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Veterinary Medical Resources on the INternet

Veterinary Medical Resources on the INternet

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04/30/2011

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T
he Internet is revolu-tionizing communica-tions. There are nowentire magazines, televisionshows, and even businessesand organizations focused sole-ly on the Internet. The Internethas also become a source forcontinuing education and a fo-rum for professional contact forveterinarians. The Internet willcontinue to grow as technolog-ic advance enables faster trans-mission and improved soft-ware.The Internet (or simply the“the net”) started out as a pro-ject of the Advanced ResearchProjects Agency of the Depart-ment of Defense in the late1960s to allow sharing of databetween computers. In the1970s, various computer sys-tems throughout the world be-came linked in a computer web.In the 1980s, this web becameknown as the Internet. In theearly 1990s, personal comput-ers became an increasingly im-portant part of the worldwidenetwork—an estimated 5 mil-lion computers were linked to-gether.
1
A survey in June 1996reported that there are nowover 12 million Internet hostsand the number is doubling ev-ery 12 to 15 months.
2
Today,the high-speed transmissionbackbone of the Internet is nolonger maintained by govern-mental agencies but has beendivided into regional networkareas managed by private com-panies.Veterinary medical electronicservices, including NOAH™(Network of Animal Health) andVIN™ (Veterinary InformationNetwork), have been availablethrough direct modem commu-nication for several years.These services have been limit-ed to subscribers of major on-line service providers, whichoperate their own private com-puter networks. During the pastfew years, however, even theon-line service organizationshave provided Internet gate-ways to allow their subscribersaccess to expanding Internetservices and allow Internetusers to access their privatenetworks.
Connecting to theInternet 
Some minimum hardwareand software requirements(Table One) must be fulfilled ifone is to take full advantage ofthe Internet. A modem trans-lates digital signals from thecomputer into analog signalsfor transmission across tele-phone lines. At the other end,the receiving computer trans-lates the analog signal back intoa digital signal that the comput-er can read. Communicationsoftware, usually provided withthe modem, is required for thecomputer to communicate withthe modem. Modems cantransmit information at variousspeeds, expressed in bits persecond (bps). The limiting fac-tor in how fast the computercommunicates with other com-puters on the Internet is thespeed of the data connectionfrom the computer to the Inter-
The Compendium 
February 1997Small Animal
and homes or existing cabletelevision lines and digitalsatellite dishes are utilized,transmission rates will in-crease. This change will haveimportant effects on the quali-ty and type of informationtransmitted.Connecting to the Internetfrom a university, large corpo-ration, or research institution issimple.
3
Many of these organi-zations have local area net-works (LANs) that have direct,high-speed Internet connec-tions. Other people can connectto the Internet by subscribing to
Veterinary Medical Resourceson the Internet
PERSPECTIVES IN VETERINARY MEDICINE
John J. Dascanio, VMDWilliam S. Swecker, DVM, PhDVirginia-Maryland RegionalCollege of Veterinary MedicineVirginia TechBlacksburg, Virginia
net service provider. Modemsthat are rated at 33,600 bps arecurrently available. The nextgeneration of modems will bedramatically faster.Modems are sluggish incomparison with the backboneof the Internet. The Internet
shigh-speed transmission linescan transmit 45 million bps(1000 pages of typewritten textin 1 second).
1
As higher-speedlines (e.g., fiberoptic cables)are installed in communitiesan Internet service provider.These companies offer servicesranging from electronic mail(email) to stock quotes in addi-tion to providing a gateway tothe Internet. Several of theseservice providers, includingsome telephone companies, of-fer communications softwarethat connects your modem tothe Internet through their com-puter system. Some providerswill even maintain a homepageor personal information area for
s
The Internet can provide convenient access toveterinary information.
s
Defining specific keywords for Internet searchesprovides a manageable list of websites.
s
“Bookmarks” allow the user to return to a web-site with a
single click 
rather rerunning the
entire 
 web search.
    K    E    Y     P    O    I    N    T    S
V
 
Small Animal
The Compendium 
February 1997
a monthly fee. A wide range ofservices is available.Many public libraries havecomputer connections to theInternet. By using a connectedcomputer and a World WideWeb browser, a user can locatethe nearest Internet serviceprovider (Table Two). As of July1996, there were an estimated3000 of these providers.
4
Monthly service charges forconnections vary from free to$30. In addition, long-distancetelephone charges are applied ifthe connection to the provideris not a local call. Most majorcities now have local connec-tions, and most commercialproviders have toll-free (800 or888 area code) telephone num-bers that charge a reduced rate($0.10/min) for individuals us-ing long-distance connections.Some cities even have theirown network services for com-mercial purposes to provide aninterface for business and com-munity. One example is theBlacksburg Electronic Village Net-work(BevNet [http://www.bev.net/])in Blacksburg, Virginia.Once you are connected tothe Internet, you need softwareto allow navigation among thethousands of linked computers.Each of the navigation pro-grams has a unique name
andthe name does not always de-scribe the program
s function.These programs are constantlybeing upgraded. The followingdescribes the general types ofInternet software. Specific pro-grams are available through In-ternet service providers, on-lineservice organizations, directlyvia the Internet, or in most com-puter stores.
 World Wide Web
The World Wide Web(WWW) has been in existencefor a little over 3 years. It allowscomputer users to access infor-mation through a hypertext in-terface and a program called aweb browser.
5
These browsersare commercially available orcan be obtained via the Internet.Many new computers evencome with a web browser al-ready loaded. With the hypertextinterface, the user need onlyclick on a highlighted word orpicture for the computer to per-form a task. Many types of mul-timedia (e.g., graphics, video,audio, and interactive animation)are available via hypertext links.The original informationscreen that appears when awebsite is accessed is called ahomepage (Figures 1 and 2). Itusually serves as a table of con-tents that describes or has linksto other information areas orweb pages.The format of web addresseshas become widely familiar be-cause such addresses havebeen featured in so many adver-tisements on television, in mag-azines, and in direct mail solici-tations. This addressing system,called a uniform resource loca-tor (URL), serves as a personalphone number for a website onthe Internet. Virginia Tech
swebsite address (http://www.vt.edu) follows the usual format.The first section of the address
(http) 
stands for
hypertext transfer protocol 
. It is followedby a colon and two forwardslashes. The next section
(www) 
stands for World WideWeb. The sections immediatelyfollowing describe the comput-er
s location and any associateddirectory and file names (vt =Virginia Tech; edu = educationalinstitution). There are organiza-tions that record and registerthe unique names or addressesfor web locations to ensure thatno duplications arise.
6
Searching the World  Wide Web
Finding the desired informa-tion is the challenge in workingwith any data base. Because theInternet consists of millions ofcomputers, this search is nosmall task. Strategies have beendevised to help locate the rightsource of information. Threemain methods are used to locateinformation on the Internet.
1
Thefirst method (usually the mosttime-consuming and least pro-ductive) involves simply
surf-ing
the Internet
finding aWWW homepage with relatedinformation and then searchingthe links to other web pages. Of-ten, the user becomes side-tracked by interesting informa-tion on a totally different topic.A more streamlined searchuses predefined lists of weblinks related to a specific sub-ject. These lists are usuallymaintained by an organizationthat has similar interests. Theusefulness of the websites andtheir associated web links de-
Microprocessor80386
®
68040
®
Random-access 88memory (MB)Modem (bps)14,400 14,400MonitorColorColorHard drive (MB)100100
TABLEONE
Minimum System Requirementsfor Access to the Internet
Operating System Specification 
Windows 3.1Macintosh 7.
The Listhttp://thelist.iworld.com/NetAccess Worldwidehttp://www.best.be/iap/TheDirectoryhttp://www.vni.net/thedirectory/Internet Accesshttp://www.herbison.com/her-Provider Lists forbison/iap_usa_ meta_list.htmlthe United States
*
URL 
Uniform Resource Locator or Domain name, analogousto an address on the Internet.
TABLETWO
Selected Internet Service Provider Listings
World Wide Web SiteURL Address
 
The Compendium 
February 1997Small Animal
com/) and the keyword
veteri- nary 
yielded 3812 associatedweb links!Performing a search can berewarding or frustrating. Al-though a search may yield goodinformation, there are manypoor websites. The user musthave patience and use book-marks for useful locations.Bookmarks are created whenthe web browser saves the webaddress (URL). The user canthen simply open a bookmark(or website) with a single clickrather than going through theentire search or successivelinks to return to the site.Although many websites arerelated to veterinary medicine(Table Four), some nonveteri-nary websites may also be ofinterest to veterinarians (TableFive). This column highlights afew of the most useful weblinks. Because of the dynamicnature of the Internet, however,any such list will be outdated bythe time it is printed. New ser-vices and organizations arecontinually being added. NetVetprovides a fairly complete list ofcurrent veterinary resources. Itis a good starting point for lo-cating veterinary informationbecause meeting schedules, or-ganizations, and topics are sub-categorized in lists.Some specific veterinarysites should be mentioned,including Cornell University
sConsultant computer-aided di-agnosis web page, managed byMaurice E. White, DVM (Figure
Open Text Indexhttp://index.opentext.net/Lycoshttp://www.lycos.com/Magellanhttp://www.mckinley.com/Excitehttp://www.excite.com/ Altavistahttp://altavista.digital.com/ Yahoo!http://www.yahoo.com/ Who Where?http://www.whowhere.com/shareware.comhttp://shareware.com/?netscape.swbtnThe Electric Libraryhttp://www.elibrary.com/id/2525/DejaNewshttp://www.dejanews.com/Infoseek Guidehttp://guide.infoseek.com/MetaCrawlerhttp://metacrawler.cs.washington.edu:8080/MedExplorerhttp://www.medexplorer.com/medexplr.html
*
URL— 
Uniform Resource Locator or Domain name, analogousto an address on the Internet.
TABLETHREE
Some Commonly Used Search Engines
Search EngineURL Address
pends on how often they areupdated and reviewed. One ofthe best sites for veterinariansis NetVet (http://netvet.wustl.edu), which has an extensivelist of veterinary and animal-re-lated websites (Figure 3). Atpresent, NetVet is privatelymaintained, although plans areunder way to include this site inthe American Veterinary Medi-cal Association
s homepage(http://www. avma.org/).The third method of locatinginformation involves search en-gines (Table Three). These pro-grams perform word or topicsearches in either specific sub-ject areas or throughout the en-tire Internet, examining titles,headers, indexes, directories, orentire documents. Most webbrowsers come equipped with alink to a search engine or to alist of search engines. Once asearch is performed, the userreceives a list of related websitelinks and can simply click onthe item to view the website.Searches may return 100 ormore links to a request. Defin-ing some specific keywords be-forehand can yield a more man-ageable list. A WWW searchusing the InfoSeek
®
search en-gine (http://guide.infoseek.
Figure 1
Homepage of the Netscape Navigator
®
 World Wide Web browser (http://home.netscape.com/index.html).Figure 2
Homepage of the Microsoft Internet Explorer
®
 
 World Wide Web browser (http://www.microsoft.com/ie/).

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