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Why is software so hard?


Vol. 4, No. 3, 12/2/2003

In this issue:
From the editor
Knock your writers into shape
Web content tip
Email tip
Readers write
The Y Files
Surf Club (web site reviews)
Reader choice
Weekly thought
Top links from last week
WANTED - Web Communicator
Things that make you go huh?

From the editor

##first name##

After spending hours wrestling with a spreadsheet program, I have to ask - who designs this stuff?

Just when I thought I'd mastered the basics of office software, another program manages to make me feel like a complete techno-incompetent.

Funny how some people think you must be a computer whiz if you work on the web. Nothing could be further from the truth in my case.

Technology is a tool, not a toy, for me. When it does what I want, I love it. When it gets in the way of the content creation process, look out.

Perhaps it's a left brain, right brain thing. One thing's for sure - usability testing for web sites and software is a no-brainer.



Knock your writers into shape

You don't have to endure poorly written and organised online content on your web site or intranet, book an in-house workshop with someone who does it for a living. Choose from web writing and editing (including information architecture, content management), content essentials (including usability, accessibility and promotion), or e-newsletters. Email yvette@brizcomm.com.au for a quote.

Web content tip

Clean out the cobwebs on your intranet or web site with tools and services to find, validate and report broken links -


Email tip

Think you get too much trash in your inbox already? At least you're not alone, according to a Harris poll in the US.

"...the average e-mail user should expect to receive nearly 3,900 junk email messages per day in 2007."

Let's hope we find a workable solution before then.

* hat tip to John of Canberra


Readers write

POLLYANNA - Melon skiers and naked poets invade Pollyanna's usually sleepy quiet country Queensland town for the annual festival -

FEEDBACK - "Welcome back, and I just loved your opening punch. Working for the government and also responsible for getting together what goes on our site, it is amazing how many times I have to go to the author of words on a project or happening and say,'so what! - please explain!' The web site on colour combinations is really fantastic and has made me rethink and clarify the colours for my house renovations. Pleased to say our web site is in shades of ochre and measures up quite well. Thank you." - Peggy from Brisbane

"Enjoyed your editorial...I was thinking the other day that the less substance there is to a discipline, the more jargon there is. I have moved from PR & communication into business development, which appears to have so much jargon. Yet, the counter to my little thesis is medicine, which I think one would have to say has both great substance and incredible jargon..." - Paul from Melbourne


The Y Files

Q - How can we add a discussion tool (message board, chat room or other type of forum) to our intranet without waiting for our IT department to reinvent the wheel and without compromising our database security?

A - You can download DIY script and software for web-based forums to host on your own server if you don't want third party hosts (although they often have more security and speed than their clients). You'll have to pay to remove advertising and will have to ask your techies (nicely) to set up the tools but at least you'll get them before the world ends. Anyone able to vouch for a particular tool? Send your suggestions to yvette@brizcomm.com.au

* web conferencing tools (including DIY) -http://www.intranetjournal.com/tools/webconferencing/index.html


Surf Club (web site reviews)

Learn all about camels, Arabic cuisine, art and falconry at this comprehensive online resource on the Arab world, particularly countries in the Middle East and North Africa. You’ll find snapshots of almost every nation in the Middle East (with history, geography, culture, business, transport) as well as news, essays, daily email updates and a “magic carpet” to country-specific sites.
In a net shell: Eye opener.

Polling Report
Are most Americans behind President George Bush’s push to war with Iraq? See for yourself at this independent non-partisan resource on trends in American popular opinion. Data are from national probability-sample surveys of the American public on topics from after-death to Viagra.
In a net shell: Insight.

Bug Bytes
Listen to rice weevil larva eating a wheat kernel, a termite munching on wood, a grub chewing on a root or a butterfly’s wings vibrating at this unusual online library. The site from the US Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology features about 40 audio clips, categorised by species and subject.
In a net shell: Swat up.

Rent My Chest
“The statements reflected on my knockers do not necessarily represent the beliefs in my head.” Chris Pirillo, publisher of the popular Lockergnome techie e-newsletter, admits he’s not the hottest guy on earth but that doesn’t stop him from earning money through his “boob doodles”. For US$20 he’ll post your message on his chest in coloured markers for the world to see. Women’s breasts can be made available for US$2000.
In a net shell: "Pectacular".

Broken Saints
Welcome to storytelling in the new millennium with Broken Saints, an award-winning online graphic novel created in Macromedia Flash. The haunting music, dream-like images and sophisticated comic-style animation tell the stories of Shandala, Oran, Raimi and Kami. Catch up in the archives, go behind the scenes, play games or sign up for an email update when the next chapter is released.
In a net shell: Intriguing.

Lucid Dreaming
”Lucid dreaming” means dreaming while knowing you’re dreaming and can be used for adventure and fantasy, overcoming nightmares, rehearsal, creativity and problem solving, healing and transcendence. Apparently this consciousness allows you to guide your dreams. So how do you know that you aren't dreaming right now? Find out in the FAQ or pick up hints on recalling dreams (the first step to lucid dreaming).
In a net shell: Zzzzzz.

* web sites are previewed with "the Cyberscribe" on ABC Radio Statewide on Mondays (between 8pm and 8.40pm)

Reader choice

Banished Words List
Following on from Bulls*** Bingo last week, have you seen this site from the States...?
- Denny from Edinburgh

Send a brief review of your favourite site to yvette@brizcomm.com.au

Weekly thought

"I got a Valentine's Day card from my girl. It said, 'Take my heart! Take my arms! Take my lips!' Which is just like her. Keeping the best part for herself." - Robert Orben


Top links from last week

Bullsh** Bingo

Color and Personality

Coffee Break Arcade


Nuts and Bolts of College Writing

* to reproduce any content from brizcomm's newsletter or web site in your own publication, please email yvette@brizcomm.com.au


WANTED - Web Communicator

A job in a dynamic government agency
$44,114 to $51,064 * + super

The Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) is seeking a web communicator to join the communication team. The successful applicant will maintain ANTA's website with a strong user focus. As a versatile professional communicator, they will also work on other communication projects for ANTA.

The web communicator will be familiar with web administration systems, understand what makes a website work well, and will have professional writing skills including web writing.

For a copy of the application guide and position summary, visit ANTA's website at http://www.anta.gov.au/abtEmployment.asp or contact Stephanee Ward on (07) 3246 2323. Applications addressing the selection criteria provided in the position summary must be received by 5:00pm Friday 21 February 2003, and may be emailed (Word 6+) to recruit@anta.gov.au or forwarded to Manager Human Resources, Australian National Training Authority, GPO Box 3120, Brisbane, Qld 4001.

* A commencement salary within the salary range provided above will be determined by the successful candidate's experience, skills and ability.


Things that make you go huh?

"Yvette, this is the best ebook ever! Oh my God, who knew??...BTW, I LOVE the virtual autopsy (mystery lover here...)." - Tina Swift, Library Business Manager and freelance writer, western Massachusetts.

Ready for some extreme surfing? Want to be titillated, taunted and tempted?

Buy a copy of Odd Bods - 50 bizarre sites about the human body and shock your dinner party guests with tales from the dark side of the Net.

Grab your credit card to pay securely online for instant access to professionally reviewed sites that could take years to find among the millions of dead links, scumware and pop-ups.

Only 9.95 (incl. GST) in Aussie dollars (that's about five US dollars) - less than a bottle of red wine and the wicked pleasure will last longer.

Available in .exe format for PCs (.pdf for Macs coming). Don't worry, we'll tell you how to download it - it's super easy.

Go on, live dangerously and get it while it's hot - http://www.brizcomm.com.au/shop/

Remember, this newsletter is shareware. Please give a copy to a friend or colleague and suggest they sign up. Cheers.


Yvette Nielsen, Editor - phone 61 (0)41 771 8683
PO Box 2026 Bardon Qld 4065 Australia

© 2000-2003 Brizcomm Pty Ltd

We accept no responsibility and disclaim all liability for any incorrect information in articles, sites or events in this newsletter. If links do not work, try again later - sometimes the host server for a listed site might be down temporarily.


Bobby Approved (v 3.2) Unusual Corporate Gifts other than a Gift Basket

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