A PIECE OF MY MIND:
Person to Person
I know in most parts of the US it's so hot
that you could cook a sneaker on the sidewalk (don't try this at home, folks). But if that wasn't enough, this week I had something else to get hot under the collar about. (If you want to read about my unpleasant experiences buying a computer online, keep reading; if not, scroll down to the new stuff. :)
I bought a new computer, which should be exciting, but it's turned out to be a terrible experience. Yes, even moi, with all
my computer know-how, still has to suffer through this stuff!
The machine itself arrived with problems, but worse than that was the service along the way. The company's web site gave me three different prices for the same product and the least expensive quote never did have an order button! So I called a real, live "sales associate," who made me e-mail the quote the site gave me, then told me the site was giving me
the wrong price, then said they'd give me that price anyway. Forty-five minutes later (why not 5?), I was going to be the proud owner of a new computer with more memory and disk space than the space shuttle.
But then their web site never could track my order correctly. And while that was bad enough, I could also never talk to a person who could answer my question. The machine arrived without any kind of paperwork, so I didn't
have my magic "customer number" which I needed to even send an e-mail through their site!
When I discovered that the CD-ROM drive wasn't working correctly, it took five days on the phone, and at least eight hours on hold to get through to someone to get a return authorization number. Their tech support was fine, but they couldn't do this for me. Everyone was nice on the phone, but said I had to talk to someone else.
And their phone menu never even had an option for returning a desktop machine, only laptops! Maybe that's a clever way to avoid anyone ever returning a machine, but it just made me furious.
The solution to this was, of course, my wife. After hearing me ranting, she tried herself, went through two days of phone-hell, then called the corporate offices to complain and apparently scared the receptionist so much (I heard her, she
was completely calm, just persistent), that she was connected to a security guard! Well, amazingly, he was the one person who actually made sure that our problem was sent to someone who could fix it! It's funny now, but it wasn't while days were going by, listening to what may very well be the worst hold music on the planet.
I won't say which computer company this was (except that I normally find cows very friendly), because
this was just my personal experience, and who knows what other people go through, maybe they have no problems. I'll just say that if you get the runaround trying to order a computer from a site, or it takes a long time on the phone--think twice before going through with it. The sanity you save may be your own.
OK, so what's the moral of this story? First--that your web site can quickly become as important if not more
important than your storefront (if you have one). Your web site isn't just some pages, it represents you and your company or organization, so if it doesn't work well or looks bad, then so do you.
The other lesson is that the web isn't about technology, it's about PEOPLE (not unlike Soylent Green, but without the unpleasantness or Charlton Heston's bad acting--no, don't write to tell me you love him and he's a great actor, if
you think so, fine, I just think he makes apes look expressive).
So even if you do have a site, you also must have a way for the people who visit your site to contact the people behind your site. Not just the webmaster, but also people in sales, support, or whatever other departments you have. If you don't want to include a phone number, that's fine, but make sure to include an email address--and make sure to actually answer your mail.
I honestly try to answer all my e-mail, but sometimes 200-250 e-mails a day takes more time than there is in a day, so if you've e-mailed me and I haven't answered back, just e-mail me again and say, "Hey, you, eFuse-Boy, what's up?" and I will do my very best to answer.
So, to sum it up:
- Your site represents you. So it had better look good and work well.
- The web isn't about technology, it's about people and communication, so make sure the people who visit your site can communicate with you.
Relieved truly, Daniel Will-Harris, Editor, http://www.efuse.com
If you work at a computer many hours a day, then you've probably felt some pain in your hands or wrists; I know I have. And if you don't take care of yourself, those minor pains can become major pains. Ellen Serber, Yoga and Tai Chi instructor, gives you exercises that may help you feel better, and prevent you from hurting yourself in the first place! I created the small but effective animated GIF
illustrations (they're only about 6K each) to show how the web can give readers something print can't. You'll feel better if you take a look. And you can stay inside, with the air conditioning, and still feel like you've done your exercises.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the browser... You thought you had it all figured out--now you learn that more and more people are viewing the web on their TV! And you learn that for these people, what looks good on Navigator and IE may not look so good on TV. And you think, "Oh, no, here we go again." And you're
right. But you can design a site that works on both major browsers--and on WebTV--and Gary Priester will tell you how.
Chris Meeks, our "Write Away" columnist almost handed in the words "I'm stuck," for his latest column. He faced what everyone faces sooner or later when they have to figure out something to write, the dreaded blank screen. But, being a pro, Chris figured out what to write. So read his latest column which helps you face that blank screen and fill it. To bravely type what no man, woman or
carbon-based-life-form has typed before.
Strange how these things work out, but our intranet
columnist was also on a quest to figure out how not to start from scratch, so J.D. Shipengrover gives you tips on using AutoSites to put up an intranet in a hurry.
Mary Gillen and Andy Attiliis are full of good ideas. For business (of course). They have so many ideas about marketing on the Web and beyond that they are able to produce "A Marketing Idea A Day," e-mail newsletter (as well as an interesting web site). Come take a look at some of their bright ideas--it may just give you ideas that can help your web site, and business, grow. New this week:
the "Top Secret Buying Habits of Boomers" ; "The Creative Circle" by Mary Gillen; The Banner: R.I.P.?," "Web Surfing Versus Web Scuba Diving," "Publicity Pointers, "Strategies for Success: Learning Fountain Marketing," "Quick Start Marketing," and "Click Press Direct," a very popular e-mail list that offers access to 1,800 business press release e-mail addresses.
(We surf through the junk, so you don't have to)
This week Sean Timberlake shows you sites to help you
optimize and validate your web site. My favorites here are www.linkalarm.com which helps you find broken links on your site, and www.cast.org/bobby/ that helps you make sure your site is accessible to all.
AUTOMATIC GRAPHIC TEXT IN ANY
I love NetObjects Fusion, especially the way it can automatically generated graphic buttons and banners using any font. A lot of people overlook this, but it's great for a number of things:
- It allows you to customize the built-in styles so that they're very unique. Changing a font can change the look of a site from formal to casual, traditional to
modern, serious to friendly. If you're not sure of the most appropriate font to use, visit my EsperFonto system, the web's only interactive typeface selection system at http://www.will-harris.com/esp1.htm
- This lets you quickly create custom sites without having to produce countless little GIF files in your graphics program. NetObjects Fusion can create all the banners and buttons automatically. You create
your own custom button and banner backgrounds and select a font, and NetObjects Fusion does the rest. If your site has 7 sections and uses mouse-sensitive rollovers (which NetObjects Fusion also creates automatically), then you could create 21 separate graphics or just create one button graphic and have NetObjects Fusion create the other 20 (or 200 or as many pages or buttons and banners as you need). This can save hours or even days.
- This also ensures that your nav bars and banners are always accurate and up to date. Whenever you rename, move or even delete pages and sections, NetObjects Fusion updates your navbar. It regenerates graphic banners and buttons as necessary so your site is always correct.
To change the font used in a style, click on the style view
button. Double click on a banner or button, then click on the "text settings" button to choose any font on your system, and set it in any size and color. You can also rotate text in one degree increments.
ADD TEXT TO ANY GRAPHIC
You can even have NetObjects Fusion add text to any graphic, which makes it easy to create graphic headings
and drop caps in any font you want without having to go into your graphics program. To do this, select the graphic and click on the property palette's "effects" tab. Click on the "Text in element enable" box, then click on the Settings button. Choose any font, color and size, and before you can say "Waiter, what's that fly doing in my soup, the backstroke?" NetObjects Fusion adds the text to your graphic, anti-aliased and everything. Change it as
often as you want, NetObjects Fusion automatically creates and uploads the graphic for you. Couldn't be easier.
Now, I have run into one little quirk in all this wonderfulness. Occasionally (but rarely) you can publish a site and not all these automatically-generated graphics are updated, or some might be missing. There's a quick fix for this. Just delete the "preview" directory under the
NOD file you're using. For example, if your NOD file is in \elephants\ then your preview directory for that NOD would be \elephants\preview\
When you delete the preview directory, NetObjects Fusion is forced to recreate all those graphics so they all display perfectly. My one warning about this is to make sure you delete the preview directory, not assets or backup or other directories! And make sure your recycle
bin is set to hold a lot of files, so that if you do accidentally delete the wrong directory, you can easily choose undo, or go to the recycle bin and undelete it!
If you're using NetObjects Fusion 4.0, there's a free upgrade called 4.01 (it doesn't sound like a big
improvement, but it is, and it corrects intermittent FTP problems you might have encountered). To download it, click here.
The "NetObjects Community Resource" known as the Workbench has been updated with a whole slew of new information, tips, tricks, and cool stuff!
* More links to Web Design Resources * Tips on forcing
Frames to load properly, protecting subdirectories from prying eyes, placing a "Print" button on a NOF-generated page, importing from FrontPage and more! * More User-Recommended Links to applications * More Cool Stuff! * Plus, you can download the entire site for perusing offline! Check it out at http://www.netobjects.com/workbench
You like NetObjects Fusion, right? Of course you do. Anyone who's tried it knows it's the best (and I say this from experience). So, why not help other people find the fastest, easiest way to build a web site, and get paid in the process?
How? Easy. Just sign up for NetObjects' Affiliate program (it's free) at http://affiliate.netobjects.com/ and you can earn around $30 big ones each time someone buys NetObjects Fusion because of your site.
Once you sign up, the trusty affiliate team (yes, we have a
whole team just for you) gives you a bunch of buttons and banners to choose from (well-designed ones, at that). If you use NetObjects Fusion, there's even a nifty component that'll do all the work for you! When someone clicks the button, they can buy NetObjects Fusion (good for them) and you get $30 (good for you!).
It's a win-win-win situation. That's one entire "win"
better than a mere "win-win" situation. So click, don't walk, to http://affiliate.netobjects.com/ (say that three times, fast) and sign up, right now. Yes, now. Go on. I mean, there's nothing to lose and only something to gain.
We all know that NetObjects Fusion is the fastest, easiest way to build a web site, don't we? (And if we don't, then we're missing something). And the fastest, easiest way to
learn NetObjects Fusion (besides reading eFuse, of course, and taking our Tewtorials), is to take authorized Fusion 4.0 Classes held all over the country. To see where classes are held, click here.
If you're looking for even more advanced and
personalized service, take a look at NetObjects Professional Services. They give you access to NetObjects' expertise and knowledge and provide the best solutions delivered on time and on budget. To learn more, visit the NetObjects professional services group.
Here's a great idea. All you have to do is visit this site and click on the "Donate Free Food" button. When you do, a sponsoring corporation will make a donation to feed a
starving person for one day. You can do this once a day, and it costs nothing to you personally.
This is a form of public relations for the sponsoring company. It gets their name in front of you and associates it with a good cause. It does not cost you anything to make this donation. So bookmark it, email all your friends about it, and visit it once a day!
One Final Word (sigh)
Last night a new tag line hit me: "efuse.com where more people get their news than from looking in the refrigerator," but then I rejected it :)