January 21, 2001-- Newsletter #164

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
January 21, 2001--Newsletter #164

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.
Announcement Goodies

Thank you to all of you that responded to last week's request
for volunteers. We have enough Mentors to begin a community
to help people with issues in the following categories:
ASP, CSS, Design, DHTML, HTML, JavaScript, Perl and PHP

We will also have an XML category, however, we could use a
couple more Mentors.

The Community should be set up within the next few weeks. If
you would like to volunteer as a Community Mentor for XML or
any other category please contact me at curtis@HTMLGoodies.com.

Please put "COMMUNITY MENTOR" in the subject line on all emails. We will be keeping a list of volunteers to replace Mentors that can no longer participate.

Thanks again to everyone!



Editorial Goodies - Future Webs

So, what does the future hold for for websites and the internet
in general? One can only guess, however, there is a general
consensus on future trends.

Websites will have to be increasingly more interactive. While
HTML will probably be a foundation for building your websites for
some time to come, the desire of users to be able to interact
with and customize sites they visit will become an increasingly
more important consideration in the future. Why would a user
want to simply read text on a static site when they can request
videos, get interactive help, search for topics, access account
information or a myriad of other things on a dynamic site?
There is already a trend in web technologies to make it easier
and more time efficient for web designers and developers to
create webs that are both attractive and interactive.

"More video please." Let's face it, most people have become
audio and video junkies. It takes much less effort to sit and
watch a video of a news event than it does to read it. Now,
with the ever improving streaming video technologies and the
greater accessibility of broadband you can expect to see video
become an ever increasing part of web development.

Well, that makes sense but what about a bit further in the future? Imagine doing your home accounting via the internet. What about playing a very new and cool real time strategy game over the internet? How about placing an order for your new car via the internet with a computer personality assisting you through the whole design process? Or maybe interacting with a web based AI (Artificial Intelligence) that can answer some of your tougher cooking questions (Emeril meets Max Headroom)? Now imagine all of these scenarios with you talking into a microphone and a computer generated personality replying to you. (I'm sorry if you are too young to remember Max Headroom)

Many expect that the trend of the internet is towards a more human interactive type of interface. While the technology is still an undetermined number of years away, you can expect it will surely happen. One day you will set aside your keyboard and exchange it for a microphone. You will throw away your mouse and install a  nifty little device that follows your eye movement across the screen and uses a wink in lieu of a button click to select something.

Sound a little too much like Star Trek? Maybe shows like Star
Trek become a little more science and a little less fiction
every day.


Quiz Goodies

When displaying an image <IMG SRC=...>, what does ALT do for you and why should you use it?

Q & A Goodies

Q. Maybe I really am one of those "dummies" you wrote about in your course....I did what you said to do in the HTML class but I don't know what you mean by "go in the world or at least into my text editor". I wrote up the code, but when I try to make it look like the finished product, it came out looking like code.


'Where is the text editor and how do I open it in my browser? I kept looking for that in your course, but I'm still lost. Could you help and speak or type slowly for this "dummie"?


A. Once you have typed in your code in Notepad or some other simple text editor, you need to save the file with the .html extension on the end. Some text editors like Notepad will automatically save your files with a .txt on the end. To get around that you can either put your filename in quotes - "mypage.html" - or simply let it save with the .txt extension and then rename the file later. This is the most likely explanation for your problem.

Once you have saved the file you should be able to simply double-click on your file which should launch your browser and display your page.

*Notepad can be found under Accessories if you are using Windows. There is also a built in text editor with Mac OS. I'm not sure about Linux.


Q. Can you tell me how to block a person from using the view source on an HTML document. I have seen popup windows saying that you cannot copy & paste this so auction. People like to steal the source and I have new ones that I do not want taken. I have been looking online for hours and have yet to find an answer. Your site, is by far, the best one I have seen. Thanks for your time!


A. I get this question quite often. Let me first say that there is no fool proof way to lock down your code and/or images. If someone really wants to take a peek at your HTML, JavaScript or snitch your images, they will.

However, if you want to slow them down or at least annoy them a bit before they get to your code you can use some JavaScript to disable clicking on you page. Here's the tutorial on how to do it:


Q. I was trying to e-mail Joe Burns Ph.D. personally, but that is probably impossible. Anyway, I hope you can help me with my question.

I own a home school supply store selling new curriculum to home educators. Many of these customers have asked if I will sell used curriculum, also. I decided that that would not be a conflict of interest. I started to research how this could be done, and ended up at HTML Goodies site.

I want to create (I believe a form) something that customers could 'advertise' their used curriculum, contact info, etc., something that I would not have to really maintain - kind of like a forum where people can type in the fact that they have such and such curriculum, their name, and contact info. Others would see it (a message board?), and could respond at their own risk. (I hope I am making sense :)!!)

My only responsibility would be to erase ads every couple of months, or maybe I could give the individual who placed the ad the option of removing the ad themselves.

Would I want to create just a basic form with a large text box (in case of many items for sale) but not have a 'mail to' button, so that the information would not be posted to my mail box? That could be reserved for orders only, instead??

Okay, reading this over, I am confused! If you can make any sense of this - what I would like to accomplish - I would certainly appreciate a reply, giving me wise and half-fast detailed instructions (or a site I can go to to find the info I need)!


A. Probably your easiest solution is to download the software for a Discussion Group. There are many of them out there right now and a great many of them are free. It may take you some time to learn how to implement and administer the Discussion Group but it would probably save you a great deal of time over writing something from scratch.

Here is a link to the Ultimate Bulletin Board. This is a professional style board and it will cost you a license fee. You have probably seen or used it before and never realized it:

If you are looking for the cheapest way out then here are some Bulletin Boards that may fit your price range. They're free:


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.


*** Now, I know you all read this answer last week but I needed to add a very important point. A few emails from readers pointed out that I neglected discuss the most common use of a .gif for spacing. Most designers use the same graphic in all of their spacing situations and simply resize the graphic using
HEIGHT and WIDTH in the IMG SRC tag. This way the browser only has to cache (temporarily store in memory) one image.


Most prefer a 1x1 transparent .gif but you can really use whatever you like as long as you keep the size small. The idea
is to keep the file size as small as possible and reduce download time to the browser.


News Goodies

"Handspring Switching To Communicators". Do you mean like in Star Trek? No, not really. Read about how Handspring plans to get in to the Wireless Web business and out of the Personal Organizer business.

Click here to read the article


Microsoft revs up for the release of their new .NET strategy. Read about the where and when of the new release:

Click here to read the article


Is online advertising on its death bed? 2001 was a horrible year for sites selling online advertising. How will 2002 be?

Click here to read the article

Quiz Answer

ALT provides a text description for the image that you are displaying. Depending on the browser, it can appear in the image box before it loads and when it fails to load. The text can also "pop-up" when you hover over the image.

There are two main reasons for using ALT.

First, in the event that your image fails to load you will at least be providing the viewer with a text description of what they would have seen.

Second, it is very important to the visually impaired.

Thanks for reading Goodies to Go!

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