02 September 2004

Flanders' Follies

In 1996, I took the two classes CDC then offered on that newfangled frontier, the Internet. In "Internet II" class, we learned how to make a basic web page using Notepad, writing the HTML code by hand.

I was like an adult duck getting to swim for the first time. I went back to the office next day and found "The Beginner's Guide to HTML," which is still wandering around at NCSA's site. Having devoured that, I went to Paul McFedries' Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating an HTML Web Page, which is still around as well.

So I got myself addicted to HTML and web books as well and still have a fair collection of them. Two of my favorites are the Vincent Flanders' Web Pages That Suck books, based on his web site. These are "for God's sake, don't do this!" volumes with amusing text and highly illustrative--if not ysterically funny--screen caps of so-called "professional" web sites that are so mind-bogglingly bad that you can't believe someone paid to have them done. I especially enjoy Flanders' diatribes at "mystery meat navigation," which refers to those websites with obscure looking graphics or photos that are not labeled and you have to mouse-over them to see what they stand for. The poor man practically gets apopleptic about them.

My one complaint with computer books is they are so darned expensive. I understand that even with the popularity of computers today, they are still a niche market, so they are priced higher to recoup publishing costs. But they come at college textbook prices most of the time, an unreal cost that has you paying $40-$50, even $60+ for one book.

Luckily for my habit, I've gotten most of my HTML books at Sam's (back when they had the occasional title), on remainder counters, and lately off Amazon Marketplace. Flanders' Son of Web Pages That Suck was a heart-stopping $45, but I got it for a tenth that price on AM. And I'm enjoying it, too, perhaps even more than the original. There are some great links to web usage sites in this edition.

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