I joke, but one really is better than the other. :-)
There really is no easy way to say this, so I'll just blurt it out: your computer might have been storing bytes in reverse order behind your back. I know! No one wanted to have to tell you.
The thing is, everyone in the Internet world has generally agreed that if you want to represent the two-byte hex number, say b34f, you'll store it in two sequential bytes b3 followed by 4f. Makes sense, and, as Wilford Brimley would tell you, it's the Right Thing To Do. This number, stored with the big end first, is called Big-Endian.
Unfortunately, a few computers scattered here and there throughout the world, namely anything with an Intel or Intel-compatible processor, store the bytes reversed, so b34f would be stored in memory as the sequential bytes 4f followed by b3. This storage method is called Little-Endian.
But wait, I'm not done with terminology yet! The more-sane Big-Endian is also called Network Byte Order because that's the order us network types like.
Your computer stores numbers in Host Byte Order. If it's an Intel 80x86, Host Byte Order is Little-Endian. If it's a Motorola 68k, Host Byte Order is Big-Endian. If it's a PowerPC, Host Byte Order is... well, it depends!
A lot of times when you're building packets or filling out data structures you'll need to make sure your two- and four-byte numbers are in Network Byte Order. But how can you do this if you don't know the native Host Byte Order?
Good news! You just get to assume the Host Byte Order isn't right, and you always run the value through a function to set it to Network Byte Order. The function will do the magic conversion if it has to, and this way your code is portable to machines of differing endianness.
All righty. There are two types of numbers that you can convert: short (two bytes) and long (four bytes). These functions work for the unsigned variations as well. Say you want to convert a short from Host Byte Order to Network Byte Order. Start with "h" for "host", follow it with "to", then "n" for "network", and "s" for "short": h-to-n-s, or htons() (read: "Host to Network Short").
It's almost too easy...
You can use every combination of "n", "h", "s", and "l" you want, not counting the really stupid ones. For example, there is NOT a stolh() ("Short to Long Host") function—not at this party, anyway. But there are:
host to network short
host to network long
network to host short
network to host long
Basically, you'll want to convert the numbers to Network Byte Order before they go out on the wire, and convert them to Host Byte Order as they come in off the wire.