It may be true that I didn't choose which college to go to by the kind of school network they offered, but the college should provide a decent network if they are going to provide one at all. Our webmaster, whoever he or she is, has placed certain restrictions that hinder the effective use of the internet.
Now, there are some rules that make perfect sense. For instance, adult web sites and Napster is blocked during business hours on business days to help reduce internet traffic and keep existing traffic business-related. I agree with that. I mean our entire school's gateway to the internet is a dual T1 connection. That includes all administration, faculty, lab, and student computers. That's a lot for a fiber optic cable to handle. There is one problem I have discovered that I am trying to figure out the logic behind it.
Recently I tried to visit my friend's new web site. If you were to click on the link I provided, you would be wisked away to his site by the magic of HTML. If I were to click on that very same link, would get an Invalid URL error message. It took me a while to figure out what the actual problem was to begin with. Eventually I figured it out
There are four constraints that determine whether a URL is valid or invalid. First, it must begin with the proper access protocol (that "http://" stuff). That's not the problem. The second is the hostname is missing. There's definitely a hostname. The third constraint is that there is a double escape in the URL-path. To avoid getting really tecnical, I'll just tell you that's not the problem either. It's the fourth and final constraint that causes the trouble.
Look closely at the hostname in the URL (it's "transam_gta" to save you the trouble). What do you notice about it? It contains an underscore - that line between transam and gta. The fourth constraint is that there are no illegal characters allowed in the hostname. That sounds like a good rule, but the underscore is considered a hostname. Now the rest of the internet disagrees with that. Thus everyone not using the school network can see his site except me.
I did find a way around this problem, and found a use for AOL at the same time. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Yes an actual use for America Online. Well, anyway, when I sign in and use AOL's browser, it goes through a web proxy server, not the school network. I am no longer affected by the rules of the webmaster.
So there you have it. You may have learned something about how the internet works. If not, you can go to Webmonkey and read up and find out. That's where I found out how most of this stuff works. And look where I am today.
Update 10/9/2001: My exstensive brain power has yet again helped me around the underscore rule without using AOLs browser. I aquired the hostname of the proxy server that AOL's browser uses. I then set my regular browser to use that proxy server instead of the school's network. Now I can see my friend's web site and at the same time negate the need for AOL. I guess they can never win.
Written 10/8/2001 by Chris Taylor