(M.J.E. / Personal notes)

Personal notes

[1. The future of this web site - 2. My e-mail address and spam-blocking -
3. Photo of myself now available - 4. Keyboard access to links being added to this site ]

NOTE: Use "Alt" with highlighted, bold letters for quick access to links; you can read a more detailed explanation of my implementation of quick keyboard access to links, shown by the red letters in bold type which appear in many links.

1. THE FUTURE OF THIS WEB SITE - Tuesday, 5 June, 2001 (modified Wednesday, 6 June, 2001):

      There are many pages on this web site which are still incomplete, as will be apparent to anyone who examines them closely and who knows something about the subjects those pages cover. Too late, perhaps, I at last feel a need to give some explanation for this, especially since this state of affairs (pages remaining incompleted) now appears likely to continue for some time. (If, by the way, you are one of those people who find it distasteful for web authors to say too much about their personal lives on their web sites, you may as well back out of here straight away. This is one place where I have a few personal things to say, which could affect the development of this web site. At least what I am about to say is in a corner of my web site where it won't be stumbled over by uninterested persons by accident.)
      I have been meaning to complete these pages for a while, but haven't been able to so far for a variety of reasons, none in itself all that severe, but in totality adding up to considerable delay in finishing the pages. However, the future of these pages, and the future growth of this web site as a whole, has been set back even further due to the onset of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which afflicted me towards the end of November, 2000 for unknown reasons, and which is causing me severe, long-lasting depression and has an extremely damaging effect on my concentration. In particular, I seem to be almost incapable of reading a book of any length or complexity because my concentration is just not up to it; this will in particular hit hard any book reviews I had hoped to complete (there are a couple which are obviously incomplete), or any new ones I wanted to write one day. Also, I seem to have lost interest in music, with my hearing being affected like this, so musical pages may be less likely to be completed.
      I don't know what the outcome of this will be, but the prognosis for tinnitus is very poor, and I may never improve - to all intents and purposes, it is incurable, and only on rare occasions does it spontaneously cure itself. Unfortunately, because of this, I have to say that some of these pages may never be completed, or may be completed only some rather distant time in the future - longer than I had hoped to take. I will see what I can do from time to time, but I can make no promises about this, unfortunately. If things get bad enough I could even stop working on the web site altogether, and effectively mothball its present contents. Before you criticize me for giving up too easily, I suggest you first try coping with constant noise in the ears (roughly like a dentist's drill a room or two away), simultaneously with chronic depression which existed before this, and which is now made only worse by this new complication. It's not easy to do even the most basic of mental activities under such conditions.
      My apologies to anyone who may have happened upon pages of interest, who had been waiting for further information to be added to obviously incomplete pages. In many cases I already have the information that I had planned to add in various computer files, sometimes in a horrible condition of confusion and disorder, and it's just a matter of organizing it in a suitable way.
      If you really want information on a subject covered by one of these pages, please write to me, using the e-mail link at the bottom of this page, and I will be glad to answer any questions I am able to. Thank you.

2. MY E-MAIL ADDRESS AND SPAM-BLOCKING - Thursday, 14 March, 2002:

      Up till now, and for the entire two years (nearly) of this web site so far, I have freely provided my e-mail address on pages, for readers who wish to contact me to ask questions or supply me with information, and I have encouraged readers of my web site to contact me freely. I still encourage them to do so; but I regret that I now have to introduce a slight complication in providing my e-mail address on this web site, and I just want to explain it here for those readers who may not understand the change I've made to the way my e-mail links work.
      I am increasingly receiving unwanted commercial mass e-mail from marketers, and I hope I am in time to prevent this from becoming a deluge. The plague of commercial e-mail from mass-marketers is commonly known as spam, and is universally disliked on the World Wide Web - but no-one really knows how to stop it. Although it's difficult to know for sure how these cockroaches of the Internet are getting my e-mail address, it seems quite likely that it is from my web site, where, for the convenience of those who wish to write to me, I have left my e-mail address on open display. Regretfully, I feel I have to stop this, and that I have to "mung" the address: that is, change it in a way that will (hopefully) fool the spambots which trawl the web harvesting millions of e-mail addresses, yet also in a way that is recognizable to human readers. Effectively, I have provided a false e-mail address that will not work if it is used unaltered; but I hope that, when human readers see the address, it will be obvious how it is wrong, and how they need to change it to make it correct.
      When you click on one of the links to my e-mail address, you will see the false version of the address in the "To:" field of the e-mail window; and you will have to slightly edit the To: field if you want your message to reach me. Simply delete the words and punctuation marks which appear obviously to belong to instructions on how to modify the address, make the obvious modifications such as converting words which name symbols to the actual symbols themselves, and close up the spaces. Or, in detail: since my e-mail address will appear as "m j e (no dots or spaces) at remove-spam-block foxall dot com dot au", you will need to do the following:

    1. Remove the contents of the parentheses and the parentheses themselves;
    2. Change the "at" to an "at" symbol;
    3. Remove the three words joined by hyphens, as well as the hyphens themselves;
    4. Change the remaining two words "dot" to actual dots; and
    5. Close up all spaces remaining in the address.

What is left after that will be my correct e-mail address, and anything sent to it will actually reach me. (I dare not actually display it intact, because this would be just giving it to the spam cockroaches, and completely obliterate the benefit of using spam blocks.) I think to actually do this will be simpler than my description of it sounds, since the address actually shown is effectively a verbal description of how to get the real, functioning address. But I have to make it a bit devious, because I've heard that spambots are getting cleverer at demunging munged e-mail addresses.
      In some e-mail programs, you might possibly have to delete the entire address and type in the correct one. I'm sorry to cause this inconvenience to those who take the time to write to me; but things have reached the stage where I have to start taking steps to protect myself from unwanted commercial mail.

3. PHOTO OF MYSELF NOW AVAILABLE - Thursday, 13 December, 2001 (updated Thursday, 14 March, 2002):

      Until now, I have kept personal details of myself out of most of my web pages, instead concentrating on the information I have to share with readers. My web site is almost purely text, and will not be likely ever to have much in the way of graphics or pictures. This is not because I have anything against web sites based more on graphics, but simply because what I have to offer in a web site (mainly book reviews and author listings, and a few other odds and ends) is best conveyed in pure text - and also because my service provider does impose a size limit on customers' web sites, and graphics would eat that space up very rapidly indeed. (As things are, the text pages on this site are already eating up that space rapidly; so graphics of any sort are a pure luxury I can indulge only sparingly.)
      Also, I feel a bit uncomfortable putting too much personal detail in my web site, except insofar as personal details are revealed in the content itself. However, a little personal touch might be desirable, and I have placed a photo of myself on the web site, for any readers who might be interested to see the face behind all the words.
      There are few photos of me in existence, because I have, since I was a baby (so I'm told), been averse to being photographed, although I can be persuaded more easily now - provided I carefully shave first. I still believe I don't usually come out all that well in photographs, and it's much more difficult to get me to appear in front of a video camera. However, now that this photo is available in computer-readable format, and seems to have come out better than most photographs of myself, I thought I would provide it on my web site.
      I've placed the photograph on a
separate page , and linked to it from other pages where it seems appropriate (including this one), so as not to interfere with downloading times for people who merely want to read the text on those other pages. After all, the text on the various pages is the real work of this web site, and the photograph is really only an "extra".
      I am myself always interested to see pictures of people I get to know on the Internet. I usually create a mental picture of someone when I read e-mail from them or sometimes web pages of a more personal nature, and, if I get a chance later on to see a photograph of the person, I'm always interested to see how accurate my estimate of their appearance is - and it's often wildly out, and even my guess as to their age can be embarrassingly wide of the truth.


      I support the idea of enabling links to be operated from the keyboard as much as possible, in addition to operating them via a pointing device. I have recently learned of a method for enabling keyboard access to links, which I have hitherto been unaware of. I am gradually adding keyboard access to links throughout my web site, and I believe this will be far easier to use than the conventional method of using a pointing device - but of course you can continue using a pointing device if you prefer to.
      It appears that only the 26 letters of the alphabet can so far be used for this, and that only single letters can be used, not sequences of 2 or more letters. So only a maximum of 26 keyboard-access links can be be provided on any one page. Some of my pages have more than 26 links, so I will have to be selective in how I use these links, and the letter I choose for a link may not be related to the page or location you are linking to. When only a few keyboard-access links need to be provided on a page, I will try to choose letters that are prominent in the name or topic of the page you are linking to; but otherwise I will just go from A to Z in order. I will choose particular letters to fit the topic only when there is an obvious and intuitive way of doing this. In all cases, I will display or highlight the letter to be used in the keystrokes - always with "Alt". If at a future time further support for this method is added, and becomes reasonably common in browsers, I will consider implementing it even more fully on this web site.
      Where I provide keyboard access to links, I will indicate the letter to be used in one of two ways: I will either highlight the letter within the link text, when I have chosen a prominent or initial letter in that text; otherwise, when I have just used the available letters in alphabetic order, I will add the letter to the beginning or end of the link text, as appropriate, separated from the link text either with a dash, or by putting the upper-case letter in parentheses - whichever looks clearest in the situation where it occurs (it has to fit in with the formatting of the context it occurs in). In this case, where the letter is not embedded in a word inside the link text, but placed separately, I will show it in upper-case type.
      All letters intended to be used as keystrokes will also be coloured red, so that they stand out - although, depending on how you have configured your browser, I cannot be sure you will see it as red, or in any different colour at all from the rest of the link text. To use the link, you press "Alt", and hold it down while you press the letter indicated. Whether the bold, highlighted letter is in upper-case type or not, you do not have to use the upper-case version of the letter. If you can remember links while reading a page, you can press the keys for them even if the link itself has scrolled out of view on the screen. (As a touch-typist who can play the keyboard like a piano, I find this to be one of the best devices of web-page technique that I've learned ever since I started this web site.)
      This may not work on all computers or in all web browsers - you'll just have to try it, and see if it works on your own computer. If it doesn't, there is nothing I can do about that - sorry. It is to be hoped that this device will become better-known, more widely used, and better supported by the designers of web browsers.
      I am not familiar with the Macintosh system, but I believe that some Macintoshes do not use an "Alt" key. I do not know whether it has a corresponding key which can be used in a similar way; but, if you are interested, I suggest you experiment with possible ways to do this, or that you find out about such methods from an appropriate reference book.
      Because this feature is not yet well-known, I am placing this notice on my web site, and on pages where I provide keystroke access to links, I will provide a link to this notice, to make sure you can be aware of what I am doing.
      This use of access keys may usurp the normal use of that key as used with "Alt" - to access the menus at the top of the browser window. However, you can, on a Windows-based system, press "Alt" by itself, and that will access the menus, from whence you can press keys without "Alt" to access particular menus, and options within them.
      In Internet Explorer 4, which I am using, these are the standard functions for the "Alt-letter" combination that will be lost, and how to access those functions by an alternative method that is hardly any more difficult to follow:

      Alt-A - Favorites menu Press "Alt", release it, and press "A".
      Alt-D - Go to U.R.L. window Move pointer to the window and click.
      Alt-E - Edit menu Press "Alt", release it, and press "E".
      Alt-F - File menu Press "Alt", release it, and press "F".
      Alt-G - Go menu Press "Alt", release it, and press "G".
      Alt-H - Help menu Press "Alt", release it, and press "H".
      Alt-V - View menu Press "Alt", release it, and press "V".

      Because all the functions for "Alt" combinations can be easily performed in the ways just shown, I believe that the increase of useability of this site by providing keyboard access to links outweighs the loss of the standard meanings of some of the "Alt" combinations.

Michael Edwards,
Victoria, Australia.

E-mail me.

      Click here (A) if you need an explanation for the strange appearance of the e-mail address which will appear when you click on the e-mail link, or if you don't know what you need to do to make the e-mail address work properly.

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This page created on Thursday, 13 December, 2001;
last modified on Monday, 11 August, 2003.