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Of the W3C, Noobs and PDF
-- Jeff, Monday 04-09-2007, 7:37 am CDT

Johannes Gutenberg Although he is often credited with inventing the printing press, the great innovation that Johannes Gutenberg introduced was to the existing practice of woodblock printing. Woodblock printing was invented by the Chinese circa 275 A.D., during the midpoint of China's so-called Age of Disco, when the technique was used to print daisies onto lime-green leisure suits and bright yellow wallpaper. (I'm joking, of course.)

Although Gutenberg would adapt machines that were used as grape presses in wine-making for use in the brand-new cutting-edge trade of printing (this is true) and make other incremental innovations in the field, what he actually invented around the year 1450 was movable type, which enabled entrepreneur printers to rearrange and mass-produce text at will. The time required to produce the new-fangled books, compared to the hand-written codexes of yore, was subtracted by several orders of magnitude.

Moveable type was one of the few truly-revolutionary inventions of history, and it's significant of the man that the other major work for which his name is remembered is the Gutenberg Bible. It's hard to imagine the Protestant Reformation, in particular, gaining traction absent the widespread dissemination of the Scriptures that printing made possible. In fact, it's hard to imagine the modern world at all without Mr. Gutenberg's singular invention.

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A lot of folks proclaim that computing and the Internet represent the same kind of revolutionary development -- the much-ballyhooed "Information Age." Maybe they do. One thing's for sure, they have connected people from around the globe who in generations past would have never met, except perhaps, across a battlefield. (In "flame wars," at least no one's getting killed.)

After four and a half years during the 1990s of sending out the hardcopy BRJ to family, friends and folks I knew from my Way Ministry days, it's still hard for me to comprehend that today it is a only a click away from anyone in the world who cares to take a look. That's a remarkable feat for some guy, just sitting at his desk at home. And anyone and everyone who wants to do the same thing can.

The biggest barrier to "rolling your own" website is learning HTML and CSS (standing, repsectively, for "Hyertext Markup Language" and "Cascading Style Sheets"). I bought a couple of how-to books that have helped, and I have worked through several online tutorials. But what has amazed me is how many skilled people are out there online who are willing to assist. The folks at CodingForums.com have been a great help. And there's a wonderful forum for younger folks learning web development called Lissa Explains It All. The site A List Apart, though mostly over my head, also has a number of great resources.

In developing this website I've been helped by teenagers from Europe, web designers from Australia and Germany, a good-old-boy from close by here in Texas, and by certain other .. ahem .. entities who from all appearances have their sole existence in cyberspace. Special thanks, especially for their patience with a noob, go out to Aerospace_Eng, Ges and Arwen.

Oh yeah, "noob" is what you call a "newbie" who's being a "dweeb." My one-and-only "reputation feedback" at CodingForums.com presently reads, "Problem could have been more researched." And the bubble that appears on the red square next to my name on my posts reads, "jstanley01 has a little shameless behavior in the past." Shameless? Moi? Hard to imagine. Heh. I love it.

For anyone who's curious about the two W3C links at the bottom of the BRJ Homepage: the acronym stands for the World Wide Web Consortium, an organization directed by the man credited with inventing the hypertext links that make the Web possible, Tim Berners-Lee. I guess you could call WC3 the "standards and practices" overseer for the Internet. What Underwriters Laboratories is to electronic appliances, the W3C is to the Internet.

One of the things the W3C is in the process of doing -- in consideration of a future with many kinds of devices besides PCs trying to surf the net -- is dragging web developers, kicking and screaming, into better standards. One of the services they offer is called "validation," where developers can make sure their code complies. The reason I've got the W3C links is so that kind folks such as those listed above can verify that I'm shooting for, if not always attaining, valid code.

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The other link at the bottom of the BRJ Homepage takes you to a page where you can download a PDF Reader. Most computers come with a Reader already installed, but if you've been unable to open the teachings linked on the Main Menu pages, you will need the Reader to do so. Be aware that when you are online and click on a link to a PDF file, the Reader acts as sort of a "program within a program" that opens within your browser, so the look of your interface will change. If you need help with the Reader or the PDF files, please email me and I'll help you sort it out.

PDF files are designed to be printed, although they're readable on screen. But the reason we've formatted most of the teachings here in PDF is so you can print up a hardcopy and read them while you soak in the tub with a lot less eyestrain than on your laptop (not to mention less risk of electrocution).

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