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A Million Monkeys

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They say that a million monkeys sitting in front of a million computers (typing away at random) could write a novel, but there’s a lot of upkeep with a million monkeys.

So instead, one of our ‘code monkeys’ wrote his own novel.

Steve Maass has e-published a novel called Gene Pool that he co-wrote over the course of several years with a friend from a faraway land called California.

Gene Pool (Kindle Version) by Steven MaassGene Pool (Kindle Version) by Steven Maass

The concept for Gene Pool was born in 1997 when the two writers met at random on an early Internet chat site and developed a friendship based on a mutual interest in writing. They soon sketched out an idea for a science fiction tale filled with alien horrors. Their goals were to build a story to explain the presence on Earth of the ‘familiar’ gray-skinned aliens and flying saucers, but also to add a terrifying new element in the form of a second, vicious alien race that is discovered when it begins methodically killing human beings.

The initial excitement about writing the novel soon ran headlong into the necessities of daily life, and months, then years went by during which little or no progress was made. Then the authors got their second great idea: write for fifteen minutes a day, every day. It seemed like a simple enough goal to meet, and once they got started, the fifteen minutes often turned into an hour, and something kind of miraculous started to happen: chapters were written, new ideas were hatched, and the book began to take shape.

Early in this process it became clear that it would be necessary to meld the styles of the two writers into one coherent ‘voice.’ Steve took on that challenge and became the de facto editor of the growing manuscript. The better part of the next couple of years was spent emailing ideas, chapters, and comments back and forth, and then one day the checklists were completed, the margin notes were resolved, and the manuscript was done.

The next ‘chapter’ in the saga was trying to sell the book to a publisher. At the time, the options were to submit the manuscript through a literary agent, or to try to find a publisher who would accept the manuscript directly from the authors. Some research revealed that a handful of sci-fi publishers did accept manuscripts without an agent, so another couple of years were spent submitting the book to these publishers (and waiting, often for months, for a response.) Despite positive and encouraging comments from the book reviewers, no one made an offer to publish the book.

Fortunately, as more and more things have ‘gone digital,’ a new publishing option has become available: e-books. Amazon.com, the worlds largest online book seller, offers an e-publishing platform that allows books to be read on their Kindle e-book reader, on any iPhone or iPod Touch using a free Kindle Reader app, or on a PC using Amazon’s free, downloadable Kindle software (Mac and Blackberry versions are ‘coming soon’ at the time of this writing).

Amazon.com even provides free book samples for many of their e-books (Gene Pool is no exception!), allowing you to read the first chapter for free before you decide to buy.

Steve is focusing on websites now, but if you happen to read Gene Pool, drop us a line and let us know if you liked it!

Kindle for PC
Kindle for iPhone

List Your Business with Bing Local

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Since Bing launched earlier in 2009 it has been grabbing a fair share of the search market. Within Bing is a search feature where searchers search locally. It’s called Bing Local and it’s a great addition to your marketing plan.

Have a look at Bing Local…

Visit www.bing.com/local/ and search for businesses in your area.

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on Bing LocalFond du Lac, Wisconsin on Bing Local

What is included with Bing Local?

In addition to standard features such as business name, address, and phone Bing Local provides additional fields for hours of operation, payment methods, company descriptions, and links to your website. Your logo can be uploaded along with additional photographs or screenshots.

wisnet.com on Bing Localwisnet.com on Bing Local

Another great feature…

Have you searched for a service then noticed business listings next to an image of a map? This is local search, built into the search engine, and if your business is listed with Bing Local it has a good chance of being seen in this area.

When searching ‘restaurants’ Bing displayed local businesses with a map.

Conclusion

Bing Local is perfect for getting additional exposure for local searchers. As a bonus, clients can easily get directions, office hours and links to your website.

Notes:

wisnet.com has experience configuring and maintaining Bing Local. If you need assistance contact us.

How important is the Meta Description?

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In a way the Meta Description is like having an ad for your page. When listed within search results the description provides a clear and compelling depiction of what searchers will see on your webpage. Be interesting, unique and truthful and people will take interest.

Note: If you are new to Meta information we recommend reading ‘How important is the Meta Title?’

Describe your page to searchers…

When crawling a site Google collects information from each page. Each page holds a certain value and is ranked accordingly. When searching, take notice of the paragraph below the title of each result. This is the Meta Description and it’s a short paragraph meant to entice you to click the link and read more.

When searching ‘Money Smart Neighborhood’ within Google take notice of the Meta Description.

Matt Cutts discusses Google…

Matt Cutts is part of the Search Quality group at Google and has been employed with them since 2000. In the video below he discusses how important the Meta Description is becoming.

Conclusion…

Use the Meta Description to entice, introduce or captivate the searchers into visiting your webpages.

How important is the Meta Title?

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The Meta Title is found in more places than you might realize. Next time when surfing the web, take notice of a helpful marketing feature which was right in front of your eyes the whole time.

Why is the Meta Title important?

It’s a short phrase, slogan or description depicting what the webpage, or article, is about. The title is meant to captivate the audience to read the full article. Plus, if Google finds your article resourceful, and the Meta Title truthful, your webpage will have a greater chance of receiving more click-throughs.

Where do you see the Meta Title?

Let me show you some visual examples where the Meta Title is found…

Meta Title and a Browser

Look at the way, way top of your screen while looking at this webpage. Do you see the title of this page up there? Yes, you are reading an article about Meta Titles. How cool is it that it reflects the article that you are reading? Imagine if it said ‘we do quality website design’? Would that really tell you what this article is about? I don’t think so!

The Meta Title displays on the tabs of Google’s Chrome browser.The Meta Title displays on the tabs of Google’s Chrome browser.

Meta Title and Taskbar

When running Windows it’s easy to notice the Meta Titles built into the taskbar. The taskbar usually sits at the bottom of your screen, between the Start menu and the clock. With misleading Meta Titles it’s frustrating to know which one to click on. A good Meta Title is helpful especially when multiple browser windows are open.

On a PC the Meta Title displays in the Taskbar. On a PC the Meta Title displays in the Taskbar.

Meta Title and Google (and Yahoo and Bing)

The Meta Title is the blue text with the underline displaying on Google’s search engine results page. If Google is displaying the title it’s an indication of its importance. ‘A great article isn’t great without a clever and ingenious title to go along with it.’

Here is an example of the Meta Title showing on Google’s results page.Here is an example of the Meta Title showing on Google’s results page.

Meta Titles and Facebook’s Social Networking Platform

The fun doesn’t stop yet. When adding a link, Facebook will automatically grab the Meta Title from the webpage. Facebook’s built-in tool helps others promote your webpage by using your Meta Title to describe the link.

Share a link on Facebook and it will include the Meta Title.Share a link on Facebook and it will include the Meta Title.

Conclusion…

Meta Titles are important components for each webpage of your website. Google, Bing and Yahoo value them highly. Visitors unknowingly read them and unconsciously value their worth tremendously.

New Features in Webmail

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Compose Window Pop-In

Speed is critical in web-based apps and Compose/Send is critical in email clients. So creating an improved and faster way of sending emails was a no-brainer. For users who love the flexibility of a pop-up compose window, but have been slaves to browser rendering, this pop-in is definitely for you. Give it a try.

Compose Window Pop-InCompose Window Pop-In

Improved Address Auto-Complete

The auto-complete function for addressing emails is bigger, faster and smarter. It can store an unlimited amount of contacts and even remembers addresses not stored in your Contacts List. It also prioritizes the recipients you email a lot – over those you don’t.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Enable keyboard shortcuts in your Webmail Settings and never use your mouse again! Well, maybe not never, but Keyboard Shortcuts do allow you to perform many popular email actions from the keyboard alone.

Keyboard ShortcutsKeyboard Shortcuts

‘No Attachment’ and ‘No Subject’ Alerts

This new feature automatically detects a variation of the word ‘attachment’ in your email and alerts you if no file is attached. Similarly for the Subject; an empty Subject field will prompt an alert. Both features can be toggled on/off in Webmail Settings.

Right-Click to Create Email Filters

Quickly create email filters right from your inbox. Simply right-click on a message to bring up the ‘Add New Filter’ menu.

Right-Click to Create Email FiltersRight-Click to Create Email Filters

Invites can Send to Groups

A life-saver for all you project manager-types… Create a Group within Contacts that you consistently schedule meetings with (say ‘Developers’) and simply send an invite to that Group for future pow-wows.

Coming Soon Gallery Showcase

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A new business venture leaves you with a time before your new site is developed. What should you do with your domain name until then? The best thing to do is create a simple ‘Coming Soon’ page.

What is included in a ‘Coming Soon’ page?

Keep it simple is the best practice. A paragraph about what to expect, catchy slogan, contact information, and a way visitors can be notified when the site goes live. In addition, you will want to have it branded with your logo, color scheme and fonts. Bonus points will be received if the design and information intrigues visitors to where they take interest… and get people talking.


CBAY, LLC - Service Disabled Veterans Owned Small Businesses
CBAY, LLC – Service Disabled Veterans Owned Small Businesses

AnewStarr - Affordability with Distinction

AnewStarr – Affordability with Distinction

Contact Form, Email Address and Inquirers

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Contact forms and email addresses are tools of communication. When added to a website each provides a different technique for inquirers to contact your company. This article explains the advantages and disadvantages of both.

What is a contact form?

In the example below a contact form includes a field for Name, Email, and Phone. Furthermore, it includes an area to write additional information. In the wisnet.com contact form the address, zip, and state were left absent to make the form easy to fill out.

wisnet.coms contact formwisnet.com’s contact form

Contact Form Advantages

  • If an address, state and zip hold importance then it can be a required field.
  • Your company’s email is not visible to spambots. Spambots crawl websites searching for email addresses for the purpose of spamming.
  • Inquirers can fill out the form without using mail programs such as Outlook, Entourage, Gmail, etc. It’s especially convenient when they are out of the office or using a different computer.

Contact Form Disadvantages

  • Usually not user friendly.
  • The form can not be saved to be filled out a later time. Interruptions and distractions can cause them to lose the page, thus having to rewrite their questions and comments.
  • The email address is unknown and can not be saved in the inquirers address book.
  • Inquirers misspell their email address when filling out the form. When replying to their inquiry it will not get back to them.
Email Advantages
  • Inquirers can use a program, such as Outlook or Entourage, which they are comfortable with.
  • Most email programs save a copy of the message that was sent. This can be reviewed at a later time.
  • Email programs tend to save the email address in the address book for future use.
Email Disadvantages
  • Spambots can find the email address easily.
  • The inquirer might not include all relevant contact information such as the address and phone number.
Which is best for my site?

In most situations it is a good idea to have both. If someone has a strong disdain for contact forms email addresses are a convenient alternative. Providing multiple contact options is ideal and the benefits are commanding.

Got video? Get Exposure.

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Video is becoming more popular each year. It’s a great avenue to feature your services and products with visual elements, motion and voice. If you only had 30 seconds to describe your company video would be the tool to use. If you got video, get exposure with your own YouTube Channel.

What is the YouTube Channel?

Think of it as a webpage where all your videos are displayed. Your videos are easily accessible and will start playing instantly. Further down the webpage you will see information about your company and a link to your website. Visitors can leave comments and rate your videos.

Visit www.youtube.com/adashunjones to view The Adashun Jones YouTube Channel

YouTube for Mobile

YouTube has been constructed to work both on your computer and mobile devices such as an iPhone, Blackberry and Droid. Visitors will have easy access to view your Channel from home or on the go.

Customization of your YouTube Channel…

The YouTube Channel allows some basic customizations. The colors can be changed and an image can be added into the background. One flaw is that some visitors might not see the background image without a wider monitor. We assume YouTube is aware of this and the move to larger monitors has been on the rise. More advanced features are available once your site has reached a certain level of traffic.

Plan for success…

We would think that we would get exposure by uploading videos to YouTube but that’s just the start. Your videos will need to be marketed and because of that you will need a plan. Additions can be made to your site to promote the videos. In addition, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites can be used to notify fans of your videos. We recommend contacting us to help plan your YouTube Channel.

IceFlow Studios

Iceflow Studios has a custom look with navigation built into the header.

Iceflow Studioswww.youtube.com/IceflowStudios

ESPN

With advanced features available ESPN has removed the commercial and re-arranged the layout.

ESPN YouTube Channelwww.youtube.com/user/ESPN

Pizza Hut

Of all the major pizza franchises Pizza Hut has one of the nicest layouts. The background image is promoting a savings for your first online order and their new app for the iPhone.

Pizza Hut YouTube Channelwww.youtube.com/user/pizzahut

Walt Disney France

Walt Disney France has added a simple but elegant layout including a link to their official website.

Walt Disney France YouTube Channelwww.youtube.com/user/WaltDisneyStudiosFR

Conclusion

Combined with an effective marketing plan having a YouTube Channel is a great tool to promote your company, products and services.