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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 ~~~

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

   Where Have I Been?!

   What Happened to BizBlast?

   Beginner's Column:
       Finding Browser Display Problems

   15 Tips For a Successful Network

   Visit Gnomedex!

   Free Book! -- Poor Richard's Branding Yourself Online

   45 Places Your URL Should Be Seen or Heard

   Poor Richard's Web Site and Other Top Floor Books

   Book Reviewers Wanted

   Reading Back Issues

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

   {{ Where Have I Been?! }}

   Before I get started, I'd better answer the question so many of
   you have been asking: Where did I go? Why haven't I been
   publishing my newsletter?

   Unfortunately over the last few months I've been unable to keep
   up with all my obligations, including my publishing company
   (Top Floor Publishing: http://TopFloor.com/ ), the dot-com I
   founded (more of which in the next section), and various family
   obligations. I simply couldn't do everything I needed or wanted
   to do ... so the newsletter was the first thing to go!

   However, things are easing up dramatically, and I'm now back
   into the e-mail newsletter publishing business. I'll do my best
   to keep up with this, trying to get an issue out every two
   weeks or so.

   {{ What Happened to BizBlast? }}

   Many of you will recall that I started an e-business services
   company called BizBlast. I am no longer employed by that
   company; in fact the assets of the company were sold, late last
   year, to iBoost Technology, Inc., which also retained the
   BizBlast name.

   Unfortunately BizBlast was not the success I had hoped for. The
   company was not run in the manner in which I believe it should
   have been run; in fact I spent much of last year fighting with
   the President/CEO (despite being the founder I was not the
   President/CEO). In any case, by the end of the year, with other
   dot-coms dropping like flies, we were unable to obtain the
   second round of funding we required, and were forced to sell
   the company.

   IMPORTANT-->: PLEASE NOTE: despite the fact that two of my
   IMPORTANT-->: books, published early last year, mention
   IMPORTANT-->: BizBlast, I am no longer associated with the
   IMPORTANT-->: services marketed under the BizBlast name,
   IMPORTANT-->: and no longer promote those services.

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   {{ Beginner's Column:
      Finding Browser Display Problems }}

   One of the biggest frustrations for anyone creating Web pages
   is the fact that what looks fine in one browser may look
   terrible in another. Many designers view the pages they have
   created in just one browser ... and are then surprised when
   visitors to their site tell them that they've seen strange
   problems on the Web site. It's an unfortunate fact that not all
   browsers are equal.

   How, then, do you avoid problems? HTML knowledge and experience
   helps, but even the most experienced Web designers are
   sometimes caught unawares. Really the only way to be sure is to
   check your work in different browsers. Which? Well, there's the
   problem. There are so many different browsers, versions of
   browsers, and operating systems, that there's no way you'll be
   able to check all the possibilities. It's a good idea to load
   Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, and America Online on
   your system, and look at pages in all three. But unfortunately
   you really need multiple versions of the browsers; for
   instance, although Netscape Navigator 6 is now available very
   few people are using it, so you should also try Version 5, too.

   I recently ran across another way around this problem, though.
   NetMechanic has set up a new service called Browser Photo (I've
   talked about other NetMechanic testing services in earlier
   newsletters: http://topfloor.com/pr/newsltr/047.htm#047_1 ).
   This service tests your pages on 14 different browser/operating
   system combinations, a combination of AOL, Internet Explorer,
   Netscape Navigator, WebTV, and Opera (including 11 different
   Explorer and Navigator versions), a variety of different screen
   sizes, and three different operating systems: PC, iMac, and

   Browser Photo takes snapshots of a Web page in different
   browsers, then lets you view the snapshots online, so you can
   see what's going on. Never seen your Web site in WebTV? (You
   might be shocked.) Don't have all those old versions of
   Explorer and Navigator available? Don't want an AOL
   subscription? This service can help you.

   You can use this system once for $15, or get unlimited use for
   $120 a year. For more information, visit

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   {{ 15 Tips For a Successful Network }

   The following is excerpted from Poor Richard's Small Office
   Networking: Room-to-Room or Around the World. (You can find a
   table of contents and several sample chapters here:
   http://topfloor.com/pr/homeoffice/ ). The book lists 35 more
   tips in the appendix, _50 Tips for a Successful Network_.

   1. Spend time deciding whether you really need a network. While
   a network is a highly practical tool for most small businesses,
   it turns into financial nightmare for others.

   2. Design your network carefully. The more time you spend
   looking at various needs before you spend any money, the less
   money you'll waste on items you didn't need in the first place.

   3. Be prepared to work at your network. No one is going to
   offer to perform the required work for free and consultants are
   extremely expensive. Relying on your own abilities is one way
   to reduce the total cost of the installation and ensure you can
   maintain the network once installed.

   4. Always look at your needs before you decide on software. Use
   the software as a basis for other items like the operating
   system and hardware.

   5. Don't bite off more networking that you can chew. A network
   you don't complete is money wasted. Even a small network will
   save money and you can always expand it later if necessary.

   6. You don't need to have a vast knowledge of computers to
   repair system problems. Consultants fix many problems with
   careful observation and patience, not with technical expertise.

   7. Networks require consistent care. Perform maintenance tasks
   as often as required to assure worry free operation.

   8. Always look for the low-cost solutions to your networking
   problems. For example, alternative networking technologies
   provide flexible networking support for home offices and other
   small networks.

   9. Use the right networking technology for the job. An infrared
   connection works great for line-of-sight applications, like
   transferring data from your laptop to your desktop machine, but
   won't work for other applications.

   10. Avoid getting a central server unless you need one.
   Peer-to-peer networks operate efficiently and cost less to
   maintain than client/server networks do. However, once you do
   decide on a client/server configuration, ensure you spend
   enough to create a workable network.

   11. Allocate bandwidth wisely. Don't allow users to waste
   bandwidth on collaboration or video applications unless the
   user needs these applications to perform useful work.

   12. Make sure all users will have the bandwidth required to get
   their work done and that you keep some bandwidth in reserve for
   future needs.

   13. Consider an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) as cheap
   insurance against lightning strikes and power outages. The data
   you save may be your own.

   14. Look for the best deal when buying software. Sometimes last
   year's product contains all of the features you need and at
   bargain bin prices.

   15. Computers don't understand or care that you're frustrated.
   Getting angry with a will only wears you out and thwarts any
   effort at repair.


   {{ Visit Gnomedex! }}

   My friend Chris Pirillo is touting his "Gnomedex" as "a
   Conference & Trade Show for Curious Computer Users." (I'm not
   sure if that means you need to be odd to attend, or just have a
   modicum of curiosity, or that you should own a curious
   computer.) Many of you know of Chris Pirillo from his
   incredibly popular Lockergnome newsletter
   ( http://www.LockerGnome.com/ ), which has around 300,000

   Gnomedex is his own, home-grown computer show. It's scheduled
   for September 14th & 15th, at the Polk County Convention
   Complex, in Des Moines, Iowa. He's managed to pull together a
   number of interesting speakers, such as Richard Brodie, the
   author of Microsoft Word 1.0; Larry McJunkin, a shareware guru
   from WUGNET; Mike Elgan, perhaps best known as a former editor
   of Windows Magazine; Mark Thompson, a freeware developer, and
   various others. Chris promises you will ...

   * Discover new consumer products and services
   * Mingle with acclaimed Internet leaders
   * Create relationships with vendors and attendees
   * Meet Gnomedexers from around the world
   * Learn how to better use your PC & the Internet
   * See various consumer tech companies up close
   * Gain knowledge of timely technology topics
   * Immerse yourself in an infotaining environment
   * Return home with dozens of new ideas to act upon

   Yes, I know, central Iowa is not what you'd normally consider a
   high-tech hub. But Chris is a master of Internet publicity, and
   has managed to get a tremendous amount of interest in his
   convention through low-cost, Internet-based promotion
   techniques. So perhaps it's time for you to visit Iowa.
   Register before June 1st to get 40% off the conference pass:


   Looking for innovative tips and tutorials on working with
   Photoshop, FrontPage, Dreamweaver and more? Need an extensive
   reference library for HTML? Want step-by-step instructions on
   designing, enhancing and promoting Web sites? Could you use
   original, professional-quality graphics, animations,
   interfaces, buttons and sounds? Interested in creating
   customized Flash splash screens? Get all of this and more.
   Visit http://www.screamdesign.com/poor_rich.html

   {{ Free Book! - Poor Richard's Branding Yourself Online }}

   It's that time again, the time when we give away 200 electronic
   copies of our next book. This time it's "Poor Richard's
   Branding Yourself Online: How to Use the Internet to Become a
   Celebrity or Expert in Your Field," by Bob Baker. This book
   explains how the you can use the Internet to quickly and
   inexpensively become an expert or celebrity in your field of

   We're looking for comments and testimonials, and are willing to
   give away up to 200 electronic copies to readers who fit the
   following criteria:

   * You must be willing to read the chapters we provide within a
     few days of receiving them (we'll be spacing them out

   * You must agree to respond with your comments (good or bad!).

   * You must be able to download large files from the Web

   * You must be able to work with .PDF files (you'll need Adobe
     Acrobat Reader, which is available at

   We'll be sending unedited PDF files -- to allow us time to
   integrate suggestions and comments we are sending these files
   out at the same time they go to the editor. Sorry, we can't
   help with technical questions about how to work with Acrobat

   If you're interested, please e-mail [EMAIL PROTECTED]

   Remember, only the first 200 will get a copy, and please, only
   request a copy if you are willing to read and comment!


   {{ 45 Places Your URL Should Be Seen or Heard }}

   I'm often amazed at the way that small businesses waste
   opportunities for displaying their URL. I'm also embarrassed to
   say that having read the following list, contributed by "Wild
   Bill" Montgomery, I've realized that I'm missing various
   opportunities, too!

   Offline Promotion: 45 Places Your URL Should Be Seen or Heard
   By "Wild Bill"

   1. Answering Machine
   2. Address labels
   3. Billboards
   4. Brochures
   5. Business Cards
   6. Catalogs
   7. CD ROM Presentations
   8. Christmas Cards
   9. Classifieds
   10. Company/Personal Cars
   11. Coupons
   12. Co-Workers
   13. Checks
   14. Envelopes
   15. Existing customers
   16. Fax sheets
   17. Flyers
   18. Freebies & Giveaways
   19. Friends
   20. Interviews
   21. Invoices
   22. Leaflets
   23. Media Kits
   24. Newsletters
   25. Newspaper Ads
   26. On Hold Messages
   27. Packaging
   28. Personal Mail
   29. PhoneBook Listings
   30. Postcards
   31. Posters
   32. Press Releases
   33. Print Ads
   34. Products
   35. Promotional Materials
   36. Radio Ads
   37. Receipts
   38. Reorder Forms
   39. Sales Letters
   40. Stationery
   41. Storefront
   42. Television Ads
   43. Trade Shows
   44. Uniforms & Hats
   45. Your Home

   Here's a few Bonus Tips and Ideas!

   A. Contact Radio & TV Stations and offer to write a Free
      "advice or tips" column.

   B. Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce and other Commerce
      related organizations.

   C. Schedule free offline classes and teach people how to use
      their computer, software or navigate the Internet.

   D. Write a tips booklet and offer to mention each business in
      the booklet for letting you drop them off for counter or
      bagging distribution.

   E. Offer to speak for free at conferences, meetings, or
      seminars, then make sure your handouts include details
      about your website, ezine, and subscription instructions.

   F. Add an insert with your URL into every piece of mail that
      goes out of your house or business.

   G. Donate products or services to raffles with your URL
      mentioned with/instead of your company or name.

   H. Webdecals are a new, inexpensive and fun way to attract
      attention to your website. People absolutely love them, and
      they are very simple to use. Webdecals are made of high
      quality vinyl and printed with state of the art digital
      equipment. Display your website address and more in bold
      white or black & white letters. People stick them
      everywhere. In your car windows, store, office and home
      windows, any place with glass! http://www.webdecal.com/

   I. ID-It Plates: These Elegant mini-Billboards promote YOU 365
      days a year, enhance the appearance of your vehicles, last
      for years and most important, give you literally Millions of
      Impressions over their lifetime.

   "Wild Bill"
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   You might want to go back through Bill's list and figure out if
   you're covered. One more issue, though. Listing your URL is
   only the first step, you really need to give people a _reason_
   to come to your site. At Top Floor Publishing we've started
   encouraging readers of our books to come to our site by putting
   a blurb on the back telling them they'll be able to sign up to
   win a book, for instance. (You can enter, too;
   http://TopFloor.com/ ).


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

   Top Floor Publishing now has ten books in print:

   Poor Richard's Home and Small Office Networking

   Poor Richard's Internet Recruiting

   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, 2nd Edition

   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 Floor
   Publishing's recent books:

   * Poor Richard's Home & Small Office Networking Room-to-Room
   or Around the World
   * Poor Richard's Internet Recruiting: Easy, Low-Cost Ways To
   Find Great Employees Online
   * Poor Richard's Building Online Communities: Create a Web
   Community for Your Business, Club, Association, or Family

   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

   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


<img src="http://partner.netmechanic.com/partner/hiddengif.cgi?p=514 3" 
height=1 width=1>

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