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Stealing time


Vol. 4, No. 20, 27/8/2003

From the editor

##first name##

Have you ever been robbed? I'd been lucky enough to avoid petty thieves - until recently when I was plundered literally, virtually and figuratively.

A visiting Sydney mate (the nun) and I had decided to stretch our legs in a popular Canberran park.

Feeling ever so righteous after our somewhat laboured efforts through the gardens we returned to the carpark to find my driver's window smashed and the good sister's bag, wallet and phone missing from the car boot (translation - trunk).

We consoled ourselves with a theatre outing (a soul-lifting local production of "Godspell", appropriately).

We couldn't pre-book for the show online but then neither can my web visitors. Thanks to low-life cyber crims, I've lost my online merchant account that lets you pay for my workshops and e-booklet via the Net.

Since early this year, fraudsters based somewhere in Asia have been using the brizcomm site (along with many others no doubt) to test credit card numbers.

They order my e-booklet using temporary email addresses and a random number-generating program. If the transaction is approved, they know they're on a winner and use the card number for bigger purchases online.

As a result, my bank tried to fine me $25 per inquiry from perplexed credit card holders all over the world. I had explained the problem to the bank months ago, they told me they couldn't do anything, the thieves would move on eventually and that I wouldn't be penalised.

After many calls, letters and emails I finally had the fines reversed only to be told by the bank that my e-booklet had unsavoury content and the bank's brand would be damaged by association with me. I closed my account rather than be censored by a financial institution.

How's that for freedom of speech, not to mention service after 30 years as a loyal customer?

To add insult to injury, I jumped on to the Net today to catch up on mail only to find my inbox chock full of fraudulent orders and the usual garbage from direct marketers.

The people who do these things are thieves - they're not only taking our money, they're stealing our trust and our time (as valuable as gold in today's hyperactive world).

Equally guilty are those who insist on writing long-winded waffle for reading online (so I'll stop right here).

Whatever happened to "do unto others" anyway?


PS I'm seeking a new Australian online merchant provider. Any tips or warnings?

Web content tip

To some web developers, text is nothing more than the messy bit that gets in the way of their beautiful designs.

Tough. The web is still predominantly a textual medium and one of the quickest ways to irritate your reader is to shrink words to squint size (particularly as the fastest-growing group online is seniors).

If your eyes are as sore as mine online, configure your web browser to display larger text (if the designers haven't fixed it so you can't).

To change the displayed font size, go to "view" on the top browser menu.

In Internet Explorer, choose "View - Text-Size - Larger or Largest".

In Netscape 7, select "View-Text-Zoom" (try 120%).

In Netscape 4x, see "View-Increase Font".

Learn how to use colour and design...

At your service

Management doesn't "get" the Net and the potential of online communication. Your employees don't "get" the difference between writing for print and online. Your techies and marketers don't get along.

Perhaps you need a web evangelist to convert the masses. Book a customised presentation, lecture, seminar or workshop (choose from content introduction, web writing, editing, information architecture, content management, layout and design, usability, accessibility, web marketing, e-newsletters). Email yvette@brizcomm.com.au


Email tip

Do you know how to find out whether your emails will be blocked from some inboxes?

If you publish an e-newsletter or email update alert, you should know.

To see if you're on an Internet blacklist, run your IP address through http://openrbl.org/

More email tips...

Readers write

POLLYANNA'S COLUMN - Your attitude to mirrors changes through the decades, as Pollyanna reflects -http://tinyurl.com/628u

BOOK AND MOVIE REVIEWS - Send in a few sentences about a favourite book or film and we'll publish your words here -

"I have been a recipient of your informative newsletter for about 3 years now and enjoy the read. I have been getting too much junk on my hotmail and have slowly been redirecting important emails so I can close it down for good. I will now send your newsletter to work so I can enjoy the read over my morning cuppa. I have also sent to a friend at work who has the same taste in material as myself and I'm sure she will also love your newsletter...Keep up the good work!" - from Christene

"I've been lurking throughout your darker hours where readers were slamming you for having your say. been on long service leave, too. Have been steadily working my way through the back issues accumulated in my absence. I really find good value in your tips & links & simply enjoy your very bright & conversational style. My wife has started up her own business as a consultant from home so your many IT tips have proven a boon for her, too... I wish you every happiness & success." - Chris from Adelaide


The Y Files

You have enough to read this issue so I'll leave the Q&A till next time.

* Email your Net-related question to yvette@brizcomm.com.au


Surf Club (web site reviews)

Human Descent
What would you get if you crossed a cat and a cow or a dog and a bird? Some pretty weird little creatures, that's what. Take a trip into a gallery of strange photos.
In a net shell: Bizarre.

Senses Challenge
Test your senses with this 20-question online quiz (takes about 10 minutes). Seeing isn't always believing.
In a net shell: Taster.

Hooked on Facts
Did you know that no matter how big or thick, a piece of paper cannot be folded more than seven times? Or that the average person swallows about a quart of mucous every day. Or that boys with unusual first names are more likely to have mental problems than boys with conventional names (though that's not the case for girls).
In a net shell: Fancy that.

Burarra Gathering
Take a virtual trip to the land of the Burarra people with your guides, Danaja, and his grandfather, Wala Wala. Fill out the permit to travel on to Aboriginal land, choose wet or dry season then go bush to learn how to set a fish trap at a billabong, track emu, navigate by the stars and make fire.
In a net shell: Virtual walkabout.

The Healthy Refrigerator
Heart disease begins in early childhood. Open the fridge door to learn how to eat better and improve your family's cholesterol. See the top 10 tips for a healthy fridge, view a celebrity "refrigerator makeover" or calculate your risk for heart disease.
In a net shell: Take heart.

Search Engine Colossus
Learn about your fellow world citizens with the help of this international directory of search engines. Search Engine Colossus offers a quick way to find thousands of regional portal sites around the globe. Search by country (Afghanistan to Zimbabwe) or subject.
In a net shell: Yahoo alternative.

* web sites are previewed on ABC Radio Queensland on Tuesdays (between 7pm and 9pm) -


Reader choice

"Imagine if every time someone visited your web page, they could instantly communicate with you and any person visiting your site live..." Take a tour, ask questions - it's a great business tool.
- submitted by Glenn

* Email your brief web site or e-newsletter review to yvette@brizcomm.com.au


Food for thought

"Why would anyone steal a shopping cart? It's like stealing a two-year-old." - Erma Bombeck.


Top links from last issue

Stress Test

Taming email

Nine pillars of successful web teams

Image Resizer


Net guide for Aussie journos

Find experts, contacts and Net-based sources of Australian facts, figures and background information in Belinda Weaver's Guide to Internet information sources for Australian journalists -

And keep up to date with what’s new at http://www.journoz.com/weblog/


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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