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    Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site

      Editor: Peter Kent
        Top Floor Publishing

       Over 37,000 Subscribers in More Than 100 Countries!

  ~~~ IN THIS ISSUE ~~~

  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  Beginner's Column:
     RealNames -- Another Way to Beat the Search Engines?

  Useful Web Design Utilities

  Purchase Circles -- What They are and What's Next

  More Domain-Name Madness

  Domain Names -- $6/Year

  Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books

  Book Reviewers Wanted

  Reading Back Issues

  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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  {{ Beginner's Column:
      RealNames -- Another Way to Beat the Search Engines? }}

  There's a new way to get to the top of the search-engine
  listings. I'm not really happy with the way this situation has
  turned out, but there's not a lot I can do about ... it's
  become a reality, so you may as well understand how to make it
  work for you. Let me explain.

  First, try this. Go to Altavista -- http://www.altavista.com/
  -- and type the words "greek vacations" the search box, then
  click on the Search button. When the search engine has done its
  work you'll see a link at the top of the list that says "greek
  vacations - Click here for a list of Internet Keywords related
  to greek vacations." Click on the link, and you'll see the
  links to several sites related to greece.

  Now, try this. Type "Toyota Celica" into the search box and
  press Enter -- this time you'll see a link right at the top of
  the list that says "Toyota Celica. Click on this Internet
  Keyword to go directly to the Toyota Celica Web site." There
  are little letters, RN, immediately after Toyota Celica.

  Now, open Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and type the words
  Toyota Celica into the Location bar. Press Enter, and a frame
  opens in the left side of the browser window. Right at the top
  of the frame you'll see the same Toyota Celica link, with the
  same little RN.

  RN stands for RealNames, and a number of companies have signed
  up to work with this system. In addition to AltaVista and
  Microsoft, companies and Web sites such as GO, MSN, Mindspring,
  and even Network Solutions are working with RealNames.

  RealNames allows you to buy keywords, so that when someone
  types the keywords into some kind of search system, your site
  will pop up first in the list.

  I don't like this system, I'll say that right now. It's added
  another layer of complexity to the Internet. In the early days
  it took foresight to pick a good domain name, then it required
  a little work to make sure your site is properly listed in the
  search engines... now you have to pay, too, to properly listed.
  The idea of free search-engine listings appeal to me, a sort of
  meritocracy -- if you do your work, you can get listed.
  Everyone has the same chance. Except now you can pay to go to
  the top of the list. (And I really don't like the idea that
  Network Solutions -- the company that administers the domain
  name system -- has signed up to work with RealNames, either.)

  RealNames says that this system is intended to simplify the
  Internet, because it allows keywords to be used to reach Web
  sites. But we already had a system in which keywords could be
  used to reach Web sites -- the .com domains. Not so long ago
  typing a single word into a browser would make that browser
  automatically search for the the .com domain of the same name.
  So why do we need another keyword system? Ah, well, this allows
  more sites to use the same keyword, and the mixing of keywords.
  You can now search for "greek vacations," for instance.

  It also allows sites to share keywords... perhaps. But it
  allows companies to buy up keywords so nobody else can use them
  -- try registering your site under the MP3 keyword, for
  instance ... you won't be able to, because MP3.com has bought
  the rights to it.

  I don't much like this system, overall, but it's here, and here
  to stay (at least for the foreseeable future). So you might as
  well figure out if it can work for you!

  If you want to find out if keywords that would be useful to you
  are available, visit the RealNames site:

  There's also a very interesting article on how to work with
  RealNames here:


  {{ Useful Web Design Utilities }}

  A reader sent me information about a useful collection of
  utilities -- The Web Writer's Toolbox. It's shareware -- you'll
  have to pay $15 to get some of the utilities to work -- with a
  little over a dozen tools. There are several color tools, for
  instance. Pick a palette -- a 24-bit palette or a browser safe
  palette for instance -- then click on a color to see the hex
  code you'd use to create the color in a browser. There's an
  icon tool that allows you to extract icons from program files,
  then create buttons from the icons; a file converter, to
  convert from bmp to jpg; and a screen-shot program, to take
  pictures of selected areas of your screen. There's even a handy
  little tool for creating special characters in Web pages --
  click on the character you want, to see the code you'll need.

  The program's user interface needs a little work, but there are
  some handy little tools in this kit. You can find it here:


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  {{ Purchase Circles -- What They are and What's Next }}

  Did you hear the recent fuss about "Purchase Circles"?
  Amazon.com has been providing information about what particular
  groups of people are buying. You can see what, for instance,
  Microsoft employees purchased recently, or U.S. Marines, people
  in Canada or Egypt, or students and faculty at the Abilene
  Christian University. There was a little fuss about this when
  the system was first introduced, perhaps not surprisingly. If
  you'd like to read a little about the implications, and what
  may be next, take a look at Chris Locke's article on the
  subject at Personalization.com, "Beyond Purchase Circles."

     Do I find it interesting that "Business @ the Speed of
     Thought" is the number-one best seller at Microsoft  while
     the number 12 slot is held down by "The Microsoft File: The
     Secret Case Against Bill Gates"? Do I find it interesting
     that the top 20 Microsoft purchases include no books on
     Linux  or that the top ten buys coming from Microsoft
     Network (MSN.COM) include no technical books whatsoever? Or
     that the numero uno order from Ogilvy & Mather is "Truth,
     Lies and Advertising"? Or that there's no listing at all for
     IBM (did they bail out? if so, what do they not want me to

  See http://www.personalization.com/soapbox/

  Personalization.com is a new site that is a "clearinghouse of
  objective information about personalization." It will "explore
  what 'personalization' means for Internet commerce...

      ... The term is freighted with many meanings  ranging from
      the form letter hysterically announcing "You may already be
      a winner!" to web pages that display the local weather in
      return for a simple zip code to far more sophisticated
      backend systems that track customer preferences and make
      complex predictions."

  Well worth investigating. I've written about my friend Chris
  Locke before -- he's a great writer, both insightful and
  entertaining, which is a rare combination.

  Includes interactive resources for webmasters plus articles
  about website design and promotion, reviews of software and
  services for webmasters, plus a listing of the most popular
  webmaster resource sites! Add your site now!

  {{ More Domain-Name Madness }}

  I've written before about why you should write the domain-name
  portion of your URL in mixed case, so I won't go into detail
  right now. But I just had to mention a few examples I've run
  into recently.

  A reader sent me one that you might find amusing,
  www.lumbermansexchange.com. For most of us, the term
  "sexchange" just jumps out of the URL. It might have been
  clearer and more easily understood had the owners written it
  thus: www.LumbermansExchange.com.

  On the other hand, the ambiguity of this URL gained them
  national attention when it was mentioned in a national computer

  Here's one that's just plain unclear:
  www.toolcribofthenorth.com. Surely writing it as
  www.ToolCribOfTheNorth.com would have made it much easier to

  Finally, here's one that's virtually incomprehensible in
  lowercase: www.rusickofit.com. What they really mean is
  www.RUSickOfIt.com (though admittedly that's not terribly
  clear, either .. perhaps www.R_U_SickOfIt.com would have been

  There's no reason you can't have mixed case in the domain-name
  portion your URL ... but don't fool around with the directory
  portion of the URL (everything to the right of the .com/ part).


  {{ Domain Names -- $6/Year }}

  You can expect domain names to come down in price dramatically.
  The price paid to Network Solutions by a registrar when it
  registers a domain name has now been fixed at $6 a year. At
  that price we should soon see registration fees come down, and
  domains given away in some cases -- host a Web site with a
  hosting company, for instance, and there's a good chance your
  domain won't cost anything.

  For an article related to the new domain-registration system,


  {{ Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books }}

  Top Floor Publishing now has five books in print:

  Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing

  Poor Richard's Web Site

  Poor Richard's Internet Marketing and Promotions

  The CDnow Story: Rags to Riches on the Internet

  MP3 and the Digital Music Revolution: Turn Your PC into a
  CD-Quality Jukebox

  Order direct from the publisher, and you'll get a 100%, 1-Year
  Guarantee. If you feel the book wasn't worth the money, send it
  back for a refund!

  And remember, these books are discounted at the Web site, and
  you pay just one shipping cost regardless of how many books you


  {{ Book Reviewers Wanted }}

  Do you review books for newspapers, magazines, newsletters
  (electronic or paper), Web sites, or other media spots? If so,
  perhaps you'd like to review Top Floor Publishing's latest
  book, "Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing." Or perhaps you'd like
  to review one of the other books I mentioned above?

  Contact my Marketing Director, Missy Derkacz, at
  [EMAIL PROTECTED] Include your full mailing address, the
  name of newspaper/magazine/whatever in which the review will
  appear and the probable date of publication, and the editor's
  contact information.


  {{ Reading Back Issues }}

  If you need to refer to back issues of this newsletter -- and
  search the archives -- you can find them at the following


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