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Surfin' USA


Vol. 2, No. 19, 30/5/2001


discover new sites and the secrets to web success

Vol. 2, No. 19 Surfin' USA May 30, 2001

Yvette Nielsen, Editor, yvette@brizcomm.com.au

This free newsletter is distributed by subscription only. If you
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By the time you read this, I'll be winging my way to LA for the
annual Internet Content Conference, "where the future of Internet
content will be defined".

Must say I'm looking forward to networking in real time with other
Net workers and discovering developments on the content scene.

The web turned 10 years old last week but we're still just cyber
babes in arms with much left to learn, considering the scant
research into online content.
Nobody knows it all in this new media. That's half its appeal.
When I launched into cyberspace in 1996, online content was very
much the great unknown with few resources for would-be web writers.

Hands-on experience accelerates learning, that's for sure. The
tips, tricks and knowledge I share in my workshops and talks are
the product of real-life, trial-and-error experience - plus lots
and lots and lots of surfing.

Content creation is an art not a science. Anyone can learn the
theory from a book or online publication but can you practise it?

An open mind is essential in this constantly evolving industry.
You must be flexible and prepared to listen to everyone, try
anything, reject what doesn't work and improve on what does.

Learn as much from the experts willing to share their experience,
then do the best you can with the information you have.

A good place to start is my next Web Content Workshop in Brisbane
on Thursday and Friday, June 21-22.

If you need a helping hand with your email newsletter, book in to
my next E-newsletters Workshop on Friday, July 13, in Brisbane.

For details, see http://www.brizcomm.com.au/workshops/



1. Web content tip - Users pay
2. Scientifically speaking
3. The Y Files (Q&A)
4. Columns and reviews
5. Surf Club
6. Reader's choice
7. Weekly chuckle

Non-profit M/C Online needs a volunteer coordinating editor for its
online journal, "M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture". You'll conduct
fortnightly meetings Monday mornings at UQ St Lucia (Brisbane), seek
contributions, make announcements, liaise with the graphic designer
and editors, enforce deadlines, run the list and help "M/C Reviews".
You must be word and web savvy. Visit http://www.api-network.com/mc/
for more info or send a resume to mc@api-network.com


1. Web content tip - Users pay

A survey of 1,078 user experience professionals has found that
usability specialists make more money than designers and writers in
the same field.

In all three areas, salaries are highest in the US, lower in Canada
and Asia, and much lower in Europe and Australia.

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen, who charges a paltry US$20,000 for
a four-hour visit to your company, reckons writers deserve an
immediate raise:

"Online writing is not just content, it's the core value on most
sites and the first thing users look at. Writers are certainly worth
more than what our respondents are being paid."

Onya, Uncle Jakob. Read the full report at:



2. Scientifically speaking

While in Melbourne last week I had the pleasure of addressing the
Victorian members of the Australian Science Communicators (ASC) at
the Redback Hotel, appropriately enough.

The ASC is a national association of more than 400 journalists,
editors, scientists, engineers, educators and communicators
committed to communicating science and technology.

Members believe that the way Australians understand, communicate
and use science and technology significantly affects their economic,
social and environmental well-being.

If you thought science was dull, think again. You could feel
the electricity buzzing through this enthusiastic group in response
to my "content is queen" routine (or was it the static from the

If complex scientific and technological concepts can be simplified
for the online reader, those of us in other industries have no excuse.

Learn more about the ASC at:


3. The Y Files (Q&A)

This week's question is from Timothy, of Melbourne, who picks up
a copy of "Storm of the Swords" by George Martin.

Q: How many people use Netscape vs Internet Explorer, particularly
in the Australian market?

A: Don't know the exact figures but chances are IE dominates, mainly
due to the fact it comes packaged with the Windows operating system.
You can see the browser breakdown for visitors to your own site by
logging into your host server statistics (most ISPs give you free
access to your server log). If you don't have a site, take a look at
the visitor report at http://www.webreference.com/stats/browser.html
where IE has about 78% share. Don't forget that many of your visitors
will not even be human but search engine agents (spiders/crawlers)
and micro browsers.

Read previous Y Files at http://www.brizcomm.com.au/freetips/ or
email a fresh one to yvette@brizcomm.com.au


4. Columns and reviews

Pollyanna offers words of wisdom this week along the lines of, “to
give and not to count the cost”.

Cameron Koo runs a high Saturday night fever at the opening of a
new Gold Coast nightclub.

Reader Ian Dillon reviews "Tear of the Gods" by Raymond Feist.

Readers Write - http://www.brizcomm.com.au/readerswrite/default.asp


5. Surf Club

Am I Annoying or Not?
If you find Baywatch chief David Hasselhoff annoying, you can tell
the world at this site. The lists of most annoying and least annoying
celebrities are decided by visitor votes. Each hapless celeb has a
short resume to help you decide. See the photos of the top five on
each list.
In a net shell: Price of fame.

Listen to actual sounds from deep space and see what they look like.
Hear remnants of the Big Bang, lightning storms from earth's atmosphere,
meteor showers, cosmic debris and signals from Sputnik. You'll also
find great links and amazing images. (You'll need the Quicktime 4
plug-in to download the "visual space tuner".)
In a net shell: Look, listen, learn.

Flaming Text
When you need graphics for a personal web page, invitation or greeting
card, help yourself to free images and text effects at this site. Just
select font size, colour, style, shadow, bevel or other effects and
you'll have a free logo in seconds. You'll also find resources and
links for buttons, bullets, fonts, interfaces, clip art, wallpaper,
tips and tools.
In a net shell: Design for non-designers.

Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't judge a web
site by its home page. SearchShots describes itself as a visual
search engine, providing preview screenshots of sites as part of
your search results. Handy as a taster or if you can't remember
whether you've seen a site.
In a net shell: Seeing is believing.

The Big Mac Index
Want to know where in the world you can buy the cheapest Big Mac
hamburger? Find out with The Economist's Big Mac index, launched
in 1986 as a gastronome's guide to whether currencies are at their
correct exchange rate. "Burgernomics" is based on the theory of
purchasing-power parity, which argues that the exchange rate
between two currencies should, in the long run, "move towards
the rate that equalises the prices of identical bundles of traded
goods and services in each country". In other words, a dollar
should buy the same amount everywhere.
In a net shell: Money hungry.

The Science of Emotions
Child abuse may alter brain development and brain chemistry might
be linked to impulsive violence. They're among the findings of
researchers at the HealthEmotions Research Institute at the
UW-Madison School of Medicine. The institute is recognised for
its research into the connections between brain chemistry and
human emotional experience. Read about the projects, researchers
and news, including a visit by the Dalai Lama who is interested
in scientific knowledge that intersects with the spiritual aspects
of Buddhism.
In a net shell: Fascinating.

Boot Camp for New Dads
Learn how to teach a nine-month-old baby to play golf at this site.
You'll also find lots of sensible hints on coping with life as a
new father. Boot Camp For New Dads (BCND) formed in 1990 to help
new fathers "hit the ground crawling". Discover the wonders of
birth and bonding, caring for mum and kid, and dealing with crying
newborns and jealous pets.
In a net shell: Pop culture.


6. Reader's Choice (see archives in Surf Club at www.brizcomm.com.au)

Altruistic Web
Use your computer for cancer research and other good causes.
This site's a winner. They also donate 100 per cent of revenue
from site advertising. - Reviewed by Elizabeth Ure, Toowoomba.

Email your brief site review to yvette@brizcomm.com.au


7. Weekly chuckle - 25 more items of useless/fascinating information

26) The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.
27) A regulation golf ball has 336 dimples.
28) The average human eats eight spiders in their lifetime at night.
29) A cockroach can live nine days without its head before it
starves to death.
30) A polar bear's skin is black. Its fur is not white, but actually
31) Elvis had a twin brother named Aaron, who died at birth, which
is why Elvis' middle name was spelled Aron: in honor of his brother.
It is also misspelled on his tomb stone.
32) Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn't
wear pants.
33) More people are killed by donkeys annually than are killed in
plane crashes.
34) Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand.
35) Shakespeare invented the words "assassination" and "bump".
36) Marilyn Monroe had six toes on one foot.
37) If you keep a goldfish in the dark room, it will eventually
turn white.
38) Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
39) Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than
left-handed people.
40) The sentence "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"
uses every letter in the English language.
41) The names of the continents all end with the same letter with
which they start.
42) TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the
letters on only one row of the keyboard.
43) The word racecar and kayak are the same whether they are read
left to right or right to left. So is Glenelg.
44) A snail can sleep for three years.
45) American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one
olive from each salad served in first-class.
46) The electric chair was invented by a dentist.
47) Vatican City is the smallest country in the world with a
population of 1,000 and a size of 108.7 acres.
48) "I am" is the shortest complete sentence in the English
49) No president of the United states was an only child.

And last and definitely most important:

50) The average chocolate bar has eight insects' legs in it.



Next week's newsletter will be from the other hemisphere, hopefully.



Yvette Nielsen, Editor
phone 61 (0)4 41 771 8683

brizcomm ) online content consulting and training
PO Box 2026, Bardon, Queensland 4065, Australia

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(c) 2000-2001 Brizcomm Pty Ltd

brizcomm pty ltd accepts no responsibility and disclaims all
liability for any incorrect information that may be contained
in any articles or events mentioned in this newsletter.

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