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Tools and hints for webmasters

Part 1: Accessing data, useful tools, etc.
for your web site. Some are very helpful!

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Useful helps while writing:

  • Dictionary: Google has a neat feature that helps one obtain definitions of terms. Entering a search string like define: deism will return a dozen or so definitions from various web sites for the word "deism." Don't forget the ":" character.

  • Deleted web sites: One of the problems with the Internet is that web sites often disappear. It seems as if some religious web sites have a half life of six months. One way to retrieve information from defunct sites is to use the "Wayback Machine" Internet archive. They have an incredible number of web sites archived from 1996 to the present time. See: http://www.archive.org/

  • Spelling checker: A lot of visitors will judge your web site by the accuracy of its spelling. A free spell checker at spellcheckonline.com will check your text, will show mistakes, and make recommendations on how to correct them, including using synonyms.

  • Grammar checker: Grammarly checks text for more than 150 possible errors. It also checks for borrowed text before you can be accused of plagiarism. It suggests alternative words that might have greater impact, and detects word substitutions like "to" instead of "two" or "too." See: http://www.grammarly.com It rents to individuals for about $20.00 a month. Some educational institutions have contracts with Grammarly that covers all of their students.

  • Grammar checker: Another free checker is at http://www.grammarcheck.net It checks for both grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.

  • A backup reminder: We use Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 for editing HTML files. It has a lot of annoying deficiencies which we have learned to work around. Fortunately it has fewer major deficiencies than our previous editor, Front Page. One very serious deficiency of Dreamweaver is that it does not regularly save files during an editing session. Too often I have been carried away editing, forgotten to save my work, had Dreamweaver seize up for no obvious reason, and had to repeat an hours of editing. I found a free "loop countdown" timer at http://www.online-stopwatch.com/ It can be set to any time interval up to 100 hours, generate a beep at the end of the interval, and repeat forever.

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File type conversion:

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From a variety of file types to a Microsoft WordPad file (RTF) and other formats: See:

Webmaster's note: I have not been able to get either of these to work at converting PDF files to RTF. However, one web site claims "millions of happy customers" so I suspect that the problem lies with me. Actually, any time I try to work with a PDF file, the result has been disastrous. Thus the comment I sometimes add to URLs containing a PDF file: "another accursed PDF file."

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Accessing data for your web site:

Most information on the Internet is in the form of HTML text, which any browser can read. However, some data that you might wish to use may be in PDF, Word, Excel or Power Point format. Fortunately, you may be able to avoid buying an office suite or these full programs. You can download free "read only" versions of these programs that allow you to view the files. They typically have no editing and saving functionality. Still, the price is right:

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Awareness of copyright laws:

bullet The United States Copyright Office provides a series of articles on copyright law. See: http://www.copyright.gov/

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It is illegal to publish copyrighted material on your web site without permission, except for short quotations. Unfortunately, the law does not precisely explain what constitutes a "short" quotation. Three helpful resources are:

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Looking for, and avoiding, plagiarism:

Copyscape provides a free service that searches the Internet for web sites that have copied the material of others. See: http://www.copyscape.com There is probably nothing much that can be done about stolen material, but at least it is interesting to know how many webmasters have stolen your material. The first essay that we checked via Copyscape showed that ten copies had been made elsewhere. It probably would have found more, except that the free version of Copyscape only reports a maximum of ten copies.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline has a helpgul guide to help students better understand the different types of plagiarism, the consequences they carry, and, most importantly, how to avoid plagiarism entirely. Key elements of the guidebook include:

  • A detailed look at both intentional and accidental plagiarism;

  • Dozens of resources to help students avoid plagiarism and help teachers prevent it

  • Tools and examples to teach and/or learn proper citation

  • Important questions (and answers) every writing student should ask.

See: http://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/

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Sponsored link:

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Two unusually valuable sources of information and tools for your web site:

  • Bravenet supply many tools to incorporate in your web site:
    • Mailing list: maintain a distribution mailing list.

    • Contact forms: Add a visitor feedback form to your web site.

    • Password protect: Restrict visitors' access to your website.

    • Message forum: Create a message board to host online discussions.

    • Online calendar: Public event or scheduling calendar.

  • Christopher Heng has provided a very useful series of essays of interest to webmasters at http://www.thesitewizard.com/. Included are:
    • Tips on choosing a domain name.

    • Creating a small image to appear on your visitors' Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera or Safari web browsers next to the URL when people access your site.

    • Setting up a custom 404 page on your site to handle cases where files are not found.

    • Preparing your web site for growth.

    • Using Nvu -- a free WYSIWYG web editor.

    • Free webmaster resources.

    • etc.

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This topic is continued in the next essay

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Site navigation: Home page > Internet links > For webmasters > here

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Copyright © 1995 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2017-JUN-25
Author: B.A. Robinson
Hyperlinks checked on: 2017-JUN-25
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