Goodies to Go (tm)
December 9, 2002-- Newsletter #210

By Vince Barnes


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Goodies to Go (tm)
December 9, 2002--Newsletter #210

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.

Featured this week:

* Goodies Thoughts  - I Never Met A Tag I Didn't Like!
* Q & A Goodies
* News Goodies
* Feedback Goodies  
* And Remember This...



Goodies Announcement

Just in case you missed it before, the new Beyond HTML Goodies book is now available!


Go beyond the basics and learn how the pros add and use dynamic HTML features and advanced JavaScript techniques. Beyond HTML Goodies demonstrates dozens of new and different features readers can add to their existing Web pages using HTML and JavaScript. The book starts with simple text and image tips, such as adding a clock to a Web page or causing text to appear when the mouse moves over an image. It gradually builds to more complex tricks, including manipulating forms or working with cookies behind the scenes. Throughout the book, readers enjoy Joe's snappy style and "to the point" discussion of each "goody" in the book.





Goodies Thoughts - I Never Met A Tag I Didn't Like!

New tags and old, they're all such an important part of the Web developer's toolbox. While many of them have become second nature to the seasoned HTML coder, there are some, especially among the newer ones, that remain a mystery. Surprisingly, however, there is a group of tags that harken back to the very origins of HTML and yet are still numbered among the mysterious to many page builders. These are the META tags. I see questions all the time the answer to which would involve one or another META tag, so I thought it might be useful to talk a little about these "mysterious" tags.

Simply stated, META tags contain information about the page on which they appear. They can also contain certain directives -- more about that later. There are two types of META tag: HTTP-EQUIV and NAME. This week I will be discussing the NAME variety, HTTP-EQUIV will be next week.

A META tag with a NAME attribute provides information about the document (web page) that contains it. The NAME attribute specifies the type of information, and the CONTENT attribute specifies the information itself. For example, <META NAME="Ice Cream Flavor" CONTENT="Vanilla"> defines information about an Ice Cream Flavor and specifies Vanilla (my personal favorite - please don't ever call it "just plain"!!)

Putting information about my favorite ice cream flavor into your web pages is perfectly legal, syntax wise. It might not be too useful, however. The syntax allows for just about anything you could dream up, there are certain values for the NAME attribute that have well known, or generally accepted meanings. These values include AUTHOR, DESCRIPTION and KEYWORDS. The meanings of these META tags are most important to the search engines.

Many of the search engine robots use the information contained in your pages' META tags for placement of your page in the engines listings. If you are trying to promote a website, this could be very important. Suppose we have a web page for Ice Cream Inc., a manufacturer of Chocolate, Strawberry and, of course, Vanilla ice cream, and we wish to have our page well placed for anybody looking for these flavors of ice cream to find. we would add the following META tags to the page for the search engine robots to read:
<META NAME="AUTHOR" CONTENT="Ice Cream, Inc., IT Dept.">
<META NAME="DESCRIPTION" CONTENT="The manufacturer of the best Chocolate, Strawberry and, of course, Vanilla Ice Cream in the known universe.">
<META NAME="KEYWORDS" CONTENT="Ice, Cream, Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, Manufacturer, Gourmet, Dessert, Delicious"
This should provide an appropriate set of information to the robots! Notice that you can add a variety of different aspects to your KEYWORD list. Be careful not to violate any copyright or patent laws, however -- you may not use someone else's name to advertise your products or services without their permission.

You can also use META tags to direct (most) search engine robots to skip your page if you wish to. This is equivalent to placing a "robots.txt" file in your web site directory. The META tag has a NAME="ROBOT" attribute, and a CONTENT attribute with value choices of: "ALL | NONE | INDEX | NOINDEX | FOLLOW | NOFOLLOW". The default value "ALL" indicates that this page should be indexed and all links on this page may be followed to other pages. "INDEX, NOFOLLOW" indicates that this page is to be indexed, but links should not be followed to other pages. "NONE" would indicate don't index and don't follow links. You can see the possible combinations!

"robots.txt?" you ask? I heard! a file with the name "robots.txt" (lower case, without the quotes) provides a similar control mechanism. The format is as follows:
User-agent: *
Disallow /

This example prevents everything from the web site's root on down from being indexed by any (robots.txt aware) search engine agent (robot). "Disallow: /herenondx" would prevent everything in the "herenondx" directory from being indexed. Only one "User-agent:" line may appear. It can use a wildcard as in this example or specific user agents may be named. There may not be any blank lines in the file, and if the file contains errors it will most likely be ignored.

Next week, as I mentioned, I'll take a look at the "HTTP-EQUIV" META tags.

Thanks for Reading!
- Vince Barnes


Q & A Goodies

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. I busy working on a site and need some help regarding CSS. I was in an IE talk a few years back and I could swear I remember something about anti aliasing text within the html, any ideas how and if it can be done?

A. Anti-aliasing is done by the browser and the OS. To my knowledge, there is no way to specify this in CSS. Check to see which fonts you are using, and how you are declaring their styles.

Q. I am new to Javascript. I have been researching a way to unselect a number of checkboxes once a specific checkbox is clicked and vise-a-versa.

A. Here is a example that I put together for someone else (you could replace the radio buttons with form buttons and it would work the same.)
<title>Check All</title>
function checkall(formid,obj)
if(obj.value=="Check All")
if(obj.value=="Uncheck All")
function onlyone(fldobj)
<FORM NAME="myform">
<INPUT TYPE="checkbox" NAME="ckb" onClick="onlyone(this)"> Checkbox One
<INPUT TYPE="checkbox" NAME="ckb" onClick="onlyone(this)"> Checkbox Two
<INPUT TYPE="checkbox" NAME="ckb" onClick="onlyone(this)"> Checkbox Three
Check All<INPUT TYPE="radio" NAME="chka" VALUE="Check All"
Uncheck All<INPUT TYPE="radio" NAME="chka" VALUE="Uncheck All"

Q. Whenever I make a background for a page, it looks right on my screen but not on other computers that have a different screen resolution. Is there any way of getting a background image to fit itself to everyone's screen or any other way round it?

A. Screen resolutions are a bane of designing. You can't know what the user's resolution will be, and you can't change it. You might be able to use some JavaScript to detect the resolution and offer different backgrounds accordingly. You can detect screen.availHeight and screen.availWidth and have the script write the body tag accordingly. Just in case someone has JavaScript turned off, you might want to have a design that works in the common resolutions. The most common is 800x600, then 1024x768, then 640x480.

Q. I have a web page that has 3 links going to the same page. When I click on one link, the other links change to a visited link color. Is it possible to stop the color of the unclicked links from changing to a visited link color?

A1. You can use css style commands to change link colors or have them all the same color. Here is the example code to have all red links. Just edit as needed and add the same color to each and then add the code in between the <head> and </head> html tags:
<style type="text/css">
a:link {color: red;}
a:visited {color: red;}
a:active {color: red;}
(This stops them all from changing color -- all links to a visited page are going to have the color specified for them by an "a:visited" style, whether the style is specified as shown here or by a class -- Ed.)

A2. Another idea if you still need the visited links to change color would be to send each link to a different anchor on the target page. It would look something like <a href="page.html#one>text</a> <a href="page.html#two>text</a> on the first page, then on the second page add <a name="one"></a> <a name="two"></a>. The browser will treat these like separate URLs and change only the one that was clicked.
(Assuming you have control of the target page's content -- Ed.)


Q. I would like to know if it is possible to make an image open in a particular table of a cell from a link in another cell. Kind of like with frames where you tell it to open in a TARGET frame.

A. If you give a cell a <span> with a name you can access it with cellname.innerHTML="New Stuff".
For example
<td><a onclick="magiczone.innerHTML='Look here now!'">Click to change something.</a></td> <td><span name="magiczone">Pretty boring over here.</span></td> </tr> </table>
When someone clicks the link the text changes. You can use <span> like that anywhere in your files.





News Goodies

Dell Launches New Small Biz Services
[December 9, 2002] The systems vendor aims for the small- and medium-sized (SMB) service market.

Click here to read the article

Debra Solomon, 'Lizzie McGuire' Animator
[December 9, 2002] The animator of television's (and soon-to-be-movie) 'Lizzie McGuire' cartoon character talks about the perils and joys of working with computer technology.

Click here to read the article

Yahoo! Revamps Site Hosting
[December 9, 2002] The portal updates its offering for the SMB market; the latest business hosting iteration comes in three different service levels.

Click here to read the article

Disney Lays Down Anti-Palm PDA Policy
December 6, 2002] Palm OS users are out of luck. As the holidays near, Disney makes its PDA policy loud and clear to employees: only Blackberries and iPaqs allowed on its network.

Click here to read the article

IDC: PC Shipments Will Surge in 2003
[December 6, 2002] While government spending is expected to slow, IDC predicts business and consumer spending on PCs will see moderate growth in 2003 and 2004

Click here to read the article


Sklyarov Admits to Targeting PDF Weaknesses
[December 6, 2002] (See Elcomsoft item in last week's Goodies To Go) Skylarov admitted writing a software program that, in part, was designed to bypass the copyright protections in Adobe Systems' eBooks

Click here to read the article


Microsoft's Revamped Finance Suite Touts Integration
[December 5, 2002] Microsoft on Thursday lifted the veil off the newest version of its Small Business Manager accounting software, touting slicker integration to its bCentral Web services platform and applications with Microsoft Office.

Click here to read the article



Intel, IBM Team With AT&T To Push Nationwide Wi-Fi
[December 5, 2002] Gambling on the future of wireless connectivity, tech bellwethers AT&T, Intel and IBM Thursday pooled their resources behind a new company that will offer wholesale nationwide wireless Internet access.

Click here to read the article






Feedback Goodies

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.

Chris (Black Knight) had a suggestion regarding links that would enable a reader to jump around inside a copy of the newsletter to facilitate reading items of most interest first. It's a great idea, Chris. We send out the newsletter in text form to enable it to be read by any email client, even those incapable of reading HTML. After a while, however, each newsletter finds its way into the archives, where we have (recently added) hyperlinks of the sort you suggest. You can find the archives at http://www.htmlgoodies.com/letters/ (there's a link on our home page also.)

Regarding last week's discussion of firewalls: many thanks to Guy Dorey from the UK who would like to remind us of the firewall product "Zonealarm" ( http://www.zonelabs.com )

We also got a few emails about "hacking". Mostly, people wanted to distinguish between "crackers" and "hackers". Generally, the writers indicate that crackers are the bad guys, and hackers not so bad. The reasoning says that hackers are only trying to prove the vulnerability of systems, not trying to obtain information or destroy anything. One writer argued that "the role of a hacker is actually a pretty noble one". I'd like to point out that that job is one performed by security consultants and security team members at the request of, and with participation of, the system's owners and operators. In the US, the mere attempt to penetrate a system is a crime, regardless of the sense of nobility of the person behind the attempt or the name they call themselves and regardless of whether or not they succeed, gather information or damage anything. The attempt itself is a crime. Similar laws exist in most (if not all) countries.




And Remember This . . .

On this day in...

1864: George Boole Dies
Mathematician George Boole died on this day in 1864. By age 16, Boole began to teach others in order to support himself and his family. He was an avid student of Mathematics and submitted papers to prominent journals describing his work on symbolic representation of logic. His methods, which include those we now know as Boolean logic, are an integral and critical part of computer systems and programming. Boole was appointed professor of mathematics at Queen's College in County Cork, Ireland, and later became a fellow of the Royal Society. Boole had no formal education. He was self-taught.

and yesterday, December 8th...
John Lennon was shot and killed in New York. He was 40. The murderer, mdc (I'd actually prefer to refer to him only by his prison number, but I don't know it) was denied a parole hearing in 2000 because "your vicious and violent act was apparently fueled by your need to be acknowledged." He remains imprisoned in Attica, New York.

and the day before, December 7th...
at 7:55am the first of 360 Japanese warplanes struck ships in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.


Thanks for reading Goodies to Go!


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