Bertel Lund Hansens hjemmeside

The People of the Internet

Different Kinds of HTML-writers

Roughly speaking there are three kinds of people who make homepages:

  1. The first group is rather insecure in their tiny efforts. They primarily stick to texts simply because the more advanced stuff is beyond them. The joy that they feel when a lousy page with a few lines of text has been placed on the server and fetched again in their browser, can bring out the tears in even the most hardened netnerd. It's very important not to discourage them. Even a relatively innocent remark which would be trivial in your peer group, might bring out doubts in their mind, and once they have lost the courage, it's really difficult to convince them that there is a reason to go on. It of course doesn't help that you yourself is well aware of how hopeless it is. So be encouraging when talking to them. Find the positive elements, and praise them at any cost. You have to remember that they are doing their best.

  2. The next group is not bad at all. You will see quite a lot of decent efforts to get something useful to work. Often there will be pictures and frames, and a few of them might even try with sound. Animations are not entirely unfamiliar; all in all they are using all the elements that are part of a proper piece of work. It's also clear that there is a slumbering mass of talent that just needs encouragement and development. You don't have to be as careful with your criticism. Not too harsh words, but don't be afraid of setting goals. Those that are resilient will know how to meet the demands. Certainly, many will not be able to rise above the average, but the few pearls will easily be worth the while.

  3. Here we are at home. Here we are among the guys. Here others understand what we are talking about, and here we can get useful criticism and tricks to help getting yet more effects crammed into our pages. Tips on how to finetune the system, so it can handle even more demanding jobs, which of course will bring the bamboo machine of the ordinary guy down. Ideas for new cooling systems, so the enormous amounts of heat can be led away. New program pieces with patches and add-ons, so you don't have to be confined by the intolerable limitations which uncomprehending software producers stubbornly keep building into their meager products. Drivers for all sorts of screens and graphics cards, so you can increase the resolution in order to get even more squeezed into the screenpage. In short, here is the hard core, and here you need specialized knowledge and diligence that only few master. It's an honour to be accpted in this inner circle, and the highest joy of all to get a recognizing remark from one of the old guys.

How to Keep the Reader's Attention as Much as Possible

Here are some simple ideas to ensure that you can keep the attention of the reader and avoid that they leave your page too quickly

  1. Music

    Make sure to start some music automatically. The best thing is to ensure that the reader cannot turn it off. Remember to lock it in the background even if they open some of your other pages. That way you'll minimize the risk of other events tearing their attention away from the important stuff. It doesn't really matter if you have hit the taste of the reader. It's more supposed to function as a kind of sound-wall that prevents outside influences from reaching their consciousness. It may even be an advantage if they are not too fond of the music because in that way the element of irritation will function as an extra hold on their attention, but it of course involves a risk which you must take into consideration.

  2. Rolling Text

    It's also a good idea that a (sideways) rolling text is set up as one of the first things. Here Netscape has an undeniable advantage over IE. Its rolling text all by itself covers all information in the bottom of the screen. That makes sure that the reader will notice it. It's unfortunate if it starts late. Then the readers as a rule have already gleened the information that has their interest, and the risk that their attention slips away and they start clicking their way onto other pages is imminent. In this connection it is relevant to warn against a small browser that is emerging. It can't display rolling text at all which is a nasty disadvantage. There is only one thing to do about it: Find its weak spots and make sure to produce a lot of pages that it can't handle. Off the top of my head I would guess that frames, Java and JavaScript would be a way to go, but the browser is so new that I can't give any qualified advice on this point. It would be desirable with some feedback.

  3. The Background

    Don't forget set a background. It of course can be done with a simple colour command, but that is far from enough. It's preferable that you have a large picture. Firstly it looks much better, secondly it takes more time to load, and last but not least it demands a much higher concentration on the part of the reader, especially if the colour choice makes the text difficult to read. Besides it is possible to have an animated background, and that gives you the advantages that I describe in the next paragraph.

  4. Animations

    You must not fail to have a lot of animated gifs on your page. If you don't, the browser will soon have the page rendered, and that has the unfortunate consequence that pretty much all of the processor time is available for the user so they maybe even start new programs, have time to look at other pages, yes, it's even been reported that some users could print out material all the while. But a couple of well-chosen animations bind the cpu, and - lo and behold - the reader is forced to look at your page, especially if they don't have a fast machine. Besides it makes it more difficult to click away from your page because the mouse and the manouvering need processor power too.

  5. Colours

    An area that must not be neglected is the colour choice - especially the combination of background colour and text colour should be worked out carefully. The time you spend here, is well worth the effort. A certain basic knowledge about the colour scale is not to be despised, but you aren't too bad off either by just giving the text a colour contrasting with the background. If no other options are available, you'll have to experiment until a satisfactory result has been achieved. Make sure that the colours are so close that it becomes difficult to discern the letters, or that the text shimmers so you'll get a headache from reading it. Unfortunately you can't always rely on other browsers or systems being colour stable so maybe the result is slightly less horrible than on your screen, but there's not much you can do about it. One possibility, however, is to ask people to visit your page. Then, when they give advice and criticism, you'll sometimes be able to form an impression of how best to adjust the colours so they are hopeless in the browsers of other users.

Simple Advice on How to Write Messages in the Newsgroups (Usenet)

Here is some advice on how to best get along in the newsgroups:


    In the newsgroups you usually write an answer to a message. You mark that by quoting some text from the message. The more you quote, the larger and more impressive your own message will look. If you cut away too much of the quote, it might easily look as if you don't have much to say. That won't work. It'll make the others use a harsh tone because they think that you are a timid sissy. No, just leave in the complete quote. Sprinkle with light hand a few comments in between to deflate the criticism which postulates that you have no use for the quoted material. Besides it forces the others to read the whole enchilada once more because they think that there's a connection between your comment and the quote section that it follows. You may risk that some people will protest against this procedure. The answer is so simple that it borders on the superfluous: Quote all of the protest and respond that he should not play the high and mighty (or something similar). The messages will grow steadily in size, and the others will eventually give up. They prefer small messages, so your are holding the long end of the stick (hehe).

  2. Crossposted Messages (X-post)

    The newsgroups have been organized by subject. The idea is really quite good, but there is far from always a logical subdivision. The names clearly reflect the fact that there has been a small group of fanatical computer nerds that have made all the decisions. The result is, of course, that you can't be sure to find the ideal audience when you post a message. Take "dk.edb" og "dk.edb.internet" as examples. How on earth would ordinary mortal people be able to decide whether a question belongs in one or the other group? Or suppose Mr. Jones enthusiastically reads in dk.edb without ever discovering that dk.edb.internet exists? Fortunately there is an easy solution to this problem. When you're editing a message you'll find in the upper section on the screen a box called "Newsgroups". Usually you will see in it the name of one group [1] which is the one you were reading when you decided to write an answer. Click on the box with the mouse. Now you can add all the newsgroups that you want. Make sure to write as many as possible. Just put a comma in between [2]. There's no way you can know who is reading each group and just suppose that you didn't get an answer to your question, or even worse that you could not get rid of the old junk you need to sell? It won't do. Therefore you must put in as many newsgroups as possible, and don't look to closely at what they are called. Isn't the purpose of the net to help people get in contact with each other, or what?

    [1] If you are answering a message and the guy who wrote it is clever, he already has filled in a lot of newsgroups. Please do not remove them. You would block the poor guy's well-meant efforts to solve his problem. Besides you yourself are not interested in other people removing the groupnames which you laboriously have entered? Be towards others as you want them to be against yourself, I always say.

    [2] Unfortunately there are some newsreaders that'll make sure that the message is only fetched once. There is, however, a remedy for that: You must send a copy of the message to each group - no crosspost. That is quite troublesome. In practice the method with comma (crossposting) gives a great result in relation to the trouble. But if you have the energy, you can increase the number of messages being received, and that of course increases the chance of it being read.

  3. Attached Files

    Often it is difficult to describe a problem with words, and no matter if you have done your best and think yourself that the description is precise, you'll find time and again that others don't understand one bit. That's why I usually choose to take a picture and attach it. If it's a picture of your rusty car, you must take a picture and then scan it. That is not difficult. Afterwards you must use one of the numerous imaging applications there are. A lot of them are free, but otherwise all the good ones have been cracked. Write to me if you can't find them (Hurray for the net). It's no trouble to remove rusty spots and dents - on the picture that is. It'll simply look like a car in mint condition after about half an hour's work. If on the other hand you have problems with a program, you need to take a screen dump (a "photograph" of the screen). There are several programs that will help you do that. It's even easier if you are using Windows. Then you just need to press "Print Screen" (or "PrtScrn"), and the picture is in the clip holder. When the picture is ready, you must attach it to your message. Look for a box titled something like "Attach" or "Attachment". You just need to write the name of the picture (with path). Damned easy. There are some programmers who can think. Now all the others quite easily can see precisely what your message is about when they read it. If they have a smart program, they only need to click once. Otherwise they will have to perform a less simple operation but nothing that not everybody can manage. Unfortunately you will experience the usual stream of protests against that sort of thing. "It takes up a lot of space" you hear at once. Yeah, it takes up one screen, so what? Wouldn't a textmessage do the same? What a steady source of grievance that a medium like the net which has been created for effortless communication, is kept on such a primitive state by a bunch of halfbrains whose mental development was halted the day they got on the net. I already have presented one method to apply to these assholes. If that is not sufficient, you can look in the text on HTML-codes (first section) how to take the air out of them and make them look ridiculous.

  4. The Signature

    It has been accepted that you use four lines for a greeting and signature. Never mind that. It won't seem like anything, especially not if the lines only run to the middle of the screen. Start with a row of stars or other characters that will liven up in a grey everyday. After that you can put your address, your telephone number, your mobile number, your number at work, the URL for your homepage (or several - it's no problem to split up even a small homepage in many sections) plus different reservations regarding your statements. The one about it not being your employer's oppinion is used quite a lot - don't ask me why. Any idiot can see that you are yourself and not your employer, but that doesn't matter because it is so common that you won't get into trouble because of it. Also write something about that you don't like spam. It takes up anawful lot of space and it's very popular, even with those who otherwise get quite excited about huge messages. Your e-mail address must not be left out either, and in that you can put an arbitrarily long sequence of letters and then write an even longer explanation that they must be removed if people want to e-mail you. That's about as popular as the one with spam. Finally you must not fail to quote a few legal paragraphs. There are so many legal discussions on the net that nobody will mind that you include those. Their first thought will be that there must be some sensible reason for it. It's not very common, but I don't think that you will get into trouble all the same. Finally you must do the same as in the beginning, only upside down.

  5. HTML-codes

    It is now possible to have HTML-codes in your message. Several newsreaders have that feature, and that is really something that works when you want to impress. Use as many of them as at all possible. It really helps make the other users' messages look banal and unimportant. Besides you'll have the opportunity to ridicule the other users if they complain. Just suggest that they have slow computers and old programs. If anything can trigger despise on the net, that is it. Even if they are fairly content with their system there is always a little worm gnawing and telling them that it could be faster and fancier, and that you can take advantage of. If the discussion gets heated, you just use the method that I described under "Quotes". It would be even better if they really have oldfashioned newsreaders. Then your message will look something like this:

    <BODY BGCOLOR=ffffdc TEXT=000000 LINK=ff0000 VLINK=0000ff> <CENTER><I>Nu skal I bare h&oslash;re:</I></CENTER><P> I g&aring;r var jeg i byen for at h&oslash;re et band. Det<BR>var <I>v&aelig;ldig</I> godt, for lydmanden spillede ikke for h&oslash;jt og jeg kunne fint h&oslash;re det hele.<P>Men s&aring; kom ...

    Notice how handicapped they are. It's hardly possible to make head or tail of it, so they haven't got a chance to take part in the discussion. If they do all the same, it's a piece of cake to bury them because of the misunderstandings which inevitably will be evident in their messages.
    Some of the newsreaders make it possible to send a message both in clear text and HTML-coded. That is a double-edged sword. No doubt the messages automatically will be rather large, but on the other hand they can be read in all newsreaders which means that everyone can take part in the discussion. Due to the size, it is, however, a method to be recommended, and though many will be able to read your message, the codes - or maybe a small icon in the corner - will remind them that you have got a more advanced newsreader than they have.

  6. Killfilters

    Luckily many newsreaders are equipped with killfilter options. Somme users who lose patience with you, will take advantage of that, and that is pure joy. The result is that their newsreader will prevent them from seeing messages from you at all. Everybody else can. Now you can really vilify them. Those not targeted will be reluctant to act because somebody else is the object. To be on the safe side you can make a couple of tests before you let go. Once in a while you write a relatively normal message which you post to a wrong group. That'll usually trigger protests. Then, when you observe that one of the regular "protestants" doesn't complain any more, you can roll out the heavy guns. If you are a bit on the careful side, you can make one more test, but otherwise just get going. If they can't help meticulously to explain to you why they put you in their killfilter, then of course you can be quite certain. They'll probably point out in detail what a shame it is for you that you can't get help from them any more. Ha! They are the ones that are hurt. They suffer from what I call a "Jesus syndrome". They have a sickly need to help others. They will argue that "It makes the world a better place" and "We all need help" and more of the same stuff. Nonsense! It's pure egoism although on an unconscious level. They are running around with a permanently guilty conscience, and when they help some poor sod, they get a (shortlived) sense of being useful. Note that no matter how many people who take advantage of it in the most obviously lazy way, they just keep on. It surprises me every time how huge their need is, and I have after all seen it several times.

  7. Copy of Messages in E-mail

    If you don't feel that you have gotten the upper hand over one of the others by the methods hitherto mentioned, there is one more ploy which sometimes will do the trick: Always e-mail a copy of your messages to the person. As a rule this will stress them with double work because they have to answer both in e-mail and in the newsgroup. Anyway they have extra trouble downloading the larger load of e-mail, and it does, after all, take more time to look through it even after they have stopped responding to your e-mails. In order to keep them in uncertainty it may be an advantage once in a while only to answer in e-mail. It's also a good idea to take advantage of their Jesus syndrome. Present some problem to them which you know beforehand that they can solve. That'll make even the most hardcore opponent fall into the trap. Their resistance will be weakened for a time because they are so excited that they could be of use. It has the effect that the time passing before they shut off completely is prolonged considerably.

Copyright to the texts

Copyright to all texts in 2016 by Bertel Lund Hansen:

The Danish originals were written by me in 1997

Are they still relevant?

Have fun, Bertel