5 Ways To Stay Cool

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Summer is blazing its way across the landscape bringing triple digit temperatures in some areas. Here near the Third Coast we haven't hit a hundred yet, but it's just a matter of time.

How do you stay cool - other than staying indoors in air conditioning?

Easy. Pretend you're a kid again. After all, did you ever complain about the heat when you were a kid? Have you ever heard a kid ask: "Hot enough for you?" Probably not.

Cheap, Easy & Fun: What's Not to Like?

1. Get a popsicle maker even if you don't have kids. You know, they're those plastic thingamajigs that make 6 or 8 frozen pops. They're sold everywhere from kitchen accessories stores to dollar stores. Then prepare your favorite beverage whether it's Koolaid, juice, or martinis. Pour your choice into each unit of the frozen pop maker, freeze, then enjoy whenever you feel overheated. A frozen gin and tonic pop will keep you cool and smooth away the rough edges. Just don't take the forklift or the minivan out on the freeway if you make alcoholic pops.

2. If you've got kids, then have a daily water hose fight with them. Gosh, I did this with ours when they were young, and it's still something they talk about fondly. If no kids, then do it discreetly by washing your car and being really careless with the hose. Put some great music on and you'll feel like a kid again.

3. Get a kiddie pool and plop it on the patio or some place shady. Blend up a big container of your favorite slushy like strawberries and ice and yogurt (or maybe rum). Then settle into the filled pool with your favorite libation and a good book.

4. Eat lots of ice cream. In fact, get one of those ice cream makers that churn up a container of the frozen delight in about 10 minutes without salt and ice.

5. Enroll all the kids in water sports of some kind. Then hang out at the pool during practice sessions. They'll benefit and so will you. In fact, start them early and they'll be primed for life guard jobs when they're old enough. All our kids were life guards. Maybe yours might go on to be Olympic champs.

Like the key to happiness in life, beating the heat means ignoring the negatives and focusing on the positive aspects of summer - water, fun, games, good times.

Gotta go. My margarita frozen pops are almost ready.

Resolve To Succeed

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Quote to begin the week

What better way to begin a new week than with a pithy bit of wisdom. Here's one I especially like. Really think about this.

Abraham Lincoln said: "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing."

Do you have that kind of resolution?

Sandra Scoppettone's Flash Fiction

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For your Saturday entertainment....


Want to read some terrific crime fiction by the fabulous Sandra Scoppettone?

Check out her flash fiction With Gas Prices Rising....

You won't see the ending coming. Don't skim down.

Agent & Editor Blogs

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Do you read blogs written by agents and editors? I do. Chances are you do too. It's a way to see how someone with whom you may want to work thinks and acts.

I want to point you to Guide To Literary Agents, a blog published by F & W Publications. They're the people who bring you Writer's Digest in all its incarnations.

I read this blog because the interviews with industry professionals are always topnotch and also because the blog has a nice long link list of agents and editors who maintain blogs. There are more than forty at the present time. You can check the archives for past interviews and subscribe to their feed so you don't miss the new ones.

Great resource. Highly recommended. We at Sling Words, meaning, of course, me, give it a 10 on the 10 scale. Or if I were in Japan, I'd give it #1 - ichiban - which is always the best.

10 Major Internet Irritations

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I was checking Yahoo mail the other day, and those dancing, jiggling blue men advertising insurance or God knows what irritated me so much I thought I'd scream. I started to wonder how many Net users were like me: annoyed at times to the point of thinking Internet advertising is the spawn of Satan. Don't you just wish you could clobber the person who put that on the Web or at least punch out the image?

I started making a mental list of Internet Annoyances - things like the maniacal blue silhouettes. Pretty soon I decided to see if there were others as irked as I about these things.

Of course there were. Some people have started blogs and created websites about their pet grievances. Here's what someone thinks are the 10 Most Irritating Words on the Web.

Sanchit Mittal has a blog listing what he finds Most Irritating and asks you to add to his list.

For David Louis Edelman Gmail is his bugaboo. I don't use Gmail much, for the same reasons he cites.

Now, I'm not really focused on individual words, although a few like folksonomy would probably be on my list of banned words, especially after I had to do some intensive research on the subject of folksonomy in order to write intelligently about it. Here's my list, in no particular order.

Email & Web Nuisances

1. Smiley faces that wink and dance around when you're trying to read an email.

2. Any use of the word BLOOK, meaning a book based on a blog.

3. People who write web content who know neither basic grammar nor have the ability to spell correctly. Needless to say, they also lack the common sense to have their written content proofread and corrected by someone who does know punctuation and spelling.

4. Websites that bombard you with music when you visit them. Now, I'm a music lover of just about every genre, but I cringe when I visit an author's site for the first time and a big band version of "Sentimental Journey" or some New Age non-music blares at me. If you want music on your site, put a button where the visitor can click to hear, not click to turn the ear-splitting whatever off.

5. Websites with a Flash intro where you have to click to enter the site. These portals may seem moody or artsy to you, but most Web denizens hate doorway sites. Plus, web crawlers won't visit so you'll rank low in PageRank, not what you want.

6. Animation on a web page. People use animation to draw attention to something or to demo or to entertain. Unfortunately, most animation is irritating in the extreme. Who wants to try to read with something blinking on and off fast enough to cause a grand mal seizure? Whether the animation is a klutzy cartoony gif or a sophisticated piece of Flash, get rid of it.

7. Pop up ads. Thankfully, pop up blockers are usually effective but some still slip by.

8. Pop over ads make me want to scream. That's what you call those that have certain words underlined in an article so if you mouse over them, the ad springs up. I hate trying to read an article with those nuisances popping up to obscure the text at every line. I'm sure most are like me and just move on rather than staying to read.

9. Pop overs that instantly start some video clip playing. Not only does it bog your machine down, but also it's usually not something you came to the site for in the first place, so you move on.

10. Registration sites where you have to mouse select and click the state. Why can't they all just let you type in the 2 letter state abbreviation?

Okay, that's my list. At least for today. What's on your top 10 hate list?

Plagiarism = Content Theft = THEFT

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My friend Jonathan Bailey over at Plagiarism Today has left a blog of links on how to prevent Content Theft. Content Theft is plagiarism in case you're not up on the lingo.

Plagiarism, Copyright Infringement, Content Theft: all issues writers need to be concerned with. If you're a blogger, you may have had your content "scraped" which means a thief copied it and posted it under his or her own name, an all too-common incident on the web today.

Stealing Made Easy

The dark side of the Internet is the theft of intellectual creation whether it be a blog, an article, a music file illegally downloaded, a novel, or artwork. It's so easy to copy something and then post it under a new name. What happens when there's no protection for intellectual property rights? That's the scary future we are hurtling toward.

How can you make a living writing music or books or creating art. How can you sell something that people can easily get for free? How much does it impact an author's bottom line when her or his books are posted on websites where anyone can download them? If you think this isn't a problem, then think again. There are numerous websites that have scanned entire books into their database and illegally posted them for download.

Bleak Outlook

Authors earn money only if someone buys their books. Musicians earn money only if someone buys their album. Photographers earn money only if someone buys their pictures. Same with artists. Why would any of us keep doing what we're doing if we can't at least earn some income from it? Writing is such hard work that I'd certainly find an easier way to make a living if my words were suddenly worthless.

Take Action Now

Copyright protection is poised on the edge of a very slippery slope. Do your part by educating yourself and others. Learn what you can do to protect your web content. Exercise your rights as a citizen and let your elected representatives know how you feel about intellectual property rights. Get your friends and family to do the same. Don't wait for crisis mode. Do it now.

ID Fear Factor: The Sequel

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Sometimes, it seems like much of life is a crap shoot, doesn't it? Still we have to do what we can to keep civilization from falling down around our ears and protect our hard-earned reputations and finances from the barbarians at the gate. With that thought in mind, as promised, here's more about what you can do to prevent identity theft. I'll list the hard copy way to take action as well as the web way.

3 Steps To Opt Out

1. Just say NO to pre-approved offers of credit for all three credit bureaus. Opt out by calling 1-888-567-8688 (that's 888 5OPTOUT). You can select a 5-year opt-out period or permanent opt-out status.

You can also go online to opt-out. The URL is http://www.optoutprescreen.com just in case you want to write it down.

2. Remove your name from mail marketing lists at the Direct Marketing Association by writing a letter and requesting removal. You must also send $1.00 by check or money order to: Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.

Online, you can go to http://www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailinglist and register without charge.

3. Remove your phone number(s) from telemarketing lists by calling the Federal Trade Commission's DO NOT CALL Registry at 1-888-382-1222.

Or go online to http://www.donotcall.gov and register your phone numbers.

Free Credit Report

One final thing you should do every year is order your free credit report. That's one of your rights under the law so call 1-877-322-8228 to order your copy.

Online, visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com or for more information check out http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/freereports/index.shtml which was prepared by the FTC. (Link updated 09/07/2012).

(Note: 09/07/2012 For more information about credit reports, please visit
http://www.creditreport.org/additional-resources/the-fair-credit-reporting-act/ )

Privacy Rights: A Big Farce

There's one thing I recommend doing, but businesses have made this one extremely difficult to follow through with in most instances. That's completing the Privacy Rights form and tell the businesses you interact with to NOT share your information.

However, as I've said, this is often an arduous process. Each time I've been instructed to call a number to opt-out, I've spent no less than an hour on the phone. You get handed from person to person with no one knowing what to do to record the fact that you don't want your information shared. Now, this is an area that the legislators ought to address. The process should be one where the consumer is automatically opted out and must call or mail something to have the private information shared.

If you want to know more, visit http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs17a.htm#freeze to find out about the privacy rights issue.

Mother Of All Bookstores

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A friend sent me the YouTube video of Lloyd and Lenore Dickman's bookstore. Of course it was interesting because of the sheer number of books they have, but I found it such a heartwarming story because of the obvious respect and love the couple have not just for books, but for each other.

Watch this. You'll find yourself smiling as the elderly couple talk about their obsession for books. And for each other. Biggest bookstore

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Retail Therapy for Writers No. 3

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Let's talk more about basic office essentials for writers. If you've got some bucks to spend, invest in some of these. For your consideration, today I have 3 office basics you may need.

Fax Me Baby
Are you tired of hassling with fax machines? I had an old Brother Fax that was a dependable workhorse. About three years ago when I got a new color all-in-one, I decided to switch from the separate fax to using the new HP all-in-one. From that point on, I had nothing but trouble. The machine would seize the phone line and never let it go. Long story of troubleshooting and software updates short: I went back to the old Brother.

With another new color all-in-one, this time a Kodak, I tried the fax again but the software is cumbersome. Who writes this stuff? Just as important, who writes the user guides? Sheesh! Tried to switch back to the old Brother, but it finally bit the dust. So I searched for a quick alternative and found My Fax by Kim Komando. Completely easy to use and affordable.

Backup Data

You've all heard to backup your data. There are two rules about this subject.
1. Do it often.
2. Do it regularly by establishing a day and time to take care of this issue.

There are a lot of online data storage sites, some free and some not. If you plan to use something like this, investigate thoroughly to find out how redundant their system is. Remember, when it comes to technology redundancy is a very good thing.

If you need to buy some flash drives to take care of it, read the article at Consumer Reports about these devices.

I use a couple of those for quick backups, but I also have a Western Digital My Book, an external hard drive that looks almost identical to this one. It has a gazillion gigs so I can backup my entire PC with a click. Plus, this very affordable unit is truly plug and play and so easy to use.

Rip It Up
Another friend of ours notified us that he'd been a victim of identity theft. This is so scary. He's the fourth person we personally know who has horror stories to tell. I wrote about this on Wednesday. One thing we should all be doing is shredding everything with our name, address, etc. that goes into the trash. There are a lot of electric shredders out there. I just bought a new one last year. It's very similar to this one.You can find shredders at all the office supply stores. Even Target, WalMart, et al, have them. Get one like mine that shreds credit cards, CDs, and floppies. I mean, what if you put a CD or floppy containing your book manuscript or your backup Quicken Business files in the trash. Someone could pull it out. What would they do with that information?

Using your writer's imagination, you can easily come up with a couple of nightmare scenarios. They download your manuscript, stick their own name on it, submit it, and get big bucks and a publishing contract. Or, they take your financial info and wipe you out!

Never throw data into the trash without shredding it first.

ID Fear Factor

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It's happened again. A friend sent an email last week telling us he'd been the victim of identity theft and credit card fraud. That makes 4 people we personally know who has suffered from this modern-day malady. Unfortunately, recovering from this is like recovering from a near-terminal disease. The road is long and rocky.

Even when you think you're being proactive in protecting your private information, sometimes, you-know-what happens.

What can you do to protect yourself? According to news articles I've read about Lifeline, that service that guarantees to protect you from identity theft, don't sign up for that! Currently, there are dozens of lawsuits against the company for failure to protect subscribers from identity theft. Even the owner has had his identity stolen.

10 Rules To Live By
1. Shred (or destroy in some way if you don't have a shredder) all those annoying pre-approved credit card offers. Ditto for pre-approved accounts like those that come with a check and if you endorse it, it signs you up for a service. Same for those loan checks that come with your credit card bills. (If you don't have a shredder, read my blog on Friday.)

2. Shred all unused medical prescriptions, the prescription labels on empty pill bottles, medical claim forms when you're completely finished with them, etc.

3. Never store financial papers in boxes in the garage where anyone can easily get into the box or even remove the box. It might be months before you discovered you'd lost something important. More likely, it would be discovered when you made the discovery that someone had stolen your identity.

4. Never throw old credit cards or statements in the trash without shredding them.

5. Never dispose of an old computer without completely wiping the hard drive. Just deleting the data doesn't erase it. With software you can buy anywhere, data can be restored on a hard drive. Also with software you can buy anywhere, a hard drive can be properly "wiped" clean. Get some.

6. Never dispose of an old cell phone, PDA, or similar device without removing all the data.

7. Never give out social security numbers, last 4 digits, driver's license number, mother's maiden name, account numbers, etc. to anyone who calls you and requests the information. If you called them about an issue, that's different. The same goes for replying to an email requesting personal information.

8. If you are in a bank or some place similar and you are asked for your social security number, do not say it aloud. Write it down and hand it to the bank officer.

9. If you've ever had a document filed with a clerk of court, ask if your social security number was recorded with the document. Some states still do this as an identifier for the persons involved. If so, anyone who requests public records can see it. If you live in a state that does this, contact your elected representatives to have this practice changed. Petition to have your identifier removed.

10. Never discuss personal business on a cell phone. I've been in restrooms and heard women discussing bosses, checking accounts, illicit love affairs, serious health issues including STDs, and much more. What is it with people and their cell phones? Do they think the rest of us are deaf?

That's enough to absorb now. Next week, look for some more strategies on dealing with this situation.

Resources for Writers No. 3

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1. Learn how to write a Wikipedia article.

2. Want to try your hand at freelance writing? Check out the market listings to see if it's worth your time. The jobs change daily on some of these lists and the pay is from peanuts to caviar. Subscribe to her at Writer's Weekly or check out Deborah Ng's Freelance Writing Gigs or Freelance Writing.

3. Maybe fiction is your obsession of choice. Subscribe to Cindi Myers's weekly market newsletter by sending a blank email to CynthiaSterling-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or
Shelf Awareness or BookSquare.

Retail Therapy for Writers No. 2

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Want to get away from writing and go shopping? Me too. It's been a rough week, filled with the sound of ceramic tile being broken into a zillion pieces to make way for the new ceramic tile in part of my home.

For what shall we shop?

1. How about something to make filing easier? One of the best things I ever bought was a Dymo Label Maker. The one I've got runs on AC power or battery. I buy the label tape that's black print on white background. You'd be surprised how legible and neat my file cabinet looks now. My daughter liked it so much she stole my first Dymo to use in her classroom. (Bad daughter.)

Several companies make label makers, but I've been very pleased with my Dymo. It looks very similar to image shown here. I keep it on my desk so it's always handy.

2. Next, get some of those file folders with dividers inside them. I've found these indispensable in organizing the contents of a file. Contracts can go in one section. Correspondence in another. I even keep a hard copy of the writing rubber-banded and in the file folder if it's article writing. If it's novel-length, the hard copy gets its own file folder.

Yes, I make hard copies in addition to having the file on my computer and backed up on external hard drive and flash drives. Every few months I also make a backup copy on CD. Where data is concerned, redundancy is a good thing. (Ah, I think I have the subject for another blog, another day.)

3. A real file cabinet. I'm the one surprised when I see how many beginning and even pro writers keep their files in boxes or desk drawers. Get the genuine article and file stuff away each week. Then when you need that research material you printed on "earthquakes in Greece" or the email from someone who offered to review your book, you'll be able to find it.

Real file cabinets with locking drawers don't cost that much. Even the non-locking variety is better than a cardboard box. Plus, as a working writer, they are a tax deductible item for your home office as are all the things listed today.

Spend money AND get a deduction. What a great country!

Writing is Soooo Easy

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A Disclaimer

My house is a wreck. For a week now I've had a crew of very nice gentlemen with sledge hammers and tile saws. They have demolished all my ceramic tile floors. My asthma doctor would be aghast at the constant cloud of smashed tile and grout dust that lingers in my once beautiful home. To me it's as problematic as a cloud of radioactive fallout from a nuclear attack. In fact, I kind of feel like I've been nuked!

So what good is a great case of crankiness unless you can vent on assorted and sundry unconnected things.

Fallout in Progress

If we writers had commercials, we could have those sensitive neanderthals bemoan an advertisement from a fatuous individual saying: Writing is so easy a cave man could do it!

Just came across several of those sites. You probably know the kind I mean. Don't ask me why, but I made a list, laughing maniacally all the while.

How to Write a Book in 7 Simple Steps is another example of why everyone thinks books can be written as soon as you have some spare time. In fact, that's the sub-heading for this article: Write a book in your spare time.

Here's another with 7 Steps.

4 Easy Ways to Get a Book Written is by a woman who wrote a book on how to hire a ghostwriter - obviously one of the ways, huh?

Uh oh. This guy is more realistic. Well, compared to the others. He takes 28 Days.

Voice of Reason

Now to be fair, I'm sure the website where some of these books and articles appear is a lovely and intellectual site run by lovely intellectuals. I did see listings of books and articles with titles about writing better, not just writing fast.

I'll have to ask my 25-year-old former banker which of these books he's read because he's writing a novel too. In between bouts of playing Halo 2, 3, or 34, whatever Halo version is currently popular.

Computer Shutdown in 5...4...3

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Can't take the noise and dust any more. The picture is a short hall off the entry foyer. The breakfast room is the same. they're both full of dust, broken ceramic, and big men wielding machines designed to destroy in a short amount of time. They're trying to get the rest of all the ceramic tile out of here by sundown tonight. The same scene was played out last week in the kitchen and master bathroom.

So, time to put the PC to sleep for a while before it sucks in more of this dust circulating in the air despite plastic barricades over doors and old towels stuffed in the space at the bottom of the door.

Heading out to the patio until further notice.

Joan has left the building.

Resources for Writers - No. 2

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Here's the weekly list of 3 resources just for writers. Hope you can find something you can use.

Money

Want to know how much writers are actually getting from publishing companies? Check out Brenda Hiatt's Show Me The Money.

Rebecca Brandewyne has several links to articles from published authors about how much authors earn.

If you want to know what television writers are making, check out the info posted by Darren Barefoot.

There's a triple serving of food for thought to get your week started.

Retail Therapy For Writers, No. 1

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Retail Therapy begins another somewhat-regular feature (is that an oxymoron?) at Sling Words. Why? Because as I said in a similar blog I wrote for my Performancing Blog, writers like to shop too. But when writers have money to spend, you won't find us at the mall checking out the latest Nike shoes or the hot new summer fashions. We'll be at the stores that sell computers, software, office supplies, and books.

Show me a writer, and I'll show you an office supply junky.

Anyway, I'm so in love with my new toy that it's not enough to tell it on one blog. Today's Retail Therapy is about a fabulous new keyboard.

Computers: Bad For Human Bodies

I don't know about you, but I spend too many hours a day, at least five days a week, at the keyboard. I go through keyboards the way some people go through running shoes. If you know me personally, you also may know that I've had significant back problems over the years so I take very good care of my body now. Still, I have bouts of pain in my neck, shoulders, and back, but they're usually controllable.

Of course, I prefer to have NO pain so I've learned, usually the hard way, what cripples me. There's nothing like lots of mouse usage to ignite pain. If I'm doing a lot of editing and a lot of graphic design work, you might as well take me out and shoot me because life won't be worth living until I've had a week or more to recover.

Since I've been heavy into designing promotional and gift items for writers for The WRITE WAY, my cyber gift shop, my pain threshold was reached at warp speed. I figured there had to be a better way. I found one.

Retail Therapy: X-Gene Wireless Imperial 2.4 G Series mini Keyboard.

I got my keyboard at Max Keyboard.

My new toy has taken some getting used to because it's a mini-keyboard which pretty much comes standard now with Dell and the others. I don't really like a mini-keyboard because my fingers are used to the wavy ergonomic style I've always bought since they first came out. Retraining myself to type on this has been a chore.

However, the chore has been worth it because this keyboard is designed for those who spend hours at the computer. Because of the way it's made, I don't have to reach for a mouse and move it around. I just love it! Let me tell you all about it.

Great Design

On the left top corner are two buttons that together make a kidney bean shape. They are left and right mouse buttons. On the bottom left top edge is a scroll wheel. On the right top corner is an optical wheel and just under that on the bottom edge is another left mouse or selector button.

This thing is fabulous. Your hands never have to reach for anything. All the controls are right there at your fingertips.

But Wait, There's More


Since this is a wireless keyboard, it has a USB gizmo that plugs into a computer USB port. The keyboard itself takes 4 - AA batteries. You can lean back in your computer chair with this in your lap and type and mouse away. I can even sit in a recliner in the corner of the study and type away, the wireless range is that good!

There's more still! There's no number keypad, that's why this unit is center-balanced so that it sets squarely in place in typing position. There's an F-Lock key if you need to use it as a number pad. Above the F keys on the left are programmable access buttons for your web browser, email, My Computer, and browsing forward and backward. On the right are CD music controls including volume and mute.

Specs


The X-Gene Keyboard is compatible with all Windows versions, even Vista I think. It truly is Plug and Play so if I have a lot of heavy typing as in first draft with little mouse usage, I can unplug the X-Gene, plug in my ergonomic, and type up a storm.

Price: $54.95. I checked lots of different websites and found the best price at Max Keyboards. When I ordered it a month ago, they even paid the shipping and upgraded it to overnight. Don't know if they do that for everyone, so don't quote me on that.

If you order, be sure and tell them Joan Reeves sent you. I like to let retailers know they have satisfied customers out there bragging about them and their products.

Retail Therapy For Laughs

Oh, and just for kicks, here's another Retail Therapy item. My daughter the artist designed this Tote Bag after a particular event which you can easily discern.Isn't it a hoot? Like Coco Chanel said: "The best revenge is living well." In this case, it only costs $14.00 if you want to proclaim your disdain for the Ex in your life.

Laughing and happily slinging words on my new keyboard!

Links, PageRank, & Web Crawlers

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In discussing exchanging website and/or blog links with others, I find some do it; some don't. Many seem to think it's a social convention. They simply don't understand the business dynamic behind linking.

Web Linking Results

Here's what won't happen by exchanging links. You probably won't pick up a bunch of new readers. The Pareto Principle, commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, applies to just about everything so it probably governs this too. The reason you probably won't pick up new readers who rush out and buy your book is what I call the "preaching to the choir" rule. I have no stats to back up my belief that a majority of people who visit writers' websites and blogs are, well, other writers. They're not really looking for a new book to read. They visit for many other complex reasons.

However, in hopes of getting that 20% of the site visitors who are Joe and Molly Public, of which 20% of them may buy books, exchanging links does provide more exposure for you, your book, your name.

Google PageRank

The truly valid reason for exchanging links is that it will improve your Google PageRank. Big deal, you may reply. What's that?

Google PageRank is a major factor for determining where your site will appear in Google's SERP (that's Search Engine Results Page). When someone types in your name to the Search Box, you want your site to appear as the #1 listing on the SERP. Hopefully, yours does. However, what if they just typed in Texas romance novelist?

Do you know how many romance writers live in Texas? Sheesh, more than the number of high humidity days in Houston!

The way you get yourself to the first page of the SERP is by ranking high with Google. Just in case you're wondering, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and the myriad other search engines also have their own version of PageRank as well as the other "importance metrics."

That's about all I'll say about SERP because there's so much else that goes into it that books could be written - and have been.

Background

PageRank is an algorithm developed by Larry Page when he was at Stanford. So you see the software name isn't because of the ranking on the page but because it's his surname. Sergey Bin joined him later and together they gave birth to Google.

Though it's just one of the factors determining Google search results ranking, it is the basis for all of Google's web search tools.

PageRank assigns a numerical value to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, i.e., a website, in order to evaluate its relative importance within the set.

PageRank was based on Eugene Garfield's citation analysis work in the 1950s, and Page and Bin did credit him in case you were wondering. By following links from one page to another, virtual webpage communities are recognized. Ah! Do those link lists begin to make sense now?

PageRank is just one of the algorithms. Another of the easily understood (and not a closely-guarded secret) "importance metrics" is the number of inbound and outbound links.

Are Links Equal

Without getting more technical, links have quality. A link from a home page is more valuable than a link from another page because web crawlers measure the distance from the root directory to the link. Just trust me on that.

You know about web crawlers right? They're bots, short for robot. They're software with the sole purpose of "crawling" over the World Wide Web. It visits a URL and identifies all the hyperlinks in the page, adding them to the list of URLs to visit in the future. They call this the crawl frontier. Now, there are ways to be attractive to web crawlers and there are ways to make them hate you, rather, your site. Perhaps that's a blog idea for the future.

Of course, links from high ranking sites have more importance so if you can get Stephen King, Nora Roberts, et al to put a link on their site to yours, the web crawlers will do a happy dance. However, for most of us, that just isn't going to happen.

Action To Take

So if you don't have links on your website and/or blog, start collecting them. If you haven't been exchanging links then start reciprocating.

Remember that's the golden rule about website links. Always reciprocate. I've had people who wanted me to link to them, but then they didn't post my link. Perhaps they forgot or had no time or didn't understand they were taking advantage or whatever. Since this is business, whether they understand or not, I now have a policy of giving someone 6 weeks to reciprocate with my link. If they don't, I de-link them. (Hey, maybe I just coined a word! I claim it!)

Win-Win

So follow the golden rule of linking and always post the reciprocating link in a timely fashion. All of us will see improved PageRank. More importantly, linking will be a win-win situation for everyone.

Resources for Writers #1

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A lot of bloggers give lists of things. I like that. The problem is that most bloggers list so many things that I never have time to check them all out. I do two or three then postpone the rest with thoughts that I'll get back to the list another day. Unfortunately, for me, I usually forget. The note about the links to check or the print out (big waste of paper, I know!) gets stacked with all the other printouts to read or act upon.

So I've decided to do a weekly list, but to make the list more manageable by only listing three resources.

List #1

Monica Burns has created a resource page containing Microsoft Word Tools, Hints, and Shortcuts. It's a great place to learn how to maximize your use of Microsoft Word. The page also has a link to a downloadable Excel spreadsheet designed to compute word counts based on font.

Another great resource is Writer's Quest by Stacey Dennick. The reference site has links to encyclopedias, dictionaries, term papers, medical info, and much more that writers might need.

Gabrielle Luthy has a page chock full of topical links to articles and organizations of interest to articles.

Three is manageable, don't you think? For me and for you.