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More Than Enough to be Dangerous

This month I spent my spare time moving this blog from WordPress.com to a hosted site.  The flexibility I was looking for in the hosted site quickly brought me face-to-face with the oft cited need for bloggers to have at least some HTML and CSS skills. 

But have you ever looked at CSS?

While there are lots of great books out there, one book caught my eye and has turned out to be just absolutely fantastic.  It is so unique that, despite being a little off-topic for my blog, I am going to rave about it in this post. 


Many years ago I did a bit of programming in procedural languages, but I am by no means a programmer.  Strange as it may sound, this book was actually a fun page turner, more reminiscent of a fiction thriller than a dreary technical book.  I also now know a lot more about HTML and CSS programming than I set out to learn and probably know some things even experienced web developers don’t. 

Why is this book different than most?

Utilizing cognitive science, neurobiology, educational psychology, and metacognition  (fancy for learning about learning), Head First Labs came up with an approach to create “Brain-Friendly Guides” for O’Reilly Media on traditionally brain numbing technical topics.   I bought “Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML”.

This book is not for complete computer novices, “kick-butt” web developers looking for a reference book nor for someone who can’t handle different.  For everyone else it’s perfect.

From the intro: If you can say “yes” to all of these:

1.)  Do you have access to a computer with a web browser and a text editor?

2.)  Do you want to learn, understand, and remember how to create web pages, using the best techniques and the most recent standards?

3.) Do you prefer stimulating dinner party conversation to dry, dull, academic lectures?

this book is for you, and it will give you more than enough to be dangerous with less than the expected effort or brain cramps.

How does it work?

The brain likes to focus on things that matter and shuts out the routine and ordinary.  When neurons are firing and emotions cranking the brain says “this is important” and retains it.  This book achieves this through various very deliberate devices. 

  • Highly visual (lots of picture, people rather than things)
  • Words within or near graphics
  • Conversational and personalized style (first person, casual, humor, stories)
  • Get the learner (reader) to think more deeply (challenges, exercise, questions, activities using both sides of the brain, using multiple senses, redundancy, multiple points of view)
  • Get – and keep – the readers attention (things out of the ordinary, interesting, strange, eye-catching, unexpected)
  • Touch emotions (surprise, curiosity, fun, “what the…?”, victories)
  • Cater to Multiple learning styles
  • Use of Challenges (questions don’t always have straight answers)
  • Doing (lots of exercises and activities)

The book delivers it’s material in a way that increases different types of brain activity simultaneously which causes the brain to work in your favor and speeds the learning process and increases retention and comprehension.

The science and theory work.  I have read many technical books, but nothing has been as stimulating and as easy as this.  This won’t  be my last “Head First” guide and if you are new to blogging or have been intimidated by (X)HTML and CSS this should be your first to consider.

I have accomplished the minor changes I needed after moving my blog.  Now I want to go beyond my original ambitions and have the tools and the knowledge to do these “more advanced maneuvers”.  One of the first things I need to tackle is fixing some design errors in the original theme dealing with unpredictable screen sizes.

Let’s get dangerous with our blogs!


Do you have the book?  Please add your comments on it.

Do you have other excellent CSS resources you can recommend?

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