Bob and Joy
                                      
 
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach
                                                                        

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June 2004, Week 1 -- Site Builders

 

 

 

   What? You don't have a web site yet? Well, spin your own.

   Two new web site creation services caught our attention and we particularly liked the aptly named "Spin Site," which gives you all the tools for a professional site plus hosting.

   An initial fee of $49 provides three months of free web hosting and if you want to continue after that, the charge is $13 a month. There is no software to download; everything is handled online. Site plans are presented as themes and you can place text and graphics wherever you want. You can paste in pages from Microsoft Word or from an old web site. We found changing colors and layouts to be fast and easy and the changes were automatically carried out through all pages of the site. If you don't want to plunk down the $49 right away, you can create sample sites that are then put up on the web for a week or so at no charge.

 

   A more expensive option is available for a $99 initial fee and $35 a month. With this you can create security levels for web site so some parts are available only to users who have a password. You can also assign editing rights to some password holders.

 

   For users who would like to set up their own store, there is a shopping cart and checkout feature that is linked with "PayPal," the nearly universal online payment service. The stores can have customer inquiry forms and you can collect statistics on visitor use and preferences. If someone turns out to be a regular nuisance, you can block that person from visiting the site.

 

   All sites created with Spin Site have a built-in search function -- an absolute must for online stores. All changes to the site are made in real time but do not take effect until you click "publish." For more information check out their web site: www.spinsite.com.

 

Other hosts

 

   Here are two other web services that allow you to create web sites and online stores.

 

   The most important is Yahoo.com , which we have written about before and is excellent. Their software uses templates and is absolutely free. Basic web hosting is only $12 a month. If you look at a list of corporate users it's like a who's who of American business. Check it out at http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com.

 

   We also looked at a service called "Coffee Cup" www.coffeecup.com. We liked it but the number of negative comments from users made us cautious about recommending it strongly. You can check these comments out at cnet.com. One of the things we always wonder about when viewing comments is how many are from independent users and how many from employees of the featured company or rival companies. Such skull-duggery has become common. Anyway, we liked it and the hosting fee is $10 a month and the software is free.

 

The Amiga Lives! Sort of

 

   An Italian software house has developed "Amiga Forever," an Amiga emulator for Windows computers.

 

   Afficianados still fondly remember the Commodore Amiga, which was the most advanced graphics and music computer of its day. Unfortunately, its day was 20 years ago. Still ... this was one of the great ones.

 

   The Amiga was the world's first truly multimedia personal computer. A significant advantage was that it was TV compatible and could be used directly to edit video footage and produce graphics and sound that were broadcast quality. Amigas were used to create the opening scenes of the popular sci-fi show, Babylon 5, for example.

 

Amiga Forever 6.0 is available for $30 as a download from www.amigaforever.com, web site for Cloanto Italia srl, or $60 for a CD. The software includes an Amiga web browser, original games, an art gallery and graphics editors. Thousands of Amiga games are available for downloading from other sites. The Amiga has a sizable fan base in Europe.

 

Internuts

 

 

 

-- www.ebookdirectory.com  A list of books that can be downloaded from the web for free.

-- www.lightandmatter.com  Kind of a subset of free ebooks but these just for science. You can download free college textbooks in physics from a professor at Fullerton College in California. The free books have already been adopted by 10 other colleges and eight high schools. The site also has a download for finding the location of planets.

-- www.poormanspubs.us  This is a commercial site aimed at the do-it-yourself handyman. What's interesting about it is instructions and materials for building power and metal working tools, air conditioners, steam engines, small bridges, etc., from basic parts and for little money.

  Logos 3

 

 

Books

   Number three in "The Big Book of Logos," by David Carter; $30 from Harper Design www.harpercollins.com.

   This is a great book for gathering ideas for your own company logo or letterheads. There are thousands of logos here and they can all be scanned and modified in your computer. Doing that is a little touchy because many of the logos are copyrighted, but if you just use the scan as a starting point you ought to be able to make something sufficiently different to pass scrutiny. A book, a bucking bronco or a building are designs that could go with many subjects for example.

NOTE: Readers can search more than three years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@aol.com and Joy Schwabach at joydee@oncomp.com.

 

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