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I hope so...

Little did I know how little I knew. Three years ago I saw a new year coming, and I couldn't envision how it would turn out. I didn't have a dream. I didn't have a plan. I didn't have hope.

That's when I got very sick. I'm not one of those people who think "you make yourself sick," but I do think that I made myself susceptible to getting sick. How? I was afraid. No, I was sore afraid.

Three years ago, despite my having kept up with the times, having been on the cutting edge and moving my business to the web, the changing economy was putting my long-time clients out of business, things were uncertain, and it took its toll on me.

Looking back on it, my wife says my perception didn't jive with reality, but back then I couldn't see six months ahead, much less 6 years. I couldn't imagine it. I couldn't even day dream it. It was like the world was flat, and I was sailing off the edge. And it was so exhausting that my body couldn't fight what I got. And it just got worse, and worse, and worse.

Instead of having faith that I would get better, I just had fear that I would continue to get worse. I wasn't afraid of dying. I was afraid of not living. I was afraid of letting my family down. I was afraid of not being able to do what I thought I was capable of doing.

I had literally forgotten how to dream. I used to have elaborate, interesting dreams, but during this time I just slept. I used to have entertaining day dreams, but at this point I was too realistic. The dreams sank under all the reasons why they were impossible.

As I got sicker, and a dark future looked closer every day, I became angry and envious of other people's enthusiasm and energy. There was one particular commercial where the people were so happy about buying and installing car parts that it made me cry. I wanted to be that excited about a brake shoe—even if it meant wearing one.

Finally I stopped believing I could get well again. My doctors never told me I could. They only said they could cut big parts out of me. Hope didn't seem like an option. Yet every night before bed, my wife would simply say, "Things will be better tomorrow," and that kept a glimmer of hope alive.

That glimmer got me through. Finally a wonderful doctor said "You can be well again." Hope was once again an option, then a direction, then a force, then reality.

I learned that hope is the ONLY option. Without hope I have nothing. Hope isn't "wishful thinking" of the "if wishes were horses" variety. Hope is the most powerful force in the universe. Hope is faith—in spirit, nature, science, humanity.

What matters is having hope in the future—hope that we will wake up tomorrow to a better day. Hope IS the future—the only future worth having.

Around this time of year, when I want to be appreciative that I'm now totally healthy and hopeful about tomorrow, it gets colder, and darker. And despite celebrations, I somehow see more things that seem hopeless. Injustice. Hunger. War. Age-old issues we humans have yet to rise above.

I would have thought that 2000 years AD (or in the year 5761 in the Hebrew calendar) we, as a species, we would have been more together than we are. But that's just an expectation. Expectations usually only lead to disappointment.

At times like this, I know I have a choice now. I can be afraid, or I can be hopeful. I choose hope. 

I wish you hope.

daniel will-harris

editor, www.efuse.com and www.FuseLetter.com

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Get Found On Search Sites

The last I read, over 85% of people use online use search engines to find what they're looking for. I know I do. So how do you get listed on them all? SubmitWizard, a NetObjects Matrix Service, submits your site to over 200 search engines and directories and helps your site get the exposure you've been looking for. SubmitWizard helps drive visitors to your site by automatically registering your site with Yahoo!, Excite, Alta Vista, Lycos, and the ever-popular "many more." The cost is as low as $59 for two URLs.

If you use NetObjects Fusion 5.0, simply visit the built-in Online View to get started. If you're using something else, you can still take advantage of this by going here: http://myservices.netobjects.com

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Tip: Open A New Window

Do you want to create a link that opens a new browser window when you click it? It's easy.

In NetObjects Fusion:

Add "target="_blank to the end of your link

So the link would look like:

http://www.efuse.com "target="_blank

Notes: The quotes are vital, they must be before and after "Target=". The link may not preview correctly, but when you publish the page (locally or remotely), it will open a new window when clicked.

IN HTML:

Add Target=_blank to the end of the link, like this:

<a ref= http://www.efuse.com target=_blank>

This is an easy way to keep my site on their browser even if they followed a link to another site. This works better in Internet Explorer than in Netscape, because in IE the "back" button will still return people to your site. In Netscape you won't be able to use the back button, and this can confuse beginners.

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A Few Of My Favorite Things

Since it's the time of year for giving, I'm going to give you a few of my favorite services on the web:

COMPUTER-LESS WEB: http://www.TELLME.com - it's a new way to access a lot of web information over any TELEPHONE.

You sign up (for free) at their web site, then when you want to use the service, you just call 1-800-555-tell (currently in the US only) and then literally tell it what you want to hear. TellMe doesn't require "press 1 for blah, press 2 for blah blah..." kind of stuff. It uses voice recognition to understand what you're saying and respond. Neat, huh? It's all free (you have to listen to short ads, but it's worth it).

You can find movie listings, restaurants, the weather anywhere in the U.S.. It's great when traveling or in your own neighborhood. An amazing new feature is Driving Directions. Tell it where you are and where you want to go, and it tells you step-by-step directions.

You can get news, stock quotes, traffic reports, horoscopes, and there's even a phone booth feature that gives you free two minute long distance calls. Tellme's extension feature lets anyone tap into their system to extend your own site to the phone. Behold the future.

COMPUTER-LESS EMAIL: http://www.onebox.com - This is not only a great free web-based email system, it also reads your e-mail to you over the phone, and lets you send voice mail to anyone's e-mail box. Their computer has to have speakers, but otherwise, it seems that all e-mail systems can accept this efficient voice mail. You also get a phone number where people can leave you voice mail you can retrieve over the phone, or through your OneBox online. It can even pull mail from your regular e-mail system (except for AOL), so you can listen to your e-mail wherever you are, without a computer. It's all free. A paid version is available with additional perks. Who said you needed a computer?

http://www.Ofoto.com - Since getting my new Olympus digital camera (the 3030, I highly recommend it—it gives you all the control of a real camera, only digital), I am taking a LOT of pictures. And I've found that the simplest way to share them (with simple efficient online slide shows) and get true photographic-quality prints is through a site called oFoto. You can even send in regular film and they'll post the pictures online and let you order reprints. Sign up and get 50 free pictures.

http://www.imdb.com - The Internet Movie Database has listings for virtually every movie ever made, with credits and reviews from people like you and me. There are online movie trailers (even one for the movie I had a big part in—you'll have to find that yourself), and it's a wonderful way to get more info on a film, or learn more about the cast and crew.

http://www.thehungersite.com - How smart and kind is this site? All you do is click, and you donate food, at no cost to you. Advertisers pay—and also get a much higher "clickthrough" (which means people click on their ads) than anywhere else. And they keep expanding this model to help more people in more ways. It's good ideas like this that can really make a difference.

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Low-Tech High-Tech

I like "old fashioned" plain ASCII e-mail. And one of the fun things people did way back when there were 300 baud modems (something I remember—eeg), was to make the most of the characters on the keyboard—because that's all we had. People made amazing pictures and even "fonts."

I've always had an ASCII "signature," and, now I've created an entire ASCII alphabet you can use to make your own e-mail signature. For example, here's the name DAVID:

]) /\ \/ | ])

Yes, some people won't have the slightest idea of what it means, but it's still a fun, retro way to sign your e-mail and a way to add some personality to your business' email.

This alphabet only uses characters on the keyboard because those are the only ones that are cross platform. But since some letters are almost impossible to do this way, I have created some alternates that use "high-ASCII" characters (This doesn't mean the characters are on something, it just means that they're above ASCII 128--they will only look right on the kind of computer you used—so the symbols I've used in this message will look right under Windows, but not on the Mac).

These alts will only look right to people who use the same operating system (such as Windows, Mac or Linux) as yourself. This was written under Windows, so if you use Windows the alts will look OK, and if you use something else they'll probably just look odd.

I haven't figured out how to do an S or Z in one line, low-ascii. If you have a suggestion, e-mail me! Have fun with them.

A = /\ B = |:
C = (
D = |)
E = (-   _
F= |= or |- 
G = (,
H= |-| or |.|
I = |
J = _| or .|
K = |+ or  |~',
L = |_ or |..
M = |\/|
N = |\|
O = () or <>
P = |*
Q = (,)
R = |*.  or high ascii |°
S = (    or high ascii ?¿  or ',
     )
         _
T = + or |  or ^|^  or high ascii ¯|¯
U = |_| or |.|
V = \/
W = \/\/ or \|/
X = )( or }{
Y = '|' or \ / or high ascii '|'
           |
Z = >
   <
And here are some fun ASCII character links:

 

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Lower Your Energy Costs

If you live in the US—especially California, Oregon and Washington, then you've heard about power shortages, and seen your electric and gas prices rising fast. For our "new economy" that relies so heavily on computers, electricity is an integral part of the business.

In states that have have "deregulation," you can now select what company generates your power—and how they generate it. I visited http://www.energyguide.com and found a company in my area that uses environmentally sound renewable resources and costs 20% less than the normal large power company. So go to the site, enter your zip code, and see if there isn't a cleaner and cheaper way to get power where you live.

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Free Fonts

Want some new free fonts that are optimized for reading on-screen? You can get an elegant sans serif called Berling Antiqua, as well as a classic sans serif, Frutiger, and even some dingbats called Bookdings. How? Just download Microsoft's free "Reader" their new e-book software. The fonts are installed automatically. What about the reader? Eh. I think e-books are going to be big in the future but right now just aren't practical or inexpensive enough. But hey, the fonts are neat. http://www.microsoft.com/reader/

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Share Your Old Computer
With Someone Needs It

If you're getting a new computer this holiday season, why not think about donating your old one to someone who could use it.

You can contact local schools and see if they can use computers, or check out these non-profit services:

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A Thought For Christmas

My niece, Ocea, sent me this (I don't know who wrote it)

Do you know what would have happened
If there had been Three Wise Women
Instead of Three Wise Men?
They would have asked directions,
Arrived on time,
Helped deliver the baby,
Cleaned the stable,
Made a casserole, brought practical gifts and there would be Peace on Earth.

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do good for free with just a click

NOW is the time to visit these sites, and click to donate for free.

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One Final Word

"Kiss the joy as it flies"

_\\                   
  \ \  _         _
   //// \   //// \\
   /// _   \////
  //     - _ ..)   -- William Blake
             \|

Happy Holidays.

Daniel Will-Harris

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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.