The Technology Behind Communication Over The Internet

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The Internet is the quintessential form of innovative technology that dictates the future of communication in our world. Therefore, it is essential that everyone is able to form some understanding of the ways in which we use various apps, emailing and other services, rather than simply how to type in a box. This basic description of the services that you no doubt use on a regular basis will help you get to grips with the modern technology on the Internet.

Sending and Receiving Emails

Simply put, an email is an electronic message sent from one device to another. They can be received by a computer, or any internet-enabled mobile device. Just like a letter makes stops at different postal sorting offices, emails pass from your computer to your sorting office, known as a mail server. The email makes the transition from your mail server to the recipient’s mail server and swiftly arrives at the destination computer. Your email stored in an electronic mailbox until the recipient retrieves it, at which point it is removed from the mail server.

Using the Internet to Make a Phone Call

Popular software such as Skype and Ventrilo use what’s called VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol. It is a method of converting analogue audio signals, like the kind you hear when talking on your house phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet. This fantastic way of communicating is a way to make totally free phone calls, bypassing the ordinary phone company, and its charges.

What’s more, you can do away with the old house phone and choose from one of three popular VoIP services: an analogue to digital converter for your house phone (ATA), a phone that plugs straight into your router (IP Phones) and computer to computer chats with loved ones. This particular communications technology has the potential to replace the humble house phone as we know it.

Instant Messaging (IM)

Sometimes even emailing someone isn’t fast enough in this day and age. With the increase of smart phone ownership and the advent of 4G, people can leave their phones constantly on the Internet to receive IM’s. Instant Messaging is not just limited to sending text messages: you can send video links, web links, files, images and even have a group chat with friends or co-workers. Plus, when used in combination with a VoIP, you can talk to your friends using the Internet instead of your phone’s credit.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

Although by title you may not recognise this method of communication, users of any forum or image board such as the popular Reddit are interacting with IRC. The system is designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels, and Reddit has over 600 of them. It also allows for private message and chat applications, including file sharing. IRC sites have often been at the centre of Internet crime, attracting the attention of ‘denial of service’ (DoS) hackers, making a computer or network unavailable to its intended users. But don’t panic if you regularly use this kind of site – so do millions of others and there are prevention methods such as Firewalls and some virus software.

So tell us, what is your preferred way of communicating and why? Please leave a message in the comments below.

Resource Box: Emily Jarvis is a hands-on tech fanatic and builds computers in her spare time, teaching others how to do the same. She writes for the GKBC Writer Academy.

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