Theistic Satanism: Home > Email groups > Some computer technical issues

Some computer technical issues

by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2004 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.

  1. Files and the Theistic Satanism email groups
  2. Computer security and your web browser
  3. To those who have websites:  Some web design tips

  1. Files and the Theistic Satanism email groups

    To protect your computer against viruses, it's good to have anti-virus software. However, anti-virus software should NOT be your first, last, and only line of defense against viruses. There is always some new virus that won't be caught by even the most up-to-date anti-virus software. So, a more important line of defense against viruses is to be cautious about sharing files.

    For this reason, the Theistic Satanism email groups do not allow file attachments in messages. As stated in the netiquette section of the forum rules, files must be uploaded to the files area on a particular group's Yahoo site. If you upload a text file, it should be in one of the following formats: (1) plain ASCII text (*.txt), (2) HTML, or (3) Adobe Acrobat (*.pdf). Plain ASCII text is preferred. Please do NOT upload Microsoft Word documents (*.doc). There are two reasons for this rule: (1) people with non-Microsoft operating systems cannot read Microsoft Word documents, and (2) many viruses have been tranmitted via Word documents.

    Unfortunately, HTML files too can contain programmable content, e.g. scripts, and hence may be vulnerable to viruses and other security problems. However, in the case of HTML files, we must all be prepared to deal with this danger if we are to use the web at all. (See Computer security and your web browser, below.)

    On the other hand, regarding other kinds of files which can potentially contain programmable content, besides HTML, it is simply not reasonable to expect the average computer user to be an expert on the safe handling of every kind of file.

    Furthermore, regarding Word files in particular, unless you personally make a point of staying on top of this sort of thing, you never know what new whiz-bang feature Microsoft might have decided to add to the latest version of Word, with who knows what new secirity holes. And, whatever security holes it may have, they will surely be exploited, simply because Microsoft products are so popular.

    Therefore, we should all be very conservative about sharing most kinds of files, especially files in Microsoft proprietary formats with programmable content.

  2. Computer security and your web browser

    I recommend setting one's browser to warn of all scripts, cookies, ActiveX controls, etc. This will result in warning boxes being popped up for potentially dangerous content, giving the user the choice to accept or reject it on a case-by-case basis.

    Upon seeing the warnings, you can then accept these features only on websites you trust, e.g. reputable commercial sites that you are doing business with, and reject them on all others.

    One of the websites where you'll need to accept some cookies, etc. is Yahoo, if you join any of the Theistic Satanism email groups via the website. And, personally, I am inclined to trust Yahoo in this regard. But if, for whatever reason, you've decided you don't want to accept cookies even from Yahoo, then you can subscribe by sending a blank email message to the "subscribe" address given near the bottom of a group's home page on the Yahoo site. However, if you want to be able to customize your membership (e.g. receive digests or a "no mail" subscription), then you'll need to subscribe via the Yahoo site itself and accept Yahoo's cookies.

  3. To those who have websites:  Some web design tips

    As noted above, security-conscious users do not accept scripts, cookies, ActiveX controls, etc., except on websites they trust.

    So, if you have a websites, it is best NOT to use such features except where absolutely necessary. Do not expect total strangers to trust you in this regard.

    If you absolutely must use scripts, etc., use them very sparingly, and make sure they don't interfere with other aspects of your site. In particular, don't make the navigation of your site dependent on scripts and such. Remember, a link needs to do only two things: (1) look reasonably nice and (2) be clickable. In does not need to sing and dance. Make sure all your links are still clickable, and all your pages still viewable, when your browser is set to disable all fancy features.

    Also, whatever fancy features you decide to use, don't use the very latest versions, if you want them to be viewable by people with computers and software more than a year or two old.

    Another issue that many webmasters forget about:  Make sure your site can be viewed using other browsers besides Microsoft Internet Explorer, such as Netscape and Mozilla. Thus it's best to avoid Microsoft proprietory features, including not only Microsoft-specific fancy features like ActiveX, but also Microsoft-specific graphics file formats. Use standard, non-proprietory stuff instead. For example, for graphics, use *.gif and *.jpg files. Once you've created a page, try to view it in at least two different browsers.

    Speaking of graphics, don't overdo them, and don't use large graphics. Remember, lots of people still use 56K modems. For them, large graphics - or too many graphics - can take forever to download. Try to keep the total size of your page plus graphics down to a total of no more than a few hundred KB.

    Most importantly, do take the time to learn HTML. It's not hard.

    I strongly recommend coding your HTML yourself, using a plain text editor such as Windows Notepad. This will give you much better control over what you are doing than using an HTML editor or, worse yet, a word processing program such as Microsoft Word.

    If you take the lazy way out and use an HTML editor, you'll likely end up with a page that's much more complicated than you need. For example, you might think you're creating just a pretty-looking site menu, when in fact you're creating a monstrosity that's not clickable without enabling scripts and ActiveX controls. You may even end up with a page that looks completely blank in any browser other than Internet Explorer.

    To learn HTML, do a web search on "HTML tutorial" and you'll find lots of free online tutorials. It may take you a few full days' worth of work to get the hang of it, but it is worth it.

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