Q & A on things webbish.
Q: Can't we use GoPBI.com as our host?
A: GoPBI.com is a free web site targeting those in the Palm Beach area who want to hang a shingle in web space, but either do not
desire a full web presence, or use the GoPBI.com site to point to their existing web site.
They earn revenue by putting banner advertising and links to businesses on the page with our material.
The entire top of the page, much of the left column, and the entire bottom (roughly 50% of the total page area) is dedicated to their stuff,
with the remainder available to us. This is fine for a general community announcement of who we are, but the space limit makes
designs like the page you are currently viewing impossible to post there.
I keep GoPBI updated with our introduction message and calendar, and have the training announcement ready when the dates and topics are
settled. Even when we get our own domain site I recommend we keep GoPBI alive, since the local community may find us that way.
Q: What about other free web sites?
None of the free hosting sites are very good, and some are pitiful. All have some sort of advertising banner they put on the page, taking up
space and detracting from the design, and crashing some browsers. All limit site size and bandwidth, as they split a real site into parts. There is no access to the
web control functions of a real site, like CGI. They can't afford to give full service sites to non paying customers.
It's like those sampler ladies in the grocery store.
You don't get the whole chicken, you just get a toothpick and a little piece.
Since they also sell web hosting, and really want you there, not in the free hosting aisle.
Free site hosts have a poor history of survival. Banner ads don't generate much revenue,
so the company dies, and it's assets are bought by another. I've watched one web site on Shark_L , whose link list I maintain for
Fiona Webster, move 3 times in the last 2 years as their free host companies went belly up.
I expect more free sites to disappear over then next year as portals explore how to cut losses.
Q: What about news letters and the web?
A: First, I believe the club should have a printed newsletter, mailed to the entire active roster. All this web stuff might
look great, but the club demographics are likely close to the nation's. Just over 70% have web access at all, and only a third
of those are regular users. The rest check email once or twice a week, if that, and visit a website occasionally.
I expect this percentage to grow, but why disenfranchise half the club who don't access regularly?
Having said that, I believe the news letter should be included on the web site, and have posted it here.
Our news letter breaks into a recurring part (dive schedule, officer list) and a non recurring part (monthly minutes, articles).
I posted the dives and officers back in February, but waited for the March news letter to post the most recent minutes and articles.
You can see from the menu on the right. Many knew this was coming, and that may have prompted all this discussion about
news letter editing. It is not my intent, however, to generate the content of the news letter. Just post it up when it's ready.
Q: What about originating news letters
on the web?
A: I'm not against someone trying it, but I believe success is unlikely, for several reasons.
- It still won't generate content itself.
- Once generated, the printing will be ugly.
- We'll lose some of the already scarce authors.
I know of no web site that will edit, print, and mail a news letter with the touch of a key.
The hard facts of news letter generation is it's laborious cuts and pastes, and probably some typing, from a variety of sources.
And that's the easy part. The tough part is getting the content. The news letter editor has to beg, beat, and prod folks to write
articles, write them himself, or lift them from other locations. It must be laid into some template,
sized so that it'll print on the desired paper size, and proofed. Then printed, folded and mailed and emailed.
The web master takes that electronic version and also cuts and pastes it into the web template.
Things tend to layout vertically in web space, but horizontally on a printed page. As an example, this month's news letter looks
good on the web (select Minutes or Articles on the menu at the right), but if you hit the print key, it'll print the page
in vertical segments, to fit on 8 1/2 by 11" paper. It'll look like you took scissors and cut across the bottom at line 56,
causing the reader to have the tape it back together to read it. Depending on the printer, it'll also shear off the last inch on the right,
at column 84. More scotch tape. The transparent gifs will print as blotches. Not a pretty sight. The moral of the story?
Even if it looks good on the web, it can be ugly in print.
Another problem with generating web based news letters is that the authors have to become mini web czars or czarettes.
It's tough to get people to type an article in their favorite word processor and forward it as an email attachment, never mind
get them to push the PUBLISH key and make it go active on a website, for everyone to see.
Fear of hitting the wrong key and wiping out the work of 5 others ahead of them will cause some to decline participating.
We're an organization of volunteers, so the easier something is to do, the more willing people will be to do it.
We have an excellent MS Word Template to create the newsletter in printed form, and I'd recommend we keep doing it that way.
Q: Tell me again why do we have web
and print versions?
We reach two different audiences. The printed version reaches all our members, not just half. The web version reaches folks who don't even know
about us. Remember those little kids in Chezkoslovakia?