Radio Ad for Lasik Leaves Me Unsettled

I heard a commercial on the radio yesterday for Lasik eye surgery with a special deal running. If you and a friend schedule your procedures on the same day, one of them is free.

Buy one get one free Lasik eye surgery.

Somehow this seems wrong to me. This is eye surgery. Things cutting and splicing your eyeball. A procedure that makes me really thankful for good vision. This is not a clearance product like leftover summer T-shirts. If I need a medical procedure done to my eye, I don’t want priced-to-move surgery, I want real surgery.

Are we actually this nonchalant about the health of our eyes? In a place where multi-hundred dollar purses are becoming the norm, Lasik is striking a deal to entice new customers. How eye-opening.

Serenity in the Routine

I wrote this while away from my computer this afternoon. When life gets busy (and it always does), it’s important to find moments of serenity where you can. Even if it’s just a Sunday baseball practice.

Sitting outside on a blanket in the shade of a maple tree. (Ok, I don’t know if it’s a maple tree or not, but “in the shade of a tree” felt like it was missing something.) My soundtrack is the rustling leaves of the tree behind me and the sounds of children playing catch.

A ball bumps along the dirt until it is scooped up by one young plaer. Another ball pops high in the sky and drops with a slap in a ready glove.

The field is filled with boys and their dads partaking in America’s favorite pastime. I can only assume I’m not the only one enjoying this moment.

How To Build a Web Site for Free

We women love a good bargain. And it doesn’t get much better than free.

I learn by doing. To learn about Web sites, I created them. To learn about blogs, I started them. I didn’t exactly have Web experimentation in my budget, however, so I found ways to try things out for free.

If you’re just starting a Web site and want to experiment, there are a few things you can do without spending money.

Try Microsoft Office Live Basics. Geared toward small businesses, Microsoft Office Live offers several service levels at varying prices. The basic version is free. You get an actual .com URL, email addresses that are yourname@yourdomain.com, and a basic Web design tool. Choose from a limited set of designs, layouts, and color schemes to customize a basic informational site.

Use WordPress.com. Life After Web is built in WordPress.com. You get a free blog and the ability to create additional pages for a more well-rounded site. There is a set of templates to choose from, some of which offered limited customization. Most templates also allow you to add widgets to the side columns. Your URL will be yourname.wordpress.com.

Use WordPress.org if you need more control over your templates. This is an open-source version of WordPress which will allow you to download any of the hundreds of templates created by others around the Web. Or, if you have the skills, build your own template. WordPress.org will require you to already have a URL and hosting, so you may incur a charge for those, but the use of WordPress’ open source tool is free.

A few other ideas are:

  • Start a blog for free through Blogger.
  • If you have a URL and hosting provider, take advantage of open source content management systems like Drupal or Joomla.
  • College students and faculty can often get free web space on their university’s domain.

With a little research, you’ll find lots of possibilities. Get creative and you can build some or all of your site for free.

Why the Internet is Good for World Peace

In the movie Miss Congeniality, an undercover FBI agent is advised to answer “world peace” in reply to a pageant question about what this world needs. Each contestant before her does exactly that, but when the FBI agent, played by Sandra Bullock, is read the question, she replies, “that would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.” When the audience stares blankly at her, she quickly adds, “and… world peace.” The audience goes wild.

Today is September 11th, a day that is forever different for those of us in the United States since the terrorist attacks. It seems appropriate then, that the
Social Network to Promote Peace
has selected today as the start of 10 days of blogging for peace.

The Internet actually seems like a nice place to start because it makes this world a smaller place. In fact, it’s right in the name: world wide web. Through blogging, I have been able to connect with individuals in other states and in other countries, across county lines and across oceans. I can share thoughts, pictures, and experiences with people I would otherwise never know.

Though Internet experiences may not actually bring world peace, they do allow us to come together in peace.

Learn more about the Peace Blogs effort and how you can participate.

Forget What You Want

When it comes to Web content, people are often quick to rattle off a “here’s what I want” list. Something like, “I want to say how cool our latest offering is and we have to give the marketing team a section and the technology team needs a page and I want a flashing, bouncing, glittering picture on the home page… ” and so on.

If you build it, they will come, right? Wrong. In a post about what USA Today has done well in the print publishing industry, Farrell Kramer of Farrell Kramer Communications gives this lesson: “You must give people what they want, not what you want them to want.” The same is true on the Web.

People don’t care how cool you think your new product is. Of course you think it’s cool- It’s your product. People don’t care what the structure of your organization is. They don’t know if the information they want is from your marketing department or customer service. And those flashy, bouncy things? People don’t like those. They’re distracting and they make your site load slower.

Forgive me if this sounds a bit harsh. Visitors will spend about 30 seconds on your site to determine if what they need is there. If you paid attention, you noticed the phrasing was “if what they need is there. You want to give them what they want. You want your site to be the place they found whatever it is that was useful to them.

How do you know what they want? Ask them. Sometimes the best ideas come from your users, not your marketing department, not even your Web developer. Yes, both of these are also great resources, but nothing takes the place of speaking with your customers or potential customers.

Forget what you want. What do they want?

Now, go give it to them.

One New Camera, 350 Pictures Later

I bought a new camera yesterday, just in time for a concert for which I was supposed to be photographer.  Talk about waiting until the last minute.  Of course, I didn’t want to be using the camera for the first time at the concert, so I warmed up at the little league game.

First, let’s start with what I got: the Nikon D40x digital SLR.  I bought two lenses, the 18-55 and the 55-200.  So far, it’s a great camera.  I kept my settings pretty basic given the short time I had to experiment before being called to duty.

Second, the buying experience.  I went to Ritz Camera with a few cameras in mind expecting them to give me enough information to complete my decision.  I’ve had good luck there in the past, but yesterday seemed a bit off.  I can sum up yesterday’s experience like this.  I walked in and said, “I want to buy a camera- a digital SLR.”  (What more could a salesperson dream for?)  The saleswoman handed me one camera, then left to help a gentleman who walked in after me and was looking a $99 sale priced point and shoot.  Interesting choice.  Since I didn’t have much time, however, I persisted and eventually she helped me get a great deal and even helped me take advantage of a sale one day before it’s start date.

Enough about the details, though.  On to the fun stuff.  Here are a few highlights one new camera, 24 hours, and 350 pictures later.

A little league outfielder marks his place.
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Johnny Maestro performs with his band, The Brooklyn Bridge.
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Fireworks rise above the trees after the concert.
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Random Useless Fun- Ellen on Technology

The Funny Thing Is… book coverComedienne/Actress Ellen DeGeneres has a unique style that I can only refer to as Ellen. She rambles, she veers off topic, and somehow manages to return full circle to the topic at hand. That’s what made her first book’s title, My Point…And I Do Have One, so perfect.

I am now reading her follow up book, The Funny Thing Is…, where in true Ellen style, she serves up essays about life, mixed with a few pure comic routines, just for fun.

For this second installment of Random Useless Fun, here is a quote about technology from Ellen’s book:

“Everyone likes to talk about how advancements in technology will change the way we live forever.  Frankly, I think modern technology is hurting us.  …  If you want to know the truth, I blame the microwave for most of our problems.  Anything that gets food that hot without fire is from the devil.  If you don’t believe me, put a Hot Pocket in your microwave for three or four minutes, then pop that thing in your mouth.  If that’s not Hell, my friend, I don’t know what is.”

Makes a lot of sense to me.  Happy Monday!

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