IRENE and the Internet
In touch with our world.
Funding for an internet connection was provided by a U.S. Department of Commerce NTIA grant in 1994. The School District of Indian River County, during the administration of the grant funds, helped develop the guidelines, Internet access agreements and naming conventions to be used for all IRENE internet accounts.
Getting the hardware and lines for internet access installed was the easy part. With IRENE's commitment to always provide a means of free community access, getting the system to work at a text level was no problem. Telnet, FTP, Lynx, e-mail all went up without a hitch (well, not too many at least).
Great. We could access the internet. Now what? How to get to all that information. Step one of course was to write a manual.
The next was to write a single page, meant to be accessed via our public lynx browser, to help people navigate the web. From there requests for graphic capability began to flood our e-mail boxes and telephone lines.
Ken Srigley (no less than a technical genius), owner of Vetrol Data Systems, Inc., spent countless hours working with the system to retain all of our current free access areas and still provide an acceptable level of service on our pay lines. With the integration required it was initially only possible to provide SLIP and CSLIP access, not a good solution for MAC and Windows 95 users. More hard work and many more hours later, PPP was functioning perfectly.
Since IRENE is the Indian River Education NEtwork, it made sense to use IRENE's direct access to the web as a way to help people learn about our local community resources. While Ken was dealing with the technical stuff, yours truly (firstname.lastname@example.org) was busy learning HTML, graphics and all the other parts required to provide our residents and visitors with a central source of information about all there is to see and do here. You can read about how our web sites came to be, if you're interested in the trials and tribulations.
The internet is the most comprehensive resource library in existence. The biggest challenge IRENE faces is being able to continue to provide the "computer disadvantaged" (those who are unable or unwilling to junk a perfectly good older computer) with text access to internet information. As more and more sites embrace the new and wonderful techniques, a lot of information is no longer accessible without newer, more powerful and expensive equipment.