"Are you sure I can trust Windows Vista now?"

There are probably a lot of newcomers to the Internet, some of them pretty young, who weren't born when Mary Stu's Tavern was first uploaded onto AOL Hometown in March 1998, then moved to Geocities on May 1, 1998 where it stayed for a little over eleven years. The rest of you might have been here before, either at Geocities or Angel Fire, and have no idea what challenges the available technology posed to a new amateur Web developer. Well, sometimes I don't know how anyone had enough patience to produce Web sites eleven and more years ago, as everything was less reliable, and a lot slower, than the technologies are today. On this technology exhibit page, we will start with the computers used to make all the pages of Mary Stu's Tavern, their specifications as to RAM, hard drive storage, and speed in Megahertz and Gigahertz, along with each unit's operating system. The quirks of each operating system will get reviewed, the homepage software, and any additional technology used will also be reviewed.






Compaq Presario 1220 Laptop

Purchased March 1998

32 Megabytes

200 Megahertz

2.1 Gigabytes

Windows 95

Toshiba Satellite P5261U

Purchased May 2000

64 Megabytes

533 Megahertz

5.58 Gigabytes

Windows 98

Purchased April 2007

1 Gigabyte

2.00 Gigahertz

120 Gigabytes

Windows XP,

Service Pack 3

The Compaq Presario had a small screen, around 12 inches in diameter, as did the Toshiba Satellite 5261U, which also had a grainy screen. The Toshiba Satellite A100/A105 has a screen of 15 inches in diameter and very clear. Windows 95 was very unstable, frequently "freezing," forcing me to shut down, remove the battery, and restart. The small amount of RAM caused the failure of a Mustek flatbed scanner which was supposed to digitize the photos from the Whistle Stop Cafe, taken in 1997. The Compaq Presario could not handle the Mustek's demands for memory and kept crashing after each scan. I had to take the photos to a photography studio for scanning onto a disk. Only two photos on the Happy Hour in Whistle Stop page were made with the Mustek. This scanner was the one shipped to Yun Leong in Sydney, Australia so he could complete his MSMism Web site in 1998. Windows 98 was more stable, but was wide open to the introduction of Active X scripts loaded with adware and spyware. The Toshiba Satellite P5261U was nearly destroyed by spyware scammers in 2004. Windows XP, in both Service Packs 2 and 3 has been a paragon of stability.

Speed was just not an option in 1998. In the first upload of Mary Stu's Tavern in 1998, I had to pull an all nighter to get to the point that testing and debugging could be completed. The second laptop, the Toshiba 5261U was significantly faster, and the Windows 98 operating system considerably more stable. A scanner could have been used with the 64 megs of RAM. The problem of speed was solved with the purchase of the Toshiba Satellite A100/A105, with 2.00 Gigahertz, the only restraint is your mode of connection to the Internet. Dial-up is never very fast, and holds a fast computer down, which is only as fast as the dial-up modem. Heat is a problem with today's faster laptops. The components are very close together, including the heat sources. Hard drive disks can become warped and crash. Almost all of them should have an external cooling device, like a Chill Mat, to maintain optimum temperature.

Hard drive storage is also no contest, with the A100/105 winning hands down, although the Toshiba Satellite 5261U still has over 2 Gigabytes of storage remaining, which is why I still use it to store files. Two of the front pages of the lost Web sites that are accessible on the Museum 1 page were stored in this laptop since they were saved there in the early 2000s.

Communications: The first two laptops were dial-up connections to the Internet. Very slow. The A100/A105 has high-speed wireless and Ethernet capabilities. The Slowski turtles of Comcast fame would not like the latest workhorse in producing Mary Stu's Tavern.

Why laptops? I am always in a hotel somewhere. The first upload of Mary Stu's Tavern took place in the HoJo Inn in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The move from Geocities to Angel Fire took place at the Quality Suites in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I have uploaded stuff from as far away as San Francisco, California, and right here in my Oil City, Pennsylvania apartment. The only way for me to Webmaster is with a computer I can carry.


Claris Home Page Generator, Version 2.0, has been the only homepage software used to create the pages of Mary Stu's Tavern. Claris Corporation of Santa Clara, California purchased the code from San Andreas Systems and created the Homepage Construction Kit CD in 1996. The software enables the user to generate the Hyper Text Mark-Up Language (HTML) code that comprises the actual Web page. This code is what pulls together the images and graphics with the code that comprises the page. The HTML "tells" the Web server and browser to go fetch this photo, that graphic, and put them in the places described by the code, and, in essence, "build" the page onto your screen. You don't see the code, only the text that accompanies the images and graphics. The text is outside the < > characters that enclose the code and make it invisible to the viewer. Anything outside of the two brackets < > is visible, along with the photos, dividers, animated gifs, etc. By pointing and clicking on the tool bar, the page is constructed as a Web surfer would see it, while the code is being written by the program. All amateur Web pages are built this way, while college students studying Web development are typically writing their own HTML instructions. This is high-tech ART made available to everyone who can buy a homepage program.

An example of Claris generating HTML is in the following image:


After 11 years of using this software, I can't see using anything else, although I've seen attractive sites made with Front Page, the Microsoft generator, and Adobe Acrobat's homepage generator.


Most of the small animated GIF images used on the Tavern came from a subscription service called Animation Factory. Some of the motionless clip art, like the Tavern's logo, also came from Animation Factory. The subscription came at a small price, and an alert would be shown on the screen when I was coming due to pay again. I'll have to re-subscribe someday. Animation Factory was my favorite provider and is still in business today at Now, you can obtain Flash imagery, and 3-D looking characters that are similar to the animated film Coraline. Times are changing.

"They can actually do that on the Internet?"