Read these 12 ISP Technologies Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about ISP tips and hundreds of other topics.
TrackBacks are a new ISP technology; they are special messages used by bloggers to reference each others' blogs. When a blogger writes about someone else's blog, she sends a TrackBack to the blog she's referencing. The referenced blog receives the TrackBack and can inform the author and/or back link to the referencing blog if it so chooses; dynamic Web servers often do all the work without any human intervention. TrackBacks are a specialized type of ISP service and not every ISP provides them. Usually ISPs geared for hosting blogs provide TrackBack capabilities.
A router is a box that routes network information between machines. An ISP router is responsible for directing network traffic appropriately between all the ISP's customers. Routing is a standard ISP service that all ISP providers address. It is low-level though and most customers are not even aware of it so long as it continues to work properly. If an ISP router fails for some reason, people using that ISP will not be able to get e-mail, browse the Web, read Usenet, or perform any basic Internet tasks.
It is not uncommon for an ISP provider to advertise itself as a Linux ISP. Linux is a popular free operating system that's more or less interchangeable with UNIX. It is well-suited to ISP technologies like e-mail management, Usenet news serving, and ISP Web hosting. While Linux is a good match for an ISP, it is not provably better than true UNIX or other UNIX-like substitutes (like Solaris, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, AIX, Mac OS X, HP-UX, etc.) In short an ISP should not be chosen for Linux use alone -- other factors (especially ISP security and ISP safety) should also be considered.
When one wants to make regularly updated content available through a Web site, one can use one of the new ISP technologies known as RSS (RDF Site Syndication) or Atom. These provide a standard way of syndicating frequently updated Web information. They both operate in much the same manner. Neither tends to be edited by people directly; both instead tend to be offered by an ISP provider as part of an ISP Web hosting package. Usually they will require some sort of Content Management System (CMS) built on top of dynamic Web hosting in order to work. With such a system in place, items are automatically displayed on the Web and made available via syndication to people using news aggregators.
When one wants to make calendar events readily available through a Web site, one can use the new ISP technology known as iCalendar. This provides a standard way of syndicating individual events and whole calendars. Usually people do not edit iCalendar information directly; it's more common for an ISP provider to include iCalendar support as part of an ISP Web hosting package. Usually it will require some sort of Content Management System (CMS) built on top of dynamic Web hosting in order to work. With such a system in place, uploaded events are automatically displayed on the Web and made available via syndication for people to download to handheld computers and PDAs.
IP stands for Internet Protocol. An IP address is used in conjunction with an ISP router to direct network traffic. Basically it's an internet service provider technology that uniquely identifies a computer or device on the Internet, just like a real-world address uniquely identifies a place in the real world. Devices hooked directly up to the Internet need global IP addresses. A router so hooked up can take information given to it and further distribute it to local IP addresses -- just like an apartment building can have multiple local addresses for its one street address. IP addresses are always of the form xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx where 'x' can range from 0-9.
Dict is a special ISP service used for publishing dictionaries and dictionary-like resources. A Dict client is used to look up definitions, and the better clients can check multiple servers simultaneously to provide potentially multiple definitions. While virtually all computers have Dict clients available and thus may work with Dict dictionaries, very few companies have the Dict ISP technology. If you need to publish Dict information, choose your ISP accordingly.
XUL is a new ISP technology used for making front-ends to Web applications and browser plug-ins. It's not an ISP service per se and can be used with any ISP provider so long as they allow direct access to Web files. XUL files can be downloaded just like XHTML or CSS files (and in fact typically work hand-in-hand with both XHTML and CSS files). They define graphical interfaces that go beyond the capabilities of raw XHTML and CSS. The end result is that Web sites with XUL can give much better user experiences than sites without XUL, but since XUL is new it won't work with every browser.
XML is a relatively new ISP technology used to better standardize the Web. Many of the standard ISP technologies and ISP services utilize XML in the background. For a few examples, XHTML, RDF, and XUL are all file types that are subsets of XML. Likewise, communication with Web applications via XML-RPC or SOAP is also standardized around an XML subset. In short, XML is everywhere with regards to ISP Web hosting and communications, but it's largely behind-the-scenes and of less interest to the casual user.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It's a special ISP technology that allows you to make telephone calls over your Internet connection. If you have a cable, DSL, or ISDN connection, you'll have enough bandwidth. The quality is not quite as good as a standard phone call, but the price is significantly cheaper. It is not unheard of for international VoIP calls to cost just pennies per minute. You'll need special hardware and software though to make use of it.
When setting up a home network, it is important to use local IP addresses for individual. IP addresses are an ISP technology used (along with ISP routers) to direct network traffic, and they are always of the form xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx where 'x' can range from 0-9. Legal local IP addresses include the ranges 010.xxx.xxx.xxx, 172.016.xxx.xxx, and 192.168.xxx.xxx. Using other addresses can lead to complications later. Note that connecting a device with a local IP address directly to the Internet is even worse. It's important to have a router separate the Internet from devices with local IP addresses.
While an ISP router directs network traffic appropriately between all an ISP's customers, a less expensive router can be used at home to direct traffic between different home computers. If a family has five computers used by different family members in different rooms, all can share a single ISP connection if a router is employed. The basic idea is to connect the router's upstream port to the house's main Internet access, and to connect the router's other ports to each individual computer. Each computer will need an individual IP address. Usually this IP address has to be local in order to work properly.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|