I always find when traveling that it is a little easier to communicate once I've learned a bit of the local language. In the case of this place we call the internet, the lingo is HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). You can certainly survive without knowing a bit of it, but knowing just a little helps you get your point across so much more easily (I also speak pidgen German, high school French and restaurant Spanish all of which help me when I travel to new, strange places).

The following is a brief guide to "what I've learned about HTML by reading other peoples messages". It's presented here as a public service to those of you who are a bit more adventurous and want to say it with feeling (or at least with angle brackets). With thanks to Robert, Carter and the Baba for their examples, it's probably wrong in places and I'd welcome any corrections/additions.

The board will start to try to interpret the commands contained in angle brackets. If you see something neat on a message, you can see how the magic is done by looking down into the response area and looking at what the author wrote. You can also do this on any web page by using the View menu of your browser and selecting Document Source. This will show you the source - the HTML file in another window. It may look complex, but HTML is actually pretty forgiving and lots of stuff is easy to do.

Commands can be interspersed with the text of your message. Some commands are very simple and can help you make a point by simply shifting to bold or italics or both. In order to do so, use the following commands interspersed in your text:

<b> turns bolding on
</b> turns bolding off

<I> turns italics on
</I> turns italics off

<u> turns underlining on
</u> turns underlining off

for example:
You can make <b>your </b> own <I>points stronger</i> using <b>bolding</b> and <I>italics</i> or <b><I>both</i></b>, or <u>emphasize something important with underlining</u>.

Change Fonts:
You can change to a different font with the following command:

This is another font! This is not.

This is <FONT COLOR=color FONT FACE="font_name" FONT SIZE="size">text...</FONT> This is not.

color can be one of the primary colors or a hexadecimal number representing a color. I'm not too clear on this part, so I always keep to simple colors. size is not related to type size, it seems somewhat arbitrary. 6 seems big, 3 seems about normal. font_name is the name of the font, like "Times New Roman" or "Arial".

Include a Mail Address:
If you want to insert your address, or someone elses address, simply use the following syntax. Substitute your_address and your_name:

Send mail to RichC

Send mail to <A HREF="mailto:your_address"><B>your_name</B></A></font>

Insert a picture:
Pictures are the most fun to insert. Unfortunately, they also take the most work. First you have to get them on your computer. You can get a digital camera, or a scanner (looks like a copier) or a video frame grabber (like SNAPPY). The least-cost option runs about $100-$200 (a cheap scanner). This allows you to create files on your PC with your pictures. Then you'll need to load the picture up from your PC onto a web server someplace. Most memberships from Internet Service Proividers (ISP's) include some amount of storage. You simply use your browser to upload files from your PC. Once they are uploaded, note the address they have been uploaded at. The easiest way to post the picture is to use the Image URL field on the main screen, but you can also use the following HTML, embedded in your message. Simply substitute the image address (URL) for image_url in the following. Substitute short_desc with a brief description of the image, this will appear as it is loading:

Painted Caliper
Click above for a closer look!

<A HREF="image_url"><IMG SRC="image_url" ALT="short_desc" HEIGHT=500 WIDTH=500 BORDER=0 ALIGN=CENTER></A>
<b>Click above for a closer look!</b>

You can also say LEFT or RIGHT instead of CENTER. You should also note the HEIGHT and WIDTH parameters which allow you to change the size of the image. 500 x 500 is a good size, it takes up about half the screen. If you don't want to change the size, leave these out. The HREF allows you to make this picture into a button that someone can click on. It need not match the IMG SRC (Image Source), but this is useful if you want to post a picture and say "Click on the picture for a larger view".

Note: pictures and such do take longer to load than plain text, so folks on slower lines won't appreciate overuse of the more overhead-intensive features (pictures and sounds). However, they don't really take up room on the board, because they are just references to other storage areas on other servers. However, if the file you are pointing to moves or is deleted, the image will appear as the "broken image" icon.

Insert Sounds:
This is an example of inserting a REAL AUDIO sound file. Substitute sound_file and short_desc. The sound will start loading automatically when the page is displayed:

<center><embed src="sound_file" controls=ControlPanel autostart=true width=300 height=30 ALT="short_desc"></center>

Insert URL:
A URL is an address of another web page. You can insert this into your text. This allows you to provide a place for someone to click if they want to go to that page. Simply cut the address from the location field of your browser and past in place of url. The text in description of url will appear as the touch point:

Press here for Quality parts

<A HREF="url">description of url</A>

Testing your artwork: has, most graciously, given us a test area. If you're new to this, practice over there before attempting anything fancy on the main board. Otherwise, everyone will make fun of you. (Only kidding, only a couple of people will actually make fun of you).

There's a good number of guides out there available if you want to learn more about HTML. Enjoy!

Send additions/corrections/suggestions to: RichC

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