Prof Al's Quill Pen Prof Al's Inkwell

R emembering when i first

started to build pages in HTML, it wasn't something I really wanted to do at first. I was picked with three other college instructors at the American River College in Sacramento, CA to come together and design a new course to educate students all about the Internet. This was back in the Summer of 1996 and the class was to be offered in the Spring of 1997. To remind you that most of the "normal population" still hadn't much knowledge of the Internet yet, oh yes, the computer literate were aware and were happily keeping the secret to themselves too. Of course, the Internet was mostly text and not driven by the browsers we use today. In fact, Windows 95, a new and promising piece of software was introducing adventuresome newcomers to the Web with MSIE 3.0. However, Netscape 3.0, (not for FREE program), was in its third incarnation by this time. MSIE started with version 3.0, (a FREE program bundled with Windows 95), to make it seem like they were on the same playing field. I don't want to get into the old Browser War years here, just provide a little background for you.

So back to the story, after pouring over stacks of the current books on the Internet at Barnes and Noble's bookstore near the campus, the four of us came to one decision and presented it to our Department Dean. She was excited by our presentation and powered the class through the appropriate channels and voilà, the class was going to be offered and each of us would have a section to teach as well. As we prepared to leave her office, and to our surprise, she added one last comment, "Oh, by the way, you will also have to teach people how to build personal Web pages too, you do that in HTML you know." Well surprisingly enough, no we didn't know anything about how to build a Web page, none of us ever had built one. Crap, now I have to not only learn more about this new-fangled Internet thingy, which I hardly ever used, but I'd have to learn how write code too! And then she added, "It's a piece of cake learning this stuff, I know all of you will do a really good job! Good luck." And she returned to her pile of paperwork on her desk. We all left, and I might add, very quietly, each in their own personal doom space. Our joy with the presentation was now overshadowed by this new daunting task, crap!

Well, the first thing I did when I got home was hit the Internet on my "super-fast" 28.8 kbit/s dial-up 286 computer, (I was lucky to ever reach 19.6 kbit/s on this modem). I went looking for any tutorials on HTML. I found one from someone in Canada, yea northern border citizen! It was designed to help people just like us, instructors with the need to teach HTML. I was ecstatic, so much so that I worked through the night devouring as much knowledge as I could. I couldn't wait to communicate my findings to my new colleagues. A couple of which were very thankful for the information, but another had done some very thorough investigation on his own but wouldn't share his findings. (He no longer teaches there, I often wondered if he didn't share with his students too!)  So now I had a whole semester of time to build my first class on the Internet and add some HTML content too!

I still have some of my early work online at my old Geocities stomping grounds, and I'm providing a link to some of this work here. I can't guarantee that any of the old links even work anymore, but they did when it was necessary. It's always fun to go back from time to time and see how I've progressed along the way. With the introduction of Dreamweaver into my world of basic HTML and Notepad, my knowledge zoomed into the future at a pretty fast pace. But, I still love what I call "Getting my hands dirty," by using Notepad or the Code View in Dreamweaver to write the code by hand. It still gives me Goosebumps today when I see what a little written code can produce in a Web browser.

Really, there is no way a Web page designer can do their job to perfection without knowing how to code HTML, and of course CSS, Cascading Style Sheets. No one in their right mind would allow a piece of software to do all of the work without checking the code first. Dreamweaver, perhaps the best thing that ever happened to a Web page creator, still is software, it doesn't have everything under control. Sometimes it misjudges what you want and gives you something else. If you don't know HTML, how would you know how to fix it correctly?


S ometimes as beginners you see or hear the term HTML and then XHTML. XHTML is just the current term in use. We have progressed through the years since the mid-nineties, to encompass many changes to the code. I will add that there are many sites that can help you learn more about this, but there is none better than the mother of all HTML sites, the one that approves and redirects what is, and that is, the intense W3C Web site . You should visit and bookmark this site, one day you might need something from the horse's mouth, and this is the place to get that information.

You are welcome to take anything you see on this site, if you need to see how it was constructed, view the source code. No secrets here.

Until I update these pages and move them to this server, please use the Back Button on the Browser to return or close the new Window. Thanks.

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Site created by: Professor Al Fichera Contact: Updated on: February 11, 2011