Over the falls

I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamt I was a drop of water. No, not a drip. A drop. I was part of a fast moving river, all movement, excitement, and the occasional fish or rock.

It was winter, and I found myself trying not to get too close to the icy edge lest I become frozen for months while other drops flew by.

I was going faster and faster, and then in an overhead shot (the kind that somehow seems natural in a dream), I could see myself heading towards Niagara Falls.

I loved the fluidity, the speed. I loved being able to find my way into and out of cracks and crevices. All around me billions of droplets were taking a similar trip, but I hardly noticed them. I was too busy enjoying the feel of gravity, pulling me closer and closer to the edge, then finally

         -over it.

I felt the weight
                                             of the drop,
                                           becoming    m i  s t 

I hit the river with enough force to make a tiny sound that was part of the roar, then I was rushing into a giant concrete pipe. It was dark and it felt faster, harder. It sounded different. Dull but pulsating. I was forced into the giant electric turbine generator. There I was, a drop of water, generating power for the eastern seaboard. It was all pressure and sound and the risk of turning into steam...

----------------I shot out at jet speed--Too hard--Too fast.

Finally, the river I was in slowed. Then stopped. I was now part of a huge, tranquil lake. No movement. No action. No excitement. What I had feared had come true. I thought I would be bored, but it was actually wonderful. I felt like part of the lake instead of just a drop.

I woke up. It was raining. I thought about the raindrops differently.

I have a lot of strange and entertaining dreams, but I had to laugh at how obvious this one was, just in case I might miss the meaning. I was reminded how important it is to remember that we're all part of something bigger. We're not on this planet, we're part of it. We need each other. Alone, we're just a bunch of drops. Together, we're powerful.

The web is the same way. We're not just "on" the web, we're part of it. We all contribute to it, when we create our own sites and just as much when we're the audience for someone else's. Unless we're frozen, we've got to "go with the flow." You can steer, but you can't go upstream.

Since that dream I try to remember I'm part of something new, fast, and exciting. But rather than feeling like I have to constantly be moving, I try to remember to take some time to sit back and enjoy being a part of something bigger than myself.

Enjoy the ride.


Whipping Up Wonderful Web Copy
Marc Alan Holmes, copywriter extraordinaire has a few tasty tidbits of his own for whipping up web copy that's both nourishing and easy to digest. Part II of his series teachers you how to plan, target, and strategize your copy, and helps you face F.A.C.T.S. (Fears, Ambitions, Competencies, Tactics, Specifications) so you can better serve your customer.

A Mouthwatering Makeover
How do you create an appetizing web site? Makeover Man Gary Priester takes on a beachfront restaurant's web site, and makes it more tasteful. He shows you how to assemble the ingredients for a great restaurant site that highlights great food and local color.

I Taut I Taw A Putty iCcat
e-commerce is just a click and a drag away
Anyone who's ever tried to add e-commerce to their web site knows it's not an easy thing to do. There are so many different things you have to manage. But it can be as simple as a click and a drag if you use NetObjects Fusion and iCat. The two work together like Sylvester and Tweety Bird (yes, it's another food metaphor, if in a roundabout way :). Rick Tew walks you through the process, step-by-step, so you can be selling on the web faster than you can say, "I did, I did see a putty tat!"


Connect To Real People In Real Time

One of the annoying things about the web is going to a site and finding it nearly impossible to contact a real live person. Sure, big sites can afford toll-free phone numbers and operators, but what if you can't? Or what if you want to add the ability to talk to a living breathing person on your site, and can't afford the excellent but expensive commercial services such as LivePerson and FaceTime?

Now there's a low-cost web service that lets you add instant, real time, real person contact on your site. http://www.humanclick.com lets you add some simple code to your site which then links your site visitors to you (or anyone else willing to be at their computer and answer questions. You download a program that you run on your computer, and it alerts you when people have questions. You can use this for support, or just to allow your site visitors to chat with you directly. When you're not there, the link automatically changes into an e-mail link. I've used it (from the "site visitor" end and it worked just fine). It's certainly something to try if you want to communicate more closely with your site visitors, and don't mind them interrupting you on a regular basis!

Charity Begins At Home Page

One of the toughest jobs any 501(c)(3) charitable organizations has to do is to raise money. A friend told me about a new way US-based charities can collect online donations. http://www.charitableway.com/ charges nothing for charities to join, then "Charitableway covers its costs by charging its member charities an agreed-upon amount of every donation, which never exceeds 10% of the donation."

In return , Charitableway.com provides donors a transaction record and email with confirmation numbers as an audit trail. They automate audit trails, reporting, tracking, and interfacing with financial institutions. They are even working on matching fund programs. I have not used them personally, and I do not know anyone who has, so if you work with a charity you should take care in checking them out—but they certainly appear to be a fast, easy, inexpensive way for charities to start collecting donations online.

Also check out www.helping.org an AOL site that also lets charities fund raise online, at no cost to them.

Get yer domain name here!

Do you mean to tell me you don't own a domain name yet? How can that be? For my birthday last year I got two (I am NOT kidding). While it's getting harder and harder to find one that isn't already taken, it's getting easier and less expensive to register and manage one. I've always been a fan of Register.com because I've found it so much faster (and more responsive!) than the others.

Now I use http://netobjects.register.com - it not only makes it easy to sign up for a domain name, it costs only $35 a year for a .com, .net or .org. That even includes "parking" the name. It takes about three minutes and is no harder than ordering a book online. Once you have it, their "Manage my domain" system lets you point it to your web site quickly and easily—and move it if you move ISPs. I've found this much faster and more efficient than waiting for my ISP to handle it. So try it! I'm sure there are still a lot of good names (if you're creative!). Actually, sometimes you'd be surprised at what's still available. But don't walk, click, to http://netobjects.register.com


Flash On Flash
flashforward2000 and Flash(TM) Film Festival the world's most comprehensive Flash solutions conference, expo and film festival runs March 27-29, 2000 in San Francisco. Produced by lynda.com and United Digital Artists. Visit www.flashforward2000.com or call 877.4.FLASH.4

Stay informed...
With the FREE tips, tricks, and other information you need to make the most of your hardware, software, and time online with this lively and spam-proof e-newsletter from computer author and editor Fred Langa. FREE Sample Issue/Subscription: send email to subscribe-ef@langa.com

Free E-Mail For Designers
The International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda) is the professional world body for graphic design and visual communications. Founded in London in 1963, Icograda has more than 60 member associations in 40 countries, representing tens of thousands of practicing designers, design educators, and design managers around the globe.

To subscribe to Icograda's weekly EmailNews, contact the Icograda Secretariat in Brussels via e-mail at secretariat@icograda.org. Icograda's EmailNews brings you the latest in graphic design news, and connects you with conferences, exhibitions, workshops, and design events around the world. Plan to attend the Icograda Millennium Congress "Oullim - the Great Harmony" in Seoul, Korea, October 24 - 27, 2000? Visit http://www.oullim.org or email oullim@kidp.or.kr for more information.

Free Email For The Creative Pro

Visual Arts Trends eS is a free biweekly email supplement to Visual Arts Trends, a quarterly "state of the industry" report for the creative professional.

Each issue of Visual Arts Trends eS is divided into three sections: spotlightTREND (reviews and analyzes a problematic or controversial issue and suggests potential solutions), form&FUNCTION (profiles websites that exemplify good design and offer products and services useful for commercial artists), and new@HOME (includes news and updates from VisualArtsTrends.com, such as summaries of new articles, trend-setting creative industry news updates, and details on special offers). To subscribe, for free, go to http://www.visualartstrends.com/eS/eS.html  


And... if you've been wondering who has won the eFuse.com Time Capsule contest, well, so have I! It turned out we had so many entries it's taking me much longer than expected to visit them all (yes, I'm visiting them all, personally), and choose the winners. I was hoping to have that done for this issue, but I still have 275 to go and I have to look at them in small batches otherwise my eyes glaze over and I start running into walls (both literally and metaphorically)! So I'll announce it as soon as I've seen them all!

Feed The Hungry With Just A Click

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, it costs you nothing and it can do a world of good.

One Final Word

I know *someone* is going to e-mail me and say "you're all wet," I'm just waiting...




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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.