I'm flying!

When's the last time you were weightless? Or head-over-heels? Or flying without an airplane (or chemical substances).

I was upside down 18 times last Tuesday. I went from weightless to experiencing 3G's. I linked arms with a friend and we lived through a 150-foot free-fall without a net.

And you can do it, too.

You don't have to be an astronaut, or sky diver or bungee jumper. You can experience all those things at a place that's probably not too far from you. Since many of us spend a lot of our time sitting at a desk, moving mostly only our hands, sometimes it's good to go out and get all shook up.

And as much as I love the fact that our minds can now go virtually anywhere around the world—it is not the same as strapping yourself down in a roller coaster and doing loop-the-loops and corkscrews.

All of which makes you feel like a cross between a soaring bird and a rat trapped in a washing machine's spin cycle.

At this particular park there was this huge steel arch you could see from all over. Hanging from the arch was one thin metal cable. Occasionally some brave soul would dangle from this thread, be hoisted 153 feet in the air, then dropped, like a stone. They'd swing back and forth in giant arcs like the pendulum of a grandfather clock 15 stories high.

I was there with my niece, Ocea (a very mature 22), and my good friend Pete from Australia. Occasionally we'd stop and look at this thing and wonder who was crazy enough to subject themselves to it. There were no big tracks. No heavy metal supports or braces. Just this thin string, dropping you from the sky. It seemed out of place—too simple.

We watched, up close, while a person turned into a dot. Then we heard a click and they turned into a nut on a string.

Ocea, who wants to be on Survivor (and could be because she's fearless), said, "I'll do it!" Pete and I looked at each other like she was mad. She never looked scared—she just hopped into the harness, walked proudly up to the thing and waved, happily. They hoisted her in the air, dropped her, and she *flew.* When she finally reached earth again she said, "That was awesome!"

I looked at Pete and said "We *need* to do this." Pete looked at me like I was insane and cheerfully said, "OK." We decided to go as a team. We got into the harnesses, walked up to the giant arch (think McDonalds x 100), and kept asking each other, "Why are we doing this?"

Suddenly *we* were the brave-nuts, dangling from the thread, being pulled 17 stories into the air. And it was lovely. It was relaxing. Yes, it was high. Yes we were hanging on by a thread. But the view was beautiful. It was quiet. Peaceful. Not at all scary.

Then we dropped—weightless for a moment—and this, too was beautiful (even though I seem to remember saying "Holy Crap," as we fell). We were like birds swinging in huge arcs, swooping down just six feet over the grass, then flying up over the trees. It's was wonderful. Back on land, our feet still didn't touch the ground.

It reminded me that things often look a lot scarier than they really are—and sometimes what looks scary is actually bliss.

So be a brave-nut this summer, and try something you're afraid to do. It's a good change from sitting in front of a keyboard. Enjoy the ride.


Coloring Outside The Lines

Color is all around us. Almost all of us can see it (even when swinging from a cable over the trees—unless our eyes are closed). And almost all of us tend to take it for granted. So when it's time for us to decide what color to *use* for our web sites, a lot of us wonder if we couldn't just get by with black and white.

Color can be a complicated, and confusing topic. But Mary E. Carter, artist and author, starts her series of articles designed to help you get started—right now—selecting colors for your site. She explains, in plain English, the basics of color, and gives you instant tips to help you be colorful without being off-color. Her color theory is sugar-coated to make it more palette-able. In no time at all, you'll be coloring inside and outside the lines. Read all about it.

To grow or not to grow your business?

If you started your business as many of us started ours, you did it because you enjoyed it. But now, you find yourself running at full tilt and the idea of expansion keeps flashing in front of your eyes so you can keep up. But sometimes growing your business doesn't end up meaning you have more time—there are a lot of tradeoffs to consider.

David Lewis, our eBizman on campus, covers the many things to consider when deciding on your businesses next step. Things like ... Do you really want to be bigger? Who do you hire? How much will it cost you to grow? How fast should you grow? David will help you decide.



Click A Mile On Their Screen

If you've ever tried to explain the color blue to someone in e-mail or over the phone, or struggled to help a friend do a particular task in their software, or tried to work with a client to make changes on a site or a design, then you know how frustrating it can be to work remotely with just your phone and e-mail.

You probably also know the "joys" of face-to-face meetings—getting there on time through traffic. Being trapped in a badly ventilated, windowless room with people who have half-closed eyes and rumbling stomachs.

(Here's a face-to-face meeting tip, courtesy of my wife, who knows all: If you don't want a meeting to drag on—make everyone stand up the whole time. People will get tired of this after a few minutes and you'll be surprised how fast things will get wrapped up. Also have a written agenda and stick to it!)

But now there's a better way. WebEx comes to the rescue and allows any business to hold a virtual meeting for free, with up to four people, or for a fee for larger meetings.

Free meetings are limited to four people and 10 minutes—but it's surprising how much you can get done in that time. You can draw on the screen for everyone to see, and use the chat feature to type in real time.

You can show presentations, and even share screens—so that they can see (and use) your screen and computer—or you can see and use theirs (you always have to give permission, so there's no fear of someone taking over your computer without your knowledge).

I find it best to actually talk to someone on the phone while I'm using this—and of course you have to pay for the phone call—but that's a small price to pay to avoid hours on the freeway (or in airports and airplanes) and endless meetings in airless rooms. It's amazing how much you can accomplish this way.

The faster your connection, the smoother it all works, but I've used it with 56K connections and it works fine. It's incredibly useful for anyone who does business remotely—and in the future more meetings will take place this way.

If you want to show and share you screen on a non-business basis, you should try BuddyHelp, the meetings are limited to one other person, but there's no time limit. I found this software simpler and faster than webex (then again, it has fewer features).

I've used it several times recently with friends—and it worked perfectly. Even beginners can use it. BuddyHelp is intended for personal use only. If you want to use it for business, you need to buy the software from DesktopStreaming.

Both WebEx and BuddyHelp are the best of their kind—they're easy to use and really work. And once you've used them, you will wonder how you ever got along without them.

Getting Flashy Wid It

I'm just delving into the wonders of Macromedia Flash myself (I'll have an article and some examples in the near future). If you use Flash, I've found an excellent learning resource: MoreMagic!

Features include downloadable interfaces, widgets, audio, a Flash database, expert articles and video training. The cost is $19.95/month or  $99.95/year. Created by the authors of the best-selling 'Flash 4 Magic' book, this excellent website offers a wide range of original content and a vault of downloadable 'actionscripts'. The service is updated frequently and is a highly useful resource if you use Flash. Join by visiting: MoreMagic!

A Simple Way To Raise Money (For Free)

Last week, I wrote about Trevor Lyman's HungerSearch, a search engine that raises money for the hungry every time a person uses it. I thought this was a great idea—because it uses the goto.com search engine's affiliate program to donate money for every search.

I asked Trevor to explain how it works:

"Goto has affiliate programs for searching, shopping and auctions. I used the one for searching, because it's something people do every day. They have two plans: one pays $7.50 - $10.50 per 1,000 searches performed and the other pays $.03 per click through (every time someone does a search *then* clicks on a link).

On a small scale, say it's only used by just the people in your own organization, it has modest, but useful returns: If just ten people use the search site you set up each day and visit an average of ten websites each, you would have one hundred clicks (that's three dollars per day), and ninety extra dollars per month.

A non-profit group can use this as a way for everyone involved to donate—doing something they'd do anyway! Also, each time someone searches, they're reminded of your cause (and putting a separate donation link on your search page could lead to more direct donations).

A high school could raise money for programs, activities, theatrical events, band uniforms, and perhaps the prom or year book could be free. Families could use this to raise money for college. It really does add up.

If you get the word out to people who support your group, then more people do more searches and the potential donations grow.

To get started, go to gotoメs affiliate information:  read the instructions, cut and paste some HTML and get started. And don't forget http://www.hungersearch.com !"

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do good for free with just a click

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One Final Word

If you want to fly at an amusement park, too, take a day off, in the middle of the week. Fewer people. Less waiting around. If you call it therapy, can you count it as a sick day . . . :)



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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.