READ.ME or what is new on

Of course you have noticed that is an unusual web site. I have incorporated a number of new features that one will hardly see elsewhere:

  1. The window is truly resizable. I really mean it. No other web site (that I know of) can be resized as efficiently as this one. The site looks good with any screen resolution. Try to maximize or minimize it, or drag the border to change the dimensions - it still looks perfectly fine within a reasonable diapason and acceptable results with unreasonable width and heighth settings. Please note that not all elements are resized - that would be too easy. The main text is stable, so that you can read it all and well. The text on the left and right rail is resized depending on both horizontal and vertical dimensions, while keeping the characters undisturbed. Photos must keep they proportions, of course. One can say that at least with images I had no problem: just used WIDTH=100%. It is not so easy, folks. Have you ever asked yourself the question: "100% of what?" Image with WIDTH=100% tag sometimes occupies more than a screen width, sometimes less and only accidentally fits into it. Try yourself...
  2. The curved scrollbar. It is not a helpful feature, it is a joke. How long have you been searching for a scrollbar on the right, while the scrollbar is located too close to the scrollable portion of the screen? My scrollbar behaves like a regular one, except that it is bent. The only difference is that it starts scrolling slowly without a mouse click. If the button is not clickable, then it is not shown.
  3. The pictures in oval frames. Have you ever before seen a picture in oval frame with the background around? I don't think so, because jpeg images cannot have a transparent background. But on my site you see minimal amount of straight lines and right angles.
  4. Click on image or around... The clickable area for some images is actually larger than the image itself. How to do this? Hint: the IMAGEMAP can make the clickable area of an image only smaller.
  5. No headers or footers. Absolutely nothing on the top of the page. You can read from the first line without having to scroll through banners - navigation, logos, etc.
  6. Each page has the link to the plain text version. Because someone may just be interested in the content.
  7. Clear division between the content, structure and presentation. The content is straight html files sitting in various directories. The structure is defined as a UNIX directory structure under /home directory, which allows automatic generation of the navigation buttons on the left rail (all files and subdirectories in the current directory) and on the right rail (vertical navigation). The /home directory and directory below are populated mostly by links (sometimes index.html files), so that the same content file can have dozens of different paths leading to it. If you just drop a file under /home tree, it will be automatically included into the structure and becomes easily navigateable. The presentation is applied to the each page depending on visitors' wish and browser's capabilities. Please note that I have managed to avoid hard-coding of server-side to include statements into the text - I programmed Apache to do it for me. Right now there are just two possible presentations: standard - for Internet Explorer and plain, with no includes, this list is easily expandable.
  8. The link to photo galleries (lower right corner). The program tries to find the most appropriate photo gallery for the occasion. Then it shows the random photo from the found photo gallery and proposes a link to visit. All that is done in ten lines of code.
  9. You can never can form your opinion about a picture from its thumbnail representation. When you are visiting an art gallery, nobody is proposing you any "thumbnails". You just look thought the section you are interested in - if you do not like the picture, you move to the next one in five seconds, but stay longer with good pictures. When you are my guest, I treat you the same way. I show you briefly the full screen preview of all pictures available, and after that give you the opportunity to click through/select one of them. The rail on the right is not thumbnails, it is loaded with the same pictures, but small.
  10. If you are on the modem connection... you normally do not want to visit any photo gallery at all. Photos are always large files, at least 50kB, often 200kB or more. Refusing to use thumbnails, I care a good deal about dial-upers. After the first picture is loaded, it can stay longer than five seconds, but just enough for the second picture to be loaded. You can estimate the progress by the left rail that serves as an improvised "status bar".
  11. Photo galleries are low maintenance stuff. To add or remove a picture to the photo gallery one can just add or delete a file in the appropriate directory. To add a new photo gallery I just drug the folder into /slides directory, it appears automatically in the category New. The photo-gallery is adjusted to work with both IE and Netscape. Finally, if you are using a non-standard browser like Opera or are having some kind of problem running DHTML, the simple, plain HTML versions of photo galleries are available.
  12. The complete music catalogue is on-line. I do not think that the simple pair "Artist-album" covers all possible combinations. First of all, you have to find the Artist/Composer/Group - I have about 1100 of them in my database. Each of them can be associated with one or more albums, or just a few tracks on someone else's albums. Album can consist of one or more CD's or records. Normally, there are several musical pieces in an album, each of it can consist of several tracks. Finally, some long tracks actually consist of several logical pieces, so that the general structure may have up to 8 (eight) levels. Up to 8 is because some of the levels can be empty (each musical piece is just one song, for example) and should be skipped. As you can see, my search program hides unpopulated areas and never forces you to make "selection from one". By the way, the search engine is designed as a Java Servlet that makes the JDBC connections to MySQL database server.
  13. No DHTM in the body of content, no CGIs. The only exception is search pages, where I have to use it to modify the IFRAME dimensions to avoid "straight" scroll bars and have "contact page" resized in its own unique way. I use no common CGI: page generated with some minor help of PHP, while all the heavy stuff is done in client-side Java.
  14. Buttons on the left. Now after you have read through all of it and understand the architecture of, you can solve this puzzle on your own. Buttons on the left are not static images with fixed text - remember, if one checks into /home directory the file under the name abracadabra.html, the appropriate button must appear on the home page. Each button actually consists of two elements - the file name and background. Here is the question: how come all the buttons on the page have the same width, just long enough to encapsulate the longest text. Hint: no DHTM is necessary, CSS can do the job.
  15. Mobile access. Some sections of the web site are accessible though web-enabled cell phones. If you have a web-enabled cell phone (most people do) and know how to type into it (most people don't), you will get into that strange world which remains me the PC world 20 years ago. To get the information on a movie from my video collection:
    1. you type the keyword into your phone;
    2. your phone sends the HDML request to your phone company server;
    3. the phone company server transfers the request into the regular HTTP that is sent to over TCP/IP;
    4. Apache server on determines that it is the search request and involves JRUN (Java Servlets server);
    5. JRUN constructs the SQL query and contacts MySQL via JDBC;
    6. MySql database server runs the query;
    7. Then everything is routed back to you, transformed and reformatted -
    quite a trip...