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March 31, 2005

AOL'ers: Stop reporting forwarded spam from your domain as spam

A problem that has come up twice in the last month involves clients who have their domain name email forwarded to their AOL accounts. When it is spam... they are pushing the button to "report spam" but in the case of forwarded email, they are really reporting their own domain.

Unless you're on a dedicated server, the server your site sits on is also shared by another 300-400 domain name websites. Reporting spam that was forwarded to you from your domain will cause the server to be blacklisted and can prevent thousands of people and you from getting legitimate email.

AMS Computer Services, where most of my clients are hosted, have a detailed explanation of this problem. If you use AOL you are encouraged to read it.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 06:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Index Content from A-Z

Chris Heilmann article at devarticles.com titled "Easy as A,B,C — dynamic A to Z indexes" shows a way to create a large dynamic sitemap that can show or hide the items under the letter clicked on. It is compatible for older browsers and or browsers with Javascript disabled. This means it should be search engine friendly too.

He says:

"Government websites in the United Kingdom are legally bound to offer an A to Z index..."

This might seem a bit extravagant for small to medium sized sites, but if you are operating a large content site, it could be something you would consider. He makes it easy for you too. You can download a zippered file that contains all of the files — including examples, the CSS and Javascript.

Even if you don't plan on building a content site right now, it still might be a resource you can use later. The way search engines seem to be going crazy about indexing every article posted to a blog; I used to believe that whoever has the most toys when he/she dies... wins! That was yesterday's thinking. Replace the same phrase with the word articles for a more current version of the same old saying.

Jeff Alderson and Rod Beckwith say:

Have you ever wished you could simply snap your fingers and content that's specific to YOUR website subject matter magically appears?

They have created software that will allow you to easily add specific keyword content to your site in a matter of minutes. I wouldn't be surprised to find a lot of people offering content generators in the months to come. If that's the way Google and the other major search engines want it... I don't see what else we can do but give it to them.

At least you will have a way to dynamically organize multiple articles and categories in and easy to find index that will do double-duty as a sitemap.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 05:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2005

Can I Close More Leads?

Most of the business I get comes from referrals and word of mouth. But each month there are always a few, who have probably never heard of me, that submit the form on the bottom of this page, (the link will open in a new browser window, if you want to have a look).

I would say my chances of closing any of these leads is about 1 out of 10. I see the leads come in and I just kind of shake my head. They were interested enough to submit the form — how come they don't follow up to the email that is automatically generated and sent to them?

I was doing up a form for gathering leads for a client yesterday. I asked him, "What text do you want on the thank you page?"

He said, "Oh, you know... the usual. Put "thank you" on the page and then underneath in a smaller font tell them that a confirmation email has been sent to them."

This is pretty well standard, isn't it?

I was reviewing my form (see the link above) and I follow the same process. Then I thought... maybe there is a better way to go about this. Right above the form you will see this text:

Call Steve at 1-(902)843-2534 or put your name and email address in the boxes below and push the button to request more information. Discover how HomeBusiness Websites is the right choice for you.

When you think about it, this might be the wrong place to stop selling. This might be the place to begin selling. They have requested more information... which means... they want more information before they make any sort of decision. So, you've got a hot lead and a thank you page telling them that an email is on the way... it just sort of leaves them hanging.

Maybe the thank you page is the place to start selling some more. Since you have already captured the name, you can place that into a cookie, and present them with a personalized letter. This letter can offer a lot more information about your services, or product and perhaps help close the sale.

This is what I've done. Hopefully this test will see me closing more of the leads that come in. I think this is a much better idea then simply presenting them with a "thank you &mdash an email is on the way" page. What do you think?

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Recently I had a request from a client who wanted to survey his subscribers as to whether or not they had purchased a particular product. There was only two answers, of course — yes or no. In each case there was a textarea input asking for more information.

He wanted to make sure that they didn't put data in both textarea inputs, so they were asked to click a link depending on whether they had bought the product or not. This hid or showed the right input and helped to eliminate any confusion.

If this give you some idea on how you might be able to use something like this, you can find a tutorial here

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 07:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

Controllable Navigation Bars with JavaScript

Alejandro Gervasio shows how to create "Controllable Navigation Bars with JavaScript" in a two part article on devarticles.com this week.

You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 04:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2005

Local Business soon to Suffer Without Websites

More local business are going to quickly find that their business will suffer without a website. In my post 75% of Canadian Small Businesses Have Websites, I question the validity of a survey by the CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Business).

The same thing holds true for our US friends. In a post by B.L. Ochman, she says:

The Kelsey Group revealed figures last night showing 70 percent of U.S. households now turn to the Internet to find local products and services. That's up 16 percent in 2004 over the previous year, putting the Internet on par with newspapers which are likely to fall behind the Internet very shortly, according to MarketingVox.

I don't know! Maybe it is time for me to start running a classified ad site again... but this time focus on a local market.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 08:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2005

Creating TABS for your web pages

Gavin Kistner shows a way to implement tabs on your page using CSS, a little JS, and semantic markup which degrades gracefully on browsers with CSS unavailable or disabled.

He also provides the files if you would like to download them and use them, and claims "It should work with any modern, standards-compliant browser."

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2005

75% of Canadian Small Businesses Have Websites

Michael Ryval, Globe and Mail, quoted Ted Mallett, chief economist at the Toronto-based Canadian Federation of Independent Business that almost 75 per cent of all small Canadian businesses have websites. He goes on to say:

And that means, if you're not there, potential clients will find and hire the competition that is.

I don't know what they base this estimation on. It doesn't give any indication of how this figure was arrived at or what area and percent of businesses was surveyed.

Ms. Duncan, who owns www.ottawaweb.ca, a directory of links to services in the Ottawa was quoted as saying:

"Instead of looking through the Yellow Pages, a lot of people search for information on-line. It's faster, easier and there's more information."

I agree that all small businesses should have websites. However, from doing online searches for local small businesses in this area, I would have to say that it is easier to use the Yellow Pages. Only a small percentage of the Truro and Area businesses have websites.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 06:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2005

Jobs for Bloggers

Wayne Hurlbert posted yesterday about a new service from www.indeed.com that lists jobs for bloggers.

He says:

"You can even get the latest professional blogging employment opportunities sent directly to your computer, through their handy RSS feed."

I thought I should mention this as I know a number of you are looking for writing gigs and blogging gigs. For me? Well... I do well enough to keep up with my own blogging ;-)

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 07:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fine-tune FireFox

On December 10th, 2004 I blogged about how to make Firefox even faster which offered instructions on manually altering your config file. Today, I learned of new software, called FireTune that will offer those who aren't comfortable manually adjusting their settings to allow the software to do it for them.

The software is being offered as freeware from TotalIdea Software. It received a good review from Home Computer Magazine.

I haven't tried it. I manually tweaked my settings. Give it a try though if you're interested.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 06:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2005

Rounding Corners Without Images

A few years ago the only way to round corners in your html was by using images and tables. You have probably read a number of articles since that show you how to do it without tables and images. Alessandro Fulciniti has a good tutorial on how to do this using CSS and Javascript.

His article shows several examples using

He says if he used images instead:

"If we'd use one of the css technique based on background images, probably we'd used 18 images, maybe some extra and non-semantic wrapper and a lot of css declaration. Could you imagine the kilobytes that were spared? Probably, about 18-20Kb or so."

You can read the tutorial and see that he has made available a zip file so you can download the html and the css of the examples that were presented.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 07:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2005

Details of IE 7.0 leaking out

On the Micorosoft Watch website, Mary Jo Foley claims some detail of the new browser have been leaking out.

Sources say it will include tabbed browsing like other popular browsers but here is the part I didn't like:

Partner sources say Microsoft is wavering on the extent to which it plans to support CSS2 with IE 7.0. Developers have been clamoring for Microsoft to update its CSS support to support the latest W3C standards for years. But Microsoft is leaning toward adding some additional CSS2 support to IE 7.0, but not embracing the standard in its entirety, partners say.

This shows Microsoft as "snubbing" the standards and other browsers and basically says that "as long as we are the most popular, we will make our own rules, and to heck with everyone else."

Why doesn't this surprise me?

I noted an article on Cnet this morning that tells of a challenge to Microsoft from the Web Standards Community called the Acid2 test. This "will be sponsored by the Web Standards Project, which is a grassroots coalition fighting for Web standards.". Part of what this test will include:

"We will produce a test page, code-named Acid2, that will actively use features Web designers crave, such as fixed positioning of elements.

Fixed positioning is described in the W3C's CSS2 Recommendation, to which Microsoft has a "deep commitment." However, fixed positioning has been supported for years by all modern browsers except IE for Windows. "

Naturally there will be other items tested. It has been said that this test might even identify flaws in other browsers.

I won't be "holding my breath" waiting for IE 7.0 to pass this test.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 07:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2005

Form Construction

A new article on devarticles.com from Apress Publishing offers great insight on various ways to build forms for your website. It primarily looks at four methods using:

1. Tables
2. Tableless
3. Simple and more accessible using the <label> tag
4. Use of a definition list to define label and form control pairs

Following a summary of these four methods the article strays into the use of tabindex, accesskey and using CSS to style your forms. Then it takes a peek into using <fieldset> to group form sections and using the <legend> tag that can be used to surround your form with a stylish border.

Read the article here.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 07:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

MT-Enclosures: A Movable Type Plugin

There is a plugin available for podcasting mp3 files for your RSS 2.0 feeds.

I haven't used it, so unless I get a request to do some work on a blog using it, I don't know anything more about it.

I DID cruise a few blogs that have podcasts, but they didn't get bookmarked.

I know it seems audio is getting quite popular on the Internet. In the last couple of weeks I put two 90 minute audio seminars online for two different clients.

I got to admit though, by the time I listen to the first 10 minutes of an audio file and then realize I don't want to listen to it anymore... that I could have quickly scanned the same information on a web page in under 2 minutes. Trying to listen to all these audio files and blogs just takes up too much time.

I think just because you can do it, doesn't necessarily mean you should do it.

That's my story! Whats' your?

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 09:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No Privacy for AIM users

Anyone who downloads the free AIM messenger on or after Feb. 5, 2004 has given permission for AOL to distribute the content to anyone they want to and republish the content if they so desire. Your content can be shared with any of their affiliates, competitors, or affiliates. They say:

"You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the content or to be compensated for any such uses," according to the AIM terms-of-service.

If you use AIM, it might be a good idea to find another instant messenger.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 03:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2005

Form Construction

A new article on devarticles.com from Apress Publishing offers great insight on various ways to build forms for your website. It primarily looks at four methods using:

  1. Tables
  2. Tableless
  3. Simple and more accessible using the <label> tag
  4. Use of a definition list to define label and form control pairs

Following a summary of these four methods the article strays into the use of tabindex, accesskey and using CSS to style your forms. Then it takes a peek into using <fieldset> to group form sections and using the <legend> tag that can be used to surround your form with a stylish border.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 06:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

88 Marketing Tips That Will Change Your Life

Willie Crawford highly recommended a Free Ebook, 88 Marketing Tips That Will Change Your Life.

He says:

One of the best books I've read on marketing and copywriting was written by my friend Paul Elliott. His mastery of copywriting and the psychology of it all, really amazes me.

I had a look at Paul's book and as usual Willie is right on! It's a keeper. I particularly liked #21. It says:

No matter what the goods or services you have to offer are, you are not in the business of providing those. No matter what you prefer to believe, you are in the business of building interpersonal relationships. The sooner you acknowledge that fact and pursue it vigorously, the sooner you will be massively successful.

This would certainly be reason enough for any and every business to consider having a blog, wouldn't it?

BL Ochman posted that Jeremy Wright has a list of 40 Fortune 500 companies that use blogs and an article about why the NY Times paid $410 million for About.com's 500 blogs.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 06:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

Acckk!! No power

A heavy rain storm and high winds up to 145 kilometers per hour hit Tuesday night and knocked out the power. It was restored early this morning, and I see after downloading about 500 emails (90% spam) I've got some catching up to do ;-)

If you sent me an email, I may have gotten it, but I can't be sure. So if you don't hear from me by the end of the day, you can assume I didn't. Please re-send.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 08:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2005

Firefox 1.0.1 is released to fix security holes

Brian Livingston, editor of the Windows Secrets Newsletter, is co-author of Windows 2000 Secrets, Windows Me Secrets, and eight other books in the Windows Secrets series.

Paul Thurott, associate editor of the Windows Secrets Newsletter, is co-author of Windows XP Home Networking, Windows XP Power Tools, and 14 other books.

With their permission I am able to offer you this article about Firefox security.

The Mozilla Foundation released on Feb. 24 Firefox 1.0.1, a security upgrade for its wildly successful 1.0 browser. More than 25 million people have downloaded 1.0 since its release on Nov. 9, according to the foundation.

I immediately felt that the security improvements in Firefox 1.0.1 warranted me publishing a newsletter update. But I held off until now because installation problems were causing severe confusion. I found it extremely difficult to nail down the best upgrade procedure.

Firefox 1.0's "check for updates" feature, for example, didn't report that any Firefox updates were available for six days after 1.0.1 became available. The foundation had kept the feature from reporting the existence of this update because of concern that 25 million people downloading the update simultaneously couldn't be supported by the existing infrastructure. This problem was apparently solved by Mar. 1, and checking for updates now reports that 1.0.1 is ready.

Rumors had also been flying that installing 1.0.1 required that Firefox 1.0 first be uninstalled. It's now clear that uninstalling 1.0 is necessary only if you want to install a ".exe" version of 1.0.1 over an instance of Firefox 1.0 that you obtained in a ".zip" file. Downloading 1.0.1 and installing it on top of a 1.0 .exe setup file you downloaded (as most people did) is fine. We've tested this and it works without deleting any bookmarks or Firefox extensions.

I recommend that Firefox 1.0 users upgrade to 1.0.1 immediately. The new version fixes a security problem with international domain names (IDN). The address bar can appear to show "paypay.com," for example, by composing a domain name of look-alike Unicode characters. Some registrars, unfortunately, are selling Unicode domain names that look identical to ASCII domains. Firefox 1.0.1 cures this by displaying all Unicode in "punycode," a plain-text equivalent. The punycode for the PayPal fake wouldn't fool anyone: "www.xn--pypal-4ve.com". This is a better fix than the two workarounds we published in the paid version of the Feb. 10 and 24 newsletters.

Firefox 1.0.1 also closes 16 other bugs, some of them potentially serious security weaknesses. This update is a good one to have.

Here, therefore, are the steps I recommend for this upgrade:

1. Read the Firefox 1.0.1 release-notes page carefully to see if any issues affect you:

2. To be safe, back up your PC, or at least make a copy of Firefox's Profiles folder, which contains your bookmarks and other settings. The location of the Profiles folder differs in various versions of Windows. See the release-notes page for the exact location.

3. In Firefox 1.0, click Tools, Extensions and make a note of any extensions you've installed. After upgrading to Firefox 1.0.1, you may need to re-enable or re-install one or more extensions.

4. Close the Extensions window. In Firefox 1.0, click Tools, Options, Advanced. In the Software Update section, make sure "Periodically check for updates to Firefox" is ON. Click the "Check Now" button. A window should open to announce that a 1.0.1 ".exe" file is ready to download. Download this file, which will save itself to your Desktop and then start to install. You'll need to close any open Firefox window when prompted to do so.

5. The download process may present you with Firefox 1.0.1 in a language other than your preferred one (for example, en-US for U.S. English instead of it-IT for Italian). If so, halt the download and go to the foundation's All Downloads page, which offers language- specific versions (note: British English is not yet available)

6. If you're running the ".exe" upgrade, but you originally installed Firefox 1.0 from a ".zip" file, you'll need to halt the upgrade and uninstall Firefox 1.0 before continuing. Running the ".exe" file to upgrade a version of Firefox 1.0 you originally installed from a ".exe" file, however, doesn't require uninstalling anything. (Some people recommend uninstalling *any* program before you install a new version, but this seems unnecessary.)

7. After Firefox 1.0.1 is installed, make sure your bookmarks are still intact and check that your extensions still work. If an extension isn't certified to work with 1.0.1, Firefox may disable it. In that case, click Tools, Extensions and try to download a new version of the extension. (We'll print in the Mar. 10 newsletter a way to make any Firefox 1.0 extension run in 1.0.1, even if it hasn't been certified to run in 1.0.1 by its developer yet.)

8. If you installed Firefox 1.0.1 over 1.0, the Add/Remove Programs applet in your Control Panel will show two uninstallers: one for "Mozilla Firefox (1.0)" and one for "Mozilla Firefox (1.0.1)." Running either routine at this point will uninstall Firefox 1.0.1. This is a known bug. Don't run either uninstall routine unless you want to uninstall Firefox 1.0.1.

That's it. In my opinion, the Mozilla Foundation should have written better instructions and made the process much smoother for Firefox users that they did. Hopefully, this will open the foundation's eyes to the usability problems that can arise with even a minor upgrade.

One fundamental issue with Firefox 1.x, which both Paul Thurrott and I have written about previously, is that it doesn't offer the kind of tools that Internet Explorer does for deploying the browser in a corporate environment.

The best method I've seen for doing this has been described by a Firefox user who modified the FFDeploy routine. The procedure is explained on the independent Microsoft Software Forum Network.


You can get tips like this by subscribing to the free Windows Secrets Newsletter.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 09:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2005

Follow Along Browsing

I was reading a review of Jybe by eWeek writer Michael Caton. He says:

"Advanced Reality has revived follow-me browsing with Jybe, a free plug-in for Internet Explorer and extension for Firefox with a free presentation service tacked on."

I thought this might be a handy tool for anyone putting on webinars. According to the press release it says:

Upon installation JYBE adds a simple three-button toolbar to the familiar IE and Firefox user interface. These buttons allow the user to create a collaboration session, join a collaboration session, and end a collaboration session. When the "create a collaboration session" button is clicked the user is prompted to enter their name and a session name. Multiple users can join the same session, which allows all participants to navigate the web in lockstep. Unlike screen sharing products JYBE does not slow down web page response times.

It allows you to share PowerPoint Presentations as well. You can learn more about this product or download a beta application from www.jybe.com.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 07:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 04, 2005

A Humorous Look at Computer Addiction

This post is a humorous solution to Computer addiction and making the most of your time. If you don't feel like a laugh... just skip this post...

flask-cell.jpg 180x182Does your wife or girlfriend accuse you of spending too much time in front of the computer? She may be sitting in the living room watching something on TV, just lying in wait for you to come out of the den to get a drink. Then she attacks!

Or it could be you're at work; it's Friday afternoon. No one feels like working Friday afternoon. You can't wait to start your weekend. The device to the left is the answer to your prayers. It's a flask that looks like a cellphone that you can fill with your favorite beverage.

Your wife will walk by the den to see what you're doing and she will think you're making an important call. Or your boss will see just how dedicated you are to making the most out of Friday afternoons (unlike the other employees who can't sit still in their seats because they are itching to get out of the office). Maybe you will get a raise!

internet_urinal.jpg 220x148Of course one thing leads to another. It is nice to be able to enjoy a drink at home in your den or in the office, but there remains the problem of bladder pressure. You certainly don't want to give the wife any chance to attack, or you don't want your boss to see you staggering around the office trying to remember where you left the bathroom. Heck! That would just kill any chance of a raise!

The Internet Urinal is the magic solution. Really both of the items are indispensible for anyone who is trying to get the most out of their time in front of their computer.

Enjoy your Friday! Try not to work too hard.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 08:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Netscape Browser 8.0 Beta Goes Live

Netscape Browser includes two separate layout engines, so you can choose to view a web site like Netscape Browser or like Internet Explorer. Tabbed browsing is included, along with advanced privacy features. You can also set Netscape Browser to block popups, cookies, images, java, and other behaviors that you would rather not allow. Also, you can easily over-ride and save custom settings for individual web-sites.

If you read about it on BetaNews you will see a number of comments from people who aren't too happy with the look of the browser, but apparently it functions fast and well.

You might want to wait until the final release is ready which will incorporate new security measures like then newest release of Firefox. This Beta does have security features though:

"A source close to development told BetaNews Netscape 8 will be upgraded to Firefox 1.0.1 before the final release. The source also noted that because most of the phishing sites with Internationalized Domain Names are blocked through blacklists, the Firefox vulnerabilities are not as relevant to Netscape 8.

Designed to protect Web surfers from scams and viruses, a new "Trust Rating" system helps to warn users of potentially dangerous sites. AOL says it "continuously updates the browser with a list of trusted and suspected sites" and "will automatically apply your security settings to make you safer and more compatible."

You can read more about the browser's features on the Netscape site and download it from the same page if you want to check it out.

For those of you who are already trying it, I would like to hear your comments. How do you like it?

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 07:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Microsoft using PHP/MySQL on Apache?

Like the old adage says "Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see." So... a recent article on CNet that says:

"An image posted online indicates that some of Microsoft's own developers apparently prefer open-source products to build Web pages than Microsoft's own proprietary software."

... could be a tad mis-leading...

It goes on to say:

Certainly, those MSN Brazil developers are not alone in their fondness for PHP and MySQL. Those two tools are ingredients of the popular "LAMP stack" of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.

I don't know of this is a joke or the truth. I thought it was funny enough to share with you.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 06:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2005

Floating lists side-by-side

In order to have two lists side-by-side the only way we used to be able to do it was by placing both lists in a table cell. Anyone who has mastered tables knows this isn't any big deal, but trying to do it without tables using CSS can prove to be a bit of a challenge for some.

Formerly a surgeon, Nandini Doreswamy is now a systems and wireless LAN engineer living in Auckland, New Zealand. Her passion for web standards emerged when she designed websites for the two companies she owns and operates, Radius Networks and Helion Training. In her article Bulleted Lists: Multi-Layered Fudge, she says:

Designing our company’s website in CSS was coming along nicely until I hit a roadblock. The challenge was to create two columns of bulleted lists in the flow of the text. The layout I had in mind was something like this:

Paragraph 1
Bulleted list | Bulleted list
Paragraph 2
Bulleted list | Bulleted list
Paragraph 3
Bulleted list | Bulleted list
...and so on

You can view the page she was having trouble with and use your browser "view source" to see the nice clean job she did of marking the page up.

My only comment is I might have used and XHTML DTD instead of HTML 4.01 Transitional. Still... a great job, and great article.

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 11:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2005

RSS feed problems

Seems to be some trouble on the Internet today. A good one-quarter of the blogs I subscribe to via RSS were unavailable. This is a little odd. It isn't uncommon for a couple of them, but this is the first time I've seen nine feeds be unavailable at the same time.

Anyone else having a problem?

Posted by Steve MacLellan at 07:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack