Incomplete Look At The Process Of Creating A Simple Web Page

After firing up a browser, you type in a favorite web address (URL), and in seconds you get a web page that you are familiar with.  Many other people are doing this every day without caring or knowing how to construct a web page.  It’s perfectly fine to be care less about the process of creating a web page as everyday users do not need to know how to create for them to use.  However, if you are one of those curious minds, you probably have wondered how those web pages got created, and how hard it is for you to take on the process of creating web pages.  It’s not that hard, but rather confusing if you’re not careful.

Creating a web page you only need a text editor of your choice.  What’s text editor?  Every computer that is having Windows Operating System is carrying notepad (text editor).  With notepad you can create a web page, but many web designers prefer their favorite text editors that specializes in web designing.  Those special text editors highlight HTML/XHTML codes with colors so your codes are easier to be read, and some text editors even auto-fill the close HTML/XHTML tags when you type in the open HTML/XHTML tags.  Those specialize text editors that web designers use come with huge amount of features to help you create web pages easier.  You can Google to search for your favorite text editors.

Before you create a web page or a template, you must use a markup language.  HTML vs XHTML is what people are quarreled about.  These two types of markup languages are creating confusions among the web developers since both of them are very much alike, but underneath the hoods they are very different.  Most web browsers still cannot support XHTML, but all types of web browsers are supporting HTML.  Still, there are some web designers out there prefer XHTML 1.0+ over HTML, because these people think that XHTML is the future of web designing.  Also XHTML is an application of XML (Extensible Markup Language).  XML has features that HTML does not have, and so some people think it’s better to use XHTML over HTML for this very reason.  Unfortunately, most browsers of now are not parsing XHTML well enough, and so making a true XHTML will break your web pages when view with some browsers.  Web browsers identify a content type such as HTML or XHTML so the web pages can be displayed correctly, and to create a true XHTML web page you must enter “application/xhtml+xml” between the head tags (<head> </head>).  IE7 and below won’t be able to recognize “application/xhtml+xml” content type, and so your web page will not be shown correctly or if at all.

HTML is not outdated as the people who are responsible for making the web standardization and the people who are creating popular browsers like Firefox and Safari are pushing for a newer version of HTML known as HTML 5.  HTML 5 will be backward compatible with HTML 4.01, and so it’s a good thing for you to create your web pages now in HTML 4.01.  XHTML 2 is the next version of XHTML 1 that is still in the work, but I heard that XHTML 2 is not backward compatible with XHTML 1, and so if you create your web pages now using XHTML 1, you may have to rewrite your web pages from scratch to support XHTML 2 — that’s if you want your web pages to be on the cutting edge.  Big website/portal as Yahoo is still using HTML 4.01, and you can check to affirm this by viewing the HTML source codes of Yahoo’s web pages.

Most web designers create web pages now a day are using the web templates that they had created.  It’s easier to copy and paste the web templates’ source codes to a new web page than remember the source code and rewrite them.  There are CMS (Content Management System) and web page creators such as Microsoft Expression and Dreamweaver that you can use to quickly create web pages based on web templates that you had designed.

What’s web template?  Web template is a complete web page that was designed by you or other web designers and could be used as model for your upcoming web pages.  Don’t feel like create a web template yourself?  You could buy one online easily.  Though the whole point of creating a web template and web pages yourself so you don’t have to buy it from someone else.

HTML and XHTML are nice for structuring web contents, but using these markup languages to beautify web pages can only create ugly/repetitive codes that make it harder to maintain.  Instead of using HTML’s deprecated attributes to give your paragraph colors and fonts — so on…, you should use CSS to do that.  Like anything new, it’s going to take time before you get good at doing it, and so writing CSS will take a lot of practice.  Though CSS is not rocket science stuffs, and so with a good CSS tutorial you will be writing CSS in no time.

Why CSS?  CSS is just a text file that is ending with .css, and in this file you can add elements that make your web pages look gorgeous.  All of your web pages can use this single .css text file to be beautiful, and so you only have to create one css text file one time that has all the rules for unlimited number of web pages that you are going to create.  This is a lot better than adding a bunch of attributes to each web page over and over again.  In order for CSS to beautify your web pages, each web page needs to refer to the css file that you created.  For example, you need to add something like <link href=”yourcsstextfile.css” rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” /> between each web page’s (<head></head>) tags.

Creating a simple web page is easy, but to make your web page compatible with all browsers will be a hard task.  IE browser may not show your web page correctly even though Firefox will, and so make sure you fire up all browsers to test your web page out.  You can also use HTML/XHTML validator from validator.w3.org to test to see if your web page is complying to the standard.  Complying to the standard when creating a web page assures you that your web page may show up correctly on all browsers.  I use the word may, because some web browsers’ parsers may not follow the standard, and even though you are following the standard, your web page may show up incorrectly on those browsers.

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What's A Router?

What is a router?  Router is like a smart switch, but it’s much more.  Router allows you to hook up multiple computers onto a single network that is using a single Internet connection — meaning DSL, Cable, and so on.  There are two types of routers, the enterprise routers and the typical routers.  Enterprise routers are for big companies to use as those companies have complex networks that require stronger and smarter routers.  A typical home network only needs a regular router.

A regular router that you can get in your electronic stores has four Ethernet ports, but make sure you get the router that also allows wireless connectivity.  With wireless connectivity, your router will be able to permit 10 or more wireless devices connect to the Internet, and it’s all depending on how fast is your Internet connection.  Regular routers cost from $80 to $160.

For your information, using Ethernet ports are better, because these ports provide better security than wireless connection.  Why?  Hackers need to hack your router directly before he can see your internal network IP addresses, and each Ethernet port represents an internal network IP address.  Internal network IP address starts with 192.168.x.x.  Wireless connection is easier to hack as hackers have wireless scanners that can sniff wireless activities as if a dog is sniffing for senses.  To confuse the hackers, you must use wireless encryptions.  To improve your wireless security you can use WPA or WPA2 wireless encryption standard.  Don’t use WEP wireless encryption standard, because it’s not as secure as WPA and WPA2.

A typical router also comes with a firewall known as Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI).  Many routers allow you to turn on the firewall or otherwise easily by checking or unchecking some options in the admin’s panel.  If your router is not turning the firewall on by default, you must do it manually, because firewall is there to help protect your network from prying eyes (hackers).  For your information, no firewall is hacker proof, but it’s better to have a firewall than nothing at all.

Some people set up their routers incorrectly by allowing default setting to stay exactly that, and so their network can be hacked easily.  Make sure to change admin’s default password to something harder, and also adding a longer and harder to guess WPA/WPA2 passphrase.  Each time a wireless device wants to access a router, a router will ask it for a secret passphrase, and if a wireless device cannot answer with a correct passphrase, the router won’t allow a wireless device connects to the network.

Some routers allow you to block or permit only specific wireless devices to access the network by filtering the MAC addresses.  Each wireless or ethernet card has a unique MAC address, and if you are physically taking a look at the card, you’ll be able to see a MAC address on the card itself.  By only allowing a registered MAC address of each wireless device connects to the network, the router is effectively permit or prevent a wireless device from accessing the router, ultimately the network and the Internet connection.  Still, there are hackers that know how to spoof (fake) the MAC address, and so this feature is not hacker proof.

Many routers have a log capability.  This allows a router to record the incoming and outgoing requests of each wireless device on the network.  By looking at the log, you can see who had accessed the router and the destinations’ IP addresses.

If you’re using Linksys router, you may be able to use DD-WRT firmware to turn your $80 Linksys router into one of those enterprise routers.  For your information, enterprise routers are much more expensive as these carry more features.  DD-WRT allows your normal Linksys to have more features.  Please be careful when applying DD-WRT to your router, because doing it without following the correct instruction may render your router unusable.

Twitter Is Viral

Amazon is facing a social network crisis due to the fact that their online store prevents books that are related to gay and lesbian to be found easily.  An author found out that his book is no longer listing among other books, and so his revenue is down — all because that his book is about gay romance.  Twitter folks who may or may not be gay are outrageous about this, and so they tweet in thousands with tag “amazonfail.”

The micro blogging website Twitter is hot than ever before.  Its social feature that allows anyone to update personal message that the whole world can follow is viral.  Even John McCain once said to a reporter that a good thing about Twitter is that you can post a short message that means a lot.  I don’t know about that, but other people have find the use for Twitter in many ways.  Bloggers use Twitter to update their followers about new blog posts.  Musicians update their followers about their concert events.  So on and so on, and you can update the whole world about what you are doing right now — for example: picking your nose :)!

Concise messages can sometimes be more effective than long and boring messages.

CNN is also on Twitter, and so famous people like actor Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Britney Spears, and so on.  Famous celebrities on Twiter may or may not use ghostwriters to Twitter for them.  Only two months ago TimesOnline came up with a list of “The top 50 most popular celebs on Twitter.”

If you take a closer look at Twitter, it may not be that interesting if you have no agenda, but the people who have agenda do find that Twitter is very useful and purposeful.  If you are a Twitter user who have hundred thousands of followers, your simple concise messages suddenly become very powerful.  You can use such power to promote your philosophy, products, personal rants, and the sky is the limit.

Other programmers and website developers jump on the bandwagon by creating their own scripts that offer the same online features that Twitter is offering.  Clone websites of Twitter are out there, and if you use Google to dig around, you will be able to find couple Twitter clone websites without breaking too much sweat.  There are couple free or commercial Twitter clone software that you can purchase or download so you can run a Twitter clone website.  A free open source Twitter clone script that I know of is LaconicaYonkly is a web service that allows you to run a Twitter clone community.

They Are, I Am, How About You? Do you CMS?

Three letter word CMS is on everyone’s lips since 2003, and you know what I’m talking about if you are one of those computer/content geeks.  CMS stands for Content Management System.  What is it?  CMS is a tool that you can access through web browsers, and from there you can edit, add, delete, update, content versioning (versions), and a whole lot more.  But why?  A team of writers, small companies, and large corporations use CMS to separate content from design.  It’s easier for content writers to just worry about being creative with their contents (means come up with new contents), and the design process of making a website looks pretty has to be rested on the shoulders of web designers.  Also, the administrative process can be extremely light when using CMS correctly!

So those big boys are using CMS, but how about you?  Even if you’re one man army, CMS can still do wonder!  Let play an imaginary game.  You want to start an one man company that is concentrating in providing online news.  So how do you gonna start this?  You have way too many choices to begin with, but let assume you have couple choices in your mind, and it’s time to compare which choice is the best choice to make.  You can start this project by creating a website from scratch, coding HTML/XHTML, write out your CSS, find the right thumbnails and photos, put up some contents, upload all of these files and folders to your web server, and you have an online news website going.  Then again, what about those extra features such as Tags, RSS, Comments, Recent Posts, Feature Posts, and so on?  Going this route you have to use third party services to serve up the codes that help you add extra features to your website, and sometimes you have to code extra features yourself.  For one man company, this is way too much work right?  In addition, your whole intention is to have an online news website going, and so your main focus is all about contents.  It’s bad for you since you have to waste a whole lot of time to design your website, but you don’t have a fast start on getting contents going.  What if you don’t know how to code HTML/XHTML, PHP, Ruby, Javascript, CSS, and so on?  It’s not looking good for you then!

Another way to start an online news website is to pick out a CMS from hundreds of CMS that are available online.  Here, you still have to make a choice between commercial CMS or Open Source CMS.  Why?  Commercial CMS will cost you some money, but you will have a team that helps you customize and configures your CMS.  Open Source CMS is completely free, and you have to deal with the customization yourself.  Fortunately, if you pick the right Open Source CMS that has a huge online community, then whenever you need help with managing your CMS, you can ask the community for tips and advices.

With a CMS, you don’t have to worry about the web design process from the beginning stage as each CMS comes with a theme, and most CMSs have many more themes that you can switch to.  Though I advice you that after your website is picking up, it’s best to get a custom theme.  You still have to code some codes and create a unique website design to get a custom theme, but you can always hire someone within your CMS community to do this for you.  Hiring someone is another whole topic that I won’t go into here.  In addition to the look, CMS offers a plethora of features for you to activate, and when you activate the right features, your website can look really professional.  Each CMS has its own features, and so I cannot talk about each specific feature, but expect that CMS provides you the general features such as RSS, Tags, Comments, Add, Edit, Delete, Update, social network type of features, and so on.

CMSs’ strong point is to allow many people or just one person to manage their contents with ease.  Imagine without CMS, whenever you create a new content, you have to create a new web-page to deliver your content.  This means that you have to copy and paste the website’s HTML/XHTML codes and other necessary codes of your website’s template to a new web-page, and then adding content into that new web-page.  If you’re smart, you use CSS, but even with CSS, you still need to create the general HTML’s codes such as HEAD, TITLE, BODY, HREF, and other HTML’s elements.  With CMS, you only need to fire up your web browser, sign into your CMS portal (admin section), create new content, hit publish or save as draft button/link, and you are done.  A team of content writers love CMS as it allows writers to work on the same piece of content without worrying about constant changes of one content.  There may be a lock mechanism for each CMS that allows content versioning to happen.  Each writer will be able to find a saved version of the same content that was edited by another writer, open up that and edit away.  Within a single click, the authorized publisher can switch a web content to whatever versions he or she wants to.  Locking and versioning allow many authors/writers to edit the same web contents at the same time without the risk of ruining the data (that’s web contents).

Adding Tags to web contents within CMS is so easy that my grandma can do it too.  RSS is already enabling by default, and so you don’t even have to worry about RSS.  Each CMS has its own method that allows you to moderate contents’ comments that were written by your website visitors.

Another awesome thing about CMS is that it allows you to quickly change your web contents’ URL (web address), but not all CMS may have this feature.  Nice and easy to the eyes URLs can also be a good thing as search engine crawlers love uncomplicated URLs, too.  Though this don’t matter much anymore if you know about SEO (Search engine optimization), but nice URL is helpful to humans as website visitors may need to remember a specific web content’s URL.  This is why many CMSs allow your website visitors to search your website’s contents easily by enabling a search feature by default, if not you have to activate this feature.

Not all but many CMSs allow you to ban or block specific users from using your website.  This is an option that you can get custom to whenever your website receives a plethora of comment spams.  There is an archive feature that most CMSs carry, and this feature allows your website visitors to browse through the content history.  This means what you published years ago are still available for easy browsing through a format that is using dates as a sorting mechanism or whatever formats that each CMS carries.

There are so many features that CMSs provide, and not all CMSs provide the same features, and so I won’t bother to go into specialize features that each CMS provides.  Even if I want to, I know that I won’t be able to do so as there are hundreds of CMSs out there.  Last I heard there are thousands of CMS though!  What I can do is to list couple CMSs that I highly recommend you to take a look at.  For other CMSs, there is Google waiting to serve you.  I think you should check out Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, Frog CMS, SilverStripe, Liferay, miaCMS, MoinMoin, ImpressCMS, Textpattern, Radiant, CMS Made Simple, TYPO3, Plone, MediaWiki, Jaws, BrowserCMS, and so much more.  Apparently, I had only tried few of those, but I highly recommend them as many people are creating huge buzzes about these.  This is only a small sample of wide variety of choices out there, and so you should follow your heart and intellectual decisions to pick the right CMS for your project.  The best way to figure out which CMS to use is Google for other people’s comments on specific CMSs.  Also, you can try to install the CMSs that you want to use and have a test run at it.  It’s also best that you pick the CMS that has a very active community (users), and in this way that CMS won’t be stagnant anytime soon.

In summary, no matter how you look at, starting an online website the right way is going to be a lot of work for you, but with a good CMS, it may help you handle a lot of things in the long run.  CMS is especially good when you have a team of writers that are working on the same contents.  CMS is also good for website designers as they don’t have to worry about the website contents, but all they do is to make sure that a website’s features and functionalities are working correctly.  Website designers could be splitting into two teams, one team worries about the appearance of a website, the other team worries about the programming part where coding is necessary.  Fortunately, most CMSs carry useful features and extra features that heavy coding or programming won’t be necessary, but creating a custom theme is a must — this is where website designers come in.  CMSs help you manage content easily; publish, edit, add, and delete content are a breeze.  Picking the right CMS for your project requires you to do some research as there are way too many CMSs out there.  I recommend you to use Open Source CMSs as these are free to use.  Free CMSs versus commercial CMSs, how do you know what to use?  It’s not only about the prices, but it’s also about the features, functionality, ease of use, the supports from the community or commercial team, and so on.  In my opinion Open Source CMSs and commercial CMSs are equal, because it’s up to you to see the benefits of each CMS when you draw up a project.  Have fun CMSing…

Cyber Threats And Why You Should Care

Cyber attacks are more common than you think.  Normal people saw their personal information got stolen, and the government spent millions of dollars to thwart cyber attacks from foreign countries.  Recently, many fingers are pointing to China for cyber attacks.  Dalai Lama’s office had computers that were hacked and compromised by unknown hacker group, and the experts said that it was most likely that those hackers were working for the Chinese government.  The Chinese government had denied all charges.  Cyber spying a threat, and everyone is in on it.

Why should you care?  Normal people don’t have to worry about Chinese government cyber spies, but they still have to worry about hackers that are after their personal information such as social security number, credit card numbers, banking information, and so on.  This is why it’s very important for you to install a personal firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software onto your computer.

There are a few free anti-virus and anti-spyware software available.  These are ClamwinAVG, Avast, Avira, and more can be found if you Google.  Microsoft has a free anti-spyware called Windows Defender.  It’s very important for you to be very careful whenever you download an anti-spyware or anti-virus from less well known companies, because you may download malware instead of anti-virus or anti-spyware software.

Updating your computer daily is also important as installing anti-virus and anti-spyware software.  Updating your computer regularly helps your computer removes and replaces bad written software and drivers.  Bad written software, drivers, and operating system codes that your computer carries allow hackers to exploit and deploy viruses and worms onto your computer.

Another way to stay safe when you surf online is to be alert about computer security.  You should check out Securityfocus.com daily to see if the software you use has a security hole or not.

In summary, not only the government is weary about their computer security, you should be too.  If you have the money, you should go for a good security software that provides quality protection while you work online or surf the web.  If you don’t have the money to buy security software, you can try one of those free anti-virus and anti-spyware that I mentioned earlier.  Update your computer daily is also important.

Why More Browsers?

There are so many web browsers out there that not too many people actually care.  Why should they when IE6, IE7, and IE8 were installed as part of Windows, or were upgraded through Windows update, right?  Some people even though they are sick of using Internet Explorer, they still prefer IE over something else so they can avoid learning how to use another web browser.  Then there is another group of people that prefers to stay away from IEs and turn to Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and many other less well known browsers.

Why some people prefer another browser over IEs?  The idea is that using another web browser over IE may be hacker-safe.  As too many hackers and scammers are targeting IE users, it’s somewhat safer to use a less well known browser where hackers and scammers pay less attention to.  Browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Opera are quite good in offering stability, usability, performance, and features that IEs may not have.

Firefox has thousands of add-ons that are quite useful, and to name the fews that you may like such as NoScript, WOT, Video DownloadHelper, Firebug, Personas, PDF Download, FoxTab, Forecastfox, GooglePreview, CoolPreviews, and so much more.  Some people think that Firefox is much faster than IEs.

Chrome is a browser that made by Google.  Chrome has a special feature that most browsers don’t have is that each opened tab is sandbox — means each tab has its own process.  This means whenever a website or a web application that you open up through a tab goes berserk, crashes your web browsers, but with Chrome the bad websites can only crash a process, and so only a single tab will be out of service.  Chrome has a very clean look when comparing it with Firefox and other browsers.  Chrome rather has its users see more of a website they visit than a browser itself, and so most features on Chrome stays out of users’ sights.

Opera has a very cool feature that allows you to use mouse gestures to navigate the web.  Opera seems to have more add-ons than Chrome, but less add-ons than Firefox.

Many website designers have a hard time in designing websites that compatible with all browsers.  In fact, it’s extremely hard to do so as different browsers render websites differently.  This is why some websites look perfect on IEs, but it’s another story when the same websites render with Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and so on.  IE6 and IE7 are somewhat acting on their own rules and not conform to some standard rules that some browsers are following.  IE8 is another story, Microsoft says IE8 plays much nicer than its predecessors by following some standard rules.  To compare different browsers’ behaviors, you can check out browsershots.org.

For anyone who cares about security, it’s best to upgrade to the latest version of the browser that you’re using.  It’s not a bad idea to have more than one browser installed on your computer.  Why?  It’s for appearance and security purposes.  Also, when you get bored with one browser, you have the option of choosing another browser to play with.

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