Wednesday, December 1, 1999


=======December 1, 1999==========
Hi again portal kids.
Well, it's about 9:30 pm here now and I started at about 7 this morning, so this is going to be another 16 hour day. Geesh, where I am going to have to take Kathi next time? Paris? She's funny that way. She seems to think I can just stop working every 6 or 7 years and take her someplace.
I got a lot of personal responses last week from the last Portal Stuff. Oddly enough, I didn't get a lot of suggestions on my questions. The majority of responses were telling me how much they liked what I said about my personal relationship with my wife. I must have struck a nerve because I could hear bedsprings squeaking all the way to New Orleans. We had a wonderful time by the way and I truly hope that I was able to get at least a few of you to actually talk to your spouses and kids for a change. Not too much though, don't forget we have work to do.
Searchking has actually become a global enterprise! This past week we signed up portal partners from Uruguay, Argentina, Russia, Turkey, Malaysia and even a guy from Utah. Add that with our partners in South Africa, England, Sweden and Mexico and we're global. Yeah Baby!
THIS WEEKS LIVE CHAT - (is there any other kind?)
We're back on this week with our chat. Thursday 12-2-99 at 7 pm central and Friday 12-3-99 at 9 am central. The address is different because we're trying out a better chat program. Hopefully no more of those irritating little flashes. The url is
For all your newbies, this is a great chance to get to meet and speak with the founders of the portal program. People like Curt and Rhino, Karen, Kathi, Melvin, Mike, Shane and me. Ask those questions and get them answered by The Man himself. I'm talking about Shane of course. Hope to see you all there.
Recently I had a couple of partners ask me a question in regards to changing the SK logo on their front page. Personally, I don't care. As the person responsible for the company, I have to care. Also, the lawyers seem to care.
We now realize that the present graphic we are using is a little oversized. Perhaps a text banner would be better. But the point is that we have what we have and we have it for a reason. I'm sure we can all understand the importance of branding and if I allow one person to change it, I would have to allow everyone to and I can see that as a problem in the very near future.
I feel that with any free program, there has to be some form of compensation for the use of the program. All SK asks is that you leave the logo intact on the front page and link it to SK and that you leave at least the top banner on the interior pages for SK as well. If anyone has a specific need or reason to change any of those things, please let me know and I will try to accommodate, however, I can't do something that I honestly feel is detrimental to either SK or it's portal partners and I feel that losing the branding would hurt us all.
I hope you all understand and I appreciate your support.
Most of you know how much I've encouraged you all to sign up for an email account under your portal name, well now I can tell you why it's been so important.
By sometime today or tomorrow, we are going to start using the e-mail to confirm availability of the portal names. When a new partner signs up, the first thing they will have to do is see if the name is available. They will do that by getting their e-mail account. If it's not been taken it will send them back to the order form, but if it has been taken it will tell them to select another name.
So if any of you have not gotten your portal name as a SK e-mail account, PLEASE do it now. If you don't I can almost guarantee that it won't be too long before we have someone wanting your name and thinking it is available. It will cause you and I both some problems. Secure your portal name! You guys have almost all got some really killer names.

(It's now 12:15 am. I've just spent the last hour and a half on the phone with Mike discussing some really great features we will be offering soon. So now I'm up to a 17 hour day.)

FINALLY - (thunderous applause)
We are in the beginning stages of building a very unique community here. When it comes to marketing your site, my tip of the week is to use that community.
First of all, the forums are really starting to rock. We have some really great moderators who want nothing more than to help you in any way they can. Use them and learn so that you can start sharing with others. That's what a community is all about. If you give them a try, I think you'll find some really nice people there who want the same thing I want, and that is to see you be successful.
The other way to use the community is to use the power of THE DEAL. What I mean is we have, he should be making deals with We have, he should be making deals with
All of our portals need content and where better to get that content than from your other portal partners that can give you an advantage? Make a deal! Go to the directory at and search for keywords that are related to you and your portal. When you find one, e-mail them. I can almost guarantee that the partner you contact will be willing to bend over backwards to make the deal. Remember we all share the philosophy of the internet golden rule.
The more you give, the more you get!
Right now the one thing we all have plenty of is available space. Inventory. Why not use some of that space to run a banner or put a link to a related portal partner site and have them do the same for you.
I tell you what, let's make this fun. To the person that sends me an e-mail describing a deal they made this week with another portal partner that I determine is the best deal, I will send that person a check for $50! I will then use the e-mail in next weeks letter. That should encourage a few of you at least to get in there and start wheeling and dealing and getting to know your portal partners.
Looky there, someone is going to be making money with their portal already!
Okay, my eyes are getting a little heavy now and my spelling is probably suffering. I've got to call it a night. Tomorrow is looking a little hectic and I may have to work some extra hours.
Come see me in the forums and don't forget the chat!
Bob "I'm so proud of you all I could just bust" Massa

Publisher -- Bob Massa

=======December 9, 1999==========

Hi portal kids.
I hope this holiday season finds you all well. All right, lets get right to the meat.
In last weeks "Portal Stuff", I announced a little impromptu contest to encourage portal partners to get to know their fellow partners in the hopes of learning more ways of helping each other. To my delight, I get to send a little money out to a portal partner this week. And the winner is:
Frederick of
Frederick, send me an address to send the $50 bucks to at and I'll get it to you. Congratulations!
I was going to post his e-mail to me explaining his "deal" here, but on second thought I decided to just tell all of you that if you would like to hear an award winning portal partner deal, contact Fred at:
For those of you that frequent the forums, (, you already know but yesterday, the 7th of December, we had 120 sign ups.
That's a record.
We normally average about 5 to 8 sign ups a day, so to get this big of a jump, the only thing I can think of is someone is talking about us. There must have been an article in a newsletter or e-zine. If anyone has any idea of where this spurt my have come from, please let me know. Some of you new kids that signed up on the 7th could maybe drop me a line and let me know where you heard about me. Send a copy if you can.
Now to the problem. It's not really a problem it's more of a procedure modification but what I'm considering is rather drastic and I need your input. I am asking for everyone's opinion of what I am going to propose and I will use that input to make the ultimate decision.
The orders are starting to cause a bit of a strain on my resources. Setting up these programs takes a little more work than you might think. Shane can install the program in a matter of a couple of minutes. Not too big a deal until you start having dozens and hundreds to set up. Then we have to go to our webhost to add the DNS numbers, (this is why your welcome letter tells you one or two business days before you get your access), then I print out the order, create a folder and file it. Only takes a few minutes. Then I also have to forward the order to Shane and Mike, so they have to repeat the same couple of minutes process.
So already I've got about 3 minutes for set up and 3 minutes for file creation times 3 people so that's 12 minutes plus the 3 minutes or so for setting up the DNS numbers that brings us to approx. 15 minutes per order. Well we have been averaging about 56 orders a week so that's 840 minutes or roughly 14 hours. Now we start getting those really good days when we get 120 orders in one day, (we've had another 15 today which is almost double our average), and that takes us to 15 minutes x 120 = 1800 minutes or 30 hours in one day. Well, with only 24 hours in a day, you can see for yourself that it's not too big of a deal when divided by 4 people BUT, you can also see my problem. There is an expense involved here.
Well we knew we would have this expense before we ever decided to offer this program, so it's not a surprise, but the point is that the money I'm having to spend for this, I could in theory at least, be spending on something else. Something perhaps that would be of real value to us all. So, I'm in the position now of thinking of ways to generate income from alternative sources.
This is what I'm thinking. . .
Affiliate Portal Program
I'm considering charging $19 for set up of this program and doing it through an affiliate program where for each $19 the affiliate would make $5. The portal would still be free but the set up would be $19. Mike makes a very good point when he says that $19 ain't free. I have to agree. Mike also thinks that by charging a nominal fee that we would not be getting 120 orders in a day. Now I'm not sure I agree. I think there is the possibility that we could charge the $19 and by the efforts of the affiliates actually see the orders increase.
Of course we couldn't advertise a "Free Portal" any longer, but I think I see a little marketing goodie in advertising:

Of course I could not charge the people that have already ordered, (so that lets all of you off the hook), but that's my idea and I would like to have your input. Please take a few minutes to give me your opinions and suggestions by either sending me an e-mail directly to or by posting in the forums. I'll go put a post in the forum as soon as I finish the "Portal Stuff", to start it off.
While it's true that there seem to be some people who consider me some kind of an internet marketing guru, that is a dubious title that has been thrust upon me by others. I have never claimed to be any such thing. I'm amazed at my own ignorance of internet marketing on almost a daily basis. Some days I start thinking I'm pretty sharp, only to read another web page or read another press article that makes me think "how could I have not seen that coming"?
I've been in the sales and marketing field since I was about 8 years old. I can hear some of you saying now, "8 years old - BS", but it's true. I started selling when I was 8. I borrowed, (actually leased), my uncles' Yazoo lawn mower and starting mowing lawns. My mother was single and working two jobs and still barely getting by and I wanted a bike and to get to go to the movies, (I still love movies), and knew that if I wanted those things I would have to get them for myself.
Well back then, you got about a dollar for a huge lawn and that just wasn't enough for me, so I would tell the customer that I would also rake the yard for $1.50 and I would even hand-clip the walk for just another 50 cents, (if they had electric edgers back then I sure didn't know about it). Believe it or not, it wasn't as easy to sell a manicured lawn as you might think. Well I figured out how to cut patterns in the lawn instead of just going back and forth and bingo! I put a couple of clients initials in the lawn and within a few weeks I was mowing more lawns for twice the money than any kid in my neighborhood. Of course that was still when a kid mowed lawns and wasn't beat out by 45 year old men in new pick-ups putting 3 kids through college from mowing lawns.
By the end of the summer, I had two classmates working for me doing the cutting and the trimming and I just went to the customers houses and collected the money. Good idea huh? Well does that make me a marketing guru or just a guy that got lucky enough to learn the internet golden rule even before anyone knew what the internet was? Oh you don't know the internet golden rule?
Okay, so taking advantage of this guru crap, I'm going to suggest a way to all of you that I think many, many portal partners could be making a VERY comfortable living with. We have gotten close to 500 portals signed up so far and the vast majority are the same things you can find all over the web.
• web hosting
• internet marketing
• affiliate programs
These are fine businesses with lots of opportunities BUT they are also businesses with incredible competition.
Maybe not very many people are seeing the power of these portals yet, or maybe it's just that we are so wrapped up in what we are doing now that we're not seeing the big picture, which is where I hope I can help.
My promotional company, is finding that the clients we represent that are making the most money, are the people who have found a way to incorporate offline with online. Most of these people are finding success through advertising on the radio and in newspapers and magazines which is probably a little out of the ole budget for most of us, (I know it is for me), but what about another aspect of offline that could be free?
Now most of you will probably freak out when I tell you that what I am going to suggest will require you to get out of your chair and go outside, (GASP!!!), but I think you may agree with me when I tell you what I'm suggesting.
Portals are a big deal on the internet. Everyone knows of Yahoo and Excite. What about the places that are still waiting for someone to lead them to the net? They need a portal. I realize that all of us that live in a big metropolitan area are already being bombarded by internet stuff daily. In the news, in the papers, on TV just about everywhere. What do you think people who live in smaller towns feel about this? Do you think the Doctor in Shawnee, OK, (pop. 22,000) feels a little left out? What about the pizza joint in Okmulgee, Ok, (pop. 18,000)? These small towns are so ripe for one of these portals it's ridiculous!
What if you took Do you think you might be able to get the local paper to run a story about it? Could you put out some cheap flyers with your url on it at the 4th of July picnic? Could you get the local radio station to trade some banner ads for some spots? A portal for your hometown. I think that would be news. You could become famous for bringing the net to your hometown. A press release, a few radio ads and a few cheap flyers and where do you think wired Okmulgeans are going to go? You should start getting hundreds of hits a day right off the bat. It makes more sense to me than trying to get to the top of the search engines day after day under affiliate programs.
If you took okmulgee.searchking, who do you think everybody in town that doesn't have a web page yet would go to to ask about getting a web page? You maybe? What about web hosting, who could they go to? Starting to see the little light bulb above my head?
This program already has everything you need. Local chat, local forum, local classifieds and a local search engine. Now take that and go to your favorite restaurant and tell them for $100 a month they can sponsor your local restaurant review page. Maybe your focus would be on local sports. Think the printer in your town would be interested in a banner on your high school football review page? Think the mayoral candidates might want a web page about their campaign? Give one free to one candidate and the other is going to have to pay just about anything you ask because now he's got to have one too. You may decide to run for mayor yourself as the candidate who brought the internet to Okmulgee, OK.
I'm being a little far-fetched here only to illustrate what I see as a huge untapped market that is just laying there at your feet, if you are simply willing to get out of the chair and go outside for an hour or two a day and find a way to get offline income into your online business.
If some of you reading this already have some type of income producing affiliate program now, and you would try this type of thing, I'm willing to bet the local portal would produce many times more than the affiliate program. Of course, I'm no guru. I could be wrong.
I'm concerned that people are going to quickly tire of my weekly gibberish, yet I feel the need to keep our portal partners informed, so I'm offering anyone willing to help, the opportunity to become a famous writer just like me. If anyone would be interested in supplying a weekly column on just about any topic you feel may be of help or interest to our growing community of portal partners, let me know.
Also, if any one has an article they would like to share, again, I would be glad to see it in Portal Stuff with your sig line. Variety is the spice of life you know. Anyone interested or got something for me? E-mail it on over. You know where.
7 PM central at
Love ya'll

Publisher -- Bob Massa

=======December 15, 1999==========

Hi again portal kids. I hope this week finds you all healthy and happy as we count down the days to Christmas and of course Y2K.
This weeks issue of the "Portal Stuff" is probably going to stir up a little bit of a hornet's nest. I've got some news for you all that I'm willing to bet will get some opinions voiced. Also in this week's issue, I have a little Christmas story that I hope you will find entertaining and last but certainly not least is the addition of a column by Lynne Scott. Lynne has agreed to provide us with a weekly column on portal design tips. We are very fortunate to have Lynne offer this to us all. One look at her site will quickly show you her qualifications. This should be a big help to many of us and I think after reading her column you will agree that the article not only displays a great deal of literary talent, but displays the quality of her character as well. Please let her know how much you appreciate her efforts by stopping by her site and letting her know.
Since Lynne's column is probably the most valuable piece of the "Portal Stuff", I'm going to hide it somewhere in the newsletter, in the hopes that it will force everyone to have to read my rambling contribution too.
My first little announcement is that Searchking now has an advertising department. One of our portal partners, Holly Nelson, has agreed to start the first offshoot industry of the Searchking portal program by forming Networth. Networth will be an advertising agency that Searchking will be using exclusively to handle all our advertising.
Networth will be responsible for developing and implementing policy, pricing and procedure. I spoke with Holly this week and her first project is to set up a sponsorship program for pages, keywords, categories and all other SK property. Holly feels that banner rotation is only one option and that she prefers offering a system to allow interested parties to "lease" buttons and banners on specific pages for a very nominal monthly fee. According to Holly, there will be buttons and banners available for as little as $5 and $10 per month.
The thing I like most about this concept is it will allow advertisers a much more targeted way to advertise on a small budget than simply general rotation banners. By allowing people to lease spots on specific pages such as the kids page, the sports page, the webmaster resource page, or even sponsoring a specific category or sub-category, they are not relying on hoping someone types in an exact keyword for their ad to be seen and yet they are only advertising to people who would be interested in their product or service.
If anyone is feeling like throwing a little money Searchking's way, or if you feel as I do that getting in now could be a very good move for the future, then I urge you to contact Holly at Networth and see what kind of deal you can swing before the official price list goes online. You can contact Holly at or by calling her directly at 316-686-2284. After 12:00 pm central is best so she has time to take care of her other clients, (Searchking doesn't pay much and she still seems to insist on making a living).
For those of you that simply want to give me money, just mail one dollar to Bob "I need the money" Massa
Almost two years ago, I had a person who's opinion I valued a great deal tell me something that took me a long time to understand. This person was Sargeant Hatch. A brilliant young programmer who is almost single-handedly responsible for the development of Searchking and Netflyer mail. He has impressed me, no blown me away, more times than I can count with his insight and ability.
What he told me was that it is almost impossible for a search engine to make money from banner sales. Like most people, I assumed that was how so many people were getting rich was from getting all those advertising dollars that the tv keeps talking about. He said that by the time you compare the cost of software, hardware and bandwidth to the value of banner impressions, it was simply not good business to expect that revenue to meet those expenses. Well in my limited wisdom I was just pretty sure he was wrong so I started doing quite a bit of research and lo and behold, it would appear that he's right.
To my knowledge, the only sites that are actually making money from banner advertising sales are extremely specialized sites that are able to command a higher end price for their banners. The average cost of general rotation banners are dropping like a rock to the point that some sources say the banners are generating less than $1 per thousand impressions. Of course highly targeted banners are much higher but for a search service it is difficult to attract that market because of the vast diversity of your traffic. So even if you can get top dollar for a few pages, there is not enough of those highly targeted pages to make enough to justify the cost of the software, hardware and bandwidth and you're right back where you started. Did you know that most sources claim that over 75% of all advertising dollars spent are only going to less than 3% of the sites?
All right. Once I realized that all the money Yahoo makes is coming from the stock market and other internet properties they are buying and NOT banner impressions, now what? The obvious answer is that we are going to have to develop income producing services outside of advertising. I have always planned on staying on the cutting edge of technology in regards to what Searchking will offer. With the internet moving so fast, I believe that anyone who does not take that approach is doomed to quickly fall by the wayside. Broadband is right around the corner and of course that brings streaming video, streaming audio, voice recognition, real time transactions and who know what else into the realm of features that Searchking will soon become involved in and make available to our portal partners. The problem is that all that cutting edge stuff comes with a price tag so I see a part of my job as figuring out where the money is going to come from to pay for all that stuff.
Okay, okay, I'm rambling here so let me get back to the big announcement I had in mind when I started this little chapter.
Last week I posed a question to the partners about the fact that SK has a cost involved in setting up these portals and if they thought I should or could charge a nominal fee such as $19 for set up and use an affiliate program to be able to share this income with the portal partners. I asked for input and input I got. My e-mail account and the forums have been buzzing with the opinions of various partners. Naturally about half think charging is a good idea and the other half think it's a terrible idea and will be my ruin. Here's just a couple of the responses I got:

Hi Bob,
I enjoyed reading your newsletter this week. I also thought it was a great idea to perhaps begin charging a nominal fee to sign up for a portal. As your fellow Internet marketer, I think a nominal fee if anything would add value to the service.

Dear Bob, Thank you for the above reply. One more comment to add:
With a 'once only' $29 Fee Set-up Fee in future, this leaves your Portal FREE!! (Truth in advertising!). Further, this leaves you with $19 (which is $5 more than you intended) and a $10 incentive to encourage affiliates!

I would not have signed up if it cost $19. Not that I would have a problem with paying this if I knew it was a good deal, but I didn't know that. Just because you say wonderful things about the Portal doesn't mean it's so - maybe it will turn out that load times are really slow & the whole thing is more trouble than its worth. On the other hand, 'free' means (to me) 'why not'?
Think about whether you can set up 2 steps - such as a free portal/$19 portal - with the free portal having less features. Maybe put a time limit on free portals - or an overall limit on the total number you set up.

The 19 dollar portal would still be the best thing going. And people will feel it's more valuable because they paid for it. And people will be more likely to build something worthwhile.

Like many of you said the power of the portals right now is in the word FREE. The fact that they are free has made so many people sign up. Also the fact that they are free has probably determined some of the people write some articles in their newsletter. The fact that they are FREE has ensured that they get some publicity if not a lot of publicity. Nothing on the net grows as fast as something that is FREE.

Accepting that Searchking has costs involved and that has to be addressed and also accepting that I would like nothing more than to be able to offer free portals, here's what I've decided.
Keep in mind that this has no bearing on anyone that has portals now. Any new policy will not effect any one that became involved prior to that policy taking effect. It's not your fault that I had to make changes and I'm the kind of person that if I make a deal, I keep it. I take the attitude that when you signed up, we made a deal and I intend to honor that deal. Now the next guy may make a "new" deal, but that does not change the deal I made with you. (did I use the word deal enough?)
Within the next 30 days or so we will be offering:
1. FREE HOMEPAGES. These will be just like a geocities type page hosted by Searchking. Sets up automatically within minutes even with the most novice of people.
2. FREE PORTALS. These will be a combination of the free homepage program and the hyperseek portal we now offer. It will have basically everything that the portal program has now with the exception of it's own database. It will have a search engine, but the database will be shared by all the other people taking a free portal. The search engine is the one aspect of this program that takes up the time setting up.
The urls for these free portals will be It will be very simple to set up and it will be generated automatically.
THE $19 PORTAL. This will be the exact program we have all come to love, BUT, there will be a $19 set up fee. We will set this up as an affiliate program so that if you signed up as a reseller, the fee would only be $15 and then you could make that back from signing up three people from your site.
The biggest advantage of this program will be the ability to control your own database and set up your own categories, (which is the essence of a portal). Our thinking here is that many people will sign up for the free portal but once we get them involved in the forums and in the "family" they will be able to justify the small set up fee.
PORTAL PRO. One of the problems that we're having now is that some people are signing up for several portals and we're concerned they don't realize exactly what they are getting into. This causes portals just sitting there which is taking up space on our servers for no real reason. The portal pro is for commercial uses. A person can have as many of these portals as they want. We will host these portals for a monthly fee of $49 per month or $39 per month if they sign up as a reseller. Each reseller will get $10 per month for each person they sign up from their site.
These portals will have 200 megs of space, a secure server, a shopping cart, a free homepage program, and their own domain name with their own vanity e-mail. Of course they will also have the Internic fee as well.
The idea of these portal pros is that they are built to make money with. We will have no advertising requirements on these. All we will ask is the logo link to SK to identify it as a portal partner.
(I'll tell you a little secret. Magic-city, (my top search service placement company), has already starting selling portal hosting for our placement clients. We charge a $500 set up fee and a monthly maintenance fee of $179 per month and we're selling them like hotcakes. I also know of two other portal partners that are starting to make a few bucks setting up and maintaining these portals. These portals supply one thing to the search engines and directories that gets them palced in the top. Unique content! Also, our client's sales will go up by adding the increased interactivity with their potential clients through the chats and forums and classifieds.)
Anyway, that's the big news. I bet this will get those ole forums hopping this week.
Restructuring Those *** Templates
Getting those Hyperseek templates to look the way we want them is probably the most daunting task that most of us will face while setting up our portals. If you're familiar with html, you've probably figured out that you can do just about anything you want with the templates, as long as you don't mess around with the plugins (they have to go in EXACTLY the way the help files say). If you don't know beans about html, you probably haven't done much with the templates, other than to plug in your portal name. Well, help is here.
The first thing you'll need to do is forget everything you've ever heard about WYSIWYG editors being a tool of the devil. If you don't know much about html, they'll be your best friend while setting up your portal. Once you've done that, log into your hyperseek admin console and select template editor. From there, select the default template. When the page opens, right click in the window that contains all the code for the template, and "select all". Now right click again and select "copy". Open notepad (or whatever text editor you happen to have), right click in the blank window and select "paste". Presto -- the code for the default template is now in notepad. Save this file as default.html (don't forget to specify a folder for your file). Now, go to the file menu and select the "save as" option. Call the file default2.html. Close notepad.
Now, open your WYSIWYG editor. Any flavor will do: FrontPage Express, Netscape Composer, FrontPage 98 or 2000 --whichever one you happen to have. Open your default2.html file and PLAY with it. Don't worry about messing things up -- you've got a backup (default.html) that you can rely on. Don't like the colours on the page? Change them. Want one thing or another moved to a different location? Click and drag them to where you want them. Want some things gone altogether (except the SearchKing logo, of course)? Just delete them. Add in whatever text and links you want. Want a totally different layout? Select everything in the page (except the SK logo) and hit delete. Now you can build the page from scratch, using your colours and layout. To insert the plugins for your directory, search and other features, just follow the instructions in the "plugins" section of the online manual.
Once you've got the page looking the way you want it, hit save and take a look at it in your browser. Some WYSIWYG editors have a "preview in browser" button. If yours does just click on it. If you don't have that feature, just open your browser and select "file" then "open", and tell the browser where to find your file.
If things look good to you, open your default2.html file in notepad and copy the entire thing to the clipboard (edit, select all, edit, copy). Now log back into your hyperseek admin and go to the default template in the template editor. Delete everything in the template window, then paste your new template in and hit save. You'll see a preview of your default template. If you like what you see, click okay. You're almost done.
To test your new template, go to your portal and make sure that everything works the way you want it to. If you haven't already specified changes to any other templates, the portal will automatically use the default template you just installed.
Things work fine and look the way you want? Great! Now just repeat the process for the other templates, and you're away to the races!
Things not quite up to snuff? Don't worry, just paste your backup copy back into the template editor, and try again. Take your time, be patient with yourself -- you will get this.

Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Manitoba based graphic design house. She also operates the Graphic Design Portal, and writes a variety of newsletters and articles for publication.
As I promised at the beginning of this issue of the "Portal Stuff", here's my little Christmas story. This is a true story from my past and I have to be a little careful in recanting the details as I have now lost some of my editorial license. I have finagled my mother into being my editor because my typing is so atrocious and now she will be correcting my typos as well as checking my content for the "facts".
In the mid sixties, I was a young kid of about 10 years old. My father at the time was a Baptist preacher and for some reason unknown to me to this day, he decided to become a skid row preacher. For our younger readers who have never heard the term skid row, that is where what we used to call bums, (now referred to as homeless), lived. Usually the downtown areas of cities.
Have you ever seen one of those old run-down buses with hand painted scribblings all over it saying things like "God loves you" and "Jesus died for your sins" and "follow me to heaven" plastered indiscriminately all over it? It's parked on the side of the street with a man dressed in black pounding his fists on a bible and shouting at every passerby. Quoting scriptures and preaching that old fire and brimstone at the top of his lungs. Congregated with him are usually several people ranging from little babies to senior citizens all banging tambourines, playing guitars, dancing and generally doing their part to attract the attention of the lost? Well that was me and my family.
Mine and my sisters job was to sing all the old church kids songs like "This Little of Mine", "Deep and Wide" and of course "Jesus Loves the Little Children", pass the collection plate, dance, look happy and basically be cute. Well I always did that like a trooper but always felt that there was more I could contribute and just didn't know how.
One day we were preaching in downtown Fresno, California and I had kind of lost interest and found myself hanging around behind the car by myself. All of a sudden there was a man standing beside me asking, 'can you show me how to pray?' I had no idea anyone was even aware of my presence and he startled me. When I looked at him, he was filthy. Filthy clothes, filthy hair, filthy teeth. Wearing two shoes that didn't match and no socks with filthy feet. This man was a bum. It was obvious that he had no place to live, nothing to wear, not much to eat and of course no money.
He could tell that he had scared me and asked again in a softer voice, 'can you teach me how to pray?' I wanted to run away but I knew this was the chance to be more a part of what my family was doing and that I had been saying I wanted. It was time to put up or shut up. I sat down on the curb and as he sat down next to me, I noticed a bottle of cheap after shave sticking out of his pants pockets. I wondered how a man with a bottle of after shave in his pocket could smell so bad. It was years later when I learned that back then you could buy some brands of after shave for like a dime and they contained about 80% alcohol.
He started telling me how his life had slipped away from him and he wanted to ask God for help but didn't know how. He realized how society viewed him and he realized that his future was pretty bleak and that he felt his only hope was to ask God but he didn't know how. He also told me he was embarrassed to ask anyone else and that is why he asked a kid 30 or 40 years his junior.
Being pretty much a typical 10 year old, I didn't know anymore about praying than most kids my age. I did a lot more trouble making than I did praying, but I wanted to help this man. I spent the next two hours knelt down with my arm around this man trying to do my best to teach him how to pray. I repeated the bible stories I had heard my Dad preach about. I told him what I thought God wanted to hear. He cried and I cried with him. I prayed and he prayed with me.
Finally it was time for us to go back home to Turlock and I had to say good-bye to this man. He thanked me over and over and told me how I had changed his life. He never asked me for money. As we drove away I could see him standing on the corner and watching us drive away until I couldn't see him anymore. I felt great! I felt like I had actually given of myself and done some good.
Years later I realized that I didn't change that man's life, he changed mine. That was the day I learned the internet golden rule, the more you give, the more you get. Did I actually get that man to quit drinking? My guess is no. Did I lead him to God? Again, probably not. Did he teach me what that old saying "it's better to give than to receive" meant. You bet he did. Without him I have no idea when I would have truly learned that there is joy in giving. Learning that has changed my life for the better every day since.
The moral of the story is this - As Christmas comes around as it does every year, we all go through these silly little traditional games that in my opinion only take away from the joy that this season should bring us. We all trade names for who we HAVE to buy presents for. We all make little lists of names that we buy the obligatory cheap crap for just in case they show up and have bought us some cheap crap. Do yourself a favor and pick at least one person that you can really help. I don't mean another pair of cheap slippers or another cheap tie. I mean find someone to whom you can truly give. You will find that it is you that get the greatest gift.
Merry Christmas to you all.
See You in the Forums
Bob Massa
Searchking, Inc.

Publisher -- Bob Massa

=======December 21, 1999==========

Merry Christmas portal kids. 'Tis the season to be jolly!
This weeks Portal Stuff is going to have to be short and sweet. It's Christmas time and I've got friends and family coming out of the woodwork, (which is just about the only work going on around here). I've got travel plans for the rest of the week, and of course last minute stocking up of the ole Y2K bunker.
There is a lot of stuff going on with Searchking right now. Lots of new programs coming in the very near future. Of course I'm talking about the portal pro and the affiliate programs. The problem is, I just don't have the time right now to go into them. Also, it's a little premature so you'll just have to hold on. Next week, I'll be able to give you some solid details and let you all in on what's in store for Searchking and all it's portal partners in the new millennium.
Once again I come to you with my tail tucked between my legs. I did it again. I tried to do a good thing and I bobbed it all up.
Last week I told you all that Holly Nelson of Networth had agreed to handle the advertising for us and of course put her e-mail address in so anyone that wanted could get a hold of her and start wheeling and dealing. Well, I posted the wrong e-mail. I forwarded all the e-mails that you guys sent to me, but my guess is a lot of people just got their e-mail returned and assumed that I was crazy. You were right of course but the fact remains, we're expecting great things from Holly and she's anxiously wanting to hear from you, (guess who let me know I bobbed up the address?). SOOO, if you are interested in what kind of advertising opportunities SK has, you can contact Holly at

The main reason for putting out the Portal Stuff this week is so that I could get Lynne's article out to you all. Even when I have nothing to say, she certainly does.
Putting Graphics Into Your Templates
Last time I talked about modifying your templates to reflect your personality. So now you've all got wonderful text based pages that have all the colours you want, in all the places you want, but somehow things look just a little bare. You need some pictures to brighten things up a bit.
So, how do you get those pictures from your computer onto your portal? The first thing you'll have to do is open up your template in your WYSIWYG editor and decide where you want to put graphics. Maybe you want a logo top and center, or a few small graphics scattered throughout the page. Just place your cursor wherever you want an image, then go to your editor's insert image menu (your editor may say import graphic, or use some other term). Select the image you want and click okay. Presto, your image appears in the template. Now, select the image and right click on it. If you see a "properties" option select it. In the dialogue box that comes up, you will need to adjust the image location to or jpg. Click okay. Whoops -- your image just disappeared! Don't worry, we'll fix that in a moment.
If you didn't find a properties option when you right clicked on your image, you're going to have to do a little editing in the html code for your page. Don't panic -- it's not as scary as it sounds. Your editor should have an "edit html" function. Click on it. Now read through the code until you see:
 and change the line to read . Repeat this for each of your images, and save your template.
Now you'll need to log into your hyperseek admin and paste the template into your template editor, just the way you did last week (you DID save last week's Portal Stuff, didn't you?). The images will be broken (all you'll see is a ripped picture - Netscape, or a box with a little x - IE). We're going to fix that right now.
Save your template and exit your admin panel. Now open your ftp program and log onto your portal. Navigate to your public html folder and then tell your program to make a new directory (mkdir, in most ftp programs). Name the directory images. Courage, you're almost done.
Open your images directory and then upload your images from your computer into the directory. Your ftp program should have 2 sections -- one that tells you where you are on your site, and another that tells you where you are on your computer. In the computer side, navigate to wherever your images are stored. Select them and tell the program to transfer them to your images directory on your portal. If your ftp program offers you a choice of transfer modes, make sure you select "binary". Presto, the image files appear in your images directory!
Close out your ftp session, and open your portal in your browser. Everything should be right where you placed it. If you see broken images, try reloading or refreshing the page. If this doesn't correct the problem, you've probably made a small typo in the image source tag. There are two ways to fix this. You can open the html file for your template in notepad and fix the typo there, or you can open the template in your hyperseek admin template editor and make the correction. The second option is much quicker, because you won't have to go through the process of pasting the whole template file back into the template editor!
Whew! You're done! Congratulations, you've just successfully edited html.
Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

Lynne Scott is a graphic designer and partner in Optical Resolution, a Winnipeg, Manitoba based graphic design house. She also operates the Graphic Design Portal, and writes a variety of newsletters and articles for publication.
Okay kids, that's about it this week. Time to start Ho Ho Hoing. I'll be taking a diabetic holiday and actually get something to eat over the next few days that hasn't been weighed into 3 ounce portions. I better start pacing myself now.
From the bottom of my heart, I'm wishing all of you and yours a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Watch the over-indulging and don't get anything bobbed up for yourself.
Bob Massa
Searchking, Inc.
PS: I was kidding about the Y2K thing. We're all going to be fine, I promise.

Publisher -- Bob Massa

=======December 30, 1999==========


It's now 9:50 am central time Thursday December 30th, 1999. That means that the stroke of midnight January 1st, 2000 is only 38 hours and 10 minutes away. Y2K is here.
Are we going to be sitting in the dark shivering from the lack of heat wondering why the bank won't give us our money and why our computers don't work? Are we going to be living in a 10x10 hole we dug in the back yard eating canned peaches and trying to keep our neighbors from stealing our bottled water? Or is it more likely that all is pretty much the same as it was on December 31st, 1999 with the possible exception that some of our software has to be re-installed? Personally, I'm extremely confident that we're all facing the latter of those possible events.
As far as the technology issues, I'm certainly not one to be giving any advice to anyone. I'm not smart enough to understand even a smidgen of the possible problems with infrastructures, main frames, international data transfers etc. However, I'm confident that there are a lot of people who are much smarter than I that rely on those things to feed their own children and whatever the problems, they will find solutions and for the average net duffer like myself, all I will know is that my car still starts and that Webposition still checks my rank in the search engines.
My concern lies much more with the issues of hi-touch as opposed to hi-tech. What impact will this New Year's Eve have on us not as cyber-geeks, net surfers or as the wired generation, but as people. Husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, parents and children? How are we going to deal with what happens regardless of what happens? Are we going to freak out and make problems worse than they are or are we going to calmly and professionally deal with whatever comes along and try to make things better? Are we going to become distrustful and paranoid or are we going to realize that working together and maintaining faith in the basic good of mankind is the best way? In my opinion, the answer to that question is up to you.
You may be thinking, "Bob, you're nuts. What I do has no effect on the world. I'm just a little guy out here in cyber space doing my thing and nobody cares what I do." If that is what you're thinking, you are so wrong!
I think we would all agree that the internet has changed everything and it is just getting started. The net is not going away. This is not something that came along for a while and then faded into history. The net is here to stay and will have an incredible impact on the lives of every creature on this planet and it will have more impact tomorrow than it does today.
If you don't see yourself playing a role in this, then you simply aren't realizing that you are the internet elite. You are the leaders in this techno revolution. The sheer fact that you had the guts to sign up for this portal program makes you a leader. It means that you have a superior knowledge of the internet over the vast majority of people using it. Most people are in awe of your experience, creativity and ability to control what comes up on these little TV screens.
Now let's consider for just a moment what that means. Let's say that you have what is considered a low traffic site and get only about 20 people a day to your site. That means that over 600 people a month saw your work. You have had an impact on the lives of over 7 thousand people in a year! The degree of impact you had is debatable, but at least the opportunity for that impact was there. Now you multiply that by our 500 partners, (and growing every minute), and now we have touched the lives of over 3 million, 6 hundred thousand people if we each only got 20 a day. WOW! I don't know about you, but that single thought just blows me away! You are a part of that and what you do and how you do it has an impact on every bit of those numbers.
Are you a thief and a liar, or are you a good person that would like to feel as though you contributed? Whatever your answer, that will come through on your website. Your website is a reflection of you. Your personality, your ethics, your sense of self. Everyone that sees that website forms an opinion of you and that is what I'm getting at. You have an impact. What you do is how others will determine what they do and that makes you a leader.
Does anyone remember a man by the name of Don McLean? He is the man who wrote the song "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" in the 70's. The song was about Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and JP Richardson, aka, "The Big Bopper". For those of you who aren't old hippies like myself, those were three men who were rock and roll musicians and entertainers from the mid 50's who were all killed in a plane crash on New Years Eve 1956.The song made a reference to the day the music died and was dedicated to Buddy Holly. Disc jockeys all over the country started playing the song and then following it with a Buddy Holly song.
Don McLean was a songwriter, that's what he did. When he wrote the song I'm sure he was not thinking of what kind of impact the song would have on the world, but right off the bat, the heirs to the Buddy Holly estate started getting more money from the sales of his records. Someone heard the song and then decided to make a movie about the life of Buddy Holly. It was a huge hit and even nominated for academy awards. Due to the success of that movie, someone then went and made a movie starring Lou Diamond Phillips named LaBamba, (one of Ritchie Valens big hits), and it too was a success. Now, not even counting the millions of people who saw the movies and heard the songs, just think of all the people this one song effected. Disc Jockeys, movie extras, advertising and marketing people, actors, producers, editors and on and on. Who's to say that someone involved in that whole process didn't make enough money to send their kid to college? Maybe that kid became a scientist or a politician and maybe the kid did something to change the world. All because Don McLean wrote a song.
I'm certainly not implying that your website is going to make people want to make movies about it and that in turn puts some kid through college and then that kid changes the world. What I am trying to say is that none of us know for sure what the future holds and no one can say what impact your site is going to have, but the fact remains that what you do does matter. In fact it matters a lot.
The moral of this story is simply that as we approach the new millennium, we should be willing to accept that we are leaders and we should lead by example. Be proud of your work. If you're not proud of it, do it again and keep doing it until you are proud of it. The pride you take in your work is what determines your own self worth and that is what gives you self-respect. When you can respect yourself, others can then respect you as well. What is the third millennium going to be like? That is up to you and what you do today.
I hope you all have a great time this New Year's Eve but be careful. There will be a lot of nuts out there and the world is going to need level-headed leaders like you.
Last week I mentioned that we had big changes coming for our portal program and that I would let you know what was happening as we went along. Basically, we will be offering three types of portal programs instead of just the one we have now. We will be offering:
THE POWER PORTAL- a totally free portal site.
Url -
space - 2 megs
Main Features - your own forum - your own chat - your own guestbook - 3 to 5 templates - the SK engine - as fast and easy to set up and maintain as any free webpage service - available instantly
set up fee- 0
monthly fee - 0
THE PORTAL PLUS - this is basically the program we all have now.
Url -
Space - 10 megs
Main Features - your own search engine - forums - chat- classifieds - ftp access - bannermaster Set Up Fee - $29
Monthly Fee - 0
THE PORTAL PRO - a complete turn key portal that you have full control over
Url -
Space - 100 megs
Main Features - your own search engine - forum - chat - vanity e-mail - bannermaster and no outside ads - full FTP access - secure server - shopping cart - free homepage program
Set up Fee - $119 which includes the $70 Internic registration fee for the first two years
Monthly Fee - $49
All of these programs have a lot more features that will be added, but in a nutshell that's what it will be. Now as far as the fees, as I've said before, we want to set this up to allow our partners to generate income as well as Searchking, so when you sign up as a reseller, the fees will be discounted. This is the part that may get me into trouble. I have no experience whatsoever with any type of reseller or affiliate program. I don't have a clear idea yet of how to structure the reseller program. I need your help. I'm hoping to get a discussion started in the forums as to how you folks see a reseller program working. I want your input.
My main concern at this point is that everyone understands that there is no official decision yet on how this is going to work. I have gotten myself into trouble too many times in the past by not making myself clear and giving the impression that this is how it is as opposed to this is what I'm thinking. THIS IS JUST A DISCUSSION. I need your help in figuring this deal out. If any of you reading this have experience with setting up reseller programs and have any suggestions or can offer some help, or maybe you have a deal in mind, let me know at My ears are open.
That's about it for this millennium. Just a couple of little things I want to mention before I close.
Holly Nelson of Networth is proud to announce her first couple of sales. Good Job Holly. She is still very glad to talk to any of you about advertising deals. Contact her at Do it today and avoid the rush.
I'm still inviting any of you that are interested in providing articles to be published in the Portal Stuff to let me know. Just send it to and we'll do our best to get it in.
Anyone that wants can join us in the chat tonight. Chat is every Thursday at 7 pm central time at Hope to see you all there.
Finally, I am extremely proud of our forums. They are doing very well. Any questions or comments are welcome there. Also is it an excellent resource for all your questions about how to take the most advantage of your portal. Get in there!

Publisher -- Bob Massa