL. A URL is actually a translation of an IP address, a unique 12-digit number divided into groups of three numbers by periods—for example, “111.222.333.444.” Every physical device on the Internet is assigned an IP number.

A domain name is basically a URL. You can type the IP number of a site instead of its URL into a browser and get to the same Web site.

You have to admit, it is easier to remember, advertise, and understand URLs than IP numbers. Even so, not all URLs are easy to remember, and they must be entered perfectly in order to work.

With the great rush to secure Web site names still in full force, the newest URLs are getting more and more complicated. If you use the Internet on even a modest scale, you may need to remember hundreds of URLs. The easiest way to do this is to let your computer create a “little black book” of favorite addresses.

The two biggest names in Internet browser software are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Explorer. Each program has a special feature that allows you to save a URL address, stash it in a folder, rename it, and retrieve it when needed.

Let’s say that you have used your favorite search engine and located a most interesting Web site about how to make your own diamonds. Since you located this enticing Web site while eating lunch, you plan to revisit it tomorrow at about the same time. How can you save the address? Wait, don’t reach for that pen and paper—instead, use the very browser software you are using to save it for you.

If you are using Explorer, you’ll notice that Explorer’s tool bars have two locations labeled “Favorites.” If you open either of these you will find two options: “Add to Favorites” and “Organize Favorites.” If you select “Add to Favorites,” a second window will open suggesting the address be saved. You can do this simply by selecting the “OK” button. The next time you want to revisit that Web site, click on the “Favorites” option, locate the entry in the list, and open it with the left-hand button of your mouse. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it is.

What about the “Organization” option? This allows you create “folders” for stowing URLs that have something in common. For example, you could create a folder named “Diamonds” for this new Web site you discovered. Of course, you can move URLs from folder to folder to organize them, but it is better to create folders ahead of time so that you can stash a new URL into its logical folder at the same time you save it. (By the way, you may have noticed, when clicking on the “Favorites” option, that Microsoft had already created some folders with URLs in them.)

What about the competition? Netscape has the equivalent of a “Favorites” option, but it’s called “Bookmarks.”

Opening Netscape’s “Bookmarks” will offer you three options: adding, filing, and viewing URLs. “Adding” should be self-explanatory: the browser will add whatever URL address is currently in the address window. “Filing” is a maintenance option you can use to stow URLs in folders you create and name. To locate and use a URL you have already saved, choose the “Viewing” option.

Someday, when you look back at your ability to save URLs in your favorite browser software, you probably won’t rank it as significant as selling diamonds. But it certainly can make life less stressful … and perhaps make selling diamonds more fun.