Martha Imperfect

Martha Stewart never replies to my e-mails. I don't blame her, I know she's busy. But I've never been one to let reality stand in my way. So here, without further ado, is my interview with "Martha."

DwH: Martha, how do you get so much done?

Martha: Well, my first time-management tip is not to sleep too much. I sleep two hours a day. I know you love to nap but you can't manage a billion dollar omnimedia empire that way.

DwH: I don't have a billion dollar omnimedia empire.

Martha: And now you know why. Here's a little time-saving tip—simply fly back and forth across the international dateline in order to gain extra days!

DwH: My friend Pete just flew from San Francisco to Australia and completely missed Thanksgiving day. Went right from Wednesday to Friday.

Martha : He crossed the dateline from the wrong side.

DWH: Ah, of course. How silly of Pete.

Martha: I see that your computer monitor is going undecorated this holiday season. Simple sprigs of holly, snipped from a neighbor's yard, can do wonders to cheer up a computer monitor. You can buy a charming Monitor Holly Holder on my site! I've redesigned my web site (well, it wasn't me personally, it was one of my little designer elves), so that now everything points to the store.

DWH: I did notice. I was trying to find a cookie recipe and all I could find were your cookie cutters  for $49.95. It was hard to tell the exact price, because the type was so miniscule and all set in CSS using pixels, so it couldn't be enlarged. Not a good thing.

Martha: Elves are very small, hence the type size.

DWH: But I'm not an elf.

Martha: More of a North Pole Troll, are you? They're small too. Love tiny type.

DWH: No. And I am having a hard time reading your site and finding anything but ads and links to buy things.

Martha: See, elves and trolls simply adore that kind of thing.

DWH: Don't you think that most of your site visitors are not elves or trolls?

Martha: I believe we're all elves and trolls at heart. Except for me, I'm queen of the elf-trolls.

DWH: You and my wife, both. Look, I have the highest regard for you and find you fascinating, in the way that Marie Antoinette was fascinating...

Martha : We sell a bedspread styled after one used by Marie at Versailles for $99.99 in twin.

DWH: But where's the useful content?

Martha: All of my items are labeled as per international law. The bedspread is 100% combed cotton.

DWH : I mean the content on your site. I can't find it.

Martha: We don't want to give too much away.

DWH: But that's exactly backwards. You want to reward visitors for coming to your site, not force them to buy their way to MarthaLand. And your site's hard to navigate—some of your links are in square boxes on the bottom that don't look like navigation, and others are on the left, and I don't know where to look.

Martha: Think like a gnome, then.

DWH: Now you're starting to annoy me.

Martha: A Noel Faerie would never say that.

DWH: I am not...

Martha: Many of the people on my staff are Faeries. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

DWH: Do Faerie's like to sign up for your e-mail newsletter on November 30th and get an e-mail offering 20% off, then read in that same e-mail that the offer expired November 9th?

Martha: That's why it's so important to use that international date line crossing tip.

DWH: Martha, if you want to see a great e-commerce site "lifestyle" site, go to http://www.napastyle.com/ - notice how the links along the top are shopping, and along the left are content. Neatly organized, with warm personal colors and typefaces.

Martha: Who does he think he is, Moi?

DWH: Or for e-commerce, go to http://www.hermanmillerred.com . It's straightforward yet visually interesting. And it makes it really easy to find things. Click on the "view our products" button near the upper left hand corner and it shows you all the products in its many lines, clearly. Roll over an item and it is enlarged on the left, and the price is shown. You can see the whole line and pricing on one single page. Their content is in a separate "Bright Red" magazine.

Martha: You're clearly not my elfish demographic.

DWH: You are driving me batty now.

Martha: You like Bats? I sell Halloween products!

DWH: Sigh. You know, it's not too late for everyone to make sure their site has a human touch—and a real person (not minions) behind it so that customers know they're dealing with people and not machines. Now that's a good thing!

http://www.will-harris.com , http://www.elementoftime.com , http://www.mydailyyoga.com

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Fusion's Future

Like you, I've been wondering what's going on with NetObjects' new owner, www.websitepros.com (WSP). I'm finally getting some news and wanted to pass it on to you.

I spoke with Jim Calhoun, the former VP of products at NetObjects who is now at WSP. I've known Jim a long time—I first worked with him at c|net, and I trust his opinion (I also know where he lives :)

Jim's clearly excited for the future of Fusion under WSP. While the WSP deal won't be finalized until sometime in December when it gets final approval from regulatory officials, Jim told me he feels the future of Fusion is bright.

Jim said the WSP management team is on-the-ball, and committed to building and growing Fusion—and taking care of Fusion customers (that's nice, huh?). WSP has already hired key engineering and product development people formerly at NetObjects and are working on a new version of Fusion that should be ready in Spring of 2002. WSP plans a wide beta testing process to get more feedback from you.

One of WSP's major strengths is their award-winning support call center, Jim explained we can except phone support for Fusion to resume in mid December. Because of WSP's deeper resources, Jim stated that support should be greatly improved. Fusion-friendly Rosanna Tafur, former director NetObjects customer care is working with WSP to ensure a smooth transition.

And this may be the best part—WSP wants to hear from you. Yes, you. If you want to ask questions or offer suggestions, go to http://www.bitmotion.com/feedback/wsp_feedback.asp

and give 'em a piece of your mind. Your thoughts will go directly to Jim Calhoun (right to his e-mail address), so you're assured that a real, live, responsible if frizzy-haired person will read them.

So it looks as if the future looks is bright Fusion, and all of us who use it.

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New! Bitmotion universal component system


BitMotion's Universal Component System lets you continuously add new features to Fusion. It's a component subscription system that gives you a growing supply of new features downloaded right inside of Fusion.

These features use large controls that make them easier to configure and use. A new PayPal component makes adding credit card processing a snap. Create calendars, get out of other site's frames, add rollovers, sound and more. You can even create your own components with JavaScript.

The subscription entitles you to freely download all the modules that are released within the year, plus get free email and newsgroup support, and receive free upgrades to the product.

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Readers wrote thinking that my new SchmoozeLetter site uses frames. It doesn't (I still think frames aren't a good idea). I've used two very simple things to give the site a different look. The first feature is a static background. Most graphic backgrounds scroll, but in IE you can specify that the background not scroll.

    1) Click in a MasterBorder.

    2) Right click and choose MASTER HTML

    3) Click on the "inside body" tab.


    5) Click on OK.

Then every page that uses this MasterBorder will have a static background—meaning one that doesn't scroll when the text scrolls.

SEMI-TRANSPARENT TEXT BACKGROUND: This graphic is used under the text so it has a lighter background as it passes over the colored bar at the top.

To do this I created a graphic that contained 64 dots wide by 64 dots long. The dots alternate between one white, the next clear. So in the browser what you see is 50% white, and 50% clear.

If you want to use this graphic, just go to any page (*other* than the home page) on http://www.SchmoozeLetter.com and right click ON the body text (not a blank the nav on the right). Choose "Save background as..." and save the file to use on your site.

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Looking for support for Fusion? Your first stop should be http://www.GotFusion.com , created by the men and women who volunteer their time to the Fusion Technical Support Newsgroups. It's a great resource.

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Only 21 days until Christmas! Consider one of my unique watches and computer clocks make great gifts. We pack and ship for you.

The watches: http://www.projects-us.com/html/mystery-watches.ht ml

The computer clocks: http://www.elementoftime.com

Stop by and get a free computer clock or screensaver.




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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.