Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Browser Distortion Once Again!

Last June I wrote a post on my Tips For Crafters On The Web blog entitled "Mozilla - Firefox Versus Internet Explorer" How Does Your Website Fare?

My post concerned using Microsoft "Publisher" to create my websites. At that time I was using Internet Explorer and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to update my websites.

When I checked last year 86% of my traffic was coming from Internet Explorer and 12% was coming from Mozilla - Firefox.

Shortly thereafter I switched to Mozilla - Firefox because I was having a horrendous time with Internet Explorer 7.0. It was SLOW as molasses, was freezing during printing from my blogs, and causing a multitude of other issues. After using Internet Explorer exclusively for over 30 years I'd had enough and made the switch. A year later I am happy to report that I'm delighted with Mozilla - Firefox and have had few, if any, problems with it.

I have found that Mozilla - Firefox, for the most part, is much more stringent on the HTML coding than Internet Explorer is so when I've made changes to my FTP websites using Firefox and then viewing them in IE everything has displayed just fine.

Well, something must have changed in Internet Explorer during the last few weeks as last week when I made some changes to my Everything E-Directory a friend of mine told me that some of the avatar links were not displaying properly. I was getting X's. YIKES! I hate x's!

So, I decided to check it out. Indeed, there were x's where two of my avatar pictures should have been and I was getting text boxes at the top of each page that shouldn't have been there. They disappeared once the page loaded, but were there initially. I didn't like that and knew there had to be something wrong in the HTML coding.

Well, after hours of work I finally resolved the problem in Internet Explorer and everything is now displaying properly. Mind you now, it was displaying correctly all along in Mozilla - Firefox. So now both IE and Firefox are displaying my websites correctly.

So, why am I telling you this? Well, if you are a small business website owner or blogger you might want to check your website and blog to see if both Internet Explorer and Mozilla - Firefox are displaying your website and/or blog properly.

Last year 12% of my traffic was coming from Mozilla - Firefox, with 86% from Internet Explorer and 2% from the other browsers. This year 19% of my traffic is coming from Mozilla - Firefox and 76% from Internet Explorer with 5% from the other smaller browsers.

So, why am I telling you this?

Well, if your website is displaying correctly in one browser it doesn't necessarily mean that it's displaying correctly in all the others. So far I've only been concerned with Internet Explorer and Mozilla - Firefox. For now, the others are really too small percentage wise to make it worthwhile to see if they are displaying properly and, if not, to spend the time to correct them.

I'm hoping that since I use Mozilla - Firefox and since it's pretty stringent on the HTML coding then I should be okay in the smaller browsers. However, I thought this would be true for Internet Explorer until recently. Obviously I was wrong about that. So, now when I make any changes I'm checking both.

Another reason I am telling you this is that from time to time in my blog hopping I have noticed that some of the blogs of some of the bloggers who deviated from the standard blog providers templates are not displaying as the blogger may have intended. In checking the blogs of several of my blogging friends who have gone to 3-column templates I have noticed that they aren't always displaying properly either.

So, the good news for Mozilla - Firefox is that it's certainly gaining ground over Internet Explorer. The bad news is that for small business owners who have websites and/or blogs on the internet it means more work. You need to see how your website and/or blog is displaying both in Mozilla - Firefox and in Internet Explorer. The % of users to Mozilla - Firefox is steadily increasing and to not have your website displaying properly in either one means lost business.

We'll check in next year around this time to see how both are faring. Happy browsing.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What Are Podcasts?

In November of 2007 I wrote one of my "Tips From The Blogging Queen" columns entitled "What Is Podcasting and Should You Jump On The Podcasting Bandwagon?" which was about "Podcasting" which was gaining in popularity back then.

If you don't know what "podcasting" is it is a combination of the words IPod and broadcasting where you distribute audio and video material over the Internet using syndicated feeds like an RSS feed specifically for playback on portable digital players and personal computers.

However, you do not need to use an IPod to listen a podcast and nowadays do not even need to download the media file to listen to a podcast. Any computer that is capable of playing media files can listen to a podcast. Any anyone with a telephone line can create a podcast and become an Internet radio producer.

Some podcasts are simple downloads that you can download to your computer or digital players. Some are simple links within a podcast blog to the particular show that you click on and the podcast is played on your computer.

Syndicated podcasts allow for special software to retrieve the new shows when they are streamed and feed them automatically to the subscriber. Files are downloaded automatically by the podcatcher software and stored on the subscribers computer or other device for use whenever the subscriber wishes.

There weren't a lot of crafting podcasts back in November 2007 but there are many, many more of them now.

In fact, may crafters have started to create their own crafting radio shows and podcasting according to whatever schedule suits their needs on whatever topic they have and expertise. The podcasts are as varied as the crafters and can be on just about any subject.

Some of the podcasts are free and the podcasters offset the expense of running the podcasts with individual show advertising or button advertising on the home pages of the podcast website and/or blog. Some are syndication based and charge a fee for listening to each show.

You might wonder why you would want to podcast? Well, the answer is very simple.

Content has become extremely mobile and "podcasting" is allowing audio and video content to be delivered to portable media players on demand. This means that you can deliver audio and video content to your customers so they can watch or listen to it whenever they want and wherever they are. Content has become available anytime and anywhere.

Also, the way in which content is being delivered is also evolving. It used to be that only audio content could be podcast and required MP3 files to be downloaded into IPod's or personal computers where separate player software (i.e. Real Player) was used to play the audio files. You would click on the link and download the audio file. The audio file would then open up in your "player" and begin playing the file.

This started with music downloads and quickly evolved into "radio broadcasts" where anyone could broadcast if they had a microphone connected to their computer and sound recording software.

Now "podcasts" have become so sophisticated that your can broadcast audio and video content just about anywhere, anytime. Some broadcasters are now combining "podcast" within their blogs and creating what is known as a "blogcast."

The latter allows bloggers to post an article to their blog and include an audio or video "podcast" link within the post that can be played right from the post utilizing an inline audio/video player. Readers do not need to open up a new player.

With the evolution of podcasting hundreds of online radio show websites have been developed similar to social networking websites to allow podcasters to upload via a telephone line and create free, live, call-in talk shows. The talk shows are archived on the radio talk show website and made available as podcasts at any time. Listeners can subscribe to shows via RSS feed, play directly from their computer, or download to their audio readers. Some shows are free and some are syndicated for a fee.

Generally, the online radio show websites allow listeners access to thousands of shows, a social networking forum, archived shows, alerts for upcoming shows, the ability to group your favorite shows into a collection, and a listener profile page for adding text, video's, etc.

For podcasters the online radio websites generally offer the ability to create a free radio show without the need for software. Some may offer syndication revenue sharing, live chat capabilities to interact with listeners, multiple participants, archived shows, widgets for the podcasters websites and/or blogs, the ability to group their favorite shows into a collection, and a podcaster profile page for adding text, video's, etc.

"Podcasting" is not for everyone. Disadvantages include the fact that it does require practice and the ability to conceptualize what and how you want your idea conveyed to your listeners. Advantages are unlimited mobility and being able to convey your ideas to your listeners anytime and anywhere.

Graphic courtesy of ClipArtGuide at