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Scientific Karma?

I have my father's laugh but my mother's sense of humor. My mother's temperament and my father's temper. My father's mouth, with my mother's taste.

I think about all this because my birthday is just a week away, and that always reminds me of where I came from, and where I hope I'm headed.

See, I think of genetics as "scientific Karma." We are who we are when we're born—a concoction of the family that came before us, and hopefully a little more than just the sum of their parts. While we all make decisions that define our future, we always make them based on who we were born.

I mean no disrespect to my parents, both of whom are fine examples of the human genome, but I do sometimes wonder whether it was such a good idea for them to mix their genes. I sometimes feel that before they made me they broke the mold.

I shouldn't complain, because if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be sitting here typing this, nor would I have ever discovered the joy of texts. Or trees. Or chocolate for that matter.

And I certainly can't blame them if their genes were a little like oil and Jello—good ingredients on their own, but a questionable recipe when combined. This could explain why I've been called "an acquired-taste." (I just know they're both going to e-mail me and demand to know which one is Oil and which is Jello, but it's just a metaphor!)

This could also explain why I am a Gemini. My wife has suggested that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were Geminis, but I just ignore her. Or I throw things. While I inherited many fine traits, there are times when my Gemini-like nature makes me feel like Siamese twins who each want to go different directions.

So when my birthday comes around, I ask myself, "What am I going to do about me?" I know that sounds kind of selfish but I can't change anyone else, so I might as well try to improve myself.

(To balance out any selfishness, I ask people to donate in my name rather than sending me gifts—this applies to everyone except close friends and family, who I tell exactly what I want, just as I've been doing since I was five—it eliminates those "Oh, wonderful—argyle socks!" disappointments. As I've said, this year I want a big solar panel.)

So I'm going to forgive myself for not being all those things I'm not, like tall or thin or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And I'm going work on learning to accept myself for who I've always been—I might as well—I haven't fundamentally changed since I was five—what makes me think I'm going to change radically now?

(Once again, my wife chimes in to say I sometimes still act like I'm five, and she's right. What she doesn't say is that she acts like she's 16, which isn't necessarily that much more mature.)

In the end, we're all kind of like the John Malkovich in "Being John Malkovich." We have countless little pieces of our ancestors inside us, trying to tell us what to do.

In the ever-present battle between Nature and Nurture, I always bet on Nature. While parents want to believe that they can somehow prune their children into little topiary shapes of their choosing, in reality, kids are who they are, and parents just need to avoid snipping their little buds off before they can bloom.

While it may be hard to change yourself, it's easy to change your web site. You can make it into who you want to be. I finally feel that it's time to give my own site a face lift, and I'll let you know who I turn out to be when my site grows up.

P.S. My wife wishes to state for the record that the above quotes are what I, the emotional-five-year-old heard, rather than what she, the 16-year-old, really said. Nya nya nya . . . blah blah blah.)

dwh sig

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The Best Clip Art—For Free
(And Almost Free)

If you're looking for truly great clip art that doesn't look like clip art and doesn't cost an arm and a leg, look no further than http://www.nvtech.com 's Image Task Force. It's a truly amazing collection of clip art that's so good it doesn't look like clip, just art.

(Tip: Choosing images of the same style helps you present a more consistent image—and makes your graphics look more professional—as if one artist created them all, and Task Force has a feature that lets you find images with the same style).

The collection comes with software that lets you organize, search, even edit colors. You can download their excellent image organizer for free—then download seven groups of free art. Once you do, you will certainly want to buy the entire package. For a mere $39.95, you get over 35,000 top quality images.

I highly recommend this collection, to designers—and non-designers alike! http://www.nvtech.com

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Working With Design Clients
(Including Yourself)

As soon as you decide to redesign your site, or someone else asks you to redesign theirs, you have just entered into a relationship, my friend. And like any relationship, there are problems that crop up.

I recently read some quotes from designers about this relationship, and I though they were so right that you might enjoy reading them, too. Linda Hemenway (lhemenway@santarosa.edu), an instructor of Computer and Information Sciences at Santa Rosa Junior College ( http://www.santarosa.edu/~lhemenw ) asked some professionals to answer questions for her "Business of Web Design" class. Santa Rosa Junior College's training program stresses the use of the Web as a platform to deliver solutions to business problems.

The answers are revealing, educational, and worth your while whether you're a designer, or a client. http://gracie.santarosa.edu/web_training/client-des.htm l

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Fooling Around In Fusion

If your site is already in NetObjects Fusion and you want to experiment without risking your current site, here's a simple tip: Just make a copy of your existing .NOD file in the same directory. Go to the Windows Explorer, select your .NOD file, and choose Edit/Copy. Then choose Edit/Paste. Windows will make a copy of the file called "Copy of your filename." You can now open and play around with this file safely, without fear that you'll change something on your real site. If you like the changes, then just use this site from now on (you can rename it, but don't move it out of the directory it's in). If you don't like your changes, just go back and use your normal .NOD file.

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Fusionize Your Site

I started my personal site so long ago (1995, the stone age in terms of web design) that I had to start building my site with Windows notepad! My site's so big I've never gone back and cleaned it all up and put it in NetObjects Fusion. I'm doing that now and I have some tips for you on how to import your site quickly and efficiently—and so you can take advantage of NetObjects Fusion's automated features.

I recently imported and updated my design section

http://www.will-harris.com/design.htm into NetObjects Fusion, and since doing that I now update it much more often, because it's so much easier. In my experience, investing a few minutes to bring a page into NetObjects Fusion has then saved me hours later on when I needed to edit and update it.

The trick is to remove the content you want to keep from the old page structure you don't. NetObjects Fusion imports pages into one large text box that fills the page area so it looks right, but you can't move anything around. That's frustrating, yet easy to fix.

To import the page, go to site view where you want the page imported, and choose File/Import Web Site. Choose either a local HTML file, or a page on the web. Select "Default MasterBorder." To speed up this practice session, just to important a single page so choose "limit # of pages" to 1 (you can import your entire site later).

I'm assuming that all your page content imported into a single text filled with a table (that's how it usually is), so we're going to remove the imported page/table structure, then paste the text back into a simple text box you can easily manage.

Once the page is imported:

  • DOUBLE click in the table cell that contains the main text on the page.
  • Press ^A to or Edit/Select all, to choose all the body text on the page (but not the table structure).
  • Press ^X (or choose Edit/Cut). This will cut all text and graphics that were highlighted. NetObjects Fusion may ask if you want to cut embedded objects and anchors—answer yes each time it asks. They'll disappear, but be stored in the Windows Clipboard. If something other than what you wanted to cut disappears, press ^Z (or choose Edit/Undo) to bring it back.
  • CLICK OUTSIDE the page in the gray area. (The Properties Palette should says "MasterBorder Properties." If it doesn't, click in the gray area outside the page again.
  • Watch the Properties Palette while you press the TAB key TWICE. Stop when the palette says "Text Properties."
  • Press DELETE. This make virtually all of your page disappear—so don't freak out. This is what you want to happen.
  • Create a new text box. Size it and place it where you want.
  • Press ^V or choose Edit/Paste to paste the text and graphics you cut.
  • Press Control-Shift-L (or choose Object/Size Layout to Objects) to take up any slack on the page.
  • If you had any anchors in the page, double check to make sure they're there. If they're not, put them back.

While that may look like a lot of steps, it takes less than 30 seconds once you get the hang of it. Now you can take full advantage of NetObjects Fusion's MasterBorders and free-form layout, to make your site much easier to update and manage.

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Star Search (no, not that one)

http://club.coolmaps.com/component_detail.cfm?nfx=93

Coolmaps has a new search component for NetObjects Fusion. StarSearch is entirely "client side" which means that the website visitor doesn't need to go out to an other server to get results; it automatically indexes your site every time you publish, and you can combine multiple sites in one index. Coolmaps says "It is a great way to get your visitors to find pages in Fusion sites that are published with multiple NOD files."

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Be John Malkovich

OK, so this is just silly, but you can instantly change your site, or anyone else's, and replace all the text with whatever text you want. For example, try this link:

http://web.lfw.org/jminc/Happy%20Birthday!/http://w ww.cnn.com

Here's how you do it. Type

http://web.lfw.org/jminc/your%20message%20here/htt p://www.your-url-here

Just replace "your%20message%20here" (the "%20"'s are spaces) with your message, and the www.your-url-here with your URL. Then all you're the text on the page will be replaced with your message.

No—it doesn't make any permanent change to your or anyone else's web site. It doesn't harm anything. It only looks different when you enter this special URL which filters the text of the page and replaces it with your message. It's fun, it's silly, and you should use it for good, not evil, if you get my drift.

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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: BIRTHDAY CAKE

One of the many advantages of acting like a five-year-old is that you still look forward to your birthday. I know I do. Only now the cake is a nearly flourless chocolate cake made with ground pecans. The recipe is complicated, and the first time you make it you'll think you've used every bowl and appliance in your house. But it's fun to make with two people, and the second time you make it (and you will make it a second time) it seems fairly simple. Check out the recipe at:

http://www.epicurious.com/run/recipe/view?id=14007

One tip—use all semi-sweet chocolate (I consider Ghirardelli's http://www.ghirardelli.com chocolate chips to be the best in the world—and the best way to melt it is not in some fancy double-boiler, but in a plain glass bowl in the microwave. Check and stir the chocolate often. Stop just as soon as it melts. And remember, chocolate is one of the five basic food groups and is very good for you. At least, that's what I think.

dwh sig

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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.