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Clients, or how to snare more on the Web

If you are used to plain-vanilla Unix or MS-DOS, then the way these gophers and WAISs work seems quite straightforward. But if you're used to a computer with a graphical interface, such as a Macintosh, an IBM compatible with Windows or a Next, you'll probably regard their interfaces as somewhat primitive. And even to a veteran MS-DOS user, the World-Wide Web interface is rather clunky (and some of the documents and files on the Web now use special formatting that would confuse your poor computer).

There are, however, ways to integrate these services into your graphical user interface. In fact, there are now ways to tie into the Internet directly, rather than relying on whatever interface your public-access system uses, through what are known as "client" programs. These programs provide graphical interfaces for everything from ftp to the World-Wide Web.

There is now a growing number of these "client" programs for everything from ftp to gopher. PSI of Reston, Va., which offers nationwide Internet access, in fact, requires its customers to use these programs. Using protocols known as SLIP and PPP, these programs communicate with the Net using the same basic data packets as much larger computers online.

Beyond integration with your own computer's "desktop," client programs let you do more than one thing at once on the net -- while you're downloading a large file in one window, you can be chatting with a friend through an Internet chat program in another.

Unfortunately, using a client program can cost a lot of money. Some require you to be connected directly to the Internet through an Ethernet network for example. Others work through modem protocols, such as SLIP, but public-access sites that allow such access may charge anywhere from $25 to $200 a month extra for the service.

Your system administrator can give you more information on setting up one of these connections.

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