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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....




Sending HTML Files Through E-mail
October 6th, 1999

The Mac Observer received a letter this past week from Kathy Dumont. Kathy has received several e-mail messages that included attachments that appear to be web pages or web creations and she wants to know how that is done. Kathy sent me an example of one that she had received. At the bottom of her e-mail message was a link. When I clicked on the link an internet page opened. On the page were graphics and other informational material about a specific product. However, none of it was animated. After experimenting for a couple of days and getting nowhere, I asked for help from other Mac Observer staff. After trying their suggestions I think I have figured out how to do what Kathy asked about. I am quite sure that this is not the only way to do it, and I am even more sure that there is probably more than one commercial software program out there somewhere that will do the same thing. However, for the casual user these suggestions should work just fine. I think this is an interesting skill to have because it will allow you to create special kinds of holiday cards, invitations, or other special event things that you can send out by e-mail. To do this you will need to use HTML and have a venue to check what you have created. If you have made your own web page (see columns from September 2nd, September 8th, and September 15th) this will actually be a piece of cake for you.

You should start by creating a web page. You can do this with your own local HTML editor, or even one of the online site builders like Angelfire. If you used Angelfire to create your web page then go back into your site and create a new page by clicking on the appropriate button. Remember, so long as you don't link to that new page no one but you can see it, so you can play around and experiment to your heart's content without spoiling the absolute perfection of your previously created web page. Well, it is absolute perfection isn't it? Set up your new page by following the required format.

To illustrate this I am going to make a really basic New Year's Eve party invitation so you can see both the HTML language and the finished product. I will start on a new blank page at Angelfire, going directly to the advanced, HTML format. This process of creating a web designed attachment involves one major step that we have not covered before so be sure to include that step (explanation follows) when you try to create your own attachment.

This is the basic HTML code that I used to create this simple invitation.


The HTML Code Used To Create an Invitation

Both the background and the drawing came from Barry's Clip Art . When I choose the items I wanted to use I clicked on the item and held it until a pop-up window opened. Then I chose "save this document as" and saved it to my desktop. Then I uploaded it to my web page. This step is discussed in more detail in last week's column.

This is a snapshot of the finished product, as it would be viewed by the recipient. I have not used any animated graphics in this sample because they wouldn't show in a snap shot, but you can use them all you want in any document you design using this process.


The Invitation

That extra step I mentioned is this. Once you have your document created to your satisfaction you must copy the HTML code ( with your cursor somewhere within the coded text choose Select All [Command and A] and then, when it is highlighted, select copy [Command and C]). Then you have to open a SimpleText document, or another plain text editor, and paste (Command and V) your HTML document onto a blank page. Save that SimpleText document and make it an HTML document, i.e., "title.html". This new SimpleText document is the one you attach to your e-mail. Here's the catch, only those e-mail programs that include the ability to display HTML inside an e-mail message will actually show the attached message as a web page. Otherwise it will show up as an attachment which would have to be opened in your web browser. It could also show up as actual HTML code in the e-mail message too! With so many different standards and multiple versions of e-mail programs, this is almost a hit or miss process. If you want to have cool web effects included in the e-mails you send you, just experiment until you think you know what are doing.

SimpleText is a standard element of your Macintosh computer. To get it go to your File pop-up menu and choose Find. In the Find box type in simple or simpletext , hit enter, and you will find a list of everything that contains those words. Choose the program by double clicking on it and it will open with a new blank page. By the way, one of the most annoying things about using Windows on a daily basis at work is that the "find" function is almost worthless. I can create a document and save it and then click on the find option and tell it to find the document I just saved. Invariably I will get a message back that nothing was found. Actually, I don't think I have "found" anything using that option in the past year.

One other idea you may want to consider concerns the Microsoft Outlook, or Outlook Express e-mail client. Outlook comes with Microsoft Office, and Outlook Express is usually installed with Microsoft Internet Explorer and is free. These programs have 6 or 7 pre-formatted designs that you can choose by going to the "Compose" pop-up menu and selecting "Choose Template." Once you have chosen the template you can add pictures, clip art, etc., but I am not aware of any method you can use to add either backgrounds or animated graphics. The only advantage to using this method is that your information will be included in the text of your e-mail rather than as an attachment.

I hope this serves to answer Kathy's question.

Readers Thoughts and Comments About Hacking

Several interesting letters have come in from readers responding to last week's column about Hacking. The first is from Jim Hartneady who responds to Dave's comments concerning the level of criminality involved in hacking. I asked Dave if he thought hacking should be considered a federal crime. Dave responded that he did not think so. He stated "the crime should be based on breaking and entering laws, and theft laws. If someone breaks into your computer, then it's breaking and entering. If they steal something off your computer, it's theft. If they delete something from your computer, it's damage/negligence."

Jim responded that he agrees with Dave's comments except in situations where "a person during the commission of his/her crime used a server in a different state. I think crossing a state line during the commission or fleeing from a crime has always been Federal territory. The second area that has been Federal is "wire crime" or phone scams for the same reason and because it was too difficult for state resources to counter. I look at hacking the same as someone going to my house, trying every window and door until he finds one open or breaks one open and enters. The fact that it is different level of skill to break into my computer than my house is irrelevant. Both hope to do something without getting caught or even identified. Both events could be anywhere on the scale from minor to total disaster. If I thought the states could handle this I'd say we probably don't need Federal laws. The States can't. Take away their toys as the primary punishment for any uninvited entry and increase it depending on the amount damaged or stolen."

Following receipt of Jim's comments we corresponded a bit about this subject. I noted to Jim that I was surprised that Dave took what I considered to be a lenient view toward all the attempted hacking into his system. Jim and I agree somewhat that this may be a generational thing. A technical whiz like Dave has information at his fingertips that many others of us don't have and, may therefore have information upon which to form an opinion that other's don't have. On the other hand, as my generation becomes "more mature" we tend to take a stronger stance on what we believe is right and what is wrong based on our own experiences. We also tend to have stronger feelings about issues than when we were younger. This, I think, is a greater sense of our ability to look at all sides of an issue (unless we are Archie Bunker and stopped looking at issues with an open mind at age 40). Some of our opinions of course, are based on our own actions when we were young. It's like a father who was really wild at a teenager, worrying that the boys his daughter is dating are just like he was when he was their age. I appreciate Jim's comments and opinions and the opportunity to explore this subject further.

Daniel Harrison, the System Administrator of The New Vegas.com wrote to let me know that there is a product for the Macintosh called NetBarrier. Daniel notes that it is basically a personal firewall for your Mac. It does not involve routing as it's for single machines only.

Another reader wrote to recommend www.SecureMac.com. This is a new web site that is devoted to Macintosh security issues. I checked out the site and found that they review security software for Macs.

And one final comment about hacking. Last week I mentioned that the www.boingdragon.com site that makes unique web page counters available at no charge had been hacked and vandalized. The web master got it back up and running the first of this week only to have it vandalized again. I agree with Jim that this person should have his or her computer equipment taken away until he or she can grow up. But, that’s that my opinion.

If you have any tips, suggestions, or other comments about this, or any other Mac topics, send them to me so that I can share them with other readers.


Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.


Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.


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