University of Louisville

Take it to the Web! A quick look into the ‘secret’ code of HTML

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Back in the day (hmm…. let’s say about six years ago) there was this thing called “Myspace.” Some of us may even remember having one and vaguely recall the days it was cool.

I admit to having had one and I thought it was the best thing ever. Not only could I send short messages to my friends, but I could post pictures and all the glitz and glam I found on the web where everyone could see it.

Myspace was also my first introduction to HTML.

Back then, I knew how to make fonts look bold or different colors. I could take the code for a profile theme and tweak it to my heart’s content and I never thought twice about it.  Today I am taking a course that teaches the wonders of HTML and CSS and I smile every time I think that I have been unknowingly writing code for years.

If you have ever thoughtlessly written a bit of code and wondered about it, look no further! I will explain some of the basics that make web pages so amazing.

HTML can be used to do a number of amazing things. You just have to learn it!

HTML (or hypertext markup language)is a name for the code that gives a web page structure. Think of it as the backbone of a web page.
There is a method to the madness that I won’t go into, but you can check out this tutorial for the “hands on” stuff.

Using simple code combinations (called tags), you are able to tell the browser where you want text, images, or hyper-links (collectively known as content) to appear on the page. It sounds so simple – and it is! The only catch is that it’s like it’s very own language and you have to know what it’s saying before you can use it. There are hundreds of sites on the web that go into detail of what all the different tags do, so I won’t waste space by listing them here. The tutorial I have linked above will show you several tags as well as how to code a simple web page. Check it out!

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

CSS is the coding for the web page’s style. Font color, borders, margins… all this can be defined using CSS coding.
This tutorial will teach you basic HTML and CSS, while this tutorial focuses on CSS.

What’s the difference? Well, I’m no expert, but from what I have read, CSS works when it is embedded into HTML code. I think of it as similar to learning to play piano. I could learn how to play with only my right hand, then learn to play using both hands once I have mastered that, or I could learn to play with both hands at once.
Learning HTML by itself is useful at the beginning when you just want to learn to put words on a page with minimal style and get it out to the web. Learning CSS by itself probably won’t do you much good. It would be like learning to play left-handed piano alone – you would be able to play only part of a song.

Learning HTML and CSS together will allow you to incorporate all aspects of style and layout into the process without going backwards for each new concept.

However you choose to learn, once you get started you will be amazed and delighted at what you can do with a few simple tips and tricks. Best of luck and happy creating!


Dog Days Are Over

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Today is officially my last day of classes for the Spring 2011 semester and it hasn’t quite sunk in  yet.

After this, I have a full summer working not-quite full-time and taking two online classes. It’s pretty exciting, but it starts to get scary when I realize that in the fall I have only one class and then I graduate. I have always heard people talking about how time passes so quickly and before you know it things are over. Well, that’s not really the case with me.

I have been a senior at UofL for three years now and I have to say, graduation is taking it’s time getting here. One thing I have learned though is that time is relative. I could have finished my original degree in Biology and graduated in 2010, but I don’t think I would have had any clue what to do with it. 

I started out believing that I wanted to end up in medical school. While my motives were the right ones, wanting to help people make the best of their lives, my method did not hold true. Science is a subject I enjoy when I can leisurely explore different topics at my own pace. The pressure of learning it quickly and being tested over such vast amounts wasn’t for me. It may have taken me four years to pinpoint this, but once I did it changed everything.

After a few trips to the University Career Development Center, I found out a lot about myself and decided to switch the focus of my undergraduate career. I was minoring in communication and loved it, so I made that my major.

At that point I decided it no longer mattered that I graduate in the standard four years (which I have since heard is more like six). I have decided that I have years to work ahead of me, so I should take my time figuring out a career field that I will actually enjoy.

It seems like so long ago that all this started. I can’t help but thinking back to how not-ready I was to graduate a few years ago and how much more prepared I am now, even if I am a little nervous about facing the big-wide world after college.

Relay for Life 2011

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It’s 4:30AM on a beautiful night. Music is blasting, frisbees are flying. This is Relay for Life at the University of Louisville. 38 teams comprised of over 500 people gather to celebrate life and to raise money to fight cancer.
We walk all night to represent the fight cancer patients go through as they fight for their lives. At this point in the night we are all exhausted and count down the hours until this is all over. Knowing that we get to go home and relax in just a few hours if a relief. As I walk I think that if only cancer patients had it so ready. They don’t get to tag team someone else to fight for them. That don’t get to decide they’ve had enough and go home or fall asleep in a tent for a few hours break.
My walking had left me with a blister that may take a day or two to heal. That’s two days of hobbling around in pain, but then it’s over and done -a short-lived reminder of my own fight against cancer- if only cancer followed the same schedule.

Headed to California…

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How many songs to do you know that have something to do with running off to California?? As I write a multitude of songs run through my head. Pink, Sara Bareillis, Jo Dee Messina… the list goes on and on. Just for kicks and giggles, I Googled “songs about California” and I must say, I was surprised at how many showed up on a list on wikipedia. So many songs singing about the ups and downs of that state. Listening to any one of them makes me wish I could take a vacation.

Something about a steady, predictable weather pattern is vastly appealing right now. In my small corner of the world it has flip-flopped from freezing temperatures to balmy breezes from one day to the next. Some may call it global warming. Others call it Kentucky.

Even without the unpredictable weather,  I am so ready to pack a suitcase and be off. Don’t get me wrong, I love all that I’ve gotten myself into, but sometimes enough is enough. It has been years since my last vacation – and I’m taking a real vacation here- not a working trip or a visit to friends and family – as much as I love those trips. Yet, I have to imagine a real vacation being more about relaxing and unwinding than worrying about being somewhere on a deadline or dividing my time between wanting to see everyone in a short span of time.

I was being interviewed for a class project once and although I do not remember the specific question, the topic of vacations came up. At the time I said I could never be happy on a vacation where I had nothing to do. I told my classmate that I would get to antsy and not be able to relax. That was back in January. Four months later I’m saying “bring on the lounge chair.”

Graduation is my first priority right now. I’ve still got a bit of work to do and I have  decided to plan a great vacation for my post-graduation celebration. I have not decided where I want to go or what I want to do, but I am almost positive the highlight of my time will be doing nothing. It may be a year away but already I’m selecting a playlist of vacation tunes and the Beach Boys are high on my list. 

The Big Questions for the Big ’23’

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My birthday is coming soon. I’ll be 23 and while that should be an exciting time full of celebration and happy wishes for the year to come, I find myself looking forward to it with much more dread than excitement.

Before this new health care reform passed, my insurance cut dependents off at several ages, depending on if he or she is a full-time student or not. Turning 23 marked the end of coverage no matter your status. But after the health bill passed, that all changed – or did it??

I have a friend with the same insurance company. She turned 23 and graduated all in the same week. She noticed she had no insurance when she received a bill from the doctor’s office. What a great graduation/birthday present, right?

I brought this to my parents’ attention and my mom, while on the phone with the insurance company, asked about the new policy. Surprisingly, even the person on the other end had no idea if I, or my older brother who is 24, would still qualify for insurance coverage.

Tomorrow I go to the doctor for an injured ankle. On Thursday, I turn 23. If I still have insurance coverage, this timeline will not pose a problem, but let’s just say that I don’t qualify. If I am prescribed physical therapy, I am up the creek and the paddles were left 10 miles back on the shore.

I have all my fingers and all the toes I can comfortably move crossed. I may still be covered. I looked at the website for my insurance company and was referred to another webpage that wasn’t remotely helpful. If I do go by what the website said I should have coverage until I turn 26 – another three years for me to get a job that either has insurance or where I make enough to pay for my own.

While this brings me some small comfort, I cannot help but resent the fact that my birthday is not going to be a happy day for me. It’s going to be a day full 0f worry and stress about the rest of my college career and the immediate future of being uninsured.

Some people were unhappy about the new health bill, but if it truly covers all the people it says it does, I for one, am grateful for it. Wish me luck!

Road Rage Uncensored

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It’s 5:20 PM on a Tuesday and I find myself standing in the middle of a busy road and praying that no one hits me. If I had a list of top ten places I never want to be again this would make it somewhere around 7.

But, how’d you end up there? Why would you do something so crazy as to stand in the middle of the road in rush hour traffic you ask? Let me go back a bit.

I've given up parking in the garage. It's always full and I don't have time to circle.

Parking at UofL stinks around 11 AM. I have long since given up parking in the Floyd garage, although that was the whole reason I coughed up the $126 to buy a green parking pass. Instead, I park in a lot that is a bit of a walk away from my first class, but close enough to my last class of the day. 

Normally, this would be ideal. I don’t mind a bit of a walk. But recently, construction in the area has made what should be a five minute stroll into a hellish 15 minute nightmare.

To get to the lot students must walk – let’s estimate about a block – in the wrong direction (as in away from the lot) then cross the street. So now students are walking an extra two blocks and are on the wrong side of the street. Great start.

Most times, there is a crossing guard to help students cross the busy roads, but not during rush hour!

Now, once we get past all the yellow tape and orange cones that warn unassuming pedestrians of the catastrophe that was once a sidewalk, we must cross the street. No problem. Sometimes there is even a handy-dandy crossing guard.

But  not during rush hour.

So, my question is this: why on earth would the crossing guard, who sits in the car during the slowest parts of the day to stop traffic for students leave when needed most??

I am not a brave person. I will walk out of my way to find a cross walk and wait for the traffic light, even if the street is empty. So, imagine my peril when not only is there no cross walk to speak of, but traffic is constant and the crossing guard I was counting on is not there.

I wanted to cry. Instead, I waited until one side of the street was empty – thank goodness for traffic lights even if they are a block away. I walked purposefully into the middle of the road and stopped.

Holy cow!

I kept looking over my shoulder waiting for some inattentive driver to slam right into me. Traffic in the final two lanes I had to cross just kept going on as if I wasn’t there. Wonderful. So much for pedestrian right of way. I half expected the TARC driver to let me cross, since surely he or she must be used to students having to cross the street at this location. Nope. Thankfully, the car behind the TARC stopped and waved me across, and just in time.

The lane I had been standing in was suddenly in full swing again. I still shudder when I think of it. I would like nothing more than to avoid that parking lot for the rest of the time it takes the workers to get the sidewalks straightened out, but unfortunately for me, this isn’t going to happen.

The next best thing would be for a crossing guard to stick around and make sure no students get hit by the cars racing through the area. Let’s put it this way – I’m not holding my breath, but I will be writing to public safety.

I’m not keen on breaking any bones in the foreseeable future. Any suggestions?

Learning to Budget – misadventures in money management pt. 1

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I am a college student. Simple. So, it seems almost redundant to say that I am also broke about 99.9% of the time.

I was lucky enough to qualify for financial aid and have held a part-time job, but I never seem to have that extra $10 – $15 lying around.

With gas prices rising at about the same speed my bank account is dwindling, I decided it is time for a change.

My first step: cooking instead of buying out. I hear from fellow students that it has the potential to save some money, so why not? I splurged and bought a student-friendly cookbook for a whopping $7 at a used book store. After all, if I’m going to cook to save money, what better than a book that gives me recipes for food that is quick and inexpensive??

One of the first recipes I tried was Mac and Cheese. Doesn’t sound too difficult, right? Well, turns out this isn’t just your ordinary Velveeta-type dish. Still, I was in the spirit of the moment at the grocery store with my list as I hunted down three cheeses (one of which I still can’t pronounce) to whip up this classic comfort food.

Note to self: cheese is kinda expensive.

I waited a few days before buckling down and trying my hand at this dish, but eventually my enthusiasm got the best of me.

I put the liquids on to boil and started grating the cheese. I had my i-pod on, and life is great.

Until that is, I realize I completely forgot about the pot boiling on the stove as my brother yells, “What is that?!?”

WHOOSH! Suddenly the pot is foaming over and for a second all I can do is stare. I shriek and throw down the hunk of cheddar I was cheerfully grating and rush to rescue the all-important sauce.

Luckilly, I was mostly in time although our new drip-pans on the stove might not agree.

After that it all got better. Even I can boil noodles and stir.

Impatient to see the results of my first time making homemade Mac and Cheese, I sprinkled the un-pronouncable cheese on top of the saucy noodles and stuck the whole thing under the broiler just long enough to say that I did.

It was beautiful. It might have smelled like someone’s dirty gym-shoes, but it was something I made that did not end up burnt or too watery. I wish I would have taken a picture, but I was too dazzled to think of it.

Four days later it’s time to throw out the leftovers. Turns out only one person in my family really enjoys blue-cheese and wow! does that flavor trump the rest.

Even though it wasn’t what I expected and no one ate it, I learned a few valuable lessons from this misadventure.

Next time, use Velveeta. It’s cheaper and people actually like it. I don’t know why but for some odd reason stinky cheese tends to turn people away.

Finally, always have someone prepared to react in an over-the-top way standing by to warn you forget about boiling liquids, especially if you’re singing along to some wacky song.

Until next time…