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Personal Home Page Primer

After surfing the web for a while, many people arrive at the idea of making their own web page. This FAQ will help you do just that. While it does not contain all the information you'll need to develop your page, it will tell you the basics of what you'll need to know to get your personal page running properly on Hawaii OnLine. In addition, you'll find tips on where to go for additional information.

If you have further questions or suggestions, please contact webmaster@aloha.net.

Section I: The Basics

What are web pages made of?
So all pages need HTML. Where do I learn it?
What about a book on HTML?
What are editors? Can they write the HTML for me?
Are there any limitations on what I can put on my web page?
What should I know about copyright infringement and how it pertains to web sites?

Section II: Putting Up your Page

I've made a page! Now how do I get it on the web?
What is FTP? How do I use it?
How much room do I have in my personal file space?
Are there any restrictions on how I name my files or where I put them?
Okay, all done. Now how do people find my web page?

Section III: Advanced Topics

What is CGI?
What kind of CGI is available on Hawaii OnLine?
Can I put custom CGI programs on my web page?
What is Java? Does HOL support Java?

Section IV: Troubleshooting

Why do my links work at home but not from www.aloha.net!
Can people send me e-mail from the Web?
I don't see the changes I just made. Why?
My graphics are not displaying. What's wrong?

Section V: Links

Where can I find HTML education on the web?
Where can I find software or graphics for my web page?

Section I: The Basics

Q: What are web pages made of?
A: We all know how to use web pages, but to create them we need to know what the parts are. Web pages are built out of something called HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is a specific set of notations that determine how your page is going to look. HTML is the foundation that all web pages must start from.

Aside from HTML, web pages are made up of files of various sorts. The most common kind of files are graphics files. Every picture you see in a web page is made up of one sort of file or another. The two most common kinds are GIF and JPEG files (.gif & .jpg). Beyond that, there are all sorts of things that can be incorporated into web pages depending on what kind of message you're trying to convey.

Q: So all pages need HTML. Where do I learn it?
A: The first thing to do is to read a good primer on HTML. There are many of them out there on the Internet, and we've included some of the better ones on our list of links at the end of this FAQ.

Once you understand what the basic tags and notations in HTML are, the best way to learn good HTML is to look at the "source" or HTML code that your favorite web pages are written in. To do this, you should select "document source" from the "view" option in your web browser's menu bar. This will bring up a separate window showing you the HTML for the web page you're viewing. By studying the techniques others have used to create attractive web pages, you will be inspired with ideas of your own.

In fact, you might start by viewing the source of this web page. We have added special notations, called "remarks," in the source code. You can't see these remarks in your web browser, but when you view the source you will see them. We've used these remarks to describe the things we did to make this web page, and make it easier for you to understand our HTML code.

Q: What about a book on HTML?
A: HTML is changing and evolving so fast, that many of the books on the market today have obsolete and sometimes even misleading information. Also, they range anywhere from very simple books that don't teach anything interesting, to highly technical guides that aren't meant for the non-technical reader. While there are definitely good books out there, you need to decide which one is right for you.

Q: What are editors? Can they write the HTML for me?
A: An editor is a program--kind of like a word processor--that makes the job of writing web pages easier. There are small free programs, big commercial ones (Like MS Frontpage or Adobe Pagemill), and even little add-ons that will turn your word processor into an HTML editor. Then, instead of typing <IMG SRC=newb.gif alt="a pic of newb" align=left>, you can just click your mouse a couple times and it's done for you.

However, there are a couple problems with editors. First, many (especially the free ones and add-ons) don't do a good job of writing HTML. Most of the programs are not WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get), which means that they will still "look funny " until you actually view them in your web browser. Finally, like books, things in HTML can change by the time a new program comes out. That means that even if you use an editor, you may still need to manually write HTML if you want to try something new.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't use editors. They can make some of the highly repetetive things about HTML much more convenient, and can help remind you of the right way to do HTML while you're learning. Just remember that you should look for the program that's right for you, and that built-in text editors like Simpletext or Notepad are just as powerful as $200 commercial software.

Q: Are there any limitations on what I can put on my web page?
A: A couple. First, your web page must be for non-commercial purposes only. Commercial web pages often have very different objectives, and generate much more traffic than non-commercial pages. Because of this, we have a dedicated server, mahiai.aloha.net, for all commercial web sites. Since our main server (where your account is located) is used for many important activities (including processing logins and e-mail), we can't devote system resources to commercial activity.

All personal home pages have a "maximum data transfer" of 100 megabytes a month. This means that in a one month period, the total amount of data that visitors retrieve from your homepage cannot go over 100 megabytes without penalty fees. It is highly unlikely that your homepage will ever exceed this total, unless your page becomes very famous. The reason for this limit is to prevent one person's homepage from using more than its fair share of resources, and potentially infringing on other users service.

Aside from that, the only limitations on the content of your page are those determined by state and federal law. We're not interested in monitoring or censoring users, and we'll leave it to you to decide what is appropriate on your page and what isn't.

However, a special note should be made here about "adult" web pages. First, while there are no laws prohibiting sexual content on web pages (so far the CDA is still considered unconstitutional by the courts), there are other reasons to avoid it. Most adult graphics obtained on the Internet are either already a copyright violation, or they will be if you put them up on your page without the permission of the owner. Secondly, when word gets out that there is a web page with adult graphics on it, the volume of traffic for that web page increases, and could exceed your maximum data transfer limit.

The bottom line is, it isn't our intention to interfere with your ability to communicate via the Internet, as long as you don't interfere with other people's right to do the same.

Q: What should I know about copyright infringement and how it pertains to web sites?
A: The Copyright Act protects virtually every type of information available on the Internet, including, but not limited to, literary works, databases, characters, musical works, pictorial works, graphic works, sound recordings, video and motion pictures, software, multimedia works and compilations. Although the Copyright Act does not require a notice such as a circled letter "c," this is a good way to put the world on notice that if anyone wants to copy the information, they need to get the copyright holder's permission first. To determine whether a work is copyrightable, the U.S. Copyright Office looks to several factors before it will enforce an individual's assertion that he or she has a copyright. Anyone making copies of works and anyone sending works that they scan into a computer for transfer to another person, should first make sure that the owner has granted them permission. If a person does not know or cannot tell if the work is copyrighted, they should consult an attorney. If the work came from a copyrighted publication, or is a photograph of a famous person or thing, it is very likely that the work is copyrighted and therefore permission is needed before making a copy of the work in any form. Anyone who violates another's copyright can be subject to civil penalties, including an injunction, impoundment of the infringing work, destruction of the infringing copies, monetary damages, costs of suit and attorneys' fees, as well as criminal penalties consisting of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines."

Section II: Putting Up Your Web Page

Q: I've made a page! Now how do I get it on the web?
A: The first thing you need to do is to use an FTP program to upload your pages to the Hawaii OnLine main server. Every user has a "personal file space" for their web pages to go into.

Q: What is FTP? How do I use it?
A: FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is the method used on the Internet for sending files back and forth from one computer to another. A common example of an FTP program that many users have is WS-FTP. If you don't have WS-FTP, then you will probably need to download and install an FTP program from the Internet. Our links at the bottom of the FAQ give you some places to go for FTP programs.

Once you have your FTP program installed and running, you need to tell it how to get to your personal file space. All FTP programs have some kind of settings area where you give the FTP program "directions" on how to get to where you want to transfer your files. Here are those directions:

    Host Name/Site Name: ftp.aloha.net
    Login Name: <your username> (example: newb Not Pnewb or newb@aloha.net)
    Password: <your password>
    Remote Host/Remote directory: /public_html/

Also note that if you are using a Mac, it is very likely that Fetch will be your FTP program. When you upload any files that are not text or HTML files (like graphics), then you must upload them as RAW DATA. Fetch will default to MacBinary II, which will make your graphics unreadable to our web server.

Q: How much room do I have in my personal file space?
A: The total space available is 5 MB or 20 MB depending on the dialup package you have. A very small amount of that is used by Hawaii OnLine for certain files that help your account to work properly. Aside from your web page, the rest of that space is typically used by your unread e-mail. Your personal file space is also where all that new mail sits on our new system until you go to check mail. It is very important to leave some free space for your e-mail. If your 5 MB (or 20 MB) gets filled up, any new e-mail would start bouncing back to the sender until you make some space available.

Q: Are there any restrictions on how I name my files or where I put them?
A: Yes. First, all your files for your web page must be in the sub-directory of your file space called public_html.

Second, there are special ways to name the files that make up your web page. Your "home" page, the one that people see in the beginning, must be called index.html (or index.htm). All your HTML files must end with the extension .html or .htm. Do not use spaces in any of your filenames. Finally, it is good to make sure your filenames are in all lower case letters. While web browsers can handle filenames with capital letters, it is easy to run into problems because you're not using the exact capitalization. It's usually less of a hassle to use all lowercase letters.

Q: Okay, all done. Now how do people find my web page?
A: The URL for your homepage is http://www.aloha.net/~username (example: http://www.aloha.net/~newb). This is where you should direct everyone who is interested in visiting your web page.

Section III: Advanced Topics

Q:What is CGI?
A: CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface. Basically, CGI allows web pages and non-Internet computer programs to talk to each other. Take search engines, for example. They are made up of three parts. The first part is the web page itself. That's where you type in your requests and where the results come out. The second part is the database that stores all the URLs and finds the ones you're looking for. CGI is the third part, the stuff in between that allows the information to go from the web page to the database, and back to the web page.

Q: What kind of CGI is available on Hawaii OnLine?
A: We have two CGI programs for our users. The first of which is a hit counter. The hit counter talks to our web server and keeps track of how many times your website is visited, then displays that number on your web page. There is a form in Personal Pages that will automatically add the hit counter to your web page.

Our other CGI is for mail forms. A "mail form" is a form that user's can fill out online, the results of which will be e-mailed to you in a neatly printed format. You have the control over what exactly is in the guest book or survey, our CGI program just takes the data, formats it, and e-mails it to you. The following HTML should be added to your web page wherever you want the form to appear. Please note that the sample code is just the required beginning and ending. Between these two tags, you would add the appropriate HTML for making your forms.

<form action="/cgi-bin/mailserf" method="POST">
</form>

Visit our CGI Scripts page for more information.

Q: Can I put custom CGI programs on my web page?
A: No. The ability for users to get into the CGI area to add or edit programs would require giving users privileged access to our system. That would essentially mean giving users the ability to directly access the operating system of our main server. While some ISPs do this, it is against our security policies. If you have a CGI program that you're interested in running, and you think that it is something relatively common that many people would be interested in having on their home pages, please let us know about it. We're always looking for ways to add features to our service. Otherwise, if the CGI is important to the design of your home page, you may wish to consider getting a commercial account with us. See mahiai.aloha.net

Q: What is Java? Does Hawaii OnLine support Java?
A: Java is a computer programming language, like C, Pascal, or BASIC. It is much more complex than HTML, but it is also capable of adding capabilities to your web pages that HTML cannot even begin to do. If you are serious about your web pages, the work that goes into learning Java can have a dramatic payoff.

Java is very different from "normal" programming languages, because you do not use Java to write independent programs for a specific computer like the Mac or the PC. Instead, you use Java to write "applets," little pieces of computer code that are sent to a user's web browser to be run as a program once it gets there. Because of this, you can write one little Java applet, and anybody with a Java capable web browser can run it, regardless of what kind of computer they're on. Because Java involves only your applets and somebody's browser, you can include all the Java you want in your web pages without having to consult HOL. Just upload the applet files like you would any HTML file or graphic image. Just don't forget about the disk space quota.

You may have also heard about something called JavaScript. JavaScript, despite the name, is not actually related to Java. However, it allows you to add animation and certain interactive functions to your web page, like Java can. Also unlike the real Java, JavaScript code is put directly into your HTML files.

Both Java and JavaScript have the capability to add a lot of richness to your web pages. The drawback is all the time involved in learning to work with them. Another thing to keep in mind is that older or less powerful web browsers will not have the ability to use your Java or JavaScript, but that's the price of living on the cutting edge!

Section IV: Troubleshooting

Q:Why do my links work at home but not from www.aloha.net?
A: Check the capitalization in your HTML. Capitalization differences between link tags and filenames are irrelevant on your home computer, but they make a major difference on our system.

Q: Can people send me email from the Web?
A:Sure. Use a URL like:

<A HREF = "mailto:your_username@aloha.net">Send Me Mail!</A>

Q: I don't see the changes I just made. Why?
A: First, check to make sure you have clicked the Reload button in your web browser to make sure it has accessed your page after the pages were saved. If the pages still don't look different, you may need to clear your cache. Your cache is an area in memory, and on your hard drive, where your web browser is saving things that it has accessed before. There is the possibility that your web browser is showing you the contents of your cache, rather than the files on the web. If you go into the Network preferences of your browser, you can clear the cache with just a couple mouse clicks and try and view the page again.

Q:My graphics are not displaying. What's wrong?
A: Mac users should remember that all their files must FTP as RAW DATA. For both Windows and Mac users, check to see if there are differences in capitalization between the file and the IMG tag.

Section V: Links

Q: Where can I find HTML education on the web?

A:

The NCSA's Beginner's Guide to HTML
Considered the definitive beginner's guide, it's almost as old as the web itself, even if the info in the guide is more up to date. NCSA is also where some guy named Marc worked before he co-founded a little company called Netscape.

The W3C Style Guide for Online Hypertext
The W3C is the World Wide Web Consortium. Though you may have never heard of them, they basically decide what HTML is. What the tags are, how they work, how browsers are supposed to interpret HTML, etc. The style guide doesn't teach you how to do HTML itself. It's more about what constitutes "good grammar" in the language of the WWW.

An Introduction to Frames
Netscape's guide to using frames in web pages.

How Do They Do That With HTML?
A catalog of HTML tips and tricks with real-world advice on how to do such nifty things as columns of text, transparent .gif files, background sounds, and more.

Q: Where can I find software or graphics for my web page?

A:

Carl Davis's HTML Editor Reviews
Carl gives you his opinions on applications used to create or assist in the creation of web pages.

The CuteFTP Homepage
CuteFTP is a Windows FTP program that greatly resembles File Manager, making navigation of FTP sites much simpler.

The Fetch Page
This is the homepage for Fetch, the most popular FTP application for the Macintosh. Cool trivia: The University of Hawaii's FTP site is used as the example in their screen shots.

The Backgrounds Archive
Want some nice background images for your web page? This is an archive of publicly available backgrounds, free for anyone to use.

 
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