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Downloading: the lowdown

Today’s delightful discussion delves into downloading. All right. So it’s not really a discussion; it’s more along the lines of me talking about it and you just reading about it but hey, I was feeling the need to start this article off with an alliterative bang.

“Downloading” is one of those terms you may hear quite often but might not be quite sure what it means. I mean, you kind of know. Sort of. But not exactly. Allow me to clear the clutter and clarify the confusion.

To download is “to transfer (data or programs) from a server or host computer to one’s own computer (or device),” Blah blah blah, glazed eyes, technical babble, that definition didn’t do anything for you, right?



Well, since most of our download experiences deal with the Internet, I suggest you just think of downloading like this: Pulling something cool off of the Internet and saving it onto your computer. That’s it! For general purposes it’s much easier to think about it that way.

Okay, so you understand what downloading is. “Why should I care about it?!” you cry.



“Because,” I respond, “there are lots of really neat things sitting out there on the Internet just waiting for you to download them. And many of them are free!” Your eyes just got wider when I said “free.” I saw it.

When you pull something off the Internet and want to put it onto your computer, you usually need to save it in a specific location. Some people like to save downloads to their desktops, others like to save downloads into their “My Documents” folder. You should save your downloads wherever it feels right to you, just so long as you can find where you saved them! Therefore, once your downloads are transferred onto your computer, you can open them up and use them.

“All right,” you say hesitantly, “but then what does “uploading’ mean? Is it any different?” Why, I’m so very glad you asked! Uploading is, not surprisingly, the exact opposite of downloading. It’s when someone takes something from a computer and places it up onto the Internet. Webmasters create Web sites on their computers and when they’re done, they upload the Web site to the Internet. Unless you’re editing a Web site, you most likely don’t upload things to the Internet too often. That’s why we’re focusing on downloading today.

Two other terms you should become familiar with are “freeware” and “shareware.” Freeware is fully functional models of products or software you can download without having to pay any money. With shareware, the owner of the product or software you downloaded retains all the rights. You are usually allowed to test out the product for a limited time (30 days is the norm), after which the product stops functioning unless you purchase it for a small fee.

Wallpaper and screensavers

Moving onward – Let’s take a look at some of the cool things out there you can download. (Remember, this just translates into “Let’s take a look at some of the cool things out there that you can pull off the Internet and put onto your computer.”)

Some people like to download desktop wallpapers, which are photos or images you see on your computer screen when no programs are open – the “background” of your computer, if you will. Here are a few sites where you can download a wide variety of desktops: http://www.yourwallpaper.com, http://www.wallpapervault.com, and http://www.desktopia.com.

Other people like to download games to play on their computers. Please note I am not encouraging you to do this and then play your games at work. I don’t need to get into trouble here. Many types of games are available on the Internet, including puzzles, arcade games, war games, kids games, board games, and word games. If you’re interested in obtaining some games to play on your computer, you might wish to take a look at: http://www.download-

free-games.com,

http://www.download.net (click on the “games” link), or http://www.goodsol.com (for you card addicts-there’re 560 versions of solitaire here!).

Many people love to download screensavers. If you’d like to download some yourself, you can start by heading to: http://www.screensaverfree.com or http://www.screensaver.com. If you like three-dimensional graphics, you can try http://www.3dscreensaver.com.

Downloading music

Yes, Napster was forced to shut down – but that doesn’t mean you can no longer download music onto your computer from the Internet! If you’re ready to dabble in the world of downloading music so that you can listen to your favorite songs while you work (or play solitaire or stare at your new screensaver), it’s time to explore the following Web sites: http://www.kazaa.com, http://www.mp3.com, and http://www.artistdirect.com.

Caveat downloader

Most anything you can dream of is available for download – whether free or for a fee – on the Internet. Take a look around. Search for what you’d like to find.

A note of caution: You really should double-check that you have virus-protection software installed on your computer before you start downloading to ensure that someone didn’t sneak a nasty computer virus into something you’re about to download. There are definitely some rotten apples in the Internet barrel.

If I have piqued your interest in the possibility of finding all sorts of goodies on the Internet, you really should review the following Web page: http://www.sofweb.vic.edu.au/

internet/downld.htm. It’s a fantastic resource that contains helpful screen shots and images, is well-organized and is easy to read. The information located here goes into much more detail than I did about important aspects, nuances, terminology, tips, and precautions related to the world of downloading.

I hope you found this helpful. I hope you now feel ready to become a definite downloading demon. At the very least, I hope you were amazed by today’s occasional awe-inspiring alliteration.

Keep up the good work, everyone. And until next time, remember S this stuff isn’t so hard.

Have any questions about how technology is affecting your life? Contact eRin pheiL. Based in Frisco, eRin pheiL is the primary creative of timeforcake (www.timeforcake.com). She can be reached via phone at

(970) 668-0709 or e-mail at

info@timeforcake.com .


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