Cal here, with yet another educational blog, that I wrote just for you.
Many people over the past decade or so have learned and adapted to using the internet on a regular basis, most of the younger users log on or go online on a daily basis, and some practically live their social lives online.
However many don’t know how the internet works what it is made up of. So today, we’re going to get into a topic that many people just accept it as being what it is, and that my friends are the internet.
While some deep down inside are really interested in how it’s able to work for so many users worldwide all at the same time and in some cases at lightning speed. . .
And that is the internet also known and then we have what some people also think is the internet because they are so closely linked, is the: World Wide Web (www.) the major difference between the two is primarily the internet is a global network of networks or the infrastructure.
Whereas the WWW or the web is the information being conveyed over the internet.
What is the World Wide Web exactly?
It is the webpages of information stored within the internet infrastructure. In other words, the internet is the servers and their connectors in which the information (WWW) travels over.
Much like a car, which in this case, would symbolize the WEB, and the road it travels on would be the internet
How does the internet work?
These are just a few of the questions I hope to answer for everyone within this article. The internet; the WORLD WIDE WEB (www); or the information highway of the future, is what it was dubbed as I was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s.
Moreover, it still has many people confused as to what it is and how it works.
I can remember reading articles while in High School talking about this new thing called the internet and even though I understood the concept that it was not just a single vital supercomputer as a central hub, but many computers communicating to each other.
The idea still confused me on how it was projected that millions and millions of computer users would/could all be interconnected via routers and modems to each other without messages gets crossed and intertangled with each other much like the old phone lines would from time to time.
THE MODERN WALKIE TALKIE
And as I got older and older I greatly anticipated the arrival of this superhighway of information that the internet promised it would provide the world.
To my amazement, it has promised nothing that it has or will not provide in the future.
Communications as a whole have grown at such an exponential rate and those of us that have lived through the greatest break troughs sometimes still have problems grasping on how it all works.
So please allow me to see if I can explain it all to you, so you have a better understanding of the future of communicating and working via your computer or wireless telephone.
Let’s start with the less confusing of the two the wireless phone, what I call the handheld minicomputer, and my dad calls them his social pacifier.
As phones become more and more popular we see them being used for more and more things, many of them make our normal everyday life easier to deal with.
Do you know that it is estimated that a new app for android style cell phones is produced at a rate of one every 2 minutes? That works out to be roughly 35,000 cell phone apps are being made yearly.
An app for your cell phone is much like those for your PC’s browser (called extensions or add-ons) they’re mini little operating programs that handle certain aspects of different frequently performed tasks that you do on the device that they are downloaded on.
To put it as simple as possible say you make a lot of purchases through Amazon from your tablet while sitting at home watching TV in the evening.
This common routine will be sped up if you have the Amazon app and the PayPal app downloaded to your tablet.
What this will do is the Amazon app will enable you to browse around in the massive database that Amazon has of all the products it has in stock; just waiting to delivery to your home.
The Amazon app stores your browsing history while you are on Amazon to get to know what products you buy and what products you may be interested in.
Additionally, it also stores cookies (small bits of information stored on your tablet) to enhance your shopping experience while on their platform and while using their app to look to see what new products you are possibly interested in buying.
Meanwhile, the PayPal app sits quietly in the background waiting for you to indicate that you want to make a purchase with your credit card, it to remembers important aspects and information that will be repeated in many of your purchases.
Such as your card number, the expiration date, security code, name on the card, and any other special information associated to you and to the particular card(s) and it can remember multiple cards if you use multiple different credit cards.
The PayPal app remembers information that is necessary to make the transaction happen faster and run smoother than if you have to type everything in yourself manually; so the app essentially makes it easier to do purchases, as well as the Amazon app makes it easier for you to browse and purchase items on Amazon faster, quicker, and easier.
EXPONENTIAL TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES
Okay, that was not entirely super complicated now was it? Neither is how your cell phone works really, it is however more sophisticated today, but it is basically a modern hi-tech walky-talky from the ’50s and ’60s.
However, instead of the sound waves traveling from one device directly to another device which limits its distance of operation.
Your cell phone now communicates by sending its signals on much higher frequencies (allowing for greater distances of travel with lower wattages up to 3 miles or more in certain conditions) with cell phone towers.
Then the electronic signal is sent via fiber optic landlines to the tower nearest to the person, place, or business you are trying to call.
Since the higher frequencies extend the distance your signal travels it also helps keep the number of cell phone towers needed to a minimum, so we don’t have to have a signal relaying tower every other city block like we would have if the old technology had not been updated or upgraded over the years.
It will indeed be interesting to see where this technology (microchips) leads us as more and more people are adapting to the cell phone it is growing in popularity very fast and cell phone towers are starting to face the problem of too many cell phone users in some of the more densely populated cities around the world.
Okay now let’s move on to the more popular and ever-growing world wide web, as with any new technology we have to learn new terminology for the things that apply to the new technology and the internet with it being so user-friendly (meaning easy for you and me to use) is no different.
THE INTERNET, THE MODERN DAY LIBRARY
So let’s first discuss some of this new terminology and then we’ll get into more of how it works and who controls it.
First we have Universal Resource Identifier (URI) it is a file identifier, file name, or a reference to a web resource that specifies its location on a computer network and a mechanism for retrieving it from the database of a server, the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) on the other hand is a specific type of URI.
Briefly, a URI is defined as any character string (or a group or sequence of characters) that identifies a resource. A URL is defined as those URIs that identify a resource by its location or by the means used to access it, rather than by a name or other attribute of the resource.
So the URL is also known as your World Wide Web (www) address and each one is unique in its own IP address or domain name.
URI and URL are terms that are often used interchangeably even though they are actually two different things but are very similar in nature and gets into the technical aspects of the whole equations so we’ll leave those distinguishing differences to the extreme techies; which by the way I am not, so I will not be discussing it here.
A computer network is a group of computers or computer systems and other computing hardware devices that are linked together through communication channels to facilitate communication and resource-sharing among a wide range of users. Networks are commonly categorized based on their characteristics.
Whereas a node or a basic unit used in computer science, nodes are devices or data points on larger networks.
Devices or data points such as a personal computer, cell phone, printer, and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) fax machine are all different types of nodes.
When defining nodes on the internet, a node is anything that has an IP address.
These computers or nodes of a network are called clients, and they can connect to a server through either a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), such as the Internet. …
A file server is a computer that stores files that can be accessed by other computers.
IN A NUT SHELL
A server is a computer that in most cases has stronger and more powerful processors than your typical desktop computer and run more computer memory or RAM (Random Access Memory) with more advanced technologies than with your typical desktop Operating System.
Older technology from a year or two ago such as DDR3 SDRAM (Double Data Rate 3, Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory); or more currently used technologies such as DDR4 DIMMs (Double Data Rate 4, Dual In-line Memory Module); or other scalable RAM like the newest to hit the market the DDR5 DIMM, each doubling their predecessors capacity of memory storage.
Finally, servers can support very large cache memories because of these newer RAM technologies in their CPU’s making it easier for them to fetch or share frequently requested data faster than your typical desktop computer.
Super Servers are basically the backbone of the internet, and the internet is basically a group of super servers connected via fiber optics cables.
The fiber optic cables (is the most modern type of connecting wire) allowing for faster and more reliable communication between the servers and clients together these super servers create a cluster of servers aka the internet.
Each URL contains at least 3 main segments but can contain 6 main segments and up to 11 subsegments each of which is all equally important to a web client (internet user such as you and me) when we make a request (URL inquire) to a server for a resource (website, or webpage)
https://www.example.org:80/something/this.html?param1=value1¶m2=value2#here breaks down into:
The scheme – http:// Transport Layer Security Protocol a cryptographic protocol designed to provide security over a computer network’s communications; and its non-deprecated predecessor, https:// which has additional encryption technology. Both protocols ensure that all data transmitted between the server and web browser of the client computer remains encrypted in a way that is confidential and reliable, called Secure Socket Layer (SSL). As of the creation of this article (Feb. 2019) a new TLS protocol (TLS 1.2) is the latest in encryption technology and is quickly becoming the norm for all network security, but with TLS 1.3 lurking and scheduled to be released very soon in the near future it will be the latest of these advanced security technologies.
TLD (.uk – top level domain)
SLD (.org – second level domain)
Directory Path (/something/)
File Path (this.html)
File Name (this)
File Extension (.html)
Parameter and Value Pair (param1=value1)
Parameter and Value Pair seperator (&)
There are other things that can go into the URL, such as access credentials (username/password), but those don’t normally get used in public content pages.
It’s worth noting that you can have multiple SubDomains (www. , or something.www.).
TLDs can get complicated. You have Top Level (.com, .uk, etc.). Some are Second level (.co.uk), and these may be referred to as Country Code or GeoTLDs.
Another classification is whether a TLD is Global or Geo (.com is global, .co is actual Geo’d, but treated as global).
Not all Paths (or File Paths) contain File Extensions (so you can have URLs that don’t have “.html” etc.)
URLs are a mix of Case Insensitive and Case Sensitive parts.
The Protocol and Domain parts, (including Subdomains and TLDs), are Case Insensitive; they will always be treated as Lowercase; the rest of a URL (Path, Parameters, and Fragments) may be Case Sensitive (depending on the server platform and configuration); Uppercase and Lowercase are different so you could have “this.html” and “THIS.html” and “ThIs.html” and “this.HTML” and they’d all be different pages!. The same may apply for Directory (folder) names, parameters and values, and the #fragment at the end.
Why is This so Important You Ask?
Well, when we breakdown the internet and how it actually works it all might make better sense to you then. So let’s keep moving forward so we can begin to see the big picture.
There are 4 DNS servers involved in loading every webpage when it is requested by a client or computer’s end user (like you and me) the hierarchy is as follows:
1. DNS recursor – The recursor also known as the recursive resolver, can be thought of as a librarian who is asked to go find a particular book somewhere in a library. The DNS recursor is a server designed to receive queries from end users or client’s machines through applications such as web browsers.
Typically the recursor is then responsible for making additional requests in order to satisfy the client’s DNS query until it reaches the authoritative DNS nameserver for the requested record; it times out the inquire this is when the server does not get a response from the inquiry within a certain amount of time or the request is either blocked by the server’s firewall or the LAN to protect sensitive or proprietary information within the LAN.
This server can and in most cases is operated by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), your wireless device (laptops, tablets, and cell phones) carrier, or a third party provider.
2. Root nameserver – The root server is the first step in translating (resolving) human-readable hostnames into IP addresses. It can be thought of like an index in a library that points to different racks of books – typically it serves as a reference to other more specific locations.
3. TLD nameserver – The top-level domain server (TLD) can be thought of as a specific rack of books in a library.
This nameserver is the next step in the search for a specific IP address, and it hosts the last portion of a hostname (In example.com, the TLD server is “com”).
4. Authoritative nameserver – This final nameserver can be thought of as a dictionary on a rack of books, in which a specific name can be translated into its definition. The authoritative nameserver is the last stop in the nameserver query.
If the authoritative name server has access to the requested record, it will return the IP address for the requested hostname back to the DNS Recursor (the librarian) that made the initial request.
Okay now that we know what makes it work let’s get into how it all actually works.
The internet is basically made up of a cluster of servers or a server network, all working together to keep the information stored on different websites available to anyone requesting for it, much like a huge library (which is why a lot of the terminology is used from Librarian jargon).
Once a client submits a request it goes from one server to the next so fast that you don’t even realize the message being sent could be traveling thousands of miles within a Nanosecond.
And by the time you blink your eyes twice you are looking at data that is filed, stored, and presented to you for viewing (or if the information is yours for editing or enhancing) on a server halfway around the world; and you can view it as if the information were stored on the computer in your next door neighbors home.
As promised, the information highway has arrived and it is more than what they said it would be back in the ’60s and ’70s, now with cloud technology, data storage is becoming easier and easier to have available anywhere on earth.
Now, all it takes is the ability to receive a satellite or cell phone signal and you’re in – welcoming the technology that will lead us into the next millennium and beyond.
If you have any comments or you would simply like to add to this article please feel free to leave a comment!!