Internet Tips: Build a Simple, Free Web Site on America Online
Build a Simple, Free Web Site on America Online
Snobs may pooh-pooh the personal Web site as an egocentric vanity. But the World Wide Web wasn't invented just for people who are legends in their own minds. You can make a useful and interesting Web site filled with stories that may not be available elsewhere--information that perhaps only you possess. Remember those photos you took during your trip to Peru in the seventies? Suspect you're the world's greatest expert on Victorian coal scuttles? Offer the world what you know through the Web, and invite like-minded hopper-heads to add their say.
Whatever force drives you to the Web, you can get your manifesto--up to 12 megabytes' worth--online in minutes using America Online's free Hometown Web server at hometown.aol.com. Current AOL and CompuServe subscribers, AOL Instant Messenger and Netscape Instant Messenger users, and registered Netscape.com Web site users are ready to go--all you need to get started are a screen name and a password. If you don't have an AOL screen name, you can get one by downloading and installing the free AOL Instant Messenger program (at www.aim.com or find.pcworld.com/26201), or by creating a Netscape.com account for yourself at my.netscape.com.
When you're ready to crank out a quick Web site, cruise to hometown.aol.com and click the Create link in the AOL Hometown banner at the top of the page. (The same banner appears at the top of any page you create on AOL Hometown--that's the price for your "free" Web site.) After signing in, you'll see a page listing several options for creating and editing your page. Click Create again to open 1-2-3 Publish, a free forms-based tool that builds a simple page with the title and text of your choice, a single photo you upload from your computer, page-divider graphics, and autobiographical and link sections for you to fill in. 1-2-3 Publish also offers lots of prefab theme pages for cities, hobbies, and sports.
If cute templates make you shudder, you can skip all that and create a simple page with a picture, a title, and brief text by clearing the form fields you don't want (see FIGURE 1).Be sure to scroll to the end of the form and decide whether to include either of two AOL advertising banners at the bottom of your page; like other 1-2-3 Publish page elements, the banners are optional but enabled by default.
When you're done, a page preview button lets you see your work, and a Save My Page button publishes your page. Welcome to the Web! AOL will send you an e-mail message with your page's address, which should be hometown.aol.com/screenname/myhomepage/index.html, where screenname is the screen name you signed in with to create the page.
To make changes to your page using 1-2-3 Publish, simply browse to your site and click the Edit link at the top of the page. To see your changes, you'll probably have to click your browser's refresh button after editing.
If you want a more sophisticated Web site than the 1-2-3 Publish cookie cutter allows, you have two choices. AOL's Easy Designer is an online Web design tool like 1-2-3 Publish but with slightly more features. Or you can use any third-party Web-page design tool (for instance, I still rely on Netscape's Composer) and then upload your finished pages and files to the Hometown server using a file transfer protocol utility.
Rhino Software's FTP Voyager is a good shareware tool, but the command-line version in every version of Windows will also do the trick. For a useful tutorial on working with FTP commands, see the chapter on FTP in Indiana University's Zen and the Art of the Internet.
Send your questions and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. We pay $50 for published items. Scott Spanbauer is a contributing editor for PC World.Shut That Browser Up!
One day you suddenly notice that every time you click a link in Internet Explorer, it clicks--and that all the clicking is driving you crazy. You can make it stop. Open Windows' Control Panel, launch the Sounds applet (Sounds and Audio Devices in Windows XP), click the Sounds tab if it's not currently displayed, and then scroll down the 'Events' or 'Program events' list until you find the Windows Explorer section. Select the Start Navigation event at the end of the list, and then choose the (None) selection at the top of the Sounds drop-down menu. Netscape and Opera users, never mind: Your browser is blessedly silent.