The color of digital money

I still don't quite understand how money works. I remember my mother taking me to open my first bank account. I only wanted one because when you opened an account, the savings and loan gave you a coin bank in the shape of a Ford Model T.

I handed over my $5 and in return the nice teller presented me with the car, and a little blue bank book. My mom got up and we were leaving and I said, "Where's my money?"

The teller said, "In the bank." I shook the toy car bank and heard nothing. I started to get cranky. "No it's not," I said, getting all teary-eyed. " "It's in *our* bank," she said.

I looked at the car. I looked at her. I looked at the little blue book. And then, at the top of my lungs, I screamed, "I gave you five dollars and all you gave me was this stupid little book!"

The young woman explained that they kept my money for safekeeping, and when I wanted it back, all I had to was show them the book. It sounded like a racket to me. I showed her the book and said I wanted it back—now. She said, "all right, but you'll have to give me back the book and the car."

My brain froze. This was too complicated for a five year old. Money. Car. Book. Book. Money. Car. What did these people want from me? I wanted the money. I wanted the car. And now I even liked the little blue book because it was the littlest book I'd ever seen and it had gold stamped on the cover.

I decided to outsmart them all. I'd take the book and car now. Then I'd come back tomorrow and get the money. I put the little blue book in a place so special I immediately forgot where it was. But I loved the car and still have it in a box in the garage (which, given the fact that we have a couple hundred boxes, is like saying, "It's somewhere in the state of California").

My wife will tell you that my grasp of money hasn't improved much since then. I know if you do something people want, then they'll give you money. And I know money is necessary to get toys, but that's about as far as my comprehension has ever progressed.

It must be even more confusing for kids today. Often there's not even any actual money—just numbers on a screen. As the web progresses, payment systems like Paypal let anyone send money to anyone else, via e-mail. You can probably understand that. But what about kids? How hard must it be to understand that you can type $20 in one place and it means nothing, but if you type it in another it means you get a genuine birchwood model of a T. Rex?

When young web designers and builders ask me how to get their start, I tell them to start by trading. Build a web site for a local restaurant or store in trade for food or toys (though I tend to say "peripherals" which is the new word for toys). Not only can you learn a lot by working directly with a local business person, but you get something tangible out of it, not just some numbers on a screen.

Because, as little as I know about money, I do know this much, courtesy of Thornton Wilder's play, The Matchmaker: "Money is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow!"


Workflow, Part II
Organizing Your Files And Folders

At eFuse.com, we add new articles on a regular basis—every two weeks. That adds up to a lot of articles and illustrations in a lot of files. If you don't keep track of these, you can end up with either hundreds of files all over your hard disk (making it next to impossible to find things), or one gigantic directory with hundreds of files in it (slowing down your computer). Either way, it's messy. The simplest way to keep track of your articles is to start making and methodically using folders on your hard disk. Iメll tell you how, read all about it.

It's A Pixel Eat Pixel World
(can you protect yourself?)

Your content on the web may be copyrighted, but that doesn't mean it's safe by any stretch of the imagination. Mary Carter tells you about technology that can help you protect your intellectual property— and why this technology may not be all it's cracked up to be. Read the article.


Free Forms Processing

Today one of the big buzz words is ASP. This stands for "Application Service Provider," and it means that you are getting a service through the web. One of those services which I relied on and recommended was response-o-matic.com

But one of the dangers of using any kind of service provider is that if they go out of business, you're stuck. That's what's happened with http://www.response-o-matic.com —the simple and free way to process your forms on the web without having to learn how to code.

Some idiot spammer sent out millions of e-mails that *claimed* to be from Response-o-matic but were not. This so overwhelmed and disgusted the owner of Response-o-matic, that they simply gave up—they said they were closing down for good. Happily, they are back up today.

Their trouble was caused by spammers—people who were doing the wrong thing and knew it and so they usurped someone else's domain name. It's just another example of how Spammers are evil and cost us all time money with their "free" e-mail! Read why spamming is bad, and how you can avoid doing it yourself.

It's great that Response-o-matic is back online, but what do you do if they disappear? Response-o-matic points you to http://www.cgi-resources.com/ but if you are like me and any kind of programming gives you a headache, this isn't much help.

If you use NetObjects Fusion, coolmaps has a component called the "Club Mailer" which processes forms easily and e-mails you the results.

The Club Mailer component is included in a standard membership that costs $39 per year ($10 off the normal membership price). Sign up for a free trial membership.

Then upgrade to a standard membership. The standard membership includes Club Mailer, Club Poll (for easily adding polls to your site), Webbies (get listed on their web developer map), xChange (advertise your biz on CCC and other member sites), and discounts in their software store.

Their Gold membership costs $230 (a $19 savings if you first sign up as a guest) and includes _all_ their components and services.

The most through system for forms processing is www.Boomasoft.com WebForms. Not only does it build forms, but it then creates a database of responses. You can use this database to communicate with your customers. There's no coding of any kind. If you do a lot of forms, it's something to consider for $99.

There are some general purpose free form processing sites, too. I have not personally used these systems, so I can only say they're there, not how well they work:

http://www.Freedback.com is an advertiser-supported free forms processing system.

http://www.formsite.com/ offers a free level, as well as a $19 a month level (with more features, of course).

So, for now, http://www.response-o-matic.com is alive and useful. But the lesson is—always have a back-up plan.

Jumpola For Designers

Artist, author (and, we think, genius) Chuck Green (he write eFuse.com's The Mix column) couldn't find what he was looking for. He wanted a non-partisan home page with the tools and information a designer uses day-to-day. Can't find it? Do it yourself. In May, Chuck launched the Designer's Jumpola — The ultimate start page for desktop publishers and web designers at Jumpola. Go visit it today!


Microsoft has gone on lately about how they have to be "free to innovate," as if they're the only people on the planet who know how.

In 1997, a group of women on the web created the "Digital Divas." In 1998, they trademarked DigitalDivas and bought the domain name. Their members offer "articles, tutorials and advice about computer and Internet use and applications."

In April 2000, Microsoft launched a web site called digitaldiva.com, offering "articles, how-to tips, and advice on computer and Internet use and applications." How *did* they think of that? Must be all that "innovation" they're so famous for.

The original DigitalDivas sent a "cease and desist" letter to Microsoft, who has yet to respond. You can read more about this, and do what you can to help by visiting http://www.digitaldivas.com/gol

How safe is *your* domain name from "innovation"?

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, and it costs nothing to you personally. Also visit their Rain Forest Site where a click helps buy land for the Nature Conservancy

One Final Word

I use a lot of italics, but since there are no italics in ASCII e-mail, I've been using _underscores_ like this. A few readers suggested I try using *asterisks* instead, like *this* so I'm trying it. If you have any preferences, let _me_ know! And if you're healthy and happy, be grateful and try to spread it around ;-)



Like the stories? Buy the book!

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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.