Friday, 8 April 2005

Newsletter Issue 94, April 2005

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 94, April 2005
Hi guys,
When was the last time you updated your website text? If it has been a while, the article below, Working On Your Web Text, might help you in your rewrite process.
Brian Livingstone's "Windows Secrets" newsletter advises of an Adware Removal 'Winsock' Fix
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Working On Your Web Text

Whatever we write, when we write, our message needs to be clear and to the point for our intended audience to assimilate it amongst all the other information they are constantly being bombarded with. The same is even more critical for our web content. It needs to be short and snappy to gain - and keep - the attention of our audience.
It doesn't matter if you are a multinational or a sole trader; the keys to creating good web text are planning and clarity. So when you next need to work on your web text, here are some tips to help you on your way.
  1. Assemble your tools:
    • Think about enrolling in a community education business writing course or see if you can take a class in writing for the web (often only offered in cities though)
    • Do some research on writing web copy. Key "writing website copy" at Google and find out what suits you and your audience, check out the websites of your competitors
    • BUT. Keep It Simple, Smarty and make sure you don't use too many bells and whistles. You can very easily alienate those in your audience unlucky enough to have slow internet connections
    • If you don't have FrontPage, PowerPoint's flowchart functions are useful for planning your website structure
    • Set up an Excel sheet to chart the progress of your website update with columns for task name, date due, page title, graphics required, text, owner, hyperlinks etc
    • Think about whether you want to include any of the following; press releases, testimonials, awards mentions, FAQs, how-to or help articles
  2. Diagram what webpages need updating using a flowchart with a few keywords to detail the content of each page. Think about structure, flow and if your client's information needs have changed (so requiring a change in your website). This should take quite a lot of time to do properly
  3. Go through your page flowchart and edit it heavily. Weed out any weak pages; cut the fat wherever possible
  4. Add any press releases, testimonials, awards mentions, FAQs, how-to or help articles that make it through to your spreadsheet
  5. Plan your text for each page from your flowchart. Use short paragraphs with no more than three to four lines. Break information up into easily digested chunks by using numbers or bullets of no more than seven items per list
  6. Use your spreadsheet to monitor the rewrite's progress
  7. Use the same language in your web writing that you will use face to face with your clients. However, if you have to use lots of technical language, think about adding a clearly-marked dictionary page
  8. Highlight important items or concepts through using sub-headings, bold text, graphics or sidebars (NB: be careful with graphics holding key information as they aren't picked up in a search)
  9. PROOF READ. And proof read again. And again. Spellcheck. Spellcheck. Spellcheck. Treble-check your apostrophe use. Get the most punctilious people you know -or can hire - to check the text for clarity, punctuation, grammar and spelling before you go live
  10. Test your website on some of your customers and see what they think. Pull in those changes they suggest that feel right to you
Then go live! Good luck

Adware Removal 'Winsock' Fix

In one of Brian Livingstone's "Window's Secrets" February newsletters, he advises that there have been cases where adware removal has prevented the user opening a usable internet connection.
This is because the adware files wrote themselves into the PC's Registry and made the adware a required part of the internet-connection process or "Winsock" (your PC's internet connection files). So once the adware was deleted, the Registry could no longer find those files, and so the internet connection failed. The same is true of your firewall.
Brian writes that "repairing Winsock formerly meant going into the Registry. You had to track down the offending keys and delete them. But Windows has a command that will do the job, as follows:
  • To run the command, click the Start button
  • Select Run
  • Type cmd in the open field
  • Click OK. This will open the DOS box and put the cursor at the command prompt.
  • Key netsh winsock reset
  • Key Enter
  • Close the DOS window (type exit at the command prompt or click the "x" at the top right of the window)
  • Reboot the computer"
And now all should be lovely once more.

Excel Date Formulae

There are a range of formula found in Excel that you can use to calculate the difference between two dates: returning the product in hours, days, minutes, months or years. Incredibly useful for costing out job cards, setting up recurring appointments etc etc, Woody's Office Watch published this list recently.
I have taken the liberty of reproducing their list, slightly amended for greater clarity, for all of you to benefit from. The bold section is the formula to be entered into the cell, as follows:
  • Number of days between the two dates - "d" returns the difference in days. =datedif(B1,C1,"d")
  • Number of months between the two dates - "m" returns the difference in months. =datedif(B1,C1,"m")
  • Number of years between the two dates - "y" returns the difference in years. =datedif(B1,C1,"y") 
  • Years and months between two dates. =datedif(B1,C1,"y")&" years "
  • Returns the difference in months as if the two dates were in the same year - effectively disregarding the years. =datedif(B1,C1,"ym")&" months"
  • Returns the difference in days as if the two dates were in the same year - effectively disregarding the years. =datedif(B1,C1,"yd")&" days"
  • Returns the difference in days as if the two dates were in the same month - effectively disregarding both years & months. =datedif(B1,C1,"md")&" months"
Notes: Replace B1 with the cell reference of your start date & C1 with the cell reference of your finish date. You can replace C1 with "today()" in the formulas to calculate the difference between a start date and today's date.
Using a combination of these it is possible to calculate the difference between two dates in any combination of days, months and/or years. Thank you, Woody's - and have fun!

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • TLD, Top-Level Domain. This identifies the most general part of the domain name in an Internet address. A TLD is either a generic top-level domain (gTLD), such as "com" for "commercial," "edu" for "educational," and so forth, or a country code top-level domain (ccTLD), such as "au" for Australia or "nz" for New Zealand
  • SPLA, Service Provider Licensing Agreement. An agreement by the developer to license products - now often on a monthly basis - to service providers so they can provide the developer's services and hosted applications to the end customer. Microsoft uses a lot of these (and often somewhat heavy-handedly)

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
Some audiences will glaze-over, becoming fixated on the PowerPoint screen and tuning out of your presentation speech. However, with a simple keystroke, you can turn the screen to black or white, leaving the presentation running in the background and snapping the "rabbit in headlights" trance;
  • B or period/fullstop will toggle the display between BLACK and normal
  • W or comma will toggle the display between WHITE and normal

Hot Linx
How inventive are you? Take a look at some of the products of US inventors at the Smithsonian website at
If you are a visual person who wants a quick run-down of the major daily news, then this is the site for you, at Click on any image to get related stories
Then again, if you are a total saddo who can remember the vocals of every song released in the 1980s, you can test your knowledge at
For those of you needing an Arts dictionary, then this site is the site for you. An emporium of artistic terms, personas and techniques can be found at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here