FTP & Telnet
Both of these applications allow two different computers to communicate with each other. Telnet allows the user to log on to an account on a remote computer and work as if you were there. This is useful if you are traveling or are going to be away from your own computer and your local account but need to have access to the latter. You might be at a conference in another state and suddenly remember that you need some information that is stored on a file in your account back at your home institution. You can log on remotely, telnet to your account, get into your files that are on that server, and retrieve the information. For example, let's say you are at ACTFL and you are supposed to meet some people but you forgot the time and the place. They sent you this information in an e-mail message, and you have that message in your account on the server at your institution. If you can use a computer with Internet access where you are, you can telnet to your account, call up the message, and read the information off the screen. Voilá--you won't miss your dinner date.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is used when you need to move files from one computer to another, whether it is between the computer at the office or school and home or even from a computer in another city. An FTP client and server are required in order to do this. Once again, you can either type "ftp" at the command prompt or click on the FTP icon to see if the client is present. To move your own files, you also need to have accounts on both computers.
FTP can help you out in circumstances when you are away from your computer and account but need to move files back and forth between the two. For example, you are still at ACTFL and are preparing for your presentation tomorrow. You discover that you left several handouts at home, but you know you also have them in a file in your account there. You gain access to a local computer, telnet to your account and find the files. Telneting to your account will let you see the files, but it will not let you get them. You need to FTP the files to the computer where you are. You can then print out your handouts for your presentation the next day. If your handouts include graphics or something other than text, you can still FTP them. You just need to pay attention to the transfer mode settings: ascii or binary. Basically, the former is for text only while the latter will transfer graphics, sound, moving pictures, and non-Roman character sets. When in doubt, try it and see if it works. If not, go back and change the settings and try again.
The other option for FTP is using an anonymous FTP server, quite a common practice on the Internet for downloading shareware or freeware or any sort of file that someone has made available to the general public. Usually the login name is "anonymous" and entering a password is not necessary. You may, however, need to enter your e-mail address as the password. Depending on how large the files are on these anonymous servers, they may be stored in a compressed format (ZIP for MS-DOS or Windows environments and Stuffit for the Macintosh platform). You will need the decompression software to open the files once you have ftp'd them to your computer.