CCN Userhelp FAQ

Andrew D. Wright
CCN Userhelp Volunteer

          Here are three commonly asked questions to CCN's Userhelp, in no particular order.


          Why can't I get into my Hotmail account from Lynx?

          Hotmail, recently purchased by Microsoft, is a free email service hosted in the United States. It has altered its user login process to use SSL, a web encryption format, so its user logins would not go over the Internet as plain text, but as encrypted data packets. Unfortunately the Lynx text browser in use at CCN cannot access https:// addresses (which use this encryption) because Lynx is an Open Source browser, which means that its code is distributed in a human readable form.

          Data encryption is considered by signatories of the Wassenaar Arrangement to be a "dual use technology" (list here) meaning that it can be used as a weapon of war. Canada is a signatory of this Arrangement and has its own list of dual use items.

          Data encryption software cannot be freely distributed in a human readable form, but only if it is compiled into a machine readable form or protected in some other way. Graphic browsers such as Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer contain such encryption code within their programs but it can only be read by machine.

          In other words, to access https:// addresses, which also include online banking and credit card purchases over the web, you have to use a graphic browser over a PPP connection (such as Chebucto Plus).

          The fact of the matter is that this whole encryption software embargo is totally silly (if for no other reason than it is too easy to circumvent), but there it is.



          How can I go to a web site with Lynx?

          This one is easy once you know the secret. If you want to go to a web site from CCN, then while you are in Lynx (that is, not reading your mail or browsing newsgroups), you simply type:


for the go shortcut. Then you type in:


(which stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol if you were wondering) then the address of the web page you want to go to and hit Enter. So for example, if I wanted to go to AltaVista's search engine page at, I would just type in:


then hit Enter and *poof*, I'm there.

          There are a couple of other types of address other than web pages, such as FTP sites (which stands for File Transfer Protocol). These are usually places where you can download things. To access such a site, you simply type in ftp:// instead of the http:// we used above to get to web pages. Okay, so let's try one of those. F-Prot makes a nice DOS-based Anti-Virus program which is free to home users. You can download it from their site and to get there, you would type in:


and hit Enter. The anti-virus program is the 2 Meg .zip file.

          Another type of address you can follow this way are telnet sites, where you would type in telnet:// instead of http://.

          One little known trick on CCN you can use when typing in a web page that sits on Chebucto is to replace with just www. So for example, instead of my home page being, I can just type in http://www/~au141/Profile.html. Of course, this shortcut will only work within CCN's Lynx browser and nowhere else.



          How do I find a list of shortcuts?

          There are lots of things you can do with shortcuts on CCN. To find a complete list of them, when in Lynx type in:


which is the go command and a question mark. Users of graphic browsers can find the list here though some of these links require you to be logged into CCN in order to work.


You may direct comments or suggestions about this column to:

Andrew D. Wright,

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