What are HTML Tags, and how do you Use Them?

May 13th, 2014

If you’ve written any kind of content at all, you know how important it is to use formatting tools such as italics, underlining, and bold fonts to really get your message across. After all these small additions can help you emphasize important points, change your tone, draw the reader’s attention to different areas, and separate your content into different, more readable sections. But in order to use them you’ll need to know some basic HTML code – or face having to contact your webmaster every time you want to change something. And if the thought of any kind of coding sends you wanting to run for the hills, don’t fear. Here are a few of the most basic HTML codes you’ll need, that will at least keep those emails to the webmaster at a minimum.

Bold text
If there’s text that you want bolded on your page, the beginning of the text should have the HTML tag of and an end tag of . It may help to remember this because you’re really making those words stronger, or helping them to stand out among the other text on the page.

Example: Don’t miss this step!

Italic text
Italics are really used for emphasizing text, so it makes sense that the HTML code for italics stands for ‘emphasis.’ In fact, the tag is at the beginning, and just like when you’re bolding text, the end tag simply has a slash before the letters so it looks like this: .

Example: Subscribe to our newsletter here!

Adding a link
Links are a bit more complex than just changing the format of texts because you have to include the address you want to link to in quotation marks, as well as the name of the website. Links also use HREF tags, which need to appear only at the beginning of the tag. Link tags also need to begin with an ‘a,’ which stands for “anchor,” because you’ll be using text to anchor, or hold, that link. And just like the other tags, you need to use an end tag for that anchor, telling the site that the link ends there.

Example for linking to YouTube:
”YouTube

Linking to another page, in a new blank page (or window) can become even more complicated. However, it’s a good idea to use it so that when users are done with that link they can easily get back to where they were headed on your site, which is where you want them to stay! Here all you have to do is indicate that the “target” page for the link is a “blank” page, while separating them using quotation marks.

Example for linking to YouTube in another window:
YouTube

Adding a picture
You know that just about all of your content needs a picture to go along with it. And while this might sound intimidating at first, adding tags to an image is very easy. There are no end tags to worry about, because the image itself will tell the site where it ends. All you really have to do is save your picture online somewhere first (your own CMS or a service such as PhotoBucket is great for this!) and then tell the site where the “image source” is.

Example:


When it comes to formatting your text and the pages on your website or blog, there are many different things you can do. However, when you only want to perform the most basic tasks, and allow your webmaster to work on things like installing plugins and updates for a few more minutes a day, these are enough to know to let you get the most basic tasks done.

Arguments for Net Neutrality

Apr 22nd, 2014

As we’ve discussed previously, net neutrality is the concept of an open Internet in which all individual users have the same access to online content and are not charged fees for viewing certain types of data. There are many different arguments for net neutrality including the control of data, rights and freedoms to digital content, the need for fair competition, and the need for the same speed applied to all websites across the online board.

The first argument for net neutrality goes back to the cable companies. Proponents of net neutrality claim that these cable companies want to be able to discriminate against certain websites, while allowing others to run at faster speeds and download/upload faster than others. By doing so, cable companies would then be able to charge the companies that own these websites in order to ensure fast speeds, or the ability for their websites to load at all. Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and vice-president of Google argues that allowing cable companies to have this kind of control would “undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success.” This control of data, and disabling the cable companies that kind of control, is one of the biggest arguments for net neutrality – and a very good one at that!

Another very logical argument for net neutrality is that users are entitled to certain digital rights and freedoms. By allowing only certain types of content, or only certain websites to run at optimal speeds, or by charging users for access to certain information, it essentially eliminates certain freedoms. In fact, making the Internet a closed source that only a few of the privileged have access to would in effect, eliminate any independent news sources and would also stifle any future innovative, creative, and diverse web content. While today you can find just about any content in any style and any format online, should net neutrality cease to exist, only certain styles and formats would be allowed online, and the Internet would essentially look very different than it does today.

While the cessation of net neutrality would be bad for the individual user, it would also be unfair towards certain companies and owners of websites. Smaller companies and websites for instance, would likely be unable to pay the high fees and taxes that cable companies would be allowed to charge and so, they would essentially disappear and only the richer websites and companies with far more resources would be allowed to have their websites downloaded at reasonable speeds, and be accessed by all users. This would create an online monopoly by these wealthier companies and would eliminate any competition or innovation.

There are many arguments for net neutrality, and for the Internet to remain the open source that it currently is. All of these arguments ultimately point to the same goal, however. That is, preserving the fairness and rights of both Internet users, as well as the companies and website owners that are currently allowing access to that information – any information, in any format, and at optimal speeds.

Arguments against Net Neutrality

Apr 15th, 2014

We have discussed net neutrality at some length here on this blog. And while it may seem that the fairness net neutrality provides to users, companies, and website owners, there are still some that argue against the idea of net neutrality. Not surprisingly, most of the opponents are telecom and cable companies, which would be given the upper hand should net neutrality ever cease to exist. The reasons they give for being against net neutrality include the need for prioritization of bandwidth, the well-being of online users, and the fact that net neutrality doesn’t really exist within the current Internet infrastructure.

The first argument against net neutrality, telecom and cable companies state, is that there is a need for prioritization of bandwidth – and that net neutrality disallows that prioritization. They state that companies that have the ability to pay for faster bandwidth should be able to do so, and that by instating a tiered service, they would be able to do so. The extra revenue that telecom and cable companies would receive for doing so could t hen be used to increase broadband access for all customers. These same companies state that without that additional revenue, they wouldn’t be able to invest in advanced fiber-optic networks and provide on-going advancements in technology. However, the argument against that is that telecom and cable companies will still be making revenue for providing their services, and that this revenue can be used for any future investments needed.

Proponents of net neutrality claim that they are doing so in the best interests of the general public and all Internet users, and opponents of the idea claim the same thing. The difference is that while proponents can point towards certain rights and freedoms – such as freedom of speech and freedom to information – opponents of net neutrality are unable to do so. Opponents aren’t able to pinpoint why net neutrality would be detrimental to Internet users and instead, only point to the idea of a neutral public option to still encourage competition in place of forcing Internet service providers to remain neutral. While there is no proof that such an option would make it better for Internet users, there still remains quite a bit of doubt.

Lastly, opponents of net neutrality claim that this is a concept that doesn’t even really exist today and so, they don’t understand why legislators are so keen on introducing the idea. They claim that Internet users as well as companies and website owners still have to pay for access to a certain amount of bandwidth, and storage capacity for their websites. While this is true, it doesn’t exactly speak against net neutrality. Should net neutrality cease to exist, not only would users have to pay for the bandwidth that they’re currently using, they’d also have to pay just to be granted access to certain websites, and if they weren’t deemed privileged enough, or if they didn’t pay enough money, they may not be able to download or view certain websites at all.

With all that telecom and cable companies stand to lose with net neutrality, it’s not surprising that they are the biggest opponents of net neutrality. However, in order for everyone to win – including the general public – net neutrality is something that has to be here to stay!

What is Net Neutrality?

Apr 08th, 2014

Net neutrality is a relatively new term, but it’s a concept that’s been debated for years. It’s also known as network neutrality and Internet neutrality, but whatever name it’s given, the concept is the same. The idea of net neutrality is that ISP, or Internet service providers, along with governments, should be treating all online data the same, and that they should not be allowed to discriminate by user, content, site, platform, or application. It’s this omission of discrimination that would allow the Internet to remain an open and free source, as it is now. If discrimination were allowed to be put into place, the Internet would become a closed source, and certain users may have to pay more to be allowed the same type of online freedom they’re currently enjoying.

While all countries are, and should be, concerned about net neutrality, it’s in the United States that concerns are really being raised; and the debate is getting very heated. Senator Franken of Minnesota has stated that “Net neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time,” saying that basically, an open Internet – or the case for net neutrality – is the same argument as that of freedom of speech. Tim Wu, a media law professor from Columbia, has also likened the argument for net neutrality to that of the argument for a common carrier – an idea that suggests the Internet should be offered by a person or a company according to legislation that would be put in place. It’s this idea that goes hand in hand with the concept of net neutrality – allowing people on the Internet to communicate easily, and for the equal treatment of all data.

Should net neutrality ever cease to exist, users could be charged simply for requesting access to certain information. This has already been seen with certain streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon, but without net neutrality put into place, additional and exorbitant charges could be placed on any and every site, including news sites, social media sites, and any other site online.

Some individuals argue that net neutrality no longer exists, and some of these individuals have even protested the Federal Communications Commission (FCC,) even though the FCC had previously struck down rulings for an open Internet. Now however, the FCC is beginning to take strides towards a new open Internet, or net neutrality, and they are now working in the public’s interest. While this work may at first seem to be entirely for the public, the FCC is mainly concerned about the monopoly that a closed Internet could create; something that would be negative for both the economy, as well as the general public.

Net neutrality is an online concept, but it’s not one that’s difficult to understand. Simply put, net neutrality allows for an open Internet and provides information free of charge to users across all websites. Without it, only the privileged or certain individuals and corporations would have access to specific web pages, or the Internet as a whole. It’s important that net neutrality remains in place, so that each individual can retain the rights they’re entitled to.

Stating a Website as a Business? Here are 4 Tips to make it Successful!

Mar 14th, 2014

In the past two decades or so, it’s become easier than ever to own your own business. No longer do you need to open a brick and mortar store or business, or have shelves and shelves filled with inventory. All you really have to do is create a website and offer either goods or services. The website can be an e-commerce site, wherein you actually sell and ship goods to customers, or it can be a website that consults or provides a service in another way. But just like any other business, yours won’t necessarily be successful simply because you set up a website and get it running. It takes a lot of hard work, and these four tips to get you started.

Follow your bliss
This is as true for your online business as it is in life. There are tons of great ideas out there, and most of them could earn you a good income if you choose to create a website off that idea. However, once that idea really takes off and you’ve built a good customer base, you’re going to be stuck with that idea whether you like it or not. If you’re not passionate about it, it will be your business that suffers – along with your customers. Not only will you quickly become tired of it and possibly even give up on it, but your customers could possibly feel the outcome and that will negatively affect your reputation when the time comes to start an online business you’re passionate about. After all, no one wants to do business with someone that’s already let them down once.

Treat it like what it is
Even though you’ve got to have the passion backing up your idea, you still need to treat it like a business. For instance, imagine that you’ve taken landscape photography your entire life. Once friends and family members started asking you for some, you gave them prints for free. Then, once you saw there was a demand for it, you decided to create a website and start selling these photographs for money. The minute you start selling them and accepting money in exchange, you have started a business and you must treat it as such. Start taking orders and bundling photographs and prints as soon as they come in. Don’t stall or decide you can take your own time with it just because it’s a “fun” thing for you to do; because if you’re accepting money for it, it no longer is. Also don’t make the mistake of continuing to give away prints for free. Of course, it’s different if it’s a gift for a special occasion, but once you’ve decided to make that your livelihood, giving it away for free will only eat into your profits and therefore, your own personal lifestyle.

Be real about it
While you need to make sure that your online business will be something that you’re already passionate about it, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all going to be about your following your dream. While it will be, there will be many moments that don’t feel that way. Know that you’re going to have to fully devote yourself to it, work at it night and day, and that it will be a lot of hard work. Knowing that going into it will save you from a lot of discouragement and disappointment down the line.

Get it done!
There would be even a million more websites than there are today if everyone who said they were going to start an online business actually did it. So stop talking about it and get out there and take that first step!
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