Frequently Asked Questions

Version 1.0, last modified on 1997/07/29

  1. What's it all about?
  2. Where is the server located?
  3. How do I connect to our server?
  4. Who is the Webmaster?
  5. How do I write a web page?
  6. How do I get my pages published?
  7. What is the server configuration?
  8. What is the structure of the site?
  9. Why is index.html required?
  10. Can I use long filenames?
  11. Which file extensions should I use?
  12. What if I want to create or install a CGI application?
  13. What if I want to create or install Java applets?
  14. How do I maintain my own web pages?

What's it all about?

We are in the process of creating a World Wide Web site. The process has been ongoing since January 1997. This web site is intended as a learning and research tool for students, staff, and faculty in Information and Computer Technology programs at Niagara College, and for guidance to students considering application for admission to these programs.

Where is the server located?

The server machine is physically located in the Computer Systems Lab, L-17A. It is connected to the College's Internet backbone. The network Internet Protocol (IP) address is The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address is http://www.technology.niagarac.on.ca/.

How do I connect to our server?

To connect to our server, an Internet connection is required, either via the College backbone, or via a dial-up Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as ICAN, Vaxxine, or Sympatico. To view pages from our server, a graphical web browser such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer is recommended.

Who is the Webmaster?

Currently, Mike Boldin, Computer Engineering Technology, is the person who looks after our web server. To contact Mike, visit his office in L-17, ring his telephone at extension 7400, drop a note in his mailbox in L-6, or send him e-mail at mboldin@niagarac.on.ca. He's always eager to hear comments (positive, negative, or otherwise) about our site.

How do I write a web page?

There are several avenues to this end. Netscape Navigator Gold 3.0 and Netscape Communicator 4.0 have built-in web page editors. Both feature the "Netscape Page Wizard", which guides you step-by-step through creating a web page. Netscape also offers web page templates from their site, from which you can customize your own page. Or you can create your page from scratch using their graphical editor.

Another avenue is to use HTML or web page editor software. You can use commerical software such as Microsoft Front Page 97 or Claris Front Page, or obtain shareware/freeware from the web. A good place to find such software is Tucows.

Finally, learn the HTML language and write your pages by hand, using your favorite text editor, such as Brief, Windows Notepad, vi or emacs. This method gives you the most control over the structure of your pages, and can be combined with any or all of the previously-described approaches.

An inexpensive book from which to learn HTML is Writing Web Pages by Maria Canham. It is available in the College Bookstore and provides a solid overview of web page construction, including multimedia.

Finally, using any of the above methods, you do not have to write your pages from scratch everytime. Since HTML documents on the World Wide Web are publicly-accessible, you can find a page whose structure you like, and save it as HTML. (For example, in Netscape Navigator, click on the File menu and select "Save As". The current page will be saved as a text file containing the HTML code. The same can be done with graphics, by clicking the right mouse buttton and selecting "Save Image As").

HTML templates and samples are provided on our web site at: http://www.technology.niagarac.on.ca/public/samples/

How do I get my pages published?

There are two ways to get your pages published on our server. The first is to deliver the contents of your page on a diskette to the Webmaster. Pages submitted in this manner will be installed or updated the same day (usually within an hour or two) of receipt. All HTML files, graphics or other multimedia files, and any other required files must be submitted.

The second approach is to obtain your own user account on the server. Then you can use standard Internet applications, such as telnet and ftp, to maintain your own page(s). Accounts are created and maintained by the Webmaster. It is hoped that, eventually, every faculty and staff member will have an account.

The Webmaster will ensure that hyperlinks within our site are properly constructed. It is each page author's responsibility to ensure that hyperlinks local to the page or to external sites are functioning properly. Web page content is also the responsibility of the respective author. The Webmaster will not preview, censor or otherwise control content.

Upon installation of a new page, a link will be added to the What's New page: http://www.technology.niagarac.on.ca/whatsnew.html for a period of two weeks or so.

What is the server configuration?

The server itself is a Pentium-class PC, with 48 MB of RAM and 3 GB of SCSI disk. The current (as at July 16, 1997) operating system is Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0, running Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) 3.0 software.

It is important to note that our site is also an experimental one. As such, the underlying hardware and software will, from time to time, change. View the About Our Server link:http://www.technology.niagarac.on.ca/about.html

In fact, to improve server accessibility, maintainability, and reliability, we will likely migrate to Linux, a free implementation of the Unix operating system, and to Apache web server software.

What is the structure of the site?

The HTML documents and other files are organized as follows:

The filesystem is organized as follows:

top-level-directory (d:\Technology on Windows NT; likely /wwwhome on
 |           |         |       |        |         |         |
cgi-bin/ index.html images/ public/  people/  courses/     students/
 |       about.html    |       |        |         |         |           
 |                niagarac.gif |        |         *        index.html
CGI applications  powered.gif  |        |    (see below)  + directories
(e.g., access counter,    ...  |        |               for each student

 image mapper, bulletin        |        |
 board applications, etc.)     |        |
                               |        |
 +--------------+--------------+        +---------+--------+-------+ ...
 |              |              |        |         |        |       | 
index.html    images/        video/  index.html images/ mboldin/ jclark/
programs.html   |              |                  |        |       |
cotech.html   blueball.gif   micro.avi        world.jpg    |      ...
video.html    intro.jpg      nc160.mov       button-h.gif  |
 ...            ...           ...                 ...      |
                               |          |           |
                           index.html   images/      faq/
                           guitar.html    |           |
                               ...        MB.gif   misc-fitness-faq.txt
                                    fractal-line.gif   powerlifting.html
                                         ...             ... 

  +--+-------+---------+----------------+-------------------+ ...
  |          |         |                |                   |
index.html images/  comp530/         comp641/             elnc645/
             |         |                |                    ...
        button-h.gif   |      +---------+--+--------------+ ...
           ...         |      |            |              |    
                       |   index.html    images           c
  +--------------+-----+   pos.tar.gz      |              |
  |              |         jargon.zip     winsock.gif     pipe.c
index.html     images      claremont.pdf  portmapper.jpg  pipetest.c
picprog.zip      |         onc-rpc.html   button-h.gif     ...
test.asm      bar.gif      unzip.exe       ...
brbuddy.htm   brbuddy.jpg     ...  
adc0831.doc   brbuddy2.jpg
 ...            ...
As you can see, each "page" is in its own directory, with index.html (the main page), its sub-pages, an images directory, and other related files and/or directories. Only index.html is mandatory; the images directory is strongly recommended; otherwise, it is up to each page's author.

Why is index.html required?

index.html is the default document name. It is a security feature provided by most web server software. Its functionality is twofold: first, the server software will not allow access to a directory without an index.html document (unless the full URL is specified); second, it allows URLs of the form: http://machinename.domainname/some-directory/ to be used. For example, with index.html the URL for Mike Boldin's directory is:


If index.html was not present in Mike's directory, using the above URL would cause the server to return Error 403 (Access denied) to the browser. However, the guitar.html file could still be accessed with by specifying its full URL:


The default document name can be anything; index.html is probably the most common, and it is what we have chosen to use.

Can I use long filenames?

Yes. Both Windows NT and Linux support long filenames, as will any subsequent server operating system that we choose to install.

Windows NT is case-retentive but not case-sensitive; that is, you can name your files with mixed case, but access them with all lowercase, all uppercase, or a combination of the two.

Linux, like most Unix operating systems, is truly case-sensitive.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to use unique filenames, and use the proper spelling of filenames (with regard to case) in your HTML code. For example, if the name of a graphics file is myValuableFace.gif, the HTML code to display this file should be:

<img src="images/myValuableFace.gif">

Which file extensions should I use?

The following extensions are strongly recommended:

What if I want to create or install a CGI application?

Common Gateway Interface (CGI) applications are run on the server to process data from forms, count web page accesses, and so on. Several common and useful CGI applications will be installed by the Webmaster. Check the samples page on our site at: http://www.technology.niagarac.on.ca/public/samples/

If you would like to write your own, the most common programming languages to use are C and Perl.

Please contact the Webmaster to install your own CGI applications or those you download from the World Wide Web. CGI applications must be installed in the /cgi-bin directory.

What if I want to create or install Java applets?

Java applets can be installed in your personal or course directories. Since Java is portable across different architectures, you can compile your Java applet under, say, Windows 95 or OS/2 Warp, and run them under Linux or Windows NT without recompiling. Simply install the .class files that you need. Check the samples page on our site for Java applets that are already installed: http://www.technology.niagarac.on.ca/public/samples/

How do I maintain my own web pages?

Currently, under Windows NT, the procedure is somewhat arcane.

First, you must obtain a user account from the Webmaster.

Second, you must transfer your files to the server via FTP. Since IIS 3.0 does not readily support FTP directly to your "home" directory, you must use a shared upload directory. This directory is named /w3-upload under the FTP service; it is mapped to e:\uploads.

Third, you connect to the server using the Telnet service. Windows NT does not ship with a Telnet server, so we are using third-party software. Telnet to either the IP address ( or to the hostname, www.technology.niagarac.on.ca. If you receive an error that the server software has expired, please contact the Webmaster. Otherwise, if you are successful, you will be placed in your home directory (for example, d:\Technology\people\mboldin). From here, you may move your files from e:\uploads to your home directory or to your course directories.

For example, a sample session might look as follows:

c:\home\www> ftp www.technology.niagarac.on.ca Microsoft FTP Service 3.00 (c) 1993-1997 Microsoft Corp. Username: mboldin Password: Welcome to the ICT FTP site. If you have any problems, contact the Webmaster (mboldin@niagarac.on.ca). > cd /w3-uploads CWD successful. > md mboldin MKDIR successful. > cd mboldin CWD successful. > put index.html 6352 bytes transferred in 0.003 seconds (157.9kb/s) > bin Mode set to I. > put my-mugshot.jpg 19360 bytes transferred in 0.010 seconds (93.7kb/s) > quit Goodbye from the ICT FTP Server. Y'all come back now, y'hear! C:\home\www> telnet www.technology.niagarac.on.ca Ataman Telnetd Username: mboldin Password:

Use extended ANSI features [y/n] ? y D:\Technology\people\mboldin> move e:\uploads\mboldin\index.html . 1 file(s) moved D:\Technology\people\mboldin> move e:\uploads\mboldin\my-mug-shot.jpg images 1 file(s) moved D:\Technology\people\mboldin> exit Connection closed. C:\home\www> _ This procedure will be streamlined under Linux, where direct FTP to your home or course directories is possible and both the FTP and Telnet services are built-in to the operating system. Furthermore, editing documents on the server will be possible, as will compilation of C-language CGI applications.

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