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The Land Of Lost Things

I've lost my glasses. So if I've made spelling errors here you'll understand. Text on-screen looks kind of like I'm viewing it through the same misty lens that shoots Liz Taylor perfume commercials.

I've looked everywhere. Well, clearly not everywhere or I would have found them, because they must be here somewhere. I haven't looked under the bed... wait, I'll go look.... Nope. Lots of interesting things (thankfully none of them alive) but no glasses.

I do have some glasses on. They're so old and big that I look like Elton John unplugged—a scary thought. The frames are clear plastic with a kind of pink tint and the lenses are so big they cover my face from forehead to upper lip. Thankfully, the prescription isn't as strong as what I need now, so I can't see exactly how stupid I look. What was I thinking when I bought them? I must have thought they looked good. I guess other people didn't notice because they'd been overcome by polyester.

I can't find my real spare pair, which have the right prescription. I can only find this old pair I no longer want and keep meaning to donate to people who don't mind looking like they're ready to boogie. Oh—if my real spare is missing, maybe I can find my regular ones.

See, I have a theory about lost things. I believe there's some kind of "Dimension L" (for lost) where things go for a little vacation from dust and us. At least one thing we own always has to be in this special dimension at any given time. Luckily, this doesn't seem to be the case with files on my hard disk (wait, I'm knocking on wood, I don't want to tempt fate).

So while looking for my glasses, I've found many things I lost and looked for without success in the past and no longer need. I don't know why I can find things I don't want—but not those I do. Why don't I throw most of this stuff out? I have a dream of putting a dumpster in front of the house and throwing things directly out of my window, like in a wild French movie called "Betty Blue." Wait—I thought my Chap Stick had gone to the nether regions of time and space so I bought another, now here it is, looking quite relaxed and fresh, and maybe even a little tan.

I can find these things that were previously lost, because my glasses have, apparently, taken their place in the "Land of Lost Things." I hope they're happy there. I also hope I lose something else soon, perhaps my car keys (they always seem to enjoy a good rest) so that I can find the glasses again.

OK, the trick is to look for something else. I know—I'm going to look for a notebook filled with notes I make in the middle of the night using the pen I bought that lights up with an alien green light. Naturally the notebook should be right by the bed but no. That's good!

Maybe I was trying to decipher the contents which, in the morning light, tend to look like some dead language. Ah, here it is, too bad. I was hoping it would be gone, so that it could take the place of my glasses which would mysteriously reappear on my desk where I know I left them. But wait—the pen is gone. That's a good sign. Now maybe there's a chance to find the glasses.

I know—I'll find them the last place I look. Isn't that an idiotic saying—of course I will, because once I find them, I can stop looking!

Maybe I left them somewhere near the shower. I don't wear my glasses in the shower because there's nothing there I need to see clearly, in fact, it's better if I don't see anything in there clearly.

Nope. OK, now I've sacrificed my alien pen and still no glasses. I'm just going to give up—that'll be very Zen of me. Once I stop wanting something so badly I can find it. I think while I'm at it I'll stop wanting to win 60 million dollars in the lottery.

And there they are. Under a stack of mail I'm now throwing out. I looked through that stack three times, and, well, it doesn't matter, there they are. Now if I could only lose something else so I could find my spare pair. No, I'd better not press my luck.

At least I know where everything is on my hard disk (and when I don't, a simple Start/Find can locate it for me). And I back up every day so I don't lose anything (you should be backing up, too, before you have to learn the hard way).

While losing something in the real world is annoying, on your computer it can be devastating and mean weeks or months of lost work. Most people only seem to learn this hard way, by losing something vital. Don't be one of them (see info below about backing up). Now, If only I'd backed up a spare pair of glasses...

I wonder if, when you lose your mind, you find everything else. That's just a thought—I'm not willing to try it  just yet.

Daniel Will-Harris 

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Who's keeping score? You should be

No matter what you've lost around the house, you should be keeping track of your visitors. And where they're from. And what they're looking at. And how long they're online. And how they found your site. And what search engines and keywords they used to get to your site.

You can learn all this (and more) with http://myservices.netobjects.com 's "SuperStats" system. This industrial-strength service is used by large sites such as jobs.com and twa.com—and yet, it's easy enough for anyone to use.

SuperStats offers the most robust reporting of any site statistics application. Unlike other web-based stat systems that just track one page, SuperStats tracks your entire site.

SuperStats, powered by MyComputer.com, is the best way to monitor site traffic, measure online behavior, and profile visitors. Visit http://myservices.netobjects.com to sign up.

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Don't lose it—back it up!

A good friend was visiting this weekend, and admitted to me he didn't backup his work on the computer. I was shocked and concerned for him, just as I'm concerned for you if you don't backup every day.

If you don't back up, you will lose something—from vital contact lists for your business, to personal photos from your digital camera.

But it doesn't have to be that way. The simplest way to back up is to a ZIP drive, if you have one. I use Windows' Find feature to find just the files that changed today. I tell it to look for: *.doc; *.xar; *.nod, *.ppt; *.txt; *.fla (those are my major file formats) and on the "date" tab I select "during the previous one day." I save this search by choosing "File/Save Search" and then I have a shortcut on my desktop that will let me search for today's files—every day.

I keep two ZIP disks just for backup. I use Disk A on odd numbered days, and Disk B on even numbered days (I know that sounds anal, but it's really not, you want at least two backup disks so that if something happens to one, you have a spare). I can drag the files from the search box directly onto my zip drive, and voila, I'm backed up in a matter of seconds.

Because I really don't want to lose my backups, I also use a web-based backup system, http://www.connected.com (click on pricing to see options from $6.95 a month) . This systems securely saves your files to not one, but two separate report facilities. It uses encryption so that even Connected can't read your files. You can then restore them over the web, or have them send you a CD if you need it. It only backs up the changes, so even large files don't take long to update. It also makes it easier to find backed up files because you don't have to look on countless ZIPs and CDs—and it's safer in case something happens to the place where you're storing your own backup disks (like yesterday's earthquake in Seattle).

If you use NetObjects Fusion, you should get in the habit of keeping all files associated with your site in your assets directory (which is under the site directory that contains the .NOD file). This way you can backup the entire site directory at once (but remember, you need to put it back in the same place you got it in order to open it correctly).

I also recommend you export to a template on a regular basis, then back up that entire template directory. That ensures that your style files are all there, too. Trust me on this one, I learned the hard way :) Go to Site View. Choose File/Export to template. Then choose a directory and your template will be created in a new directory under it.

Don't wait and learn the hard way by losing a lot of work. People who don't make backups will lose something sooner or later. People who back up regularly sleep better at night!

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FlashForward 2001

Last week I attended the FlashForward conference in San Francisco, a conference entirely about Macromedia Flash. I'll be writing more about Flash in the future because it's smart technology that can add useful animation and interactivity to your site. Flash files drop right into NetObjects Fusion and other web creation programs, too.

Normally industry conferences can annoy me but the FlashForward conference was terrific. I learned something useful in every session, and I saw truly ground-breaking work that shows new directions for the web.

I highly recommend FlashForward if you're interested in Flash and how it can help your site and your business. The next conferences will be in New York City July 11th through the 13th, and in Amsterdam from October 31st through November 2nd. To read more, go to www.flashforward2001.com

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Easy web graphics? Really?

Creating attractive web graphics normally requires you to learn a complicated graphics program. But there are programs that make it quick and easy.

NetStudio lets you simply create and customize web banners, buttons, navigation bars, backgrounds, fancy text, logos and more. Choose from hundreds of different web design templates and customize them with your own photos, colors, and typefaces. NetStudio normally sells for $99.00, but FuseLetter readers get $20 off.  To learn more and take advantage of this special offer, go to https://www.netstudio.com/secure/promo.asp?p=21552

Xara's WebStyle lets you create all sorts of text effects, banners, buttons, bullets and dividers. You put your own words into their templates, customize colors and other choices, and faster than you can say "Dimension L" you've got what you need. $69 from http://www.xara.com/products/webstyle/

Xara also offers an online system you use through your browser. It's also a great way to create text effects, banners, buttons, and the site also includes other web-based services. Try them for free: http://www.zymodules.com

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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. Visit their advertisers, too, so they'll keep supporting these good causes.

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One more thing...

This is a great quote which helps put little lost things in perspective:

    Nobody trips over mountains.
    It is the small pebble
    that causes you to stumble. 
    Pass all the pebbles in your path
    and you will have crossed the mountain.

(I wish I'd written it, but the author is unknown)

    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.