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January 27, 2003-- Newsletter #217
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Goodies to Go (tm)
January 27, 2003--Newsletter #217
This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.
* Goodies Thoughts -
Web Site Content.
* Q & A Goodies
* News Goodies
* Feedback Goodies
* And Remember This...
Just in case you missed it before, the new Beyond HTML Goodies book is now available!
|Goodies Thoughts -||Web Site Content.|
Over the past couple of weeks I have
discussed the importance of the Design stage in a
website's life and considered layout, color and
sound. This week, I continue this exploration of the
development of a site with a look at content.
I wrote a newsletter piece in September last year about content (see http://www.htmlgoodies.com/letters/196.html) and I refer you to that for a description of what to include by way of content. Today I'd like to discuss a little about the style of included content.
Before anything else, I have to mention rule number one of content. Regardless of the type of website you are building, the first rule of content is to keep it fresh. Getting new visitors to your site is always a challenge (and a topic for another discussion!) If you want to keep your site lively, then it is imperative that you keep your visitors coming back. A couple of visits with the same old stuff there will slow them right down. A couple more visits and they'll be gone, perhaps for ever. Not a good thing! Fresh produce in the store, fresh news in the newspaper, fresh content on the website -- it stands to reason!
There is no such thing as a "web style" of content. The use of a particular style is to enhance the effectiveness of the type of content, and not to enhance the web. What this means is that you should not think first about the fact that you are providing content for a website, and how that should be styled. Instead you should be thinking, for example, "This site is for children. I need to make this easy to read, and to use a friendly, personal and uncomplicated manner of speech." This way the content style adapts to the subject matter and happens to be on the web, rather than adapting to the web and happening to be for children.
What style to apply depends on the type of website you are building. If you are building a personal website, be personal. Talk to your reader as if they were there with you. This holds especially true for photo album sites. The big mistake people make with their web albums, is to forget that normally, when the show their pictures to their friends, they are there themselves to explain them. Be there in the site. For example, "Aunt Peggy, Chicago, February 2000" is a hopeless caption in comparison to "This is Aunt Peggy (Pat's twin) at her birthday party in Chicago in 2000. She and Steve obviously had a good time - I don't think she'll be using those shoes any more!" Even without seeing the picture, it's more interesting, don't you think?
A business web site should get down to business, but shouldn't be dry. A little humor and a little color are the spices that can change a product description into an enticing overview of a product's capabilities. Some subjects are strictly factual. Law, for example. While intriguing, perhaps, to lawyers, it bores the pants off most sane people! Even science and mathematics, which have a reputation for being less than thrilling to the majority of folk, can be exciting when well presented. Scour the web for discussions of Fermat's Last Theorem. Look and some of the mathematical sites and compare them to Simon Singh's work. You'll see what I mean.
Above all, remember that you are talking to people. As you write the content, imagine that your audience is there with you and that you are providing it directly to them. Talk to them as you would normally, business-like to business people, politely to casual acquaintances and personally to friends and family. There is no special trick to the web. It is merely a medium to carry your message to your audience; nothing more.
Of course, the real beauty of writing is that you get to say something, then change it before it is heard! It's amazing how frequently we have a great idea, blurt it out and then realize just how not-so-great it actually was! When designing your site, blurt all you want -- then go back and fix it!!
Next week, I will continue this journey through a site's early life with a few thought about functionality.
Thanks for Reading!
- Vince Barnes
Questions are taken from submissions to our Community Mentors. You can ask a Mentor a question by going to http://www.htmlgoodies.com/mentors/.
Q. Is there was a way to position a background image in the center of a page regardless of screen resolution?
A. This code will position the image in the center:
background-image : url(image.jpg);
background-position : center center;
background-repeat : no-repeat;
To position in the center of a table, try using this (be sure to replace __ with the height and width of the image):
<.table height="100%" width="100%">
<.tr><.td valign="center" align="center">
<.table height="__" width="__" background="image.jpg">
Any text on the background
Q. I would like to place a membership/password for entry into my site. How doI that in html?
A. It can't be done just with HTML. You need to do some server side scripting and perhaps hook up to a database. The HTMLGoodies tutorials on ASP, CGI, and databases will get you started.
Q. I've been working on a site for the band that I play in for a while. I've encountered a problem that is making me go crazy. On differnt browsers, because of the text size preset (smaller, small, medium, large, larger) the text looks either really small or huge. When I change the preset on my own computer, the alignment of all the text goes crazy. How can I fix this?
A. Stylesheets are intended to solve just this problem. You can specify
text sizes. These tutorials will explain them: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/beyond/css.html
You can see how I did this on real life sites by looking at the code at http://umbrigade.tripod.com
Q. I have visited websites that display thumbnail images of free backgrounds. When you click on a thumbnail a larger version of the thumbnail comes up in a separate frame. This seems to be a good way to allow someone to view a thumbnail before downloading the background. I like the frame because I can just close it out then go on to view the next thumbnail. How can I do the same thing If I want to offer some free backgrounds for someone to download from my website?
A. Are you sure the link is opening a frame and not a window? It seems like an awkward arrangement which is why I ask. Apparently the page the links point to is a frameset page. These tutorials will help you build frames: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/tutors/fram.html
If it turns out you do mean windows, this will help with that: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/beyond/openwin.html
Q. Is it possible to have your contact information appear on all your web pages from the same source so that if your information changes you only have to change it one time.
A. Here is a tutorial for exactly that: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/beyond/asp.html
About half way down the page, there is a section titled "A Useful ASP Example: SSI"
Q. I wish this following to open in a new window of 300x300. How do I do the sizing and how do I make the window scrollable??
and this explains using a function:
Q. I want some code that would randomly display one of a few images I have in a directory. Can you help me?
A. There is tutorial that explains how to do that: http://www.htmlgoodies.com/primers/jsp/hgjsp_23.html
And this just in.... DatabaseJournal (http://www.DatabaseJournal.com) has a Forums section in which you can ask, and receive answers to, database related questions. Check it out! Here's a sample (this is a q&a from the ASP-DB section - edited for clarity):
Q. I'm Just New To ASP & DATAbase (Over
the Internet), but I know Html & Access. What is
the shortest way to learn the tools to make a
Database over my Website? I finally could find a
webhost which is powered by win2000 server &
supports ASP; now I want an ASP tutorial link,
with a step-by-step "how to" for an Access
database over the internet.
A. Check out http://www.aspdb.com - You can either buy a book or take a class or you can use this tool to get up to speed right away.
NextWave Wins Back Wireless Licenses
[January 27, 2003] Bankrupt wireless carrier NextWave wins back its wireless spectrum licenses with the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Internet Recovering From Slammer Attack
(see also next item)
[January 27, 2003] The Internet is recovering Monday from the attack of the Slammer worm, after it slowed or halted Web traffic around the world this weekend.
Computer Worm Slows Worldwide Traffic
[January 26, 2003] A worm that attacks the Microsoft SQL Server 2000-based web servers virtually halt traffic in some parts of the world. But security experts have known about it since July.
Microsoft Releases New Anti-Piracy Software Toolkit
[January 20, 2003] Software giant aims to protect disc-based music, video copyrights
AMD Clamps Down on Wireless Security
[January 20, 2003] New wireless Flash Memory Device with 64-bit password protection claims to deter signal thieves from mobile phone billing fraud or pirating television.
Is Linux Ready for Financial Services?
[January 25, 2003] In an industry pummeled by losses in a down market, free software has a nice ring. But others say Linux is not advanced enough for Wall Street's 'big iron' needs.
Could Attack on DALnet Spell End for IRC?
[January 24, 2003] DALnet administrators are struggling to keep the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network afloat after a DDoS attack. And the case may cause some hosting providers to reconsider hosting IRC servers at all.
Newspaper Publishers See Online Growth
[January 24, 2003] Once a drain on their parent companies, newspaper sites are now enjoying sharp rises in advertising revenues.
Q&A: Sun Microsystems Software CTO John Fowler
[January 24, 2003] As the company readies Java for its inclusion in Windows XP, Fowler's group also has the arduous task of preparing for Solaris 10.
Microsoft Promises a More Secure 2003
[January 24, 2003] After a year of working on its security issues, the company's Trustworthy Computing initiative is taking more of a 'push' approach starting with Windows Server 2003.
Microsoft's First Flaws for the New Year
[January 23, 2003] Microsoft this week warned of a critical buffer overrun flaw in its Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, or Windows XP server that could allow an attacker to run his or her code of choice on a person's personal computer.
Did you ever wish your newsletter was an easy two way communications medium? Ploof! It now is!
If you would like to comment on the newsletter or expand/improve on something you have seen in here, you can now send your input to:
We already receive a lot of email every day. This address will help us sort out those relating specifically to this newsletter from all the rest. When you send email to this address it may wind up being included in this section of the newsletter, to be shared with your fellow readers. Please don't send your questions to this address. They should be sent to our mentors: see http://www.htmlgoodies.com/mentors/
We have received a flurry of offers from readers to become mentors. We are going to be updating our mentor lists in the very near future. If you feel you have an expertise you would like to share with our readership, let me know. Our mentors provide a valuable service to HTML Goodies readers, answering questions and providing guidance in their respective fields of expertise. Our Mentor community can be found at http://www.htmlgoodies.com/mentors
Once again, Goodies To Go readers have shown that not only do they read the newsletter, but they keep the sharp eyes and sharp minds on it as they do so! There was a Mentors (see http://www.htmlgoodies.com/mentors) Q&A included in last weeks newsletter, where the inquirer has asked for a page that provides a reference list of the special characters and codes that can be used in HTML. The Mentor (Eric Ferguson - thanks, Eric) referenced the Character Map program that is included with windows, and explained how to use it. Character map is a great tool, especially because it is comprehensive. Dozens of you wrote in, however, with suggestions of sites that provide the information. Many thanks to all of you for your thoughtful attention.
Of all the suggestions, there are three that I will mention here. The first is the most obvious:
There is also a good list of the special names as well as the numeric codes here:
and of course:
with an explanation of encoding type choices at:
And Remember This . . .
On this day in...
1967: Apollo 1 Astronauts Die in Launch Pad Fire
Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chafee died during a simulation of the launch of Apollo 1, which was scheduled a month later. A wire fault in the command module caused the fire. They were the first Americans to die in a spacecraft. NASA started the Apollo program when President John Kennedy mandated in 1961 that the USA would land men on the moon and bring them safely home before the end of the decade. Apollo 8 went to the moon in 1968 and in 1969, on July 20th, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. walked on the surface of the moon. Stepping off the lander onto the moon, Armstrong declared "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It has been reported that he left out the word "this" in "one small step for this man, one giant leap for mankind" which would have made more sense. Perhaps he was a little excited! The Apollo program included 17 missions and 6 landings. You can see an Apollo rocket at Cape Canaveral in Florida - you would be amazed how huge it is!
Today celebrates the birthdays of:
Wolgang Amadeus Mozart in 1756
Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, the mathematician and "Alice" author, in 1832
William Randolph Hearst Jr., in 1908
Mikhail Baryshnikov, the ballet dancer who defected to the US, born in 1948
Thanks for reading Goodies to Go!