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Tme Out

You would never know by looking at me what an exciting life I lead. Last week I had another close call—Yet this dangerous experience seemed oddly normal. At no time was I ever floating above my body, looking down. I saw no white light, well, except maybe for a headlight.

I was driving home and I realized my car wasn't centered on the road. I tried to get back between the lines, but the steering felt loose. Then, in a dream-like way that was all too real, I found that I could turn the steering wheel all I wanted, but it wasn't steering the car. In fact, the wheel spun freely like the red plastic one I had on my crib as a baby.

Luckily I wasn't going too fast. The road sloped to the right towards a ditch, so that's where I went. Better there than if I'd been driving on the freeway, or on a road that tilted into oncoming traffic.

And that was that. Not exciting, just potentially deadly. Maybe I keep having these near-death experiences because I'm a slow learner. My friend Molli suggested that I have them just to prove to myself that someone is watching over me. I like Molli's take better than mine. Either way, I'm once again thankful.

I was fine for two days. Then I got scared. Since then, time has been all out of whack. One example: I realized it was almost the end of the year. I don't know about you, but to me it feels like April.

The past week, with all this election stuff has seemed endless (don't worry, I'm not going to talk about politics). What I expected to happen overnight has taken a week, and life feels like one of those soap operas where it takes two weeks of shows to get through a single day of story.

When I was a kid, I remember adults saying, "time goes faster as you get older," but I couldn't imagine how that worked. Now here I am, an adult, and I can.

I have a theory about this: When you're young, you haven't lived many days. So each day is a larger percentage of your life. When you get older, you've lived many days, so each day is a smaller percentage of your life.

Do the math: Say you're ten years old. You remember being ten, don't you? If not, stop right now, take a nap or have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and remember. It wasn't that long ago, especially in geologic time.

When you were ten, each day was 1/3,650th of your life. At 30 (if you're not 30 yet, just play along, because if you're lucky, you'll be 30, and it will happen before you know it), the days feel only 30% as long as they were at ten. By 40, you've lived 14,600 days, so now each day seems 25% shorter than when you were 30--and it takes about four 40-year-old days to feel like ten-year-old day.

And yet—time is relative. If you've ever been in an accident, then you can remember how time moves in ultra-slow-motion. Maybe if I paid more attention, I could feel time like I did when I was 10.

Before you get depressed, there is an up-side to all this. The older you are, the more experiences you have, so the more you can relate to. So at 40, you should be able to understand and appreciate things 400% more than you did when you were ten. At least, that's my theory.

I spend a lot of time on the web. (Just think about the term "spending time.") I enjoy it, and it's become a vital part of my life, and livelihood. As you have surely learned first hand, time flies when you're online. And the longer you're online, the harder it gets to wait for slow pages, for sites that aren't clear about what they do, or for badly designed sites where you can't find what you want. So be kind to your site visitor and try to take as little of their time as possible. I now officially apologize for this intro being long and taking up so much time.

I don't know about you, but the universe keeps telling me to stop and be thankful for the time I've had, and be hopeful about the time to come.

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Time Is Money

When you go to a site and have a question, you don't want to have to spend a lot of time looking for answers. You don't even want to send e-mail and wait for a reply. You want what you can get in person, or on the phone—you want an answer now.

Now there's a new way to do this—without tying up a phone line. http://www.livehelper.com gives you both text-chat, and voice-chat (just like talking on the phone, but with no phone charges) you can use for customer service—or any other kind of communication from your site. For free.

Not only can you talk to customers (and they can talk to you), you can direct their browser to a specific page, keep statistics of how much time you spend talking to customers, record your conversations so you can keep track of what their most often asked questions were, even add a link in your e-mail so people can have a real time text or voice chat with you. That's a great way to follow up on an e-mail.

You don't have to buy any hardware or software, and your customer doesn't have to download any special plug-ins. (If you want to use voice chat, both you and your customer must have computers with sound cards and microphones that are properly set up). You can add LiveHelper to your site in about 30 minutes. It's an easy, and free way to help your visitors save time, and help you get more business.

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World Time

As we get more and more global, the world seems to get smaller (I wonder if the weight we gain during the holidays, like the percentage of days to age, also makes the world seem smaller; it certainly makes our clothes seem smaller :)

So it can be important to know what time it is in other countries. I use several resources for this. http://www.worldtimeserver.com/ is a free site that gives you the accurate local time anywhere in the world. You can download a free utility there that lets you sync your PC to an atomic clock for the utmost accuracy.

I work with people all over the planet, and even do specific web-related jobs with my friend Pete in Australia, and Jack in Denmark. I've found the easiest way to tell what time it is in their parts of the world time is a program called http://www.activeearth.com/ . This wonderful program shows you a graphic world map, with actual day and night views. Because the daylight changes with the seasons, ActiveEarth does, too. It's like one of those great world time wall clocks you may have seen in stores, or old James Bond movies.

It also lets you sync your PC's clock to atomic clocks around the world so you really know what time it is. It's a fun and useful program, free for a month, $19.95 to buy after that.

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NetObjects Fusion:
Time-Saving Short Cut—Make Your Page Fit

When you create a page in NetObjects Fusion, the page automatically expands to fit your text. But it doesn't automatically shrink when your content gets shorter. There is, however, an easy way to instantly size your page so it fits your content like a glove.

Just hold down CONTROL AND SHIFT and press L (so you press Control-Shift-L). Think of the "L" for "Layout." This automatically resizes the page so it's just big enough for whatever you have on it.

MasterBorders have a similar feature—you press Control-Shift-M (think of the "M" for MasterBorder.

If you get in the habit of Control-Shift-L every time you've made an edit on the page, then you'll be sure that your page always fits perfectly.

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NetObjects Fusion:
Window Within A Window

Coolmaps' new MagicWindow component lets you create scrollable "windows"

within a web page for displaying text, graphics, links, etc. The example they show probably isn't the best use of this technology, but there are good uses for it—like when you want to get more info into a limited space. To find out more, click here.

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Lunch time? Tasty fonts and site design

If retro if your thing, you can't do better in the type department than the www.fontdiner.com . Their new Lunch Box set includes everything from doggy bag to neon—each face being chock-full-o-style and fun. You get 10 fonts for $28, which means they're priced like it was 1957 (well, actually, in 1957 fonts were really expensive, but now $2.80 per font is a better value than McDonald's, and far more stylin'.) While you're there, look at Stuart Sandler's site design—a brilliant design that looks like a diner, right there on your screen. Now this is tasteful site design! http://www.fontdiner.com

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Just In Time For Thanksgiving

If you're looking for a recipe, I found an excellent site called http://allrecipes.com

They have tens of thousands of user-submitted and third-party recipes. You can even reach this site on your web-enabled cell phone at the market. You can rate recipes, which helps you see which ones worked best for other people. You can even print them in various index-card sizes.  Very handy.

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Do Good For Free With Just A Click

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There are days when I could use a good time warp. I've searched all over the web and can't find where I can buy one. Drat. If you know, let me in on the secret and I'll share it with everyone here.


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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.