Create your own Net content at Columbia
FROM: NewMediaSociety @ Columbia Law School
TO: The Community
RE: Learn to upload Net content quickly.
DATE: March 30, 1998
The NewMediaSociety is committed to bringing Columbia Law School online. We feel that there could be many more people in this school with a personal Web presence. The advantages are obvious: A personal web page is your business card to potential employers, your personal bulletin board to the world, your personal hub from which to send people to places you consider interesting and useful.
This memo is to show you that it only takes 10 minutes to create a personal web page at Columbia. It's easy and with a little patience everyone can do it.
There is also valuable information on this page: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/help/create.html
There are three basic steps to put content up: 1. You have to activate your Columbia cunix account. If you have already done that (e.g. because you are using PINE email), skip section 1. 2. You have to create content. On the Web, everything is about content. You can either convert existing content (papers, resumes, your first novel etc.) into web-publishable content or you can create new content.
3. You have to upload the content to the place on the Web that has been assigned to you. At Columbia, this will be your personal public_html directory that you will have to create.
To activate your cunix account, double-click the Telnet program on the LAW2 desktop screen. Click the "open" button and select "cunix". You will be asked for a login. Please type your full name there, i.e. first, space, last. If the system does not find your account, it will ask you to type "create". It will lead you through the rest of the process. You will be given a login name (consisting of your initials and a number) and be asked to create a password. The actual activation of the account should work overnight, but allow two days for it. Next time you log in, use your login name and your password. Now your account is active.
There are basically two ways to produce Net content. First, you do not want to rely on any software as it comes to your own content and you create all your pages in plain HTML. If you know already how to do that, you do not need this memo. If you don't: Don't try to learn HTML. It is a language in development, changes constantly and you will be online much faster by choosing the second way that is using (free) web-design software and learn the necessary pieces of HTML along the way.
All Web-design programs work alike. We recommend to start with an easy one and work your way up:
Not going into details, there are three main elements of a simple webpage:
You can use the web-design program as a word processor and enter text on
the "blank" new page. Note that font and paragraph formatting is somewhat
limited in HTML. You can also copy text from anywhere on the web either using
the design program as a browser or copy/paste from your browser running in
the background. You can also use your old text files but you have to convert
them into HTML as the design program only accepts .htm(l) files. Note that
there is NO recommendable Word -> HTML Converter (guess why!). WordPerfect
returns acceptable results. Sometimes it's even worth converting Word files
into WP files, convert there into HTML and load into your design program.
WP sometimes (!!) manages to convert footnotes to endnotes and put in the
necessary hyperlinks between text and footnote automatically. Note however
that sophisticated formatting in your original document might not survive
the conversion into HTML.
You might want to spice up your site with colors. You can change text colors in the Format menus of the design program you're using. You can change background colors or chose a picture as the background. Pictures are files with the extensions .jpg or .gif. You can either scan your own pictures (sign up for a time slot at AciS at Philosophy Hall) or use pictures available all over the Net (For people who believe in it: Make sure you do not violate anybody's copyright !). You insert the picture in your page by positioning the cursor where you want it and chose "picture" from the "insert" menu of your design program. It will ask you for the location of the picture and you either give a location on your h:\ drive if you have stored the picture locally or you give a web address anywhere and your page will load the picture in from there whenever it needs to do so (it's the world wide web, ok ?!!!). This way you insert all objects that have these file extensions into your page.
The Web needs links. They are the major navigation tools online. We strongly recommend to link your content as much as possible. The ability to jump from one word to another place on the Web where more information, a different view, a definition, or a related idea is located, is the true fascination of the Internet. If you do not encourage this, we might all find ourselves in a world in which access to online content only works through the major search engines - there we only see what they want us to see.
A hyperlink is the connection from document to another either within you site or out on the Web. You insert a link by highlighting the piece of text or the picture that should serve as the link and then choosing "Link" from the "Insert" menu. The program will ask you for the link location and you -again- either give the name of a file on your h:\ drive or copy in whatever link location. Note that when you use Netscape, you can easily copy a link location by positioning the cursor on the link, hit the right mouse button, and chose "copy link location". Make sure that you provide return-links to your starting page if you have many pages. It makes browsing your site a lot easier.
An E-mail link activates the mailto: function of HTML. If a visitor clicks on this link, a window will pop up that allows him to send mail to a specified address right away. It's nice to copy some little letterbox from anywhere on the Web to your page and make it an E-mail link. BUT: Do note use this extensively. Many people will not use their browser as their mail client and therefore cannot use this function. Be sure to give your email address in writing also, if you want to receive feedback or use mail forms in HTML (see http://www.columbia.edu/httpd/cgi/generic-form-mail.html for details).
Anchors are links within the same document. If you have long documents, you might wish to give readers the chance to jump back to the top of the text or to jump to footnotes. Programs vary slightly here, but usually you have to create a link at the starting point of the reference and instead of giving a link location you type in an "anchor name". Then go to the target point in your document and chose "Anchor" from the "Insert" menu. Then you give the anchor name that you were referring to in the link.
This is about all you need for a start. Just use the programs and you will find out a lot more, quickly.
To do this, you must type three commands:
$ chmod a+x ~
$ mkdir ~/public_html
$ chmod a+rx ~/public_html
The above commands make your home directory (referred to as ~) world searchable, create a public_html directory under your home directory, and then make the public_html directory world readable and world searchable.
Setting up your directory in this fashion means that other users can see the filenames in your public_html directory. Or, if you prefer, you can restrict access so that the list of filenames in your directory is not visible to other users. The files are still visible to any user that knows the filename. You can restrict access to your filenames by omitting the "r" from the third command above:
$ chmod a+x ~/public_html
$ chmod a+r ~/public_html/filename.htm
(or $ chmod a+r
~/public_html/filename.html, if it is a .html
You do that for every file you uploaded. Note that you have to upload and make publicly accessible every single file you used, linked to or inserted into your pages. So, think of all pictures you refer to locally, all banners you inserted etc.
These steps bring you online in 15 minutes. If you want more information on web design, webtools, and possibilities to improve your web presence, keep in touch with NewMediaSociety at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/newmedia/ as we will continue to show you how to do great stuff.
contact: Alex Cohen, Andreas von Bonin, NewMediaSociety 1998