Why My Brain Runs On HTML4

Ok y'all, take a seat round, we gone have ourselves a little storytime.

So in 2002, 17 year old Jessa went off to college for one semester. Yes I was 17 when I went to college, had enough credits to be classified as a second semester sophomore so they put me in a 21 and up dorm, shenanigans happened and I was kindly encouraged to not return the next semester but that's a story for another time. ANYWAY, while I was there, a new friend introduced me to the joys of web design. He taught me the very basics of writing a page, literally just how to make text appear on a screen. Simple, but I've always liked technology. It was fun.

So, when I returned to the nest like a fly snapped by a frog, I ended up enrolled in the local community college. One of the classes they offered was - you guessed it - "Web Design and Coding".

The woman who taught it was known to be *tough*. Your final was 50% of your grade, and no one had ever gotten more than a B- on the final. This meant that plenty of people passed the class, but usually with nothing higher than a B.

The final project was to be a:

Well, now that's vague innit? And, that third bit became hella alarming once I realized that there were literally *dozens* of modules that we had to use somewhere. Every different way to format text (italics, bold, centered, justified, align top, colors, on and on), everything you could do with images (image maps, resize, use as buttons, etc), tables, ordered lists, unordered lists, numbers, bullets, images, links, adding video and embedding music, and on and on. Every. Single. Element. that existed on a pure HTML4 webpage in the early 2000s, we were going to be tested on (we didn't deal with css or java or anything like that, luckily).

The class also included some graphic design basics, very basic photo editing, cropping, rotating, things like that. These elements were going to be included as well. All in all, it was going to be a *very* long project, and with so many elements there were dozens of things you could screw up, typo or even outright forget to include.

Now, I was determined to learn this, and holy hell was I going to do it *right*. I annoyed the *fuck* out of the teacher asking her questions, for more examples, go over that again please? To the point where she would ignore me. Honestly, I had it down pretty well, I just wanted to be *sure*.

So week of finals came. The way she did it was she had you show the entire class, by projecting your computer screen to the front wall and then she'd navigate through it, making notes about what elements you had and any you missed or were broken. With the "at least 10 pages" requirement, this usually took about 5 to 10 minutes per student. Most were pretty simple, as one would expect from beginner HTML pages then. Many people missed things, usually by forgetting a closing tag somewhere or transposing some characters (remember, this was all manually written. WYSISYG editors did exist, but we weren't allowed to use them).

Then, she came to mine.

It was *not* what she had expected.

Y'all, I had close to 100 pages, all with different designs, images, fonts, colors, and more. She started going through my website, and she just got quiet. Everything was there, all the modules she'd asked for, links, images..... And nothing was broken. It all worked flawlessly. She finally just looked at me, blinked several times, and said "..... I'll have to give you your grade on Monday, after I get a chance to go through your code."

Guess who got the first final A? 😁

So, this is why my brain runs on HTML4, quite literally. For nearly 8 months I *lived* it, 24/7 essentially. Every waking spare moment was spent on this (for me at the time) epic manual coding project. It was my obsession, and it set my brain's operating system for life. It also has a body gesture/touch screen control, ala Minority Report style.

If you've made it this far, I'm sure you're hoping to be able to see the website. Unfortunately, it's almost 20 years later, and I think 4 computers later. BUT

I did come across the code for PART of it when I was clearing out my Google Drive recently (July 2021). So, without further ado.......


I do need to make sure you know and understand that most of the pages I worked so hard on and was so proud of have been lost to time. The pictures, the links, the coding itself. The background gifs and the mood music I had seem to be gone as well. I have very little of it left, sadly, but I've uploaded what I DO have here, in the form it was in 2003. This means links are broken, pictures don't load, there are some typos, and because I used HTML4 most of the text doesn't even display because some of the tags I used have since been depreciated and so no longer work. Y'all I've had a hell of a time just figuring out how to center text and change the colors of it because the straightforward center and color tags no longer work. I'm slowly figuring it out but css style sheets are gonna be my death.

I am also going to remake the page, I think. I'll use it as a way to learn the new bits of HTML5 and css stlying. I'll try to recreate it the way it LOOKED then, but with modern code. Stay tuned!!