Imagine this: you are sitting on your computer in your pajamas enjoying your morning cup of java. It is 10 degrees outside and snowing so heavy you can’t see your neighbor’s house across the street. Now let me ask you: do you really feel like going shopping for that sweater you have been wanting for weeks? Well of course you don’t but there is another answer. Welcome to the world of online shopping. Online shopping is where you go to one of the thousands of shopping sites on the internet to purchase products and services. There are many names for these sites such as online shops, e-store, internet shop, online store or virtual store. It takes away the need to go to a department store or mall and physically shop.

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee created the first internet server and browser and in 1992, Charles Stack created the first online bookstore called Book Stacks Unlimited and in 1994, the online phenomenon Amazon was created by Jeff Bezos. Also in 1994 saw the coming out of online banking and an online Pizza Hut shop. And EBay was created in 1996, which is a huge online shopping venue. It is estimated that one third of people that use online shops use a search engine like Yahoo and Google to find what they are looking for and the rest use word of mouth. The great thing about online shopping and search engines is that you can use a search engine to find either the store you are looking for such as Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s or you can type in the article of clothing you are searching for such as a sweater or skirt and it will bring up a list of online shopping venues that carry those items.

There are many items you can purchase online such as books, clothes, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, nutrition products, groceries and airline tickets. Online shopping provides convenience, freedom and control. There are many payment options available when doing online shopping such as debit cards, COD or cash on delivery, online check, wire transfer, postal money order, PayPal, Google checkout, Amazon payments, Bill Me Later and gift cards. Once a payment has been made, there are many ways to deliver the goods or services. These ways include instant downloading which is used in the case of media products such as software, music, movies or images, shipping to the customer’s address or gift recipient, drop shipping which is the process of passing the order to a third party warehouse who then ships the order to the customer directly and in-store pickup where the customer can order online and then have it shipped to their local store where it is then available for immediate pickup by the customer.

 

A newsgroup is an online public bulletin board on the World Wide Web where you can post comments as well as read and reply to other peoples’ comments. They are neat places where you can meet others who share a common interest with you. For example, if you were interested in smoking, you could exchange messages with people in the newsgroup alt.support.smoking. Newsgroups are based on a particular theme or topic. Many newsgroups will restrict messages to the topic at hand while other newsgroups may let members post of any topic of their choice. The administrator of the news server, also called the news admin, is the one who runs a particular newsgroup and they moderate the messages to be sure that all rules are being followed.

There are 2 different types of newsgroups in general: binary or text. There is no really difference between the two except the different names allows users and servers with limited facilities the ability to decrease bandwidth usage. Many people relate newsgroups to public message boards. For those who have no clue what I am talking about, think of corkboard that is placed at the entrance to your local grocery store. People place messages on them right? Well newsgroups are that same thing except in an electronic form. Newsgroups frequently have problems with flame wars which are outright arguments between opinionated people and trolling which are people just browsing the messages without leaving any of their own. But newsgroups are a place of helpful information, support and friendship.

Today there are over 100,000 Usenet newsgroups but only about 1/4th of those are actually active groups. Each newsgroup will vary in how popular it is. It can be from just a couple of posts a month to several hundred a day. Newsgroup servers are hosted by several organizations. Most internet service providers such as Comcast and AOL have their own newsgroup servers. When it comes to how newsgroups work, there is a great explanation from Wikipedia. It states that “every host of a news server maintains agreements with other news servers to regularly synchronize. In this way news servers form a network. When a user posts to one news server, the message is stored locally. That server then shares the message with the servers that are connected to it if both carry the newsgroup, and from those servers to servers that they are connected to, and so on.”

Newsgroups are controlled by hierarchies. The hierarchy is defined by the prefix before the first dot. There were originally 7 major hierarchies or Usenet groups. Comp* are discussions of computer related topics, news* are Usenet discussions, sci* deals with science areas, rec* has to do with stuff like games and hobbies, soc* discusses social issues, talk* deals with topics such as religion and politics and misc* was everything that didn’t fit into a category. Now they also have alt* which deals with all types of subjects.