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Visiting a Portal Web Site

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This chapter is from the book

When someone begins to use the World Wide Web for the first time, one thing he or she may find surprising is the lack of an official place to start. You can begin exploring the Web at any page, end at any page, and visit any place you like in between.

Although this lack of structure is one of the Web's strong suits, some of the most popular Web sites are designed to be great starting places for your online explorations. These sites are called portals because they're intended to be gateways to the huge amount of information that has been amassed on the Web.

Popular portals include Yahoo!, Excite, Netscape, Lycos, and MSN. The core offering of these portals is a way to find Web sites on specific topics. You can enter keywords to search for particular information, and the portal returns a list of relevant categories and Web sites.

Portals also offer numerous services to keep you from leaving the site at all—news, sports scores, stock tickers, free e-mail, and dozens of other attractions.

Every one of the major portals offers a way to customize its site to emphasize the topics that interest you most. Many of these services begin with the word My, as in My Yahoo!, My Lycos, and My Netscape.

Task 1: How to Set Up an Account on a Portal

For many Internet users, the first World Wide Web site they used as a portal was Yahoo!, a directory of hand-picked Web sites that launched in 1994. This directory, one of the first of its kind, has been one of the Internet's 10 most popular sites for years, attracting millions of visitors each day. Today, the Yahoo! directory of sites is only one of the services it offers. There are also local phone listings, stock prices, free e-mail accounts, and several dozen other features. Yahoo! offers free accounts through the My Yahoo! service.

Visit the Portal

Each Web portal has a different procedure for setting up an account, although most require the same things: your name, address, e-mail address, and demographic information such as your profession and household income. To begin setting up a free My Yahoo! account, type http://edit.yahoo.com into your browser's Address bar and press Enter.

Figure 3.1

Request an Account

If you do not have an account, each portal will offer links you can use to request one. On Yahoo!, there's a Sign up now hyperlink. Click this link to request an account.

Figure 3.2

Choose a Unique ID

Each portal asks you to choose a unique username, which identifies you throughout the site and forms part of your free e-mail address. In the Yahoo! ID text box, type your desired username. Your username can only contain a combination of letters, numbers, and underscore characters (_).

Figure 3.3

Choose a Password

Type the password you want to use in the Password text box; type it again in the Re-type Password text box. Type a Security Question and Answer in the appropriate boxes—Yahoo! uses these to verify your identity if you forget your password.

Figure 3.4

Enter Your E-Mail Address

You must have an existing e-mail address to join Yahoo!, such as the one provided by your Internet service provider. Type this address into the Alternate Email text box. Next, use the Birthday boxes to provide this information—Yahoo! requires this also.

Figure 3.5

Complete the Sign-Up Form

When signing up for a portal, you may be asked several optional questions about your job, interests, and other information. After you've answered all mandatory questions and any optional ones you choose to provide, click the Submit This Form button.

Figure 3.6

Choosing an Alternate ID

In most cases, your first choice for a portal username will already be in use by someone else—thousands of people signed up before you did, leaving few common words, names, or surnames up for grabs. Yahoo! suggests a few alternatives to your first choice or you can try other usernames until you find one that isn't taken.

Trying Other Portal Sites

Other large portal sites have offerings comparable to Yahoo!'s, so you may want to sign up for several. Visit the following Web sites to set up accounts:

To create an account you can use on MSN, Microsoft's Web portal, read Task 4 in this part, "How to Set Up a Microsoft Passport Account."

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