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Publication: Internet Tutor
Shimmy Shim Shim

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                    THE INTERNET TUTOR
                      March 9, 2006 

This week...
- Webmaster Tip: Shimmy Shim Shim
- Surfin' the Web: Tricks of the Trade
- Software Spotlight: Nomad News
- The Oddball Wall: Vespucciland
- Computer Tip: Unread Messages Notice

My sister works in a public library. You might think libraries 
would support freedom of speech in print, given their purpose. 
Wrong! Here are just a few of the latest books banned by our 
local library: 
How To Be A Voyeur ...by Ima Peeper
Eat Yourself To Death ...by McDonalds Daily
The Scent Of Flatulence ...by P.U. Itooted
Cannibalism! ...by Ike Ann Eatchu
Lip Service ...by Betty Kisster
Bordello Boss ...by Shirley A. Hooker
Native American Beers ...by Chief Yellow River
101 Bad Things To Smoke ...by Pickett, Dryette, and Tryit
The Joy Of Nose Picking ...by I. Diggins-Knott
Madness For Two ...by Ima Nutbag and So R. Yu
Measure Your Animal Magnetism ...by R.U. Wilde
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WEBMASTER TIP - Shimmy Shim Shim
Note: In code examples I add a period after each left arrow
bracket so the code can be viewed in all e-mail programs. If 
you copy and paste, be sure to remove the periods or it won't 

Question: I'm blind. I surf the web via a screen reader. 
That's a program that reads the content of a page out loud 
to me. I was recently on a site and couldn't believe what I 
was hearing. It was "shim.gif shim.gif shim.gif" over and 
over. Do you know what caused this so maybe I can tell the 
webmaster his/her site is messed up for those of us who need 
to use screen readers?
Simon Says: Many popular web templates include several spacer 
images before any content, and all through the content. This 
is to control the spacing of page elements. In fact, this is 
a common practice even among web designers that don't use 

The reason you were hearing shim.gif over and over is because 
your screen is reading the name of image because the image 
didn't make use of the "alt" attribute. The image is most 
likely a transparent gif used as a spacer.
The ALT image property was designed so webmasters could describe 
any images used for visually challenged people using screen 
readers. The screen reader will read aloud this descriptive text 
so the visually challenged could understand what they couldn't 
Some screen readers read the name of the image aloud if the 
image doesn't have alt text, so that's what you were hearing. 
The webmaster apparently used multiple transparent gif images 
to help control the layout, which he or she named "shim.gif", 
but he or she didn't use the alt attribute.
For the webmasters who weren't aware of the alt attribute for 
images, here's how to add alt text to an image:
<.img src="image.gif" alt="Describe the image here.">
I left off the image height and width properties so it would 
be easier to read the code example, but be sure to always use 
them, it helps your page load faster.

Ahhh... My Hard Drive Just Crashed... 

These are words none of us ever want to scream. But it 
happened to me. Unfortunately I learned the hard way and 
did not have a back up of my data. WHY? Well I always 
thought it was hard to do and that you needed to buy add-
itional hardware. And then the worst part was restoring 
from your backup.

Well I found the perfect product and the BEST part is you 
can get it for just the cost of s&h... $5.99. It retails 
for $39.99, but we know how important your data is to you 
and wanted to give everyone the chance to own this CDRom 
called RestoreIT.

"RestoreIT... You simply CAN NOT afford to be without it."  
- TechGeek Monthly 

Get it for just $5.99 s&h, by visiting: RestoreIT Deluxe Edition

SURFIN' THE WEB - Tricks of the Trade
Tricks of the Trade is a site that offers, well, tricks of 
the trades. Lots of tricks from lots of trades.
The tips are submitted by the site's visitors, so there really 
is a grand variety. The only problem is that the site is not 
searchable nor are the tips categorized so it's a browse and 
learn site, but it really is worth a visit.

          GopherCentral's Question of the Week
Do you think the United Arab Emirates should be in charge of 
port security in the US?
     Please take a moment to share your opinion, visit: 

The Question of the Week


Nomad News is a free Usenet news application that seamlessly 
combines the advanced features of a sophisticated news browser 
with those of an automated news retriever.
Instead of paying for a quality Usenet application, try Nomad 
for fast, easy access to newsgroups.
Note: I do not provide support for the featured software. 
Contact the software vendor for support. No warranty is made 
or implied as to the usefulness or appropriateness of featured 

  Become an Honorary Member of the Las Vegas CSI Team

When you wear this high quality black CSI Las Vegas hat you
may not become a Crime Scene Investigator, but you will sure
look like one. This stylish heavy duty hat is one size fits
all and is now available at the low price of $9.99. Visit: 

CSI Las Vegas Hat

THE ODDBALL WALL - Vespucciland
On this day in 1454, Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born. 
The United States was named after him. Just think, Americans 
could be living in Vespucciland now had it gone down a little 
Let's see what you know about America...
1) I saw this first question used on the comedy game show, 
Street Smarts, and two of three people didn't know the answer. 
How many states are there in the United States?
a. 48   b. 50   c. 51

2) Everyone knows the capital of the US is Washington DC, but 
where is Washington DC?
a. d-uh, in Washington   b. Massachusetts   c. District of 
3) What country borders the US to the north?
a. Ontario   b. Alaska   c. Canada
Okay, those were softball questions because the last few 
quizzes have been fairly difficult, but now it starts getting 
tougher. I can't have you running around gloating about how 
smart you are!
4) How many justices sit on the full Supreme Court?
a. 9   b. 13   c. 7

5) Which country did the US import the most products from in 
a. China   b. Canada   c. Japan
6) The United States has more miles of roads than any other 
country. How many miles of roads are there in the US?
a. 1,524,900 miles   b. 2,677,300 miles   c. 3,972,800 miles
7) Each state has its own unique legal system. All but one is 
based on English common law. Which state's legal system is NOT 
based on English common law?
a. California   b. Louisiana   c. Kentucky

8) The United States has several Dependent Territories. Which 
one of the following is NOT a Dependent Territory of the US?
a. The Bahamas   b. Guam   c. Puerto Rico
And now for a nothing new...
9) Eight states begin with the letter "N" -- name three of the 
four that do NOT start with the word "New" (name the states 
besides New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York). 
Give yourself a bonus point if you can name all four. You have 
one minute and may not use any reference material. No peeking 
 Answer: _______, _______, _______, _______

Answers below, here's the scoring:
9 correct: Perfection!
7-8 correct: Outstanding
5-6 correct: Very Good
2-4 correct: Fairly Fair
0-1 correct: Turn the TV off.
1) b. 50
2) c. District of Columbia
3) c. Canada
4) a. 9
5) b. Canada (Canada 17%, China 13.8%, Mexico 10.3%, Japan 8.7%)
6) c. 3,972,800 miles
7) b. Louisiana
8) a. The Bahamas
9) ...Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota


COMPUTER TIPS - Unread Messages Notice
Have you ever wondering why the Windows XP Welcome Screen says 
you have unread messages when you've read them all?
This notice refers to Outlook Express and/or Windows Messenger. 
Somehow, you've received new mail in Outlook Express or a new 
message in Messenger. The Welcome Screen is letting you know.
To remove the unread message notification under your user name, 
open Outlook Express or Windows Messenger and either delete any 
unread messages or open it long enough to change it to a read 
Disclaimer: Advice in this column is presented as informational 
and is true to the best of my knowledge. Any decisions to follow 
this advice is your responsibility. Your computer, your choice.

Until next week, remember these words of Vernon Cooper: These 
days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the 
past, wisdom is of the future.
Have an interesting day, Simon

Questions? Comments? Email me at: tutor@gophercentral.com


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