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|              *** THE BIGNOSEBIRD.COM NEWSLETTER ***                  |
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|      Everything You Need to Create and Maintain Great Websites       |
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|  February 6, 2000                                          Issue #8  |
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                             GREETINGS!

Here is the eigth issue of the BigNoseBird.Com low volume newsletter.
Our thanks for allowing us to add just one more deperately needed 
item to your inbox. Now filling over 8,000 inboxes!

Due to popular request, I am trying to get the newsletter out once
every two weeks instead of once every two months. ;-)


                 **----------------------------**
                         NEW BNBFORM SCRIPT

Version 4.0 of the BNBFORM All Purpose Form Handler Script is available
at http://bignosebird.com/carchive/bnbform.shtml for your downloading
pleasure. It has some new features such as multiple recipients and 
improved security features. If you are currently using BNBFORM and want
to upgrade- please be sure to read the README.TXT file!

As a quick reminder, the all new Survey Script is available at
http://bignosebird.com/carchive/survey.shtml


                 **----------------------------**
                        THE Y2K DUST SETTLES

Well, BNB made it though Y2K with hardly a problem. Somebody did point
out that the Xavatoria Search I run on my site was reporting the Year
as '100'. And there I was, all smug and arrogant... Oh well...

If you still have any perl code that is giving '100' as the year, the
problem has to do with the way the script's author is handling the system
date/time.

One of the traditional 'Camel Book' ways of dealing with handling the
date is to do this:

   ($sec,$min,$hour,$mday,$mon,$year) = localtime(time);

The problem is that the year that is returned is the number of years
since 1900, not the actual year. That worked just fine until about a
month ago.

How I have always done it is a bit different. I create a little subroutine
(it should look familiar if you use any of our scripts) like this:

sub sys_date {
 %mn = ('Jan','01', 'Feb','02', 'Mar','03', 'Apr','04',
        'May','05', 'Jun','06', 'Jul','07', 'Aug','08',
        'Sep','09', 'Oct','10', 'Nov','11', 'Dec','12' );
 $sydate=localtime(time);
 ($day, $month, $num, $time, $year) = split(/\s+/,$sydate);
    $zl=length($num);
    if ($zl == 1) { $num = "0$num";}
 $yyyymmdd="$year\-$mn{$month}\-$num";
 return $yyyymmdd;
}

I can call it like this:

   $TODAY=&sys_date;

And $TODAY is set equal to 2000-02-06 for today. For a fancier
version, check out http://bignosebird.com/notebook/nicedate.shtml

The trick is to create the list of variables, i.e., $day, $num by
splitting up the date using white-space characters.

If nothing else, just take this as an explanation why all those
sites had the date up as January 1, 19100. To think, COBOL was
not involved!


                 **----------------------------**
                    MORE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT

Seems like the good folks at http://www.cert.org/ (CERT) just got around
to posting some good information on some of the ways people post nasty
HTML and JavaScript into pages such as guest books, as well as perform 
some unkind acts using redirected CGI scripts. 

If you are not already a subscriber, be sure to subscribe to CERT's
Advisory Mailling List. About the only time you will get mail from them
is when there is something you need to be aware of regarding security.

If you are using CGI generated forms and need to protect hidden input
from alteration by users of ill intent, I just put up a new tutorial
this weekend on how to use MD5 encryption to protect your forms against
modification. You can find it at http://bignosebird.com/notebook/md5.shtml

Somebody mentioned that I have been getting rather terse and unconversational
lately, so I tried to make something totally boring, somewhat bearable!


                 **----------------------------**
                            INTERVIEWED

I was recently invited to be interviewed by Master Developers, at
http://www.masterdevelopers.com/ This is a fairly new site, and I'm proud
to have been included. Be sure to check out the site, and if you have
a moment, check out the interview.


                 **----------------------------**
                       IMAGEMAPS. STILL HERE.

With many sites doing all sorts of javascript mouseovers (I do 'em too),
the IMAGEMAP still remains a very useful and powerful graphical navigation
tool. Here's why...

They can look good and not take up a lot of room on a page. They can also
download much faster than a mousover set consisting of a bunch of choices.
Let's say your image map graphic is about 16K (16,000 bytes) and you 
saved it as an interlaced (so it sort of fades in) GIF file. The file 
is obtained by the browser using one request and one connection. 

Our mouseover set allows eight different choices, requiring a total of 
sixteen (two for each choice) graphic files that are each 1K (1,000 bytes).
The total byte count is 16K (the same as our imagemap graphic), but the
server and browser must handle sixteen file requests. That is a major
speed penalty.

Our venerable ImageMap Tutorial can still be found where its always been-
at http://bignosebird.com/imagemap.shtml


                 **----------------------------**
                   NOT SURE WHEN TO GIF OR JPEG?

We get a lot of questions from folks on when to use JPEG (ends with .jpg)
and GIF files. Our tutorial at http://www.bignosebird.com/losewait.shtml
on optimizing images will show you exactly what to do when. 

Do your graphics get the 'jaggies'? You know, those little notches where
you want smoothness, have a look at Christine's info on antialiasing at
http://www.bignosebird.com/antialias.shtml


                 **----------------------------**
                         TIP FROM CHRISTINE

To make your text in your graphics show up brighter.  In programs like 
Photoshop or the use of layers is essential in overlaying text to your 
images.  A lot of times I've used white or light colored smaller text 
over darker backgrounds and the text seems to blend in too much and 
looks too blurry.  One way to fix this is to create one text layer that 
is antialiased and then overlay the same text in a layer that is aliased 
with a transparency set to about 40%.  This will make the text much more 
readable. Try it!


                 **----------------------------**
                         IN THE WORKS...

I am in the process of working on some cookie tutorials. Not just
on how to set the things, but also showing practical ways of 
using them in real life.

Also on the todo list are tutorials on PERL and networking.


                 **----------------------------**
                           COOL THINGS

In the last newsletter, I gave you the heads-up on a really nice safe
color poster. Now sombody sent me a very nice piece of mousecandy.
Check out the Utilitarian Mouse Pad at http://web.designbrand.com/mousepad/
It is a 9" round mousepad with all the colors in a circular design. I
even washed down the mouse before using it. (the mouse enjoyed that)

Looking for lots of fun JavaScript and Java Applets? Stop by my friend
George Chiang's site, http://wsabstract.com/



                 **----------------------------**
                        LOOKING FOR FAME?

If you have written any tutorials that might be of interest to
our readers, and are looking for fame vs. fortune, please consider
becoming a contributing author. You retain ownership of your work
and are given full credit including links to your site. Please send
your submissions to articles@bignosebird.com, and I will get back
to you!

                 **----------------------------**
                         SHAMELESS BEGGING

Okay, no pride here! If you see someplace that you feel that 
BigNoseBird.Com should be listed, you have my permission to 
handle the submission. BNB's popularity is due almost completely
to word of mouth recommendations, and any assistance you could
provide if you feel BNB worthy would be greatly appreciated.

<A HREF="http://bignosebird.com">Bignosebird.com: The 100% Free
Webmaster's Resource Site!</A>


                 **----------------------------**
                          REALLYBIG NETWORK

Looking for cool stuff and information for your sites? The 
REALLYBIG network consists of:

    http://reallybig.com/               Over 3000 Web Master Resources
    http://dynamicdrive.com/            JavaScript & DHTML Resource
    http://fontpool.com/                Over 1000 Searcheable Fonts
    http://graphxkingdom.com/           Thousands of Clip-Art Images
    http://bignosebird.com/             Yours truly!

We are a linked group of lunatics that really enjoy what we do!


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