These pages are best viewed using Lynx

N.B.

These pages are designed primarily to be viewed on a text-based browser; I've added decorative effects for graphical browsers, but if it looks significantly better on, say, Lynx, I've kept it that way, rather than making it look confusing on Lynx but good on Netscape, IE, Opera, etc.

Many people who look at my page don't use a graphical browser. I not only know this from experience, but according to various sources, Lynx accounts for between 5% and 15% of Internet users — and the figure goes up when you concentrate on educational users. Not to mention all those people who use graphical browsers with graphics, cookies, and Javascript turned off.

So non-graphical browsers are important, and I do my best to keep all the paraphernalia of the graphics out of their sight, by making use of (alt="") tags, etc. As a Lynx-user myself, I wish that more Web-page writers did the same.

(Many Webmasters check their sites only with IE, and then wonder why so many people have problems with it; part of the reason is that IE is extremely tolerant of poorly written HTML, so will load a page full of errors when another browser will balk.)


Frames

I've yet to see a site that actually benefitted from the use of Frames, but I've nothing against them in principle — so long as the person creating the site knows how to use them properly. Few do. It's perfectly possible to offer frames for those browsers that can use them (most graphic-based browsers) while making the site usable for browsers that can't (mainly text-based browsers), but all too often what one sees (or hears, when using a browser designed for the blind or visually impaired) is: "This page uses frames, but your browser can't cope with them", or something equally irritating. It takes so little in terms of training and time to write the page properly, but what's happening is that some Web-page program has been used " and I've yet to see one that produces decent HTML. Javascript gimmicks are largely the same, though they also affect graphical-browser users who, like me, switch Javascript off.

I particularly dislike Webmasters who tell me that, because they've chosen to be "kewl d00ds", I should change my browser and even my operating system. This can range from a reasonably polite suggestion (usually from those who have the foresight and good manners to offer a non-Frames alternative) to patronising (and usually Web-ignorant) messages. The following (from an Oxford College Web site) contains some typical foot-in-mouth gems (what on earth does "full and proper use of the Internet" mean?), and the spattering of exclamation marks typical of the semi-literate:

Sorry!

We make extensive use of frames, tables and JavaScript! You can see the old [xxx] web site by clicking here, but to fully appreciate our site, and to make full and proper use of the internet in general, you should be browsing with either Netscape 2.0 (or later) or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.02 (or later). We recommend Netscape browsers - ideally these versions for the following platforms: Windows '95 - Netscape 3.0 or later; Windows 3.1 - Netscape Gold 3.0; Macintosh - Netscape Communicator. These browsers are FREE to academic institutions and their members, and are well worth the time it takes (typically not more than half an hour - pop out for a coffee!) to download them. If your school or college does not provide these browsers, speak to your network administrator or whoever is in charge of the computers you use and request that they dowload and install the latest browser versions to your machines. They can easily be obtained from the Netscape site or the Microsoft site respectively, as well as numerous other download sites around the world.

This is a genuine and accurately reproduced example (and, like most such examples, the HTML coding was appalling — almost certainly produced by some Web-page program rather than by someone who knew what they were doing). The smug and offensive (and ignorant) tone of this gets up my nose, and is a sure-fire way of ensuring that I don't include a link to the site in question.

On the whole, in fact, I do retain links to poorly-written sites, together with a warning. A site has to be seriously crippled by Javascript, frames, usemap menus, etc., for me not to include a link. Even then, I tend to mention it, with an explanation as to why there's no link — not out of malice, but because it helps to avert e-mails asking me why I haven't included it.

I use Lynx (as up-to-date as any other browser) because I prefer it; it gives me the information I want quickly and cleanly (as long as Web-page writers know what they're doing). I use Opera, and occasionally Explorer & Netscape to check that my own pages look OK for graphical browsers, but otherwise my serious Web work is done with Lynx. You might try the latest version yourself " you could find yourself hooked. Free down-loads from the site linked to at the top of this page.


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