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

       Editor: Peter Kent
         Top Floor Publishing

        Over 50,000 Subscribers in More Than 100 Countries!

   ~~~ IN THIS ISSUE ~~~

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

   Beginner's Column:
       Checking Your Site for Problems Part II

   Poor Richard's Building Online Communities

   New Domain Names Soon?

   A Currency Converter for Your Web Site

   More on PayPal (They'll give you $5 Right Now!)

   The Seven Cardinal Rules of E-mail

   Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books

   Book Reviewers Wanted

   Reading Back Issues

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

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   {{ Beginner's Column:
      Checking Your Site for Problems Part II }}

   In the last edition of the newsletter I talked about a variety
   of testing tools for your Web site. A reader, Jelks Cabaniss,
   sent me a little more information, specifically about HTML
   validators -- that is, tools that look at your HTML and check
   to see that it's properly formatted.

   I mentioned a couple in my last newsletter, the CSE HTML
   Validator ( http://www.htmlvalidator.com/ ) and the W3C HTML
   Validation Service (http://validator.w3.org/ ). Jelks said ...
   "One thing many are not aware of is that the W3C Validator is a
   true SGML and XML validator, whereas the CSE "Validator" is
   really just a "linter." [No, I'm not sure what that means.]
   The W3C validator checks for strict HTML or xHTML conformance:
   it runs the page through an SGML parser (or XML parser if the
   page has an xHTML DOCTYPE)."

   He suggests another tool, the Web Design Group's validator at

   "You can validate an entire site (up to 60 pages I believe, so
   you would have to do subdirectories on large sites) or validate
   multiple URLs in "batch" mode, or do direct entry (where you
   copy and paste the source of the page in a provided
   textarea).  The error reporting is far superior to the W3C's.
   Like the W3C (which didn't add this until the end of April; the
   WDG has had it for several years) you can do file uploads of
   local pages on your hard drive. Also, the main site there
   (www.htmlhelp.com) is a superb resource for anyone doing
   serious web authoring."

   He goes on to suggest a neat little tool, their HTML Validation
   WiDGet, which you can find at

   This free Windows program is very useful if you work with
   Internet Explorer; simply right-click on a Web page and select
   Validate HTML, and the page is sent directly to the Web Design
   Group's validator -- it takes just a few seconds to get a full
   report on the page. Even if the page is on your hard disk, and
   not accessible to the Web, you can still get a report (as long
   as you're connected to the Internet, that is). A very cool
   little tool.

   One quick comment about these HTML validators, though -- they
   can be overly strict, flagging as errors things that won't
   necessarily cause problems in browsers. They'll point out
   JavaScript attributes in links and form elements, for instance,
   and HTML attributes that work in some browsers but are not true
   HTML. (In most cases such attributes don't do any harm in
   browsers that don't recognize them.) However, they still do
   find lots of useful things, like truly bad HTML tags, missing
   tags, extraneous tags, and so on.

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   {{ Poor Richard's Building Online Communities }}

   I'm pleased to announce that Top Floor Publishing has just
   published "Poor Richard's Building Online Communities: Create a
   Web Community for Your Business, Club, Association, or Family."
   This is a great book by the Levine's -- brother and sister
   writing team Margy Levine and John Levine -- the authors of the
   best selling "Internet for Dummmies."

   If you've ever thought about building a community online, you
   should learn from the experts. Margy, for instance, has been
   involved in this game for years, and knows not only the
   technology involved, but the more complicated aspects -- the
   dynamics of how an online community works (How do you get
   people to behave? How do you get them to contribute?, and so

   Visit http://PoorRichard.com/communities/ for the Table of
   Contents, a sample chapter, reviews, a list of the links in the
   book, and background information.


   {{ New Domain Names Soon? }}

   Are new top-level domain names (TLDs) on the way? Maybe. We've
   been waiting for these things for years -- they were "in the
   works" as long back as 1997, when I wrote the first edition of
   Poor Richard's Web Site News. But they were delayed somewhat by
   various fights over who should control the whole domain-name
   system. But now they're back on the horizon.

   A few weeks ago USA Today reported that new domains could be
   coming soon, domains such as .sucks, .biz, and .shop (see
   http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cti335.htm ). The
   Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has
   asked for proposals (hurry, you've got until the end of
   September), and has already received proposals for names such
   as .banc, .geo, and .ecology. When are we likely to see these
   new domains? Sometime "early in the year 2001," they hope.

   These new TLDs will lead to all sorts of new battles over
   domain names, but, I hope, will eventually lead to the demotion
   of the .com TLD from its position as the primary TLD. Right
   now, if you can't get the .com domain you want you might as
   well forget about getting the equivalent in a non-.com TLD -- a
   .org or .net -- because people remember .com, and assume that a
   domain is probably a .com. With a plethora of new TLDs, people
   will become used to seeing URLs with a variety of different
   domain names ... the TLD part of the domain name will become
   much more important -- people will have to be more careful
   about writing and remembering the domain name.

   As for the battles ... we could see a whole new round of
   cybersquatting as speculators grab domains such as Disney.sucks
   and Walmart.shop. As the Financial Times pointed out, "current
   owners of .com names ... must worry about protecting their
   trademarks by registering new names."

   They're going to have to register them, though, rather than
   take them through legal means, because it will be much more
   difficult for a trademark holder to force a cybersquatter to
   give up a name. Disney, for instance, would have a hard time
   taking back Disney.sucks -- if a site is clearly satirical, and
   isn't stopping Disney from doing business in it's .com or .film
   or whatever domain, then Disney would have trouble taking the
   domain name. Big companies will have trouble grabbing domain
   names purely because they have the trademark. Walmart might be
   able to grab Walmart.shop, but probably not Walmart.ecology.

   You can learn more about the submission process at
   http://www.icann.com/tlds/tld-application-process.htm , but
   note that this process is not for mere mortals -- it's intended
   for registrars who actually wish to operate a particular TLD.

   By the way, ICANN is planning to soon test a system by which
   domain names could be registered using non-English character
   sets (see
   http://www.icann.com/announcements/comment-25aug00.htm ).

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   {{ A Currency Converter for Your Web Site }}

   Here's a handy little currency converter for your Web site:

   Xenon Laboratories Incorporated provide this fir free; it
   actually runs on their Web site, and you simply insert the code
   that calls the converter program into your HTML. You can
   customize the program, too, making it look pretty much however
   you want.

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   {{ More on PayPal (They'll give you $5 Right Now!) }}

   In the last issue I mentioned that my e-Business Service
   Provider, BizBlast.com, is about to launch a PayPal-enabled
   shopping-cart system, the first such system available. A couple
   of readers wrote to point out one important issue ... that
   PayPal is only available to merchants and buyers in the U.S..
   That's correct, for the moment. But PayPal hopes to expand
   outside the U.S. soon, and I've no doubt they will.

   I visited PayPal's offices in Palo Alto a few weeks ago -- each
   room in the building has a name, the name of a different
   currency -- Yen, Pound, Lira, and so on. Note also that PayPal
   is funded by a variety of companies, with a significant portion
   of the money coming from outside the U.S.: Nokia (Finland),
   Deutsche Banc (Germany), Singapore Telecom, The Development
   Bank of Singapore, and Vertex (also in Singapore). This is
   definitely intended to be an international system soon.

   Micropayments are Finally Here!
   Here's an interesting thought about PayPal ... finally,
   micropayments are possible. PayPal makes it possible for
   merchants to charge $1, 50 cents, 10 cents, even 1 cent for a
   transaction. With credit-card processing this just isn't
   possible, as the fees charged by the credit-card network may
   actually be more than the transaction. For instance, a 30 cent
   transaction could easily cost 31 cents in transaction fees (and
   possibly several times that amount if there's some kind of
   problem with the processing and the buyer has to try two or
   more card numbers).

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   Even if you don't need a PayPal-enabled shopping cart, take a
   look at PayPal anyway. It's a very useful system, allowing you
   to e-mail money to people. And not only is setting up an
   account free, they'll actually put the first $5 into the
   account. (How can they afford to do that? Don't ask, it's
   Internet economics.) Oh, and if you subsequently refer someone
   else who signs up for an account, you'll get another $5 (as I
   will if you click here and sign up!:
   https://secure.paypal.x.com/refer/pal=PKent%40TopFloor.com )

   As for the BizBlast.com shopping-cart system -- we have already
   tied in PayPal, and are currently testing it. We hope to have
   this system available for use by the end of this month. Those
   of you who have already contacted me, I've e-mailed once and
   will let you known when it's ready. If you'd like to be added
   to the list of people I'll inform, please e-mail me at
   [EMAIL PROTECTED] for more information and to hear when it's
   ready. (Oh, and the offer still stands; sign up for an
   e-commerce account now, and we won't charge a setup fee, nor
   will we charge you any hosting fees until the PayPal feature is
   turned on. E-mail me and I'll send the details.)

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   {{ The Seven Cardinal Rules of E-mail }}

   A few rules for using e-mail ... in particular I think everyone
   should have Rule #2 drilled into them, and rules #5 and #7 are
   very important, too ...

   The Seven Cardinal Rules of E-mail
   by Bob Osgoodby

   Rule #1 - Turn off your CAPS LOCK - Some people seem to feel
   that if they write their E-mail in ALL CAPS it will be more
   effective. Quite the opposite is the case. CAPS should be used
   only for emphasis. Many people consider the use of ALL CAPS as
   being the equivalent of shouting and do take offense at it.

   Rule #2 - Never send multiple E-mails without using Blind
   Carbon Copies (BCC).  If every E-mail address you sent it to is
   displayed, you are making the scammers job a lot easier when
   they harvest addresses.  But you have to address it to someone,
   even if using BCC, so remember, there are a lot of "kooks" in
   this world who will persecute anyone they can identify.

   When using BCC, never send the message to someone on your
   mailing list.

   [Some e-mail programs will send a message even if you don't
   enter a To: address, but others won't. If your program doesn't,
   you have to enter some kind of e-mail address on that line, so
   you can use your own address; or, as Bob suggests here, even
   set up a special e-mail address to use just for that purpose.

   If you have a second ID use that, or send the note to yourself
   with BCC copies to everyone on your list. That way, if someone
   decides to "vent" it will come back to you and not someone on
   your list. It also gives you a permanent record of the E-mails
   you sent to your mailing list.  If you don't have a second ID#,
   you can get one easily at Juno, Hotmail, etc.

   Rule #3 - Are you sure your E-mail was actually sent to your
   mailing list? One easy way to be sure it was is to include your
   E-mail address in your file of names you send it to.  A good
   method is to include your address at the beginning of the list,
   and also at the end.  If you get both copies, you can be sure
   everyone else did as well.

   Rule #4 - Don't Bore Them to Death - Advertising by E-mail is a
   cheap and effective way to get your message out to people, and
   most people don't mind getting an E-mail if it is short and to
   the point, but don't spam and send to people you don't already
   have a relationship with.  Also, don't try to sell them your
   product or services with your first mailing. Try to pique their
   curiosity instead and have them either reply to your E-mail or
   visit your Web Site.

   Rule #5 - Honor Removes - if someone asks to be removed from
   your mailing list, do it immediately and send them a courtesy
   note advising them it has been done. Keeping people on your
   mailing list that don't want to receive your information is not
   only bad form, but can cost you your ISP if a complaint is
   lodged against you.

   And NEVER forge headers so they can't respond to you by E-mail.
   This is the favorite trick of the scamsters who don't want you
   to respond to their E-mail, and give you a number to call or a
   form to fill out instead.

   Rule #6 - Text is for E-mail and HTML coding is for Web Pages.
   I can't begin to tell you the number of E-mails I get formatted
   for HTML. These are basically not readable in a text mode, and
   I simply delete them. While many mail readers will display HTML
   coding, some will not. If you use E-mail to send information to
   potential clients, always make sure that you send it in a
   format they can read. Text can be read by all E-mail readers
   and that is your best bet. Otherwise, you might be simply
   wasting your time. Another consideration is that if the HTML is
   readable, you immediately know it's an ad and quickly delete

   Rule #7 - I still get E-mails with no text and the message they
   wish me to read is an attachment to the E-mail. It is
   immediately deleted as it could very well contain a virus -
   even from someone you know. Some ISP's have a top limit to the
   amount of text they will display, and anything larger is
   automatically converted to an attachment. Many people will not
   go through this exercise, so you should ensure that your E-mail
   message can be read by all the people it is sent to, without
   them having to open an attachment.
   Bob publishes the free weekly "Your Business" Newsletter Visit
   his Web Site at http://adv-marketing.com/business to subscribe.
   As a bonus, get over 40,000 Free eBooks & Web Books when you
   visit: http://www.ldpublishing.com

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

   Top Floor Publishing now has eight books in print:

   Poor Richard's Building Online Communities: Create a Web
   Community for Your Business, Club, Association, or Family

   The Official Miva Web-Scripting Book: Shopping Carts,
   Feedback Forms, Guestbooks, and More

   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 For Musicians: Promote Your Music Career Online

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

   ... we also carry the following books by Peter Kent

   Making Money in Technical Writing: Turn Your Writing Skills
   into $100,000 A Year

   The Official Netscape JavaScript Book

   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 one of Top FloorPublishing's
   recent books: "Poor Richard's Building Online Communities:
   Create a Web Community for Your Business, Club, Association,
   or Family," "The Official Miva Web-Scripting Book" or "MP3
   For Musicians." Or perhaps you'd like to review "Poor
   Richard's Web Site: Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building
   a Low-Cost Web Site, 2nd Edition"? Or maybe one of the other
   books mentioned above?

   Contact Top Floor's Marketing Director, Missy Ramey, 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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