Entangled in the World Wide Web

I am just a learner who likes to delve in websites as a hobby. Hobbies are what make life so enjoyable for me. I have tried many other things - watercolor and pastel painting, organic gardening, kayak making, dinghy sailing, kite making, origami, stock photography, cartooning, carpentry, rock collecting, snake rearing and many other unusual pursuits. Somehow, as time goes on, and for some particular reason, they gradually become just bits of historical and passing interests for me. Amidst these passing interests, the Internet comes along.

From the first day I learned to surf the Internet, I became impressed by it. I could not recall whether it was the incredible amount of knowledge that can be found there, or was it the quality of the reading medium that struck me. But it did.

I was hooked. At that time, I was gathering information on how to make a kayak. Well, not all the information was exactly the way I had wanted it, but by carefully piecing all the bits and pieces of information together, I managed to use them to make a fully functional kayak, custom made to suit me.

Deep down inside me, I was so excited by this technology, that I wanted so much to get involved too.

Then a MLM company that calls themselves SkyX (Not their real name) came to the scene. They were supposedly going to revolutionize the world of online business. They operated their business very much like a pyramid scheme, with their main products being a web design software, some learning tool and web hosting for one year that teaches one how to make websites. To me at that time, it was the product I was looking for. Being so very new to the Internet, I did not try to look at other options.

That's what the company wanted! The trap has been sprung. Sweet talking me with their attractive carrot bait, the members made me lose my grip on myself and I succumbed to their enticements. Although I was aware that people have been conned into pyramid schemes before, I was somehow swayed by their explanations about multi-level marketing concepts and how their business structure was a bit different from pyramid schemes. They really knew how to play on my emotions and weakness to their advantage.

They had all the workings of a well-established network that gives support to all the members, organizing presentations and holding functions. What did I do then? Since I was already part of the network, I had to do my part in getting more members. If not, I won't recover my money. So for a very short while I did just that.

Eventually, this Company was sued and it went bankrupt. That was the end of the chapter. My money just went down the drain! It was a bitter and expensive lesson to learn.

But the lesson was well learned. I bit the bullet, picked up the pieces, and behaved as if nothing had happened. I was determined to make full use of what I had purchased. Looking back at the situation, I recalled that taking part in MLM activities was never on my agenda in the first place. Learning how to make websites was.

And so from that clumsy beginning, making use of the product, and working on it when I had the time, and completely at my own pace, I managed to learn the rudiments of web designing. I borrowed books from the library to supplement my knowledge. I learned basic html language, color notations, picture editing and other simple steps. The websites that I created were so very crude.

But it was fun and exciting for me. It's a new toy. And it's magical.

After surfing for some time on the Internet, the knowledge in me gradually grew. I picked up bits and pieces everywhere. By the time, the MLM collapsed, I was already well versed in html language and I was no longer that fresh. I had also acquired the necessary photo editing skills to make presentable websites.

I bought a scanner and started to generate images for my websites. Unfortunately, most of my photographs were transparencies. So I had to copy and develop them into photo prints before I could scan them.

I searched around for a few web-hosting companies that offer free hosting and decided to try out my new skills on them. It took me some time but I got around getting used to their routines eventually. My first efforts on these free hosting companies were nothing to boast about. (Although I did get feedback from people who said that they were good. Surprise, surprise!)

I also learned to use the search engines, and I found them very useful. They opened up a whole new way of finding information for me. Almost any subject could be found with just a click from the mouse.

As I dug up more information both from the Internet and also from library books on designing, and handling images, I became more and more proficient. I learned how to use ftp to upload my files to the host server. This saved me a lot of time. Most important of all, I saved on Internet call charges on my telephone bill.

Reading through what the experts say, I came to the conclusion that one of the most important characteristics of a good website is the content and its loading speed. I have observed some sites that give very flashy and impressive animations, but unfortunately, were rather slow loading. I decided in favor of functionality.

My websites must be fast loading and full of content. I also found out that to make the page load fast, the file size of the images should be small. So I optimized all my web photographs accordingly to jpeg and gif format to make their file sizes small.

Then I looked at other things like making my websites crawler friendly. (The spider at the search engines will crawl inside the Internet to find your site. This spider is not the creepy crawly type that will give you the goose bumps, but they work on the web just like a real spider)

Although I am aware that the html software editor that I use is not so efficient in generating clean html, and that it adds a lot of extra html tags that are redundant, thus making the files bigger than required, I will leave it as it is for the time being. There are still many other things that I still want to explore and develop.

One of them is e-book creation. E-books are one of the most efficient ways to present information to people. They can be published completely with text, images, color, hyperlinks, animation, and sounds on CD's and diskettes. They can also be downloaded through the Internet, or sent through emails. (But first make sure that the email server can handle the file size)

Making e-books presented a need for a completely different range of knowledge and skills that are built up upon each other. It is not as easy as it looks. For those who do not know much about computers, Internet and web designing, it can be quite a struggle!

For these people, I have got a solution. Perhaps they could use my service to design e-books. I have the knowledge and the skill that people can use.

Think for a while. Almost anybody has something to say that is valuable to another person. Each person has his or hers own experience. A secondary school student may know how to make a cute and adorable doll out of easily obtainable cloth materials. A housewife might want to reveal a special recipe that is handed down from past generations that could become the springboard to fame.

A retired carpenter or hobbyist may know how to make a special piece of furniture that will fit some space in the living room of an apartment. A car enthusiast may know of some tips about choosing and testing a used car. A sports enthusiast may like to share his secrets of scoring at a certain game. A gambler may have some insider tips that he wants to sell. All these are knowledge that can be tapped and sold.

Talk about the Global-Economy! This is it! Anybody is capable of contributing to the Global-Economy. If the information is useful, and it can be written down, or illustrated, there will surely be someone on Planet Earth who wants to pay to learn from it.

E-books have the advantage over books printed on paper. Distribution is instantaneous, cost is low, and format is colorful and interactive, and most important of all, self-publishing for the unknown author. You don't even have to find a publisher for your e-book! And you don't have to sell it locally. You can expose it to anywhere on the Internet.

Although the Internet has leveled the playing field somewhat, I found that the major players are still dominated by companies in the USA. When I scouted around for a reasonably priced facility that will enable me to receive payment for credit card purchases, I could not find many around that will accept participants from my country.

Well, after searching for sometime, I did find one that suits my budget - a reasonably priced one that I can use.

Next I went into affiliate marketing. The concept is simple. My website serves as a storefront for other merchant's advertising banners. When people who are attracted by the merchant's banners, click on them, they got transported to the merchant's website. If the visitor buys anything, a percentage of the purchase price will be paid to me.

I find that some money can be made from this. It depends on how well you design your website and how well you encourage your visitors to click on the banners. Your website has to be carefully designed and the wordings selected to induce people to go to the merchant you represent. Some merchants pay 5%, some 10%, and some more. By carefully choosing the merchant to match the contents of your website you will get more click-throughs. More click-throughs means more sales. It's a numbers game.

Any marketing person will know that the more visitors I have, the more the potential for a sale. So I have to find out how to bring in visitors. The most logical step is to tackle the search engines. It is estimated that 80% of all the traffic comes from the search engines.

This time I explored search engine optimization. How do I place myself near to the top of the search engine listings? By optimizing for the search engines, people will be able to search for my website and it will come out near the top and not somewhere in the thousandth position. But it's a continuous learning process. Search engines are constantly changing their algorithm to beat spammers. Yes, there are spammers on websites too, webmasters who tries to beat the search engine rules.

As my web knowledge improved, I became more and more adventurous. I noticed that many websites have forms that allow visitors to fill up and the owner of the website will receive the information. It's a great way to collect data. So I found out how to do that. It's great fun receiving messages from somebody from the other end of the world.

Then there are scripts. They can do magic on the website. Dates can be automatically displayed and updated. Calculations can be done. Images can be changed automatically. Counters can display the number of visitors. Guest books can be signed. They are fantastic pieces of code done by talented programmers.

Since they are so marvelous, I had to make use of them. Some of the scripts were described as simple. Indeed most of them are very simple to use. However, when I looked at their source codes, they are extremely gibberish to me. I really marvel at the work done by the programmers of these scripts. Perhaps in the future, I might want to pursue this line of programming activity. I can see great possibilities there.

At this moment, cgi scripts catch my attention. Cgi is short for Common Gateway Interface. They need a bit of tweaking in order to work because they must run on the web server on the host. Recently I had the chance to install a cgi script on a server. It took me a few days of tweaking and communication before it worked, as it should. They are not for the faint-hearted beginner. But once the beginner has acquired the necessary knowledge, these scripts shouldn't be a problem to install. Once they work, you can forget about them, because they will run by themselves, automatically.

Would the learner in me be able to teach people? Perhaps it might. After going through many years of hands-on and disciplined study of websites, software, and the Internet, maybe I have acquired sufficient knowledge that people might be willing to pay to know. Perhaps this might be the subject of another e-book.

Note: Virus Attacks can Disable all Your Valuable Data! Play safe and Protect Yourself.

Many years of working experience in Marine, Facilities, Construction has given the author material for writing e-books and articles related to engineering, and management. Subscribe to facworld ezine

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