HTML Definitive Answers

There are two books always within immediate reach on my computer desk; one is a dictionary, the other is HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide by Chuck Musciano & Bill Kennedy. Following publisher O’Reilly & Associates, Inc. tradition of animal line-art for the covers, this is the koala book. I have no idea why, unless it’s a subtle reference to the slow but methodical coverage the authors give their subject.

This book could be used to learn HTML and XHTML, but like most O’Reilly publications, it’s not a visual book. It’s more like an academic reference and can be a little intimidating looking at a sub-section headed with “ The rows and cols attributes”. Butwhen you really want to know what’s the right way to code that table attribute or are trying to figure out why your HTML did THAT when you really wanted it to do this, HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide should be in your bookshelf.

The authors cover the basics and the actual HTML standard (at the time of publications, of course), as well as providing comprehensive information about browser-specific extensions to the HTML code — both in an overview and as they cover each tag and attribute. They also include the older tags, noting which ones have been deprecated in favor of the new standards, and the now preferred cascading style sheet methods. Yet they are often quite honest about the lack of consistent support even by browsers that support css and encourage coders to consider following a more moderate approach to the protocal support. Whenever I’ve been in doubt about using a deprecated method or following the new standard, these authors have cast the deciding vote. I don’t even bother with a re-count.

The coverage of XHTML and XML explains the advantages — and disadvantages — to Internet businesses in some of the clearest language I’ve found. They quickly persuaded me to meet the new XHTML standard as closely as possible. I only wish the programmers of the HTML coding tools and the professional coders working on the corporate sites would use this book!

The instructions are simple and clear, but if you’ve never touched HTML code, this is not a “learn HTML in day” book, despite it’s best efforts. In their goal to be complete, they sacrifice brevity. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a comprehensive reference to answer those niggling questions or want to progress in your coding to a professional level, add HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide to your library.

Web Hosting Hub Review

WebHostingHub Review

Operating out of the US, WebHostingHub is a subsidiary of Inmotion Hosting targeted at small and medium scale business owners. They have been in business since 1995 and specialize in providing hosting solutions through a number of brands to targeted customers. Inmotion brands include Inmotion

Hosting and WebHostingHub, these brands have been created to specifically cater to the needs of personal, small business, eCommerce and VPS websites. In addition to web hosting they provide a platform for partners and advertisers to launch products and services to over 5.2 millions of consenting users.

There is a good review on for comparison: WebHostingHub Review.

Plan and Features

They are the perfectionists in their field and understand their customer’s needs and requirements very well. Take for example the ‘first month free offer’ that sets them apart from the rest as it gives all new customers a lot of time free of cost to setup their online store and get accustomed to the hosting environment and the various features provided. As most of the customers are new to online business and even if some have previous experience the new tools and features that WebHostingHub provides may confuse them, therefore the one month provided free of cost is the most valuable contribution to web hosting by any web host in the past few years.

The basic plan on offer from WebHostingHub is good for small business websites. Comes with unlimited Web Space, Bandwidth, 25 MB File Size, unlimited POP/Webmail Accounts, FTP Access, HTML Editor, no Banner Ads guarantee, Site Builder, Site Templates, 80+ Page Layouts Options, Site Promotion Tools, Gift Certificates, Discount Manager, Product Specific Shipping, Credit Card Processing.

The special features on offer with the basic plan are: secure orders, automatic tax & shipping calculations, automatic customer receipt email, value stats package, page views, unique visitors, popular pages, raw logs, current visitors, top referrers, top search engine, top keywords, time spent on site, return frequency, top paths, top entry pages, top exit pages, page analysis.


WebHostingHub means it when they claim to provide a reliable service to online businesses. They make use of the available best equipments and cloud technologies to host your websites. They have partnered with the best bandwidth providers like AT&T and Cable & Wireless to ensure that they have excess bandwidth in any case. Their servers are collocated in two world class Tier1 data centers which are connected through OC48/OC192 IP backbone, which is known to be the best backbone connectivity technology as of today.

What customers are saying:

WebHostingHub provides everything needed to sell products online and allows merchants to focus on building their business instead of managing their web site. WebHostingHub is our choice for Ecommerce Host of the Year.


WebHostingHub provides a choice between submitting a ticket, live chat area, tutorials and documentation including cPanel video tutorials and textual documentation, coupled with this is web development documentation. All of that finds place in their member area making it really easy for you to get problems solved quickly. Additionally, the support staff is also available via phone and email.


Small business owners is a peculiar segment of customer base that requires the attention of specialists and not just another company that offers hosting for business owners among other services in order to rope in customers just for the sake of it. If you are a budding small business owner or a business owner whose business has suffered in the hands of another one of those hosting companies and have come looking for a specialist web host for your business you don’t have to look beyond WebHostingHub.

Making It Big – Large Background Images

There’s no good layout with a page background that isn’t a good layout without a page background. And since different browsers handle background image positioning differently, there’s additional work in building the page. But while you should avoid complex, patterned backgrounds like the tap water in Chihuahua, there are times when a large page background image can add impact. So I’ll share two of my favorite ways to use a page background.

To avoid the dreaded “tiled pattern” effect, create very wide images. The minimum width is 1200 pixels. The most popular viewing resolution, according to recent studies, is 800 x 600, but by setting the width to 1200 pixels wide I avoid repeats on over 98% of the monitors. And yes, there are ways to control background image placement and repetition with the current HTML 4+ standards, style sheets and browser-specific code, but using these methods create dependencies on the web site. We want our pages to be as accessible to as many viewers as possible, so dependencies are bad. If you prefer to use a style sheet to control positioning and repetition, simply be aware that some site visitors are not seeing what you expect.

Creating Vertical Columns & Patterns

The first method actually isn’t a large page background. It’s just a very wide, but vertically narrow, background that repeats down the page creating a vertical pattern.

  1. To create this background, open a new window in your graphics program 1200 pixels wide by 20 pixels high.
  2. Create your repeating pattern. Remember this will be a verticalrepeat. For example, If you want a left-hand column of color, make a rectangle of flat color as many pixels wide as your column and 20 pixels tall.

    You can also use lines, dashes, letters, whatever you want. Use very few colors and preferrably web safe colors. This lets you to make large graphics that optimize into a very tiny digital packages.

  3. Save your image as a gif file optimized to the fewest colors possible as shown below.

Example 1 used only 4 colors and gif compresses to less than 1k (380 bytes to be exact). It loads in less than 1 second at 28.8k and creates a visual left-hand column that is 200 pixels wide and a grey line that runs vertical at 500 pixels across the screen.

Creating a Large Image Background

My other favorite background trick is using a large image for impact. It depends upon maximum optimization so the fewer colors necessary the better.

  1. For a large image background, open a new window in your graphics program at least 1200 pixels wide and 800 pixels high. (Long pages will have a repeat as the viewer scrolls down past 800 pixels. To avoid this on a long you must increase the image height.)
  2. Create your large image. You can use whatever you want including line art, but if you are going to run text over this image (and most of us do), keep it very pale and simple in design. Use very few colors and preferrably web safe colors so you can optimize into a very tiny digital package.

    If you want the image centered on your page place it between 320-400 pixels from the left edge and 240-300 pixels down from the top edge.

  3. Save your image file optimized to the fewest colors possible as shown below. If you are using flat, line art or a stylistic image, use gif compression. See example 2 below. If you are using a photographic image than needs to remain photorealistic, use jpeg compression. See Example 3 below.

Example 2 uses 4 browser safe colors and gif compresses to 7.1k, loading in less than 3 seconds at 28.8k.

Example 3 uses a photographic background image. Monochromatic photographic images, lightened heavily, work best as page background images. Otherwise, considerably time and energy goes into working the text around the image. Plus full-color images generate larger files. Save the full-color for standard page images. Try jpeg compression for the final background image if you want to keep more photographic details.

Two examples of the technique are graphic designer and author, Lynda Weinman’s site and the All STARS Hockey Team pages. Note than Weinman actually uses a large, flat graphics background designed to continuous repeat the image across all size monitors and that she doesn’t run text over her images so she can be very bold.

Coding the Web Page

To put your background image to work, add the following code to your HTML <body> tag:


replacing the path_to_your_image_if_necessary/your_image_file_namewith the location and name of your background file.

The background for the Example 1 sample page looks like this: <body bgcolor=”#ffffff” background=”../images/bkg_sidebar_example.gif”>

With HTML 4.0+ and XHTML standards, the background attribute has been deprecated in favor of using style sheets for placing background images. Unfortunately, not all browsers currently in use are fully HTML 4.0+ compliant, but if you page design doesn’t actually require the background image (and remember my dictum, there’s no good layout with a background image that isn’t a good layout without a background image), you can specify both background positioning and repeat precisely.

I’m not going into a full discussion of style sheets. But the code below will give you an idea of how to modify a style sheet to include a background image:

body { background-color: white;
background-image: url(../images/bkg_sidebar_example.gif);
background-position: center middle;
background-repeat: no-repeat;

If you’d like to start working with a style sheet, check out the article, “Style Sheets for the Terminally Impatient”.

Style Sheets for the Terminally Impatient

Okay, you say you want your pages to look good, but hate coding font styles over and over and over? Well, welcome to the external style sheet. The large majority of browsers support cascading style sheets. There are three ways to add style attributes to a tag under the current HTML and XHTML standards: inline styles, document-level styles and external style sheets. The fastest, easiest way to create a consistent style throughout your site is by linking to an external style sheet. I’ll save all the gory details of style sheets for another time.

An external style sheet is merely a text file containing the tag and its related attributes. It looks like this:

body { color : #000;
background-color : #fff;

A:link { color : #f30;

A:visited { color : #f63;

h1 { font-family : Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif;
font-size : 22pt;
line-height: 160%;
color : #f93;

We’re in hurry here, lady, speed it up.

First, you need a style sheet. I made one for you.

  1. Click here to download a style sheet similar to one used for this page. You will need to save the page to your machine.

    At the command menu, click on File > Save As.

    Save the page as a plain text format and name it “elementary_style”. If you get a choice of extensions, use “.css”. The “.css” extension will readily identify the file as a cascading style sheet.

Next you need to add a link to the style sheet in your web page code.

  1. Inside your <head> tag (after the <title> and any meta tags), add the following line of code:

    <link href=”elementary_style.css” rel=”stylesheet” title=”Elements of Web Style Stylesheet”>

That’s it — at least for basic styles.

I’ve included a special style for navigation and copyright or anything else you want in a smaller font. It looks like this:

.navigation { font-family : Arial, Verdana, Geneva, Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size : 10pt; line-height : 11pt; }

To use it, you simply wrap the text in a paragraph tag (<p>) with the class defined as “navigation”. So that the HTML code looks like this:

<p class=”navigation”> This is some text I want displayed smaller. </p>

And this is the result:


A Voice for Writers and Speakers –

Don’t let the awkward title discourage you from checking out Internet Research and Marketing for Writers and Speakers. Normally I skip online research books because so many are out of date or lack substance, but surprised me with resources I never knew existed.

The book covers the business and promotional potential of the Internet for writers and speakers. The author, Carmen Leal, covering two overlapping fields, places her primary focus on using the Net to market yourself and your work. She begins with the basics of getting online and moves to using the web for research. From there she clearly and concisely handles Net communications and networking. She ends with a solid discussion of web marketing. At times she’s a bit simplistic, but the information is solid. Leal “eats her own dogfood” as they say in business. She has used the web effectively to launch her professional writing and speaking career from networking to get the seed money for her self-published first title to getting the rapid research done to complete this title in a few short weeks to meet an editor’s deadline. She’s alsoused her own techniques to find speaking opportunities and set up her own web site to promote herself and her books. And while, like all Internet resource book, some of her URLs were obsolete by publication, she uses her site to provide updated links — like a free software upgrade to her book.

Leal covers a plethora of marketing techniques including developing online business networks, building a personal e-mail list, effective online business correspondance, showcase opportunities, the pros and cons of personal web sites and much, much more. I’m still working my way through sections of the book. And it’s a small book…packed with a lot of information.

If you’re a writer or a speaker looking for more resources than you have time to explore, but where you can find ways to kick your career into higher gear, buy the report by Carmen Leal.