January 14, 2001-- Newsletter #163

By Joe Burns



Goodies to Go (tm)
January 14, 2001--Newsletter #163

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.
http://www.internet.com
 
 
Announcement Goodies

Announcing the opening of HTMLGoodies online help community!

VOLUNTEERS WANTED!

Here is the plan. We are setting up a new help community page on the site to assist new and intermediate users in getting help with their web design and development issues.

There are simply too many emails coming in right now for me to possibly answer each one. Therefore, we are developing this community to provide a pool of resources for your questions.

The goal is to provide a pool of 2 to 6 email addresses for different web design and development categories. So, if you have an expertise in a certain web development field like HTML, JavaScript, PHP, ASP, etc. and would like to be a mentor in our community, please drop me an email with your name, area of expertise and level (i.e. intermediate, advanced, guru). Please make your subject title read "Community Mentor".

Once we have established a sufficient pool of resources we will open up the community. There is nothing more satisfying than helping someone learn. I hope to hear from you soon!

 

Editorial Goodies - Prison SPAM

As a child I loved SPAM but as an adult I have come to loathe SPAM. Alright, granted I'm talking about 2 different kinds of SPAM but you get the idea.

I don't know about you but I get a flood of SPAM each and every day on things from mortgages to gambling to computer supplies to some very sick porn stuff. Actually, I probably get about 10 times more than the average person because HTMLGoodies can be found in so many search engines. So, what is a person to do?!?

Well, I could spend a ton of time responding to each one and requesting that my email address be removed from the list. But, does that really work? Probably not. In the few times that I have tried the approach either the web page I am directed to doesn't work or after I complete the form I end up getting more SPAM than before.

Why is that? Well, I know this may be hard to imagine but SPAMers are not the most ethical group on the planet. What can end up happening is you get removed from the list you requested and you get added to a hundred more lists for other products. You see, by requesting to be removed you have now verified your email address as valid which is much more valuable to SPAMers. Dirty trick.

What else can you do? Well, what I do is use the Junk Mail rule in Outlook. It really does a pretty good job capturing most of the SPAM I get. My only problem with it is that I still end up going through it from time to time because I can't bring myself to just mass deleting the entire mess. I have an incredible fear of deleting something important. At least it is a much faster process to manually delete once all the SPAM is in one place.

Wouldn't you just love lock up SPAMers in a prison cell. I think an appropriate sentence would be one minute for every minute of time they waste for those of us on the receiving end of their SPAM. My guess is that it would constitute a life sentence.

Quiz Goodies

I have had a lot of questions lately regarding the use of frames so I thought I would make frames the focus of this week's quiz. How do you create a hyperlink in one frame that opens up a page in a different frame?

Q & A Goodies

Q. What's the easiest and fastest way to update one page of content on a web site every day?

I am coding an investment web site, and the owner wants to provide free daily comments about the market every day on the site. He does not want to bother with learning FTP, etc. He would prefer just to directly update the web page in his browser. I guess the next best step would be an HTML form or something that he could type the content into and then put the content where it needs to go.

A. In this case, your best bet would probably be to create your pages in something like ASP (Active Server Pages). This way you could create a page for your client that is a simple web form that he or she can use to enter a new comment each morning. The form would store the comments in a simple text file on your web. You would also have to add some ASP code to each of your pages where the comment is to appear. The code will basically retrieve the contents of the text file and insert them into the appropriate location on your pages.

If you are not familiar with ASP you can use other scripting languages like CGI to achieve a similar result.

Q. I am new to web page design. I have only toyed with programs that allow you to drag and drop info to a page and save it without knowing the html language. I came across your site doing a search for learning web page design and yours topped the list. The information I have been reading is more simplified on your site and makes understanding it a little easier. I don't know if it is very good to use but I own a full version of Frontpage 2002. I would like your opinion on this program because I don't know if it is useful in learning or if I should force myself to use notepad so I have to be specific in all my tags. I do know very basic code but have issues with tables and other formatting types to get borders, pictures, and links to be where I expect to see them.Also, I was wondering if there was an easy way to explain the difference between html and xml and if I should learn both.

Thank you.

A. First, web design software like FrontPage 2002 can be very useful tools for web design. As a matter of fact, I know very few professional designers that still "hand code" all of their HTML when designing a page. It is simply faster to use a web design tool.

This doesn't mean you don't need to learn HTML, though. While web design tools assist you in a great many ways they also have some drawbacks. For example, they often will include more code than is necessary to complete the task. They can add code that is browser specific which means the page will only display properly in certain browsers. They usually arrange the code in a very block like fashion that makes it hard to read. And, on occasion, it will include code that is simply wrong or creates a conflict.

So, to keep a long explantion long, my suggestion to you is that you learn both. Learn a web tool for productivity and learn HTML for accuracy.

As far as the difference between HTML and XML is concerned they are two very different beasts. HTML is the base language for the display of information and graphics in your browser. XML is intended to be a sort of bridge between your basic information (content, data, etc.) and the final presentation of that basic information (browser, wireless web, etc.). My suggestion to you would be to learn HTML first. Once you have become confortable with HTML then you can begin to explore the possibilities of XML.

Q. Greetings, I've found your HTML Goodies site <i>very</i> insightful. I've learned a lot from it. But my question is, what is the the command to create more than one space between characters?

For example, I need to cause a certain line of text appear a certain distance from the left side of the page, but I need the line of text just above it to stay locked to the left side of the page.

Like this:

"This text is over here

                    And this text is over here"

Now I can't just hit the spacebar a bunch of times, since HTML will only allow me to create one space at a time. So how do I do it?

A. Here's a little designer's trick for you that will probably solve this problem. What many web designers will do is create a simple graphic that is transparent or matches the color of your background and use the graphic as a sort of spacer.

For example, you would go in to Paint and create a graphic that is 2 pixels high by 100 pixels wide that's white (assuming your page background is white). Save it as a .gif. Place the image before any text you like and you're there.

If you want to indent blocks of text you can use the same technique by placing your spacer image in a table cell. Simply create a borderless table with 2 columns and place the spacer image in the left cell and the text in the right.

News Goodies

Tired of waiting for your TurboTax to arrive in the mail? Now it appears that you will be able to do your taxes online through Yahoo!

Click here to read the article

 

Sports is big business these days. Now Lycos and FoxSports.com have teamed up. (pardon the sports reference)

Click here to read the article

 

Apparently the cyber-virus demons are getting more creative. Macromedia announced a virus threat that surfaced in relation with their Shockwave software. They have also released a patch to correct the problem.

Click here to read the article


Quiz Answer

By using TARGET in the HREF tag where TARGET uses the name of the frame you want the page to appear in.

Example:

<A HREF="page.html" TARGET="frame2">Open a page in a different frame</A>


Thanks for reading Goodies to Go!

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