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Science Hobbyist FAQ


People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and
have a tremendous impact on history.
- Dan Quayle

Other FAQs Here

  • FAQ: EXPLAINING "ELECTRICITY"
  • FAQ: VANDEGRAAFF ELECTROSTATIC GENERATORS
  • FAQ: WHAT IS THIS "FREE ENERGY" STUFF?
  • FAQ: MICROWAVE OVEN MYTHS
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: THIS SITE LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING FROM 1994!

    (Also see WHERE'S YOUR KEWUL GRAPHICS?)

    A: Um. This site was created in 1994.

    The whole thing is written by hand directly in HTML. Why? It's compatible with all modern browsers, and with nearly all of the early ones. It works fine with text-only terminals and loads instantly even with a 2400b modem. It's friendly to vision-disabled internet users, which automatically puts it very high on Google's pageranking system. But those are just excuses. Really I'm a techno-luddite who runs out and buys an 8080 home computer and then looks suspiciously at these newfangled "PC" things with "operating systems" ...someone who leaps onto the internet and then uses a text-only browser (Lynx) forever after. But that's only what set me on this path.

    Why write websites in html?

    Most important: totally cheap editing. From any computer with a modem I can run a Telnet text-terminal and then improve my pages, or start adding more content to the site.   amasci.com is a one-man show, a little "personal website." It's like having a file cabinet in my house which automatically appears on the internet, no work required.

    If I had to use website-builder software, then the added work would mean that I couldn't create this huge site without hiring a staff of employees. And I'd have to carry that software with me in order to change my site. Text terminals in friends' homes and in libraries and in cybercafes would be useless for editing, and I wouldn't be able to treat this site as my personal C: drive. And in that case, this site wouldn't exist.

    Here's another issue. When internet users say that content is more important than the "look," they actually mean it. The majority of website developers don't believe this for an instant. They think that people only care about shallow outer facades. But what happens when someone takes the opposite idea seriously, then spends 100% of time on site content and 0% on design? You get something that's all depth! But then the "surface" looks disgustingly simplistic and primitive.

    I figure that my website might offend the kind of people who look only at surfaces, while it rewards those who pursue depth. To do things right, don't just appeal to a particular audience... also make sure to drive away everyone else! It's an old trick well known to shamen and alchemists.

    NEVER TRY TO PLEASE EVERYONE! YOUR GOAL SHOULD BE TO BECOME THE HATED ENEMY OF CERTAIN KINDS OF PEOPLE.    :)
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: WHY DIDN'T YOU ANSWER MY EMAIL?

    A: I'm sorry about this, but the website is just my hobby. I have a family and an engineering career, and lately I only have time to answer a few messages per week. But sometimes I receive over 50 per week! Site traffic here is up to 50 thousand hits/week (heh, in 2005 it's more like 500,000 hits/week.) To help people out, I've set up lots of pointers to online forums and other help pages at various places on my site. Try these:

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: CAN I PUT YOUR LINK ON MY SITE?

    A: Sure! Excess traffic on Sci. Hobbyist is not a problem. If your ISP charges you for hits per month or bandwidth usage, you might consider checking out ESKIMO.COM as a new provider. Single-user remote accounts (accessed by telnet) are amazingly low priced if you buy a whole year at a time, and they come with 10megs for webpage use (and only $1/month per extra ten megs!).

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: SEND ME SCIENCE FAIR IDEAS!

    A: Sorry, too many requests and not enough time. Try the Science Fair Ideas List, or go to ASK A SCIENTIST at MADSCI.

    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: SEND ME ALL YOUR INFO ON xxxxx.

    A: Sorry, all my information is already on my webpages. To find more, try searching at ALTAVISTA, LYCOS, and YAHOO. If you have a science question, try the ASK A SCIENTIST project at MADSCI.

    If you can't find any information about your subject, it probably is not on the internet at all, and you'll have to go to the public library.

    Note: if you cannot find any info about a very important topic, this means that nobody has created a webpage for that topic yet. It means that YOU YOURSELF could start that webpage and become the internet's central clearinghouse for that subject. Then all the other people who are right now getting frustrated from finding no information, could instead find you.

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: HOW DID YOU GET LIKE THIS?

    A: By growing up abnormal: I was one of those weirdos who hated school, sports, and popularity, knew better than to worship straight-As, and spent all my time reading in libraries, building science demonstrations and electronic devices, messing with computers, etc. My father died when I was nine, which seriously messed with my head, to say the least. (That sort of learning experience is the most valuable thing any human can ever encounter. Vast wealth pales in comparison. Sucks, though.) An early attraction for paranormal gave me a critical eye regarding the belief-system of conventional science. I spent early years in Continuous Media Overload by sitting down and reading Scientific American and Popular electronics. All of 'em ...back to where Amateur Scientist first started, also Carl and Jerry. Encounters with certain books seriously warped my mind! (Reading a book is the ultimate subversive act.) My work in designing science exhibits for museums showed me how to do physics in visual/intuitive mode, without using any math. Long years attempting to see interesting scientific phenomena outside myself, as well as fascinating/disgusting psychological phenomena INSIDE myself, made my eyes open a bit wider than the usual. I developed the habit of telling the truth. No, I mean really telling the truth. No, I mean **REALLY** telling the truth, not like shining a flashlight but like using a blowtorch. I grew up overseas, on Guam, which pretty much broke the "American male" mold for me. I also try to watch less than 1hr of TV per week. Dump your TV set for a couple of years, it will make you... "different."

    ;)

    "On a certain shelf in the bookcase are collected a number of volumes which look somewhat the worse for wear. Those of them which originally possessed gilding have had it fingered off, each of them has leaves turned down, and they open of themselves at places wherein I have been happy. Each of them has remarks relevant and irrelevant scribbled on their margins. These favorite volumes cannot be called peculiar glories of literature, but out of the world of books I have singled them, as I have singled my intimates out of the world of men." - Alexander Smith
    comicon logo Read the following books, they will warp YOUR mind too:
       "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" - R. Feynman
       "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence"
       "Antinomy" - Spider Robinson
       "The Nature of Personal Reality" - J. Roberts
       "The Fire from Within" - Carlos Castaneda
       "Stranger in a Strange Land" - R. Heinlein
       "The Cartoon History of the Universe" - Larry Gonick (also vol II)
       "Why Children Fail" - J. Holt (and others by Holt!)
       "The Divided Self" R. D. Laing
       "Sympathetic Vibrations" - K. C. Cole
      "Jim" and "Frank" comics  - Jim Woodring
       "Chaos" - James Gleick
       "Alternative Science" - R. Milton
       "Kooks" - D. Kossy
      "Cat's Cradle" - K. Vonnegut
    
       In libraries, everything under Dewey Decimal 507 (science experiments!)
    
       Hundreds of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN mag backissues buried in libraries,
         especially concentrating on "The Amateur Scientist"
    
       Many feet thick of underground comics, concentrating on the Greats
         such as Crumb, Shelton, Spain, Mavrides, etc.
    
       Hundreds of pounds of Science Fiction paperbacks,
         particularly anthologies of short stories, and
         everything by Robert Heinlien, Spider Robinson, 
         and Larry Niven
    
    Also see: BILL BEATY'S BOOKSTORE
    and Science Heretic's Bookshelf
     
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY, WHAT ARE YOU SELLING?

    A: This website is a "personal page," although the contributions from the folks on VORTEX-L help much in offsetting expenses. OK, OK. Time to sell out, go strictly commercial as Zappa says. I'll sell you something. But then I'll give away the profits, nyaaa! Check out SCIENCE HOBBYIST BOOKSTORE, also FEYNMAN BOOKS.

    Also, I hire myself out for occasional lectures on topics like:

    • WHAT *IS* ELECTRICITY, ANYHOW?
    • PHYSICS PROJECTS AND TOYS YOU CAN BUILD
    • DEMOS AND EDU. TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING ELECTRICITY
    • EVERYTHING WE KNOW IS WRONG: ERRORS IN SCIENCE TEACHING
    (Old Answer: I'm a hobbyist on a $10/month account. The internet lets me get this info out to people without having to *pay* anyone! Maybe someday browsers will have micro-cash features, and I'll be able to charge everyone a penny per hit and make the site pay for itself.

    Speaking of selling, there are cassette tapes available of me talking about "scientific suppression" and about the "Taos Hum", see the Laura Lee radio show. No, I don't make any money off of cassette sales. You can find my talk "The Darker Side of Amateur Science" on the Keelynet Conference videos Jerry Decker sells. I also have an "Electricity Misconceptions" talk on Steve Ellswick's Exotic Research conference videos.

    The REPORT UNUSUAL PHENOMENA page is part of the WEIRD SCIENCE section of my SCIENCE HOBBYIST website. It's not associated with any academic institution, etc. I started it for several reasons: there was nothing else like it on internet, I myself wanted to read these types of reports, and finally, I realize that these types of stories, if kept secret, can wreck your life. The cure is to realize that such things happen to other people too, and to get your experiences out (even anonymously) so others can benefit.

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: WHERE ARE ALL THE KEWUL GRAPHICS?

    A: Many who use this page are on VT-100s at libraries, or are using older PCs at school, so I intentionally try to see the world through their non- Netscape eyes by developing and using these pages with a Lynx text-only browser. I'm starting to become a bit of a 'techno-luddite' and text-only activist. I can't SEE the bleeding edge hype-factor stuff, so my pages end up having a bit more content than most sites. Also, my pages don't have that "Please download Netscape" notice which excludes so many users: if the people have no bread, why, let them eat cake! Also, things aimed at the text-only users will end up being useful for the growing population of visually-impaired internet users.

    Another point: reading is subversive. Reading makes you weird. If I put lots of good science stuff on the www in the form of text, then any kids who read will be rewarded. The web is an immensely powerful force for convincing kids to take up reading. It may be even stronger than, (gasp!) comic books. (I learned to read via comic books. If not for comics during childhood I probably never would have become a voracious reader.)

    BTW, if you use a modem link and have a Unix "shell" account on your ISP, try typing "lynx" as a Unix command. Or, if you are on a freenet, search your menus for the "Lynx" browser. If Lynx is available, try using it for web surfing. On a modem, it is MUCH, MUCH faster than Netscape (and others), since it is actually running on your ISP's machine with a direct hardline to the internet. Unlike with Netscape, your PC is then being used only as a terminal, and your actual browser is on an extremely high-speed mega system. I use Lynx to race through my web site explorations while bookmarking the good ones, then later go explore them with Netscape. This is a huge time-saver.

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST 'FRAMES'?

    My main beef: Frames make a site useless for visually-impaired people. My site attempts to be handicapped-friendly, so my policy is to avoid linking to frames-only sites. It's not just Frames that causes problems. If a site is entirely based on Java navigation and has no text links or ALT tags in its GIF graphics, or if a site is useless when viewed with the Lynx browser, then I will avoid linking it to my site. For more info on creating good, browser-compatible web pages, see my collection of links to webpage design flaws.

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: WHY DID YOU INVOLVE YOURSELF IN ALL THIS DISGUSTING "FRINGE" STUFF? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED! A: Many reasons.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Q: HOW DID YOU GET SO MANY HITS ON YOUR PAGE?

    A: Ah, the webmaster's secrets, eh? The number one way to get lots of hits on your webiste is this:

    1. When first starting out, don't be tempted to concentrate on impressive layout or exotic HTML and Java features, they will only use up your precious time as well as ruining your search engine ranking. Carefully avoid elevating image over substance. Instead, offer some kind of useful service to internet users. As they say, CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT.
    Don't copy other sites; find something that ISN'T on internet already, then become the worldwide supplier for that thing. If your site just shows what a clever Java programmer you are, no one will care. Or if you spend your energy on "image" and trying to impress people, then you'll trigger the sensitive BS detectors of the audience, and they'll distrust you (if not avoid you entirely!) But if your site is useful, everyone will bookmark it.

    I looked around the internet and found that there were no webpages at all for Amateur Science or Tesla coil building. (this was 1994) I complained about this for awhile, but then I realized something. There must be hundreds of other people out there looking for the same sorts of webpage I wanted to find. If I was writing webpages instead of complaining, other people would even now be hitting my pages while searching, and I could develop an audience.

    Therefore, I decided to nominate myself as the central internet clearing- house for Amateur Science and for Tesla coils. I was subscribed at the time to the USA-TESLA discussion group, and also regularly read sci.physics newsgroup. I started saving the really interesting messages and putting them on my pages for the rest of the world to find.

    2. While surfing, stay aware of your own desires, and write them down. Get inside the heads of other people: assume that there are lots of others just like you on internet, and if you are wishing that there was a good website for XXXXXX, then you've probably just discovered an idea for a popular website.
    For example, while on newsgroups I was pissed about the constant flamewars between all the gigantic, fragile egos. I wished there were some interesting discussion groups where flaming was prohibited. And I wished that people on alt.sci.physics.new-theories actually did experiments, rather than arguing endlessly about untested theories. My internet- provider offers an email list service, so it was possible for me to START a discussion list. I became the provider for discussion groups for Weird Science (FREENRG-L), science museum staff (WEBHEAD-L), and others.

    I also slowly typed in all sorts of useful files for other people to find. I'm a frustrated writer. In the non-web world I had never managed to get an article so cleaned up that I would want to offer it to a magazine. On internet things were different. I could type the first draft of many articles onto my website, then go back later and clean them up. I could even put MAILTO buttons on the articles, get comments from passersby, then fix what other people pointed out! This got to be a habit, and sucked me into writing huge amounts of stuff. This draws people to my site. Therefore, my next secret to generating content and attracting high hit-count is:


    3. Make your website be your filing cabinet. If you have little projects underway, put them on your website while working on them. Reject the paper-publishing traditions of polishing an article to perfection before publication. DO NOT ELEVATE IMAGE OVER CONTENT. (Perhaps even keep yourself honest by cultivating a deep revulsion for "image.") Instead, let all your flaws hang out, and type things directly into your site in rough draft form (label them UNDER CONSTRUCTION if you really must).
    Expunge the fear of embarassment from your life, and instead practice making foolish mistakes in front of thousands of strangers. Stop using your PC to store files, instead use your website as your main storage. Let people poke through your filing cabinet. It will contain far more than a perfectly polished website does.

    You'll always be adding more stuff, which will make your audience come back again and again to see what's new. It will also give you "external ambition," because you'll start getting mail from people who say things like "when are you going to finish your article about smoke rings." ;)

    Once you have some content, there are other things you can do to "spread a net" and catch more hits. There are conventional tricks like submitting your page to various search engines. But once you are "out there" you should constantly test how searches are finding you.

    4. NEVER EVER move one single html file or change an URL. Don't you hate it when you click on a link and it says "404 file not found"? Well, I've been here since 1994, and all the links to my site still work!
    Hitcount grows slowly as others link to you, and as search engine spiders gradually catalog your whole site. Traffic grows exponentially. It doubles, then doubles, then doubles again. The process takes a long time. Don't wipe out all your traffic by doing something stupid. I've seen people move their entire site to a new provider, delete all the pages on their old website, yet only leave a forwarding link on their former top page. VERY stupid. STUNNINGLY stupid. Yet even big companies do this! Are they trying to hide, so web users cannot find them? As far as search engines are concerned, their site has disappeared without a trace. All their google links will say "404 not found," and google will punish them for this major mistake. To google, the new site will be ranked like a newbie's first blog, and it will take months for all the different spiders to index their new site's URL. And even worse, during those months, human web surfers will think that the company has met it's demise, and after a few experiences with 404 errors they will stop clicking on any links that the search engine turns up, even if those links later are repaired.

    Another problem: Google finds your sub pages, not your top page. Your site is like a large net, with each page intercepting clicks from many google users. Your top page is only one tiny strand in the net. Most of your visitors will enter via a lower page. Also, other web authors like to link to your "subpages", not to your top page. And so... if you've just bought a domain name and you ABSOLUTELY MUST move your site, you'd better replace every single html file on your old site with a small link to the new location of that page, and then maintain that skeletal site for a year or three. If you don't, then people with links to the "good stuff" inside your site will see those links go bad, and they will delete them. You could lose the majority of your site's users. You'll only be left with the non-serious people who link to the "splash page" at the top of your old site. Very often I'll browse somebody's "amateur science" links and will find that all the links on the page are bad. All except the ones that point to MY pages. :)

    PS, if your site is maintained by another person and you catch them changing the URLs without maintaining the old URLs for many years ...then they're completely incompetent and you should ditch them ASAP. Every changed url is a lost search-engine link, and there's never any justification for changing an URL. Even *thinking* about changing an URL should be grounds for firing a web designer on the spot.

    Wait a second.

    Forget everything that I just said. Keep moving your site a few times per year, and only leave a forwarding address at the top page of your old site. After all, as long as you cause all your links to become "404 not found", then everyone will delete the links to your site, and they'll only be left with links... to MINE! Heh heh heh.


    5. View your site using a 56K modem and with graphics turned off, then redesign it so it's still useful.
    Never forget: Google is a blind internet user; Google deletes the blind-hostile websites. So, never use java/flash links or non-HTML text content, use "alt" tags on images, and add "summary" to tables, and provide text links that duplicate all your fancy click-map navigation, etc. I say more about this on my WEBPAGE MISTAKES page. Stay compatible with minimal browsers like Opera, don't become a "Flash bigot." You're trying to get MORE users.


    6. Maintain a "link farm" of other pages similar to your own. Whenever you find another page to add, email the owner of that page to tell them about it. Don't add cool websites to your browser's "favorites" menu, instead add them to your webpage.
    This one above is critical for creating a huge web-presence. First, if the other page-owners know you've linked them, they might add your site to their own links. If they haven't seen your pages before, at least you've attracted a new user. Secondly, after a number of sites all link to each other, they form a "community", and when one page catches a new user, that user can easily find all the other pages too. Third, if any pages in the "community" become high in the search engine rankings, your ranking will also increase. Even better: when no such community exists, and you're the only one who maintains a links collection to similar sites, then even if nobody else links to you, this still will attract lots of people because you've become a "portal" site for that topic area. Don't forget: if you find your "favorites menu" useful, then others will like it too, so put it on the web. Web users would rather browse a list of human-classified links than to run web searches, so your site will become popular with everyone interested in your subject. Think! Would you rather have a librarian on call who can deliver any book you ask for, or would you rather wander in a library? Most prefer wandering the library, because neither you nor your super-searcher- librarian knows which keywords will find the best stuff!


    7. Ruthlessly avoid using javascript menus, frames, flash navigation, PDFs, or any other site files other than dead-simple HTML 1.0.
    Pure HTML links will make your page extremely friendly to vision-disabled internet users. But far more important: fancy menu techniques are unreadable by Google and any other search-engine spiders. Search-engines are basically the same as the vision disabled. Google is a blind internet user. They can only "see" html, and many cannot even handle Frames well. So, if your site navigation links are all part of a Flash program, then all the sub-pages in your site will never appear on any Google search results! (Remember rule number one above: resist the temptation to use fancy stuff. The fancy stuff will hurt you. Fancy stuff is an embarrassing newbie mistake. )


    8. Always add a link to the top of all of your pages which links back to your main site.
    If someone uses a search-engine and finds a deep subpage on your site, they'll have no clue that the rest of your site exists. You have to provide links! Also, other site-owners may link to subpages on your site. If one of your files gets lots of traffic from some other site, that file must have clear links to your main site. If it does not, then those users may think they're still on the linking site. They may entirely miss the fact that they are reading just one part of your much larger site. Last, include the page URL somewhere on the page (usually at the very bottom.) That will force each of your pages to appear when people search on partly- remembered URLs. And if someone prints out your text, it forces the URL to be printed on that paper.



    9. Maintain a "WHAT'S NEW" page.
    This will let your repeat-users immediately find the stuff they haven't seen before. Without a "what's new" page, your site may seem exactly the same to everyone who visits, even though you're adding huge amounts to some far corner of your site.


    10. Every time you add a separate webpage, submit it to Google's ADD URL page. Other good places are Altavista's add-URL page. Another is the Mozilla Open Directory Project, dmoz.org and Yahoo. These sites share their data with other link archives, so once you get into one of them, your links end up in many others.

    OTHER HINTS:
    11. Use absolute links.
    E.g., on your own pages, don't link to "sci.html", link to "http://www.yoursite.com/~user/sci.html". Why? Because people like to steal copies of good webpages, and if all the links on their plagairized copy of actually point back to your original site, then the stolen copies of your pages will send people back to your REAL pages and not to other parts of the copy. I've been doing webpages since 1994, and I've seen LOTS of copied fragments of my pages in other places. But I always smile, because all of the links to my orignal pages remain in the copy, so these copies just route traffic back to me, and serve as advertisements for my original site!

    12. KEEP CONTENT KING! And keep ease-of-use near the top of the list. Look at rule #1 again. Do *everything* in html. Don't talk yourself into having to use "impressive" or "modern" techniques. Don't let a pursuit of "image" slowly destroy your site.
    I constantly notice good sites that have slowly gone to hell because someone is being paid to make them look polished, as if they were an expensive magazine... and the designerly features interfere terribly with navigation. Those page owners have it backwards: image is nothing, ease of navigation is everything, and the need for useful content outranks both. Those page owners also have little respect for their audience; thinking that nobody notices attempts to manipulate them with shallow facades. In your organization, can the author of an article say "this aesthetic feature slows people down slightly, get rid of it" and the art department jumps to make changes? If not, then the wrong people are in charge, and the way is open for creeping corruption of facade over function.

    13. Provide a guestbook. Let people read it. This isn't just for your ego. It provides another interesting file for your audience to read, and you didn't have to write it yourself.
    14. Mutate your guestbook! Look at my "report unusual phenomena" page, and "science fair archives". These are simple guestbooks, but altered so that passersby can type in interesting things, and others can read them. Even if there were no other things on my site, just these pages alone would be worth an occasional visit. It's like a no-cost mini-newsgroup.
    15. Become a heavy user of your own website. Try constantly to see your site as an outsider; try to get into the heads of strangers. Note how you cruise the WWW yourself, then modify your site so it is easy for YOU to cruise.
    For example, most people (including me) rarely use the scroll-bar. Therefore, if they don't see good stuff on the screen instantly, then they will go elsewhere. If the good stuff on your website is not right up at the top of the screen, most people will never see it. See my own top page. I put the big four subsections right in your face, using huge font size. Yes, most of my other pages are these great huge things which absolutely require lots of scrolling. However, nearly all of them have a "shortcuts" list which acts like a top page, letting people jump down to all the sections, and this "shortcuts" list is right in your face, right at the top of the page. I suck you in first, and only THEN force you to get off of your butt and use the darned scroll bar.

    Another example: stop maintaining a "favorites" menu on your browser, and instead always put interesting URLs on your website. Make your website become your only "favorite links" menu. Others will find this useful... and also you'll learn to see your mistakes because you'll constantly be looking at your own site and comparing it to others. Keep tweeking a page site to make it easier for you and your friends. And once you've learned the tricks, keep updating all the other pages in your site.

    16. Start early. If you had started a few weeks ago, you might be getting lots of hits by now. If you had started last year, your site might now be a major player on the web. WWW is still growing fast, don't put it off, jump in quick. Don't polish your site before publishing. The time it takes to perfect your site could be better used for hooking in more users and getting an early start on the geometrical growth of hitcount. If you create a site a month early, several years down the road that month could mean an increase of hundreds of thousands of hits per year. If you are a big company that moves slow, a year of delay can move you from the top-ten websites and place you with the hundreds of late-comer wannabes.

    More:

  • Search engines
  • Common mistakes to avoid


    DOES THIS STUFF WORK? Well, here are some google keywords which, when last I checked, give me top rank or almost-top in the search results:

    Pretty cool, eh?
    Q: HOW'D YOU MANAGE TO CREATE SO MUCH STUFF?

    A: First answer: I started early, in 1994. Them squirrels, how they do accumulate detrius. Or maybe its crows. They like shiny objects.

    Second answer: whenever somebody asks me for something and I have time to supply it, I make a strange assumption. I assume that hundreds of other people are wanting that thing too, but didn't have the ambition to email me and ask. Therefore I copy it onto my website, rather than hiding it uselessly away.

    Third answer: I don't live in XP or ME or Windows 95. Not win3.1 either. Not MSDOS. I live on the internet, in an ancient unix shell account which is aliased to look a bit like msdos. If I should ever type up a little textfile during other activities on the computer, it only takes me ten seconds to put it on my webpage. Unlike most people, for me the barriers against publishing on internet have entirely evaporated.

    Fourth answer: I took a typing course in 1974 high school. Best investment I ever made, almost as important as learning to read. Now after years of systems programming, I can type REALLY FAST. If ever I think of something interesting, I can jot down a couple of pages about it and link it to my website.

    Fifth answer: I have no shame. Would you let the entire internet have read-rights to your hard drive? And then make some menus, so they could look at all your private stuff? That's what SCI HOBBYIST is, it's my c: drive. I'm sure that many people have all sorts of fascinating junk on their systems as well, or in their filing cabinets. Difference is, only they themselves can access it. Most people prefer to hide their flaws, I suspect. I want to flaunt mine! The withering spotlight of honesty keeps the evil insanity of the self-lie at bay.

    Sixth answer: I don't necessarily create it. Much of it I simply notice and write down. If you adopt a religion which requires that you look at yourself without blinders on, then you'll discover that it's a monumental task to take your habitual blinders off. Once you succeed, you'll find that the entire world looks very different. Interesting things will spring out at you which only you can see. Anyone could see them, but the vast majority of humans are so afraid of looking at the rotten crap that they've done throughout their lives, that they desparately maintain the blinders. The blinders are like painkillers which eliminate any negative viewpoints and let people feel good about themselves regardless of their past actions. Unfortunately these same blinders make most of the real world become invisible to them. In any scientist this is a real shame. It ruins our powers of observation and cuts us off from our fundamental creative source. So, gather your stamina and gaze unblinking into your own personal hell, and on the other side you might perceive the outer world as it really is. Then stop talking philosophy, and just tell others what you see.

    Last: if you never have to wait for Windows to load, writing a quick note will become a positive experience, and also you'll have some extra free time for other things. :)


    Q: WHERE DID YOU GET THIS JUNK?

    A: It's a secret. Here it is. Always tell the truth, and, more importantly, never lie. Even to yourself. What the heck does this have to do with anything? Well, once I realized that I was defending my ego by constantly telling myself a thousand subtle lies, I was able to stop. When I did, all this stuff started boiling up out of my unconscious and out onto my website. It must have been in there all along. It just wouldn't come out and play. Maybe it was embarassed about all the lying.

    PS I strongly suspect that Richard Feynman accidentally stumbled across this same technique. It's a source of creativity like you wouldn't believe! It's a wellspring of amazing ideas which seem to arise fully formed, without you doing the work to assemble them.

    This sort of extreme creativity seems to be an inbuilt human feature, but unfortunately a "normal life" is filled with millions of tiny dishonesties which acts as a "plug" that halts the creative flow almost entirely. If you stop lying to yourself totally; stop distorting reality in your efforts to have a positive self image, then you damage your own psychological defenses. Those defenses block the Monsters from the ID. They keep your personal horrors at bay. But they do far more than that: they also cut you off from the prime creative source, your subconscious, and they block your flow of ideas almost entirely. If you choose the path of safety and never look deep within, then you may retain the ability to do really well on exams, and to be an expert puzzle-solver. But you'll never come up with major new ideas.

    Shatter your mental plug and you're on your way to an amazing life. However, if you do remove your psychological defenses, you force yourself onto a path that leads to both genius or insanity. Do you REALLY want to see yourself as you really are? No fuzzy lens at all? Some people would rather not go there. And that's one reason why insanity is so close to genius. Removing your defense mechanisms is far more serious than taking a powerful drug that gives you honest vision. The effects of drugs eventually wear off!

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