ethernet to arduino howto: direct communication?

currently i'm working off the DHCP chat server example. for me to communicate with my arduino + ethernet shield, i have to do it through telnet since that's the application setup in the example. and for me to talk to my pins i have to do something like this:

if(thisByte=='a')
{
      DigitalWrite(9,HIGH);
}

if(thisByte=='b')
{
      DigitalWrite(9,LOW);
}

where "thisByte" is the user input through telnet. but i want to be able to talk to my pins directly, if that makes sense, any suggestions?

Why don't you explain what you ultimately want to achieve with your project and we go from there ? Your current explanation leaves too many options open.