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

       Editor: Peter Kent
         Top Floor Publishing

        Over 45,000 Subscribers in More Than 100 Countries!

   ~~~ IN THIS ISSUE ~~~

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

   Beginner's Column:
       Domain Forwarding

   Add Voice Conferences to Your Web Site

   Amazon's Technology Grab

   A Search Engine On Your Site in 10 Minutes

   Giving Away Free Content -- How Not to Waste Your Time

   "Steal A Few Hours!" -- Jim Daniels

   Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books

   Book Reviewers Wanted

   Reading Back Issues

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

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   {{ Beginner's Column:
        Domain Forwarding }}

   I know new users tend to be a little confused about what domain
   names are and how they point here or there ... and so they are
   unaware of the different ways in which they can use them. So
   the concept of domain forwarding is one that very few people
   understand. Here's a quick primer, with some info about a
   domain forwarding service you may want to check out.

   The Internet uses IP numbers to identify computers. But as
   humans don't handle numbers too well, a system of domain names
   lays on top of the IP number system. When you type a name into
   a browser, the browser asks a "name server" what the name
   actually means ... and finds out which IP number it points to
   -- which computer the name is associated with.

   As you can see, a domain name is _not_ like a sign on a
   building. It's more like an entry in a directory. The name is
   not directly associated with the computer holding that domain's
   Web site. It's simply an entry in a directory that tells a
   browser where to find the computer.

   Once you understand this, it's not hard to understand the
   domain-forwarding game that can be played with domain names.
   Here's how it works. Let's say you have a Web site hosted by a
   server on which you can't use your own domain name. Perhaps you
   have some space on your employer's Web site, or if you're a
   student at your school or college. Or maybe you're using some
   free space on your ISP's server, and if you want to point your
   domain name to the site you'll have to pay a monthly hosting
   fee -- perhaps $180/year. Or maybe you have an account with a
   hosting company and want to point another domain name to a
   subdirectory within the site.

   So you register a domain name, and specify the IP number of a
   domain-forwarding system. At the domain-forwarding system you
   specify the URL of a Web site. Now, when someone types your
   domain name into a browser, the browser will discover that it
   has to use use the IP number of the domain-forwarding service.
   So the browser contacts the service, saying, in effect, "send
   me the default Web page for this domain" ... but the service
   doesn't actually have a page to send. Instead, it has the URL
   of a page that's hosted somewhere else ... so it sends that

   So, the advantage of domain forwarding? You can move your Web
   site around, without worrying about whether or not you can
   register your domain name directly to the various servers. And
   changing the forwarding is probably easier than changing a
   domain through a registration service. The disadvantages? Well,
   there's probably a fee -- I haven't researched this lately, but
   most, if not all, forwarding services charge a fee. But it's
   probably less than a hosting account. Another problem is that
   your domain name may not appear in the Location bar of the
   browser. Rather, the visitor will see the URL of the page to
   which the browser was forwarded. However, it's possible to play
   games with frames, so that the domain name _does_ appear in the
   location bar. Some forwarding services will load the page
   inside an invisible frame, a frame that is set to 100% of the
   browser window.

   Another forwarding trick. If you point your domain name to a
   forwarding service, you can also forward your e-mail to any
   e-mail account you want. Get your own domain name, use that
   domain name to receive your e-mail, then switch between ISPs at
   will ... you can quickly switch between ISPs by modifying the
   information at the forwarding service.

   Here's a forwarding service you might want to check out,
   YourNameFree.com: http://www.YourNameFree.com/

   They charge a $49 set up fee, no monthly charge, and no charge
   for modifications. They'll forward both Web sites and e-mail.
   And they have a Domain Name Keeper feature (which you can turn
   on if you want, it's your choice). This makes your domain name
   appear in the browser's Location bar above the forwarded page.

   If you want to find other forwarding services -- also known as
   redirection services -- check with Yahoo!:



   {{ Add Voice Conferences to Your Web Site }}

   A reader recently told me about an interesting free service you
   can add to your Web site -- voice conferencing. HearMe provides
   a very simple way to integrate voice services -- register at
   their Web site and they'll e-mail you a little piece of HTML
   that you insert into one of your Web pages. The system runs on
   their servers, so the code is really very simple, just a link
   over to their site.

   Once installed you can host voice sessions with up to 500
   visitors. They'll have to download and install a plug-in,
   though it's a quick and simple installation. Each participant
   sees a little control box in the Web page -- of course
   participants need computers with sound card, speakers, and
   microphone. And it's not really designed for old computers --
   Pentiums and later running Windows 95 or later. (No Mac
   software quite yet.) And they must have Internet Explorer 4.0
   or Netscape 4.08 or later.

   You could use this system to facilitate communications with
   sales agents or support staff; host discussions; provide
   "class-room" communications between teachers and students; and
   so on.

   For more information visit http://www.HearMe.com/
   Or go directly to the HearMe VoicePresence page, where you can
   find several demo sites:

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   {{ Amazon's Technology Grab }}

   You may have heard about Amazon.com's recent patent awards. The
   U.S. Patent office has long been accused of not employing staff
   with sufficient understanding of software, and they've finally
   proven that the accusations are correct. It recently gave
   Amazon.com a couple of very significant patents. They have the
   patent for One-Click ordering, and for Affiliate programs.

   These patents provide real problems for all businesses online.
   Both technologies are important -- at present few small
   businesses use them, but they will in the future, because these
   features are significant and important business tools. But it's
   hard to say what will happen. Amazon.com has already sued
   Barnes and Noble for patent infringement, though there's a good
   chance that in the long term they'll lose.

   First, a couple of quick definitions. One-click ordering is a
   function that allows a buyer to click a single button on a Web
   page to order a product. When the buyer clicks, software
   retrieves the customer's saved information -- credit-card data,
   billing and shipping addresses, and so on.

   Affiliate programs are familiar to many of us. Create a special
   "coded" link to a company that has an affiliate program, and
   you can earn commissions when visitors to your site travel
   through the link and make a purchase at the destination Web

   Amazon claims it cost them $1,000,000 to create their one-click
   program. That's just plain nonsense (if it's true, someone
   needs firing for running a grossly inefficient programming
   department). But even if it were true, it doesn't mean that
   such an "invention" should be patentable. The idea is too
   obvious. It's like patenting the idea of the light bulb, rather
   than an actual functioning light bulb. The concepts behind
   one-click and affiliate programs are pretty basic, and the
   technologies combined to create these systems are widely used,
   and, quite frankly, basic commonplace stuff. Furthermore, it
   seems that Amazon may not have even been the first company to
   use such systems. CDnow, for instance, claims to be the first
   company on the Internet to use an affiliate program, and
   another company claims that it had an application for a patent
   on affiliate programs rejected in 1994.

   These software patents are a nuisance, a drag on e-commerce
   development, and, as Tim O'Reilly of the publishing company
   O'Reilly and Associates pointed out, they're also pretty tacky.
   They are, he points out ...

         "a slap in the face of Tim Berners-Lee and all of the
         other pioneers who created the opportunity that Amazon
         has done such a good job of exploiting. Amazon wouldn't
         have existed without the generosity of people like Tim,
         who made legitimate, far-reaching inventions, and put
         them out into the public domain for all to build upon.
         Anyone who puts a small gloss on this fundamental
         technology, calls it proprietary, and then tries to keep
         others from building further on it, is a thief. The gift
         was given to all of us, and anyone who tries to make it
         their own is stealing our patrimony."

   As a number of people have pointed out (such as Paul
   Barton-Davis, one of Amazon's first programmers -->
   http://www.op.net/~pbd/amazon-1click.html ), Amazon's very
   existence depends on a great deal of work done in the old
   Internet spirit, that of releasing one's ideas and work on the
   Internet for free. Amazon's patent, Barton-Davis says, is a
   "cynical and ungrateful use of an extremely obvious

   Tim O'Reilly also points out -- and I hope he's right -- that
   in the long term such patents are probably not going to be

   If you feel strongly about this issue, I suggest you sign Tim's
   open letter to Amazon:


   (In just two days hundreds have signed the letter; the
   equivalent of 400 pages of names and comments.)

   More information ...

   The Amazon One-Click Patent:

   The Amazon Affiliate Program Patent:

   Tim's column on the Amazon patents:

   IBM's Intellectual Property Site (you can search the patent

   O'Reilly's Patent Web Site (including a list of controversial
   software patents):

   The Boycott Amazon site:

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   earn from the advice you've been giving for free! Visit us at:

   {{ A Search Engine On Your Site in 10 Minutes }}

   Here's a system you can use to add a search engine to your site
   with just a few minutes work. The system provides search
   reports, so you can see what visitors are searching for;
   automatically generated site maps (a "tree" showing the
   relationship of pages); automatically generated What's New
   lists; and scheduled re-indexing. You can omit certain pages,
   or even parts of a page, from the search, modify a page's
   ranking, and so on.

   There is one catch. When a visitor to your site is using the
   search system, ads will be displayed on the results page. If
   that's okay with you, visit http://www.FreeFind.com/ to see how
   it works and to sign up for service.


   {{ Giving Away Free Content -- How Not to Waste Your Time }}

   I think I'm about to state the obvious ... but perhaps it's not
   so obvious, because so many people seem to make the mistakes
   I'm going to describe.

   You see, several times a week people send me articles to
   include in this newsletter. Free articles; all I need to do in
   order to use an article is to include a little block of text at
   the end of the article, a little "ad" in effect, including a
   link back to the author's Web site. It's a great way for a
   writer to get free publicity for a business or Web site. This
   newsletter, for instance, goes to 45,000 people, so if I carry
   an article it gets free distribution to enough people to make
   it well worthwhile. And a good article can run in several
   newsletters. I don't run many of these "donated" articles, but
   now and then, when I'm very busy and know I have an article
   that people would find useful, I'll drop it in.

   This sort of promotion is very effective and affordable, and
   many small businesses are making use of it. But many businesses
   are simply wasting their time. Most of the articles I receive
   are quite simply unacceptable. I don't know if other
   newsletters are running them, but I can't. So if you've been
   thinking of using this type of promotion, here are a few ways
   you can boost your success rate.

   * Don't send out an article that's little more than an ad. Some
     articles are nothing more than puff pieces for the writers'
     businesses. I won't run such articles, and I'll bet most other
     newsletters won't, either.
   * Make sure the article contains something useful. Some
     articles I've seen, although they're not quite puff pieces, are
     nothing more than vehicles for carrying an ad. It's as if the
     writer is just filling space, enough to justify the ad at the
     end of the article. If there's no real value in the article, I
     won't run it (and nor will other newsletters).
   * Use your spell checker!
   * I'd say use your grammar checker, but most are pretty
     useless. If you're not sure of your writing skills, though,
     have someone else read through and make sure the writing flows
     well and is correctly punctuated. (Perfection is not necessary
     -- I often write this newsletter late at night and in a rush,
     and am quite aware that mistakes find their way into the
     newsletter. But quite frankly some of the articles I get are
     painful to read.)
   * Don't try to sneak through a Web site review, when it's
     obvious that it's your own Web site!
   * Write the article in a text editor, not a word processor, and
     save in text format. Otherwise you might introduce non-ASCII
     characters (such as curly quotes and emdashes) that can
     mess up the newsletter as it passes through the e-mail system.

   By the way, if you've sent me an article and I haven't run it,
   that doesn't mean it was bad! It may not have been related to a
   subject I wanted to cover, or maybe I'll run it later. (And
   anyway, I don't want to carry too many donated articles.) Come
   to think of it, maybe I'll run one right now.

   Learn powerful Internet and Affiliate marketing techniques from
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   {{ "Steal A Few Hours!" -- Jim Daniels }}

   As most online marketers know, time is the most precious
   commodity in the world, and you just can't buy more of it.
   But you can "steal" a few hours each week!

   This tip reviews eight super-cool tools you can get on the
   web for free. With these tools streamlining your time-
   consuming tasks you'll literally steal a few hours every
   single week...

   [] Copernic

   Spending too much time searching the Web? Copernic can do
   the job for you by utilizing the best search engines
   simultaneously. It brings up great results ranked by
   relevance, with summaries. Lots of folks have told me they
   found my site via Copernic, so it must be a great search
   tool! I'm downloading it myself today! Available for Windows
   or Mac. And the best part is that it's free with no expiration.

   [] Download Wonder

   Take it from someone who offers downloads at his site --
   lots of folks could use this program! If you've ever had any
   trouble downloading software, or getting it to run after
   download, get this free utility. Download Wonder runs in the
   system tray and comes alive when you start a download in
   your browser. It tracks the entire download process
   including hard drive location and any notes you wish to add.
   It allows you to open ZIP files and even scans downloads for
   viruses! The latest version includes a Keep Alive utility
   that prevents your ISP from disconnecting you. The free
   version of Download Wonder displays advertisements above
   the toolbar.

   [] FormPal

   FormPal assists you with creating scripts that can send
   email, manage cookies, and generate dynamic Web pages.
   FormPal's built-in graphical form editor also includes field
   validation methods that can validate credit card numbers,
   email addresses and more. A built-in script installer
   transfers forms and scripts to your server automatically and
   sets the correct file permission for each file. Free 30-day
   trial at the site. FormPal runs on Windows and creates CGI
   scripts in Perl for Unix and Windows based Web servers.

   [] KeyBoard Express

   Here's a must for all busy cyberpreneurs. Keyboard Express
   allows you to record, key in, and play back any set of
   keystrokes and associate it with one of more than 450
   different hot keys. Eliminate the repetition of the same
   sets of keystrokes in word processors, email, and more. The
   program can create hot keys for standard email replies,
   URL's and forms. Keyboard Express can even be scheduled to
   check for email messages. This program is such a powerful
   tool, I don't know how I got by without it! (Sorry, Mac
   users, this is for Windows only.)

   [] SearchSpy

   Ever wonder what web surfers are searching for? Try Search
   Spy. It offers a continually updated database of words and
   phrases captured directly from the Web's leading search
   engines. The latest version allows you to browse and compare
   search results by popularity. The demo version is limited to
   a 50,000-record database, and is save-disabled.

   [] UltraEdit32

   A great ASCII based word processing program is a must for
   anyone running an email list. This program offers great
   features for email newsletter publishers. Features include
   a spell-checker and the ability to set line width for easy
   message reading in all email programs. This software is
   available as a free download and 30 day evaluation.

   [] WebFormFill

   Do you fill out lots of forms online? Whether they are
   registration forms or order forms, WebFormFill can
   automatically fill them out for you. WebFormFill resides in
   your system tray and activates with a single click. The
   latest version supports multiple credit card entries and
   password protection. Free 30-day trial.

   [] ZyWeb

   At this site you can create you own personalized graphics
   for your web site - for free. Their unique system requires
   no graphic or artistic design expertise, and yet allows a
   near infinite range of high quality text and 3D graphic
   headings to be produced in seconds. Truly a notch above the
   rest of the "free graphics" sites on the web. This is an
   interactive web-based resource and there is no download

   Did you find these tools helpful? There's plenty
   more tips like this at: http://www.bizweb2000.com
   Get their FREE BizWeb E-Gazette for Weekly Online
   Marketing Help! Mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]
   or visit www.bizweb2000.com/sample.htm to subscribe.


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

   Top Floor Publishing now has five books in print:

   Poor Richard's Web Site, 2nd Edition: Geek-Free, Commonsense
   Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site

   Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing

   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 buy!


   {{ 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 Web Site: Geek-Free, Commonsense
   Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site, 2nd Edition"? 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


  (c) Copyright 1999, Top Floor Publishing
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