Ask Mr. Modem: The difference between Internet, internet and intranet

Posted Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

Mr. Modem’s sites of the week


750 Words

Have you ever heard of the tradition of writing morning pages? Me neither, but historically, some people would write three pages worth of whatever was careening through their craniums each day, kind of like a personal journal. It supposedly clear one’s head for productive thoughts the rest of the day. No, seriously. If it sounds intriguing, read this site’s FAQ at, which also addresses questions of security and password protection.


World Air Traffic View

This YouTube video shows a 24-hour satellite observation of all large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to one minute and 12 seconds. The yellow dots that look like swarming locusts are airplanes in the sky. Sharp-eyed observers will see dawn’s early light moving from east to west, as the world turns. (Insert cheesy organ music here.)


World Wide Arts Resources

If you enjoy contemporary art but find galleries snooty, inaccessible, or too Grey Pouponish, you might appreciate this impressive alternative. Click Artist Portfolios and review works by featured artists. You can even browse online portfolios by medium (oil, charcoal, ink, etc.) or theme.

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Can you explain the difference between the Internet and an intranet?

There are actually three terms that are so similar, they are often confused: Internet, internet and intranet. The Internet (with a capital I), refers to the vast collection of connected computer networks that use the same data-transmission protocols. The World Wide Web (www) is part of the larger Internet.

The internet (with a lowercase i), refers to two or more connected networks, a network being defined as two or more connected computers with the ability to communicate with each other.

An intranet is a private network, usually found within a business or other organization. It generally uses the same type of software that you would use on the public Internet.

Can you explain what “@mm” means as part of a virus file name?

Some virus names display strange prefixes and weird suffixes such as W32.Sircam@mm or VBS.Manis@mm. The prefix designates the type of file the virus infects or the platform. For example, W32 targets Windows 32-bit versions; OM targets a Microsoft Office Macros; VBS targets a Visual Basic script; and MH means the virus will inevitably result in a Major Headache.

Virus suffixes can be tricky because viruses can have more than one suffix. The @mm suffix that you inquired about refers to a worm “mass mailer” — a form of virus that can attach itself to entries in your email address book.

The effect of a virus may be a harmless prank that displays a silly message, or it may destroy programs, data and kill houseplants. Sophisticated viruses can lie dormant on your hard drive and perform their dastardly deeds once a year. The Michaelangelo virus, for example, springs to life in infected systems on Michaelangelo’s birthday, which we all know is March 6. (It’s hard to believe, but he would have been 539 next month. It seems like only yesterday he was 520.)

A worm is a self-replicating computer program. It uses a network (like the Internet) to send copies of itself to other computers on the network and it can do so without any user intervention. Unlike a virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms almost always cause harm to the network, while viruses usually corrupt or modify files on a targeted computer.

I am so sick of pop-up ads appearing on my screen. Is there any way to close these things when they appear?

Hold down the ALT key and press F4 each time a new pop-up opens. Just continue pressing the ALT key while tapping F4 and you’ll close ’em as fast as they open.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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