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April 29, 2002 Search Engines and Sites Using Frames

I'm currently studying for CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster) certification. It's not the best way to learn how to build a web site. It seems better for having something to show a prospective employer. I get my best education from tackling problems on my and others' sites.

For instance, my cousin asked my why he couldn't seem to get his site listed on the Google search engine. Google hadn't even indexed it. Even when you entered the full web address in the search box, nothing came up. Since my site is well indexed on Google, I put an invisible link on one of my pages to his site a few months ago, so that Google would find it. I checked Google again recently. The site had been indexed but was not showing up on a search of the keywords because the only thing that shows up in Google's cache of the site is "This site uses frames, but your browser does not support them".

After a bit of research, I found that frames are a real obstacle to a site's being properly indexed by a search engine. When a page using frames loads, it has to then load the code separately for each frame. Indexing the internet takes a lot of time, so search engine bots, or robots, don't want to wait for the frame HTML files to load. So it doesn't wait for them, and only saves the frameset page, which doesn't contain any of the frame content. All it really contains is the alternate text ("noframes", if the web author has provided it) for browsers which don't support frames. So, a solution to this problem is to include a description of the site in the noframes section for the search engine to index.

SearchEngineWatch: Search Engines and Frames

But a far better solution is to avoid frames altogether if possible. They cause more problems than they are worth. In addition to search engine problems, they can cause problems when trying to bookmark or link to a page with frames. The most recent versions of Internet Explorer have solved this problem by saving the links for all of the frames in a page, but Netscape and Opera still do not retain this information. To illustrate, surf to, click on the Cams link, and then bookmark the page. When you click on the bookmark in Netscape and IE, you don't return to the Cams page, but instead get taken to the main page. The same problem occurs if you have a webpage and want to link to a page with frames. Fortunately, Leo has counteracted this problem by providing frame-less versions of his pages.

Posted by Christy at 10:08 PM

April 28, 2002 A Word doc viewer? Well, duh.

Some of you may say, "well duh, I knew about that," but until today, I did not know that Microsoft had a free Word document viewer. This is strange because I did know about the free Power Point viewer. This comes from relatives who are often emailing me various attachments, including humorous PowerPoint presentations. Both of these viewers are helpful to people like me who don't have the cash to buy MS Office (or prefer to use other office suites), but want to be able to view .doc and .ppt files that are sent to us.

Also, many of us have applications which claim to be able to save to MS .doc format, but would like to have a way to check that they really are being done correctly. Wordpad, which comes with Windows, can view some documents, but not if they have complicated formatting.

Download PowerPoint Viewer
Download Word Document Viewer

Posted by Christy at 01:07 AM

April 10, 2002 Auto-Refresh a Web Page, and the Schrodinger Wave Equation

At the end of the show today, a viewer asked how to get pages such as My Yahoo to refresh automatically. Yahoo does allow you to cutomize this setting. I finally found it under Add/Delete Pages (really intuitive). But the shortest time interval is 15 minutes. If you want to do this for other pages or to refresh Yahoo more often, copy the following code to a text editor such as Wordpad.

<title>My Yahoo - Auto Refresh</title>
<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="30">
<frameset rows="100%">
<frame name="main" src="">

Customiize the url and the content="30" value to the amount of time in seconds that you want. Then save as a text document with the ".html" extension, using whatever file name you like. Then open the file with your internet browser and bookmark it. You can save a file on your hard drive to favorites or bookmarks, in addition to internet addresses.

The Schrodinger equation shirt:
When they asked for people to email Megan if they knew what the equation on the guest's shirt was, I bolted for the computer. Boy do I know that @#$%* equation! I beat my head against it in the hardest class I took in college, biophysical chemistry. I've never had a use for it since. But the Schrodinger wave equation can be fun. There is a story of Schrodinger trying to explain his theory to an disbelieving Einstein about a cat in a box with a vial of poison. Einstein's famous response was "God does not play dice with the universe."

Cecil Adams writes a syndicated column called "The Straight Dope" where readers send him questions that he researches and then answers. One reader sent him a question about the Schrodinger's cat story written in rhyming verse, so Adams responded in kind: The Straight Dope: The story of Schroedinger's cat (an epic poem)

Posted by Christy at 11:13 PM

April 02, 2002 Free Office Suites

I was a bit disappointed that 602Suite was not mentioned in the roundup of alternative office suites on the show today. It's free, and saves documents in Word doc format. It doesn't have every advanced feature, but it's pretty amazing for a free program. The only problem that I have had with it was a bug that has been fixed in the latest version.

Strangely enough, 602Suite was reviewed by Roger Chang on Call For Help today.

Another strategy for those who would like to save money while buying Microsoft Office is to buy the out of date version, and then the upgrade. The two together are often cheaper than buying the full new version.

Posted by Christy at 06:24 PM