Thou shalt not link to thyself

The concept of pages not linking to themselves is not new – but if you’re using Dreamweaver-style templates there’s a bit of extra work to make that happen.

The Man in Blue posted an article about using CSS to make it appear that the page was not linking to itself, which received a mixed response. Inventive, but not really a complete solution. One of his readers then posted a javascript solution which loops through the page and removes any self-links automatically.

Clever thinking!

And that got me thinking… (Dangerous, I know)
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Websites are like Pinball Machines

“How do you figure that out?” you might ask.

An interesting commentary was published on Evolt.org yesterday, in which the author makes the following observations:

  1. Pinball machines have to stand out in the arcade, and quickly communicate a message to passers by (usually something like “I’m fun!”). The home page of your website needs to quickly communicate too, so people don’t just “wander by”.
  2. Pinball machines have the same basic controls, and while the machines themselves differ in what they do, you don’t need a licence to operate them. Similarly, a website needs to be easy to use with simple controls (or buttons).
  3. Pinball machines offer feedback when targets are reached, and encourage new players to keep going. Websites need to do much the same thing, and offer the right amount of information at the appropriate stages.
  4. Pinball machines have a built-in processor that tracks usage, how many free balls are awarded, and so on. Websites can offer you a lot of information about it’s usage – the point is, do you monitor it? You can’t improve what you don’t measure!
  5. Is your website memorable? Classic pinball machines have something memorable about them – what will people remember about your website?

And in closing, the author states:

“The reason pinball machines are a good metaphor for conducting business online is because they are business tools. Their purpose is to make money. And, they do so by giving users a pleasant experience in hopes of establishing loyalty and return visits.

Interesting illustration. Read the full article here.

Backup!

Hard drives have moving parts. Little motors that spin disks around at 7,200 revolutions per minute. Like anything with moving parts, hard drives eventually wear out.

If yours wore out today – how much information would you lose? Family photos? Accounting data? More?

Backing up is a bit of a nuisance to have to do, but if you have anything vaguely important stored on your computer it’s a necessary chore. With the price and availability of CD or DVD burners, it’s not quite the task it used to be, either. A couple of options:

One: Burn it to CD or DVD

Quick tip: use re-writable media for your important backups. Either CD-RW or DVD-RW/DVD+RW. The reason? Regular CDs and DVDs have big questions over their longevity. Maybe they’ll last for decades, maybe they won’t. It’s pretty much agreed though that the re-writable versions last much longer, as they use a different method of actually storing the data. I won’t get all technical here, but to be on the safe side, use rewritables for your backups or archives.

Two: Use an external hard drive

An alternative is to use an external hard drive. These plug into a USB port so they’re nice and easy to use. Create a folder with the date, and copy your ’stuff’ over. Next time, create a new folder with the new date, and so on. When the external drive gets full, delete the oldest folder and keep going.

What to backup?

This will vary from person to person & computer to computer. But you’re basically looking for:

  1. Your “My Documents” folder.
  2. If you’re using Outlook, search for your *.pst file. That has all your email, your calendar etc.
  3. If you’re using Outlook Express, search for the *.dbx files and include the whole folder that they’re in. Then find your *.wab file, which is your address book.
  4. Accounting programs like MYOB or Quickbooks often save files in their own folders – make note of where they are too.
  5. Check any other industry-specific software you might be running, and see where they save their data files.

This list is by no means complete – get some specific advice if you’re unsure.

But whatever you do – put some sort of backup strategy in place before it’s too late!

Searching in other languages

Google is available in many languages – you may or may not have noticed the “Language Tools” link just to the right of the search box. But some of the languages are, well, interesting!

There was obviously going to be a version in Klingon. Did you know you can search using pig latin? Or hacker? (Look at it closely, you can kind of read it.) Or how about Bork Bork Bork, which I’m assuming refers to a certain Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show. But my favourite is Elmer Fudd. I never realised it was a language. Or maybe I should say I never weawised it was a wanguage!

Sigh… Some people have too much spare time…