= More Technical Notes for the Geek =
  As   I mentioned before,  writing a personal webpage is such an egotistical endeavor ! ... 
"My webpage" - My this, My that, pictures of ME ... gee, how self-oriented!  And yet, it is also a creative experience, and can be a learning experience, for we learn from each thing we accomplish. I do enjoy anything creative.

The following technical notes are about writing the page and HTML; I just want to warn the non-geek that what's coming will be geekish. (Nice Smiley, huh ?)
By the way, I have attempted to define "Geek" in my glossary.

These Pages

Will look best in Netscape, version 4 or 3, at 800X600 resolution. Because that's what I use. But as I said before they should be viewable with just about any webpages - I am not doing anything too fancy - yet. If you should discover any bugs or problems, please let me know.

Text Pages

And, as mentioned before, I have some text-only pages that should be suitable for Lynx. They work with my Lynx and with my ISP's version of Lynx. If they don't work with yours; sorry, there's nothing I know how to do about that.

Another note on appearance

I've had a chance to see how these pages look on some other people's computers; and they looked OK on everything but a PowerMac with a large screen running Netscape. On that computer, the table of gold bullet links runs up into the beach picture if the netscape window is too short and wide. Oddly, this didn't happen on a Pentium/Windows95 machine no matter how ridiculously I sized the window.


I'd like to brag that I wrote these pages "by hand", with a text editor. Yes, with the text editor in one window, Netscape in another window, and reference book in hand, you can plug away at it quite well. I'd like to brag -- but I shouldn't -- the main reason I don't use some fancy do-it-all-for-you program is that I don't have one. I did download and try a few, but it always seemed more difficult to learn how to use a strange new program than to just learn how to write the code. ( Perhaps being an "old programmer" has something to do with it too. I've written in BASIC, Fortran, C, etc., so maybe banging it out is the natural way for me. That is, after all, what programming is. ) I did try using the Navigator Gold editor once, but it munches your files into an unrecognizable mass of gibberish. And there were other programs that did worse. I'd like to get a good writer-program to use as a learning tool and a way to produce code more quickly. But it must be one that saves it's files in plain, readable ASCII text with line breaks. If you would like to recommend one to me, please do so.

In my adventures I have talked to different people and heard a variety of opinions on writing HTML or Webpages. I say or because there are some people who write webpages and do not know HTML. I have been told that "no one will hire you to type all that out", and that "lots of real professionals write their own code" - both from the mouths of different computer professionals. The latter is a webmaster. There was a woman in my HTML class who is an expert at producing webpages with a program that writes it for you. She was taking the class because she needed to learn HTML to fix her code in ways that the programming package would not. She is proof of what Laura Lemay wrote: that professionals can use programs that write code to quickly generate large chunks of code; but if you care about what the results look like, you will always need to go in and edit the actual code. My opinion I think will be thus: That a "real professional" should learn how to use one or two code generators, but should also know how to write the actual HTML language without a code generating program. Why?  I want to be platform independent. I want to be able to write webpages on any computer; not just one that uses Windows or any one particular program to write the code. If you make yourself or your business dependent on one particular platform/product, and things change - computers change - then where are you?  Of course, people's preferences depend on where they are coming from.  I want to learn it both ways.

Most of what I know so far in HTML I learned from an older book of Laura Lemay's.  I recommend her highly.  In that book I also learned about the "philosophy" of HTML and what it was supposed to be. Web"pages should be platform independent. (And that does not mean they work in Windows 2000 and Windows NT.) You should not assume that the user has the same computer or programs or operating system or hardware that you do. You should not assume that they are using a computer at all. (They may be using Web TV. Or even a terminal of some type??)  They should also be content oriented. Let the meaning of what you have to say or present determine the forms in which it is presented.

Anyway... what I'm aspiring to is to learn more about HTML: to learn to write better pages and do more things, especially the practical kinds of things that can make a webpage a useful tool. I'd like to learn how to do credit card order forms, check forms, and other ways to make a useful business webpage.  And of course I want to do cool artistic stuff too!

What I do not want to do is to make pages that are excessively image-intensive, so that they take a long time to load (unless high Art is the purpose of the page). I don't like pages that are too "busy" - littered with flashing popping things competing for your attention. I find the constantly changing advertisement banners on some websites to be annoying. But what I really get opinionated about is "tricks". That's what I call it when webpages pop up a window or display a banner that's made to look like a system message, to fool ignorant people into clicking on it and whisking them away to another, and possibly unrelated, webpage. I think such "tricks" are bad form, if not somewhat unethical.


I enjoy creative activities, and I am a computer geek. So of course I like putting together web presentations. It is (a)-creative, and (b)-computer-programming.

The next step for me will be learning to use forms and cgi scripts. If you have any suggestions or helpful comments, E-Mail them my way.

more geeky stuff ...


The text editor I use is Textpad.   I'll plug it because I recommend it highly.
Textpad is the "best damn text editor for Windows".  8)   Unlike Notepad, Textpad lets you work on and view multiple files at the same time. It has lots of nifty functions and features: case conversions, key macros, spell checker, syntax checker, and "clip libraries". You can define your own Macros for things typed frequently. You can display a menu at the left that with a click will insert HTML tags, or special characters, or the HTML code for a character. It can save files in Windows, Unix, and MacIntosh text. [ Windows, Unix, and Mac systems all terminate lines differently: (cr)(lf), (lf), (cr) ]  It's a programmer's text editor, and a good one. See the Textpad links on my Promotional and Web links pages.


I hate to criticize Mosaic. Yet I must. NCSA Mosaic does some things I don't like. It ignores font commands to change the color of the text from the default specified in the "body" tag. This makes most of my pages look bad in Mosaic, since I love dark backgrounds and table effects. And some pages are unreadable because Mosaic disobeys my "font color=" commands and winds up using the same color for text as the background. There are some other minor details too, like Mosaic makes all "headers" the same size, puts "blockquotes" in a tiny hard-to-read font, and handles the "code" tag rather oddly. My opinion is that these details are better implemented the way that Netscape and Microsoft handle them in their browsers. I have taken some effort to make my pages readable in Mosaic. But I will not go back and change all my default colors just because of this.

For example: If you are using IE or Netscape, this word is bold, this word is red, this word is big, this word is tiny, and in the following ...
unicorn centaur dragon
... Three words "unicorn centaur dragon" appear on the same line. If you are using Mosaic, none of these things are true.

Mosaic does not handle frames. That's a big compatibility disadvantage. I understand why it doesn't. Mosaic is, afterall, the granddaddy of web browsers and was around before frames were. And I'll be among the first to say that frames are over-used and can be confusing. On some websites, such as this one, they would be completely undesirable. ( I don't want an index.) But probably the main reason Mosaic does not use frames is because it supports something better than frames, the <link> tag.  The <link> tag creates link buttons to your sub-pages (or anything you want to, for that matter) right in the browser's display bar. Better than frames and uses less screen real estate. Unfortunately, neither Internet Explorer nor Netscape support this. It would be nice if they all supported both frames and <link> buttons.

Mosaic Re-Ranted

I wrote the above before I had a rather intresting experience. I visited the NCSA website using Mosaic. The version I was using was supposed to be the latest for Windows. The NCSA website was barely viewable at all. Horrible. At the top all you could see was lots of javascript code. Netscape and IE do not display such code if you enclose it in comment tags, but apparently this does not work with Mosiac. The rest of the page looked bad too. My local ISP's page is quite readable in Mosiac, but NCSA's page isn't. I could say that some of the failures of Mosiac are unforgivable; but instead I'll say something else: Mosaic does not support Mosaic. NCSA makes Mosaic, but their webpages are un-readable in the web-browser they make. If the organization does not support their own browser, I'll be damned if I will! So I do not support Mosaic: neither in my webpage writing, nor do I reccommend it. If you're using Mosaic: send in another boxtop and get a real browser.

Netscape Rant

(  You'll find much of the same stuff in my "Anti-Microsoft" section.  )

Netscape 3, 4, etc.

My Netscape 4.02 runs faster than the newer Netscape does on more powerful computers than mine, and I am not joking. And Netscape 3, though it lacks a few artistic and whiz-bang features, is for speed and practicality still superior to Netscape 4 ...  or for that matter any other browser I have seen.

Bizarre Bug

In fact I can't use Netscape beyond version 4.02. If I try any later version, it somehow fucks things up so that I can't see any local files at all. It works fine for files out there on the web. But if I try to look at my own local HTML presentations on MY hard drive, Netscape will always display a blank white page and a broken image icon. REGARDLESS of the content of the page. The page could actually be one blank line; it could be a blank black page; it could be thousands of words of text; it could be text and many pictures; but always the same thing; blank white page, broken image icon. Not even the people in the Netscape technical newsgroups could solve this. I had to remove ALL versions of Netscape from my computer, purge the registry, and then re-install Netscape 3 and 4.02. Only after all this would Netscape work properly again.

So ...

If you are currently using a version of Netscape lower than 4.02 or 4.05 : and you need to "upgrade",  I must strongly urge you to NOT upgrade Netscape. Get a new version of Internet Explorer instead.

So I use Netscape 4.02 and 3 about equally. 4 because it's more pretty. 3 because of a fatal flaw in NS4+ : you can't sort bookmarks. The people at Netscape know this and do not plan to ever do anything about it. I absolutely REQUIRE sorting bookmarks, so I must use NS3 for this. Fortunately Netscape, unlike IE, uses one simple file for bookmarks, so by copying the file I can use the same sorted bookmarks in both programs. And if I am ever doing web searches for real actual factual information - It's much faster and better to use NS3 with javascript OFF and images OFF. That way you avoid the annoying advertisement banners which are the major use of JavaScript and would otherwise quickly eat up my computer space. And I've also found that most websites that you can't see at all without pictures probably don't contain much useful information anyway. And when you are looking for facts, figures, real research - it's mainly WORDS you are looking for. So turning pictures off saves time. Netscape 3 makes this easy to do, and has a "load pictures" button on the main button bar.

Newer web browsers bury the commands to turn off pictures, java, cookies, etc., way down in by-default-not-shown technical or "advanced" menus. As if only a "technician" would ever choose not to be bombarded with advertisement banners, or not allow others to track where he's been.

My Computers

I talk about my computers on my "About Me" page.
If you really want to read about my computers, then click here.

More Notes to come ?

    I should think so.....

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