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html resources

I've been trying to teach myself html for the past few years. What follows are details of resources I have found useful.

First, a few confessions, on the whole I like to use tools that are simple, not packed with helpful features and that enable me to see what I am doing.

My experience is that one starts off with a nice functional little program that does the job and then it gets prettified, features are added and before you know it is overblown and cumbersome. I know this because I used to write programs myself and I used to call this crime 'rampant featuritis'. Poor old Microsoft has a terminal case of this I am afraid and I'm beginning to find Firefox going the same way.

As I'm using Windows, I like programs that conform to Windows protocols, and if it conforms to Wordstar ones as well I'm well pleased.

I've written most of this website with a shareware editor -*- Notepad++ which fulfills my rather modest requirements and keeps its rampant features out of sight but available.

I know I am old fashioned, but I do like a book, I find them portable, they soon become familiar and they know to open at the section where you are having trouble.

My first book was:

-*- HTML Dog: The Best Practice Guide to XHTML and CSS, published by New Riders. This has lots of examples and an easy going style.

and my second:

-*- CSS the missing manual by David Sawyer, published by O'Reilly. Clear and helpful descriptions and examples on using CSS.

Of course I have used internet resources, I find these particularly useful when I can articulate what I want to know and then I just -*- Google it up. I was mad keen on electronics when I was a boy and I made a rule then which still holds good to-day. That was not to use any 'potted' solution until I was sure I understood how it worked. This was especially useful later when I was learning C. C programmers are notorious for showing off their condensation skills when something a bit longer would be easier to understand. As far as I could see, the compiler produced the same .obj code whatever the layout of the source, so why not make it legible?.

A site that I keep coming back to is -*- w3schools, this site has excellent tutorials on a wide range of topics, html, CSS, javascript, .ASP etc. There are loads of examples and a great little on-line 'try-it' editor where you can see what happens when you alter bits of code.

It also has a -*- color picker utility which I think is marvellous! So much so that we now have rampant coloritis as well as rampant featuritis on this site.

Also useful is The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) tutorial and the original specifications.

The thing I found most difficult when I started doing html was not knowing whether what I had written was correct or not. It was all very well throwing my efforts at the browser to see if it worked but the browser was on to idiots like me and was very tolerant of dodgy code. This was good of it but this wasn't to my benefit when it came to writing robust code. In other words, I was missing the compiler. Then I discovered the -*- The W3C Markup Validation Service. All my files have been validated and I try to keep the validation current, though sometimes forget. This has helped me enormously in developing the website and in understanding how to write the code.

They also do a -*- .css validator too but I can't claim compliance as I am using the zoom: 1; hack to enable IE to view my site better.

Before I discovered the validator, I used -*- tidy.exe. This also was helpful in finding faults but I'm afraid I dislike the indented code it produces PLUS its propensity to fold markup to upper case so I don't use this anymore.

Now a list of websites I have found useful, there are so many to choose from but these are some I have used.

-*- The W3C Markup Validation Service
-*- .css validator
-*- w3schools, like NY, NY so good you have to say it twice!
-*- Dave Raggett's, the originator of tidy.exe, this is his html tutorial.
-*- writing scrips.
-*- JavaScript tutorial from The Computer Technology Documentation Project.
-*- CSS information and tutorial.
-*- Mozilla's developers center.
-*- chrispederick, a useful web developer toolbar that checks out the validity of .css files and much more, this is how I found the favicons of the websites on this page which don't conform to the default location.
-*- Internet Explorer tester, has a go at checking compatabilty with different versions of IE.
-*- Online Unicode Character Map very useful this, it converts anything you throw at it into unicode characters.
-*- Meyerweb.com useful stuff, especially about .css.
-*- A list apart, using alternate stylesheets.
-*- Digital web magazine useful site, this reference is about switching style sheets.
-*- The JavaScript source using JavaScript to switch style sheets.
-*- DevX.com Lots of tips, this one is about passing arguments to JavaScript functions.
-*- JavaScript about writing cookies.
-*- Dev Articles this one is about user controlled style sheets.
-*- Setting up an XP server with IIS.
-*- Dynamic Drive, handy on-line image to favicon converter.
-*- Webhost-4-life This is where this website is hosted. I pay for this service as the freebies are full of annoying advertising.
-*- Cribbit.net Just checking mine is in the right place!

-*- OC's PC Problem Pages. -*- Network2computers.
Two of my friend Harry Chester's websites. I remember Harry returning from a National Computer show wearing a freebie baseball cap with the legend 'bullshit deflector' emblazoned on its extended cap peak. He still wears it as you can tell from his sites, straight-forward, without hype and full of good information.

I'm always pleased to get suggestions for other useful sites, so please e-mail me if you have found something I have missed and should know about. I'll add it here.
You can e-mail me at:

Mysterious poems for a mysterious purpose

At one time I used to teach electronics and computer technology. One of my courses was popular with the computer hackers as it delved a little too deeply into the operating system and how to do things without the supervision of Microsoft. I had also written a student registration and attendance monitoring programme which was a popular target for them on which to practice their new craft. I went to some trouble to make this secure and to cause dismay and confusion, the poems below were used to generate the staff passwords.

I first came across the poem about St. Eulalia at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and I've always rather liked it. The gory details of her story can be found at this website. Catholic Forum

It is not the gruesome details of the Saint's demise that I like, although it does remind me of the episode in Bergman's Seventh Seal of the girl burned at the stake, but the lines:

"Here, where clear, bright marble illuminates the gracious halls, are both visitors and natives."

Now I have lived in Colwyn Bay, Stratford-upon-Avon, London and now Oxford. When you walk the streets of these places you do indeed encounter both visitors and natives and the contrast is always interesting. In Stratford you would see the natives scurrying around on their Zimmer frames or with their shopping trolleys, completely oblivious to the Japanese tourists with their complicated cameras and pre-occupation with the ersatz manifestations of the bard. I doubt that there is such a thing as a native in London.

David Munroe was a presenter on Radio 3 who died young, I used to enjoy his programme for young people, 'Pied Piper'.

I'm not going to divulge the method by which the passwords are generated by this definition block but the text was chosen to remind those who would wish to hack my program that there is a fate awaiting them which is DEATH!!! One could also say that perhaps choosing a variable name like "password" may or may not be a red herring.

char title[]={
"The tomb of St. Eulalia by Peter Racine Fricker"
"Translation of the final section of the latin"
"Hymnus in Honorem Passionis Eulaliae Beatissimae Martyris"

char password[]={
"No place more deserves this tomb than the famous town of"       //55
"Vettonia, whose beautiful walls are greedily washed by the"    //113
"green, swirling waters of the remarkable river Ana. Here,"      //170
"where clear, bright marble illuminates the gracious halls, are" //232
"both visitors and natives. The relics and ashes are preserved"  //293
"in the bosom of this holy ground. "                             //327

char ev2[]={
"The bright roof above glows red with gilded ceilings and"        //55
"precious stones, as if a rosy meadow was alive with red"
"flowers.   Pick purple violets and red crocuses.   The kindly"
"winter does not lack these.   The thawing ice releases the "
"fields so that we may heap baskets of flowers."
char ev3[]={
"Offer your gifts from this leafy foliage, maidens and youths!"
"I will carry woven garlands in the middle of the dance;   my"
"dancing feet poor, withered, yet none-the-less fruitful.  It is"
"our delight thus to reverence the bones and the alter placed"
"over them.   Seated at God's right-hand and propitiated with"
"those who sing, she cherishes her people"

char death[]={
"Keep your nasty little hacking fingers out of this program"
char munro[]={
"Death has deprived me of my dearest friend"
"My dearest friend is dead and laid in grave,"
"In grave he rests until the world shall end, "
"The world shall end, as end must must all things have."
"All things must  have an end that nature wrought,"
"That nature wrought, must unto dust be brought"
"Death has deprived me of my dearest friend"				};
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