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Introduction to the CCN


The following people have contributed in some way to this manual:

Joseph Baker, Landon Boyd, Tony Cianfaglione, Robert E. Currie, Andrew Dacey, Margaret C. Douma, Darcy MacDonald, David J. Murdoch, Steven Slater, Gerard MacNeil, Christopher Majka, Len Mitchell, David L. Potter, James Schofield, Carol Sin, Michael Small, Timothy Spencer, David Trueman, Matthew Wulfman and the many volunteers that have helped to make the Chebucto Community Net what it is today.


by David J. Murdoch

To paraphrase Tom Grundner, founder of the community networks movement:

"A Community Net is not something that YOU do for the community; it is something the community does for itself. Progress into the Information Age will NOT be measured by the number of people we can make upon the Internet. I believe that, if we enter this age with equity at all, it will be because of LOCAL people, building LOCAL systems, to meet LOCAL needs. That's YOU, building community nets, in cities and towns all over the country. THAT is how we will enter this new age with equity!"

So what is a Community Net and why is Tom Grundner urging us all to become involved in building Community Nets but build them with equity?

And how does this guide help?

Let me answer the first question and then the reason for this guide might then be more apparent.

In simple terms, Community Nets are community owned places where all citizens, regardless of financial barriers or knowledge about computers, can come together to share in knowing what resources the community has to offer.

Organizations from the community can share their information and keep it current; individuals can publish information about themselves and their activities and interests. All users can learn more about their community and thus enhance the way they view the community, the opportunities it offers, and ways they can give back to their community. All the citizens of a Community Net can make a contribution to community development and no citizen has to be excluded!

Chebucto Community Net offers access to a wide range of community information and provides access to this information for little or no cost. Beyond the cost of computer equipment - almost any computer, old or new, equipped with a modem will do - there is very little cost involved. If you do not have a computer then you can also use one of the public access terminals located around the city.

Chebucto Community Net offers registered users access to electronic mail which enables them to communicate with others in the community and beyond. It offers individuals the opportunity to learn, meet others with similar interests, discover the richness of resources contained in our community and ultimately provides all citizens with equal opportunities for individual growth and contributes to community development.

There are virtually no barriers to using and participating fully in using a Community Net:

One is the lack of a home or office computer; but there are many Public Access terminals available for using Chebucto Community Net.

The other is a limited knowledge of computers. But all you need to know to get started is how to use your computer's communications software and from there this guide should help you get on your way. You should then be able to make the connection to Chebucto Community Net and explore all that it has to offer you and find the opportunities that await you.

Good luck in your explorations!

I. Introduction to CCN

The Chebucto Community Net (CCN) operates using a set of programs known collectively as Chebucto Suite, a Unix-based set of scripts created by volunteer technicians. The main interface used by CCN is called 'Lynx', a text-based web-browser as opposed to the commercial graphical web-browsers such as Netscape. Lynx, sends text pages to your computer and receives input by you telling it what you want it to do. Lynx works hand in hand with several other programs to bring you E-Mail, USENET Newsgroups, a text editor, downloading, uploading and other general file maintenance utilities. Images and sounds on web pages can be downloaded and viewed/heard later by using a variety of programs which you must use separately from a session on the Community Net.

When you log onto Chebucto Community Net you arrive at the Homepage. The numbers are "links" to areas of interest. Typing a number and then [ENTER] ("Return" on many keyboards) will take you to that area - which is another document (also known as sites or pages). While all the links on the CCN homepage are to other pages on CCN's own computer, the links could as easily take you to any other computer connected to the Internet. In addition to reading other people's pages every member has:

Lynx navigates among the documents on CCN and on the Internet via the World Wide Web. The Web (also called WWW or W3) is a series of documents and sites around the world on computers linked to the Internet and accessible via it. Each document has an address called its Universal Resource Locator or URL, which locates the computer and place that the document is located in. These are written into web documents and appear when viewed on-line as links. Web documents, including all pages on CCN, are written in a formatting system called HyperText Markup Language (HTML).

CCN's HelpDesk, available from the first link on the CCN Homepage, has an excellent series of articles and tutorials to teach you HTML as well as help on how to use CCN and the internet. Use it first to learn how to get around in documents using your arrow keys (or other keys) to follow links. There are training sessions run by CCN volunteers in the event you need further assistance. In addition to following links, there is a list of commands at the bottom of your screen, most of which can be used by typing their first letter. These are detailed later on in the section: The Current Keymap.

Most commands that you type will generate a response from CCN which will either take you somewhere or display a message at the bottom of your screen asking for more details or confirming what you want to do. Watch for them, as they can be important and pressing [ENTER] at the wrong moment can have unusual effects! As you become more familiar with the commands and their responses you can work more quickly. The command 'g' or 'go' activates a large set of other commands listed in the section: Go Commands. The keymap and the go commands are well worth studying!

Probably the most amazing thing about the Chebucto Community Net and Lynx is its ability to be compatible with a variety of computer systems. With a communications program capable of running vt100 (or higher) emulation, anyone with a PC-compatible; Macintosh; Apple II & GS; Amiga; Atari 8 bit & ST; Commodore 64/128; TRS-80, T!99/4A, CP/M units; and even direct terminals, just to name a few, can connect to it successfully. Basically, all you need to connect is a computer, a modem and a communications program that can handle vt100 or higher emulation.

Once you are connected, you will find a wealth of support for all platforms through various User Groups, whose pages are hosted on CCN, and through software available for your use through our Public Download Area.

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