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In five simple steps, your buddy can help you to log in without registering to a web site, writes Deepak Mankar.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2005 16:29 IST

"Nawa varas nu sagan" (literally, "New Year's salt") is a pre-dawn cry you hear only on the New Year's Day in Diwali in South Bombay as far as I can vouch. It's uttered by the man who sells you packets of rock salt sprinkled with kumkum that's supposed to bring you good fortune in the New Year. I remember a ritual from my childhood that took place on every New Year's Day in my house. The servants would sweep the house, collect the sweepings and pile them up. A puja would be performed of these piles. The pile would then be paraded through all parts of the house to the accompaniment of a chant. This was intended to drive away all the evil influences that may be lurking about as well as to usher in the just and righteous reign of Bali Raja. The servants would then go down and keep the sweepings in a corner of the compound. They would buy the 'lucky' salt from the saganwala and only then come back home. This morning I heard the saganwala's cry and sent the servant down to buy some for old time's sake. (By the way, Bali Raja was a demon king. He was the fourth direct descendent of Hiranyakashyap. Bali ruled all three worlds, you see. So, the gods were jealous and afraid of him. The diminutive Vaman Avatar of Lord Vishnu tricked Bali into surrendering his entire kingdom by asking for the gift of "three steps of land". Read the account of what all transpired here: hindunet.org. You can read some information on Diwali customs here: rumela.com & diwalifestival.org. (I'm not sure how authentic it is, though.)

BUG ME NEVER. Bugmenot.com, forever.

"You're browsing the web and you click a link to an article on a site (let's say nytimes.com) but instead of getting the article you get a screen asking you to login or register. Infuriated at the idea of pointlessly registering for yet another site you turn to your good buddy bugmenot.com," explains the Tutorial. In five simple steps, your new buddy can help you to log in without registering. These are: "STEP 1: Make a note of the website address you are trying to access. For example: nytimes.com. Or even just: nytimes.com. STEP 2: Visit bugmenot.com. STEP 3: Enter the address from step 1 into the box and press the "Show Logins" button. STEP 4: You should now be presented with a username and password. Make a note of them. STEP 5: Go back to the site you were originally trying to access in step 1 and proceed to login with the username and password you noted in the previous step. With any luck you should be able to access your article now!" Child's play, yes? bugmenot.com. If you're worried by ethical considerations of using this tool, have a look at the discussion here: poynter.org.

B(L)OGGED DOWN. Less work, more blog breaks.

Blogs seem to be on everybody's mind these days. "Blog this: U.S. workers in 2005 will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs," begins an Ad Age article ('WHAT BLOGS COST AMERICAN BUSINESS'). adage.com. "About 35 million workers - one in four people in the labor force - visit blogs and on average spend 3.5 hours, or 9%, of the work week engaged with them, according to Advertising Age's analysis. Time spent in the office on non-work blogs this year will take up the equivalent of 2.3 million jobs. Forget lunch breaks - blog readers essentially take a daily 40-minute blog break," writes the author, Bradley Johnson. Blogs are by now an accepted 'part' of media and an increasingly accepted 'tool' of marketing. Recently, for example, even American Express paid a bunch of bloggers to discuss small business - following the lead of marketers like General Motors and Microsoft - with a rather tentative entry into the blogosphere. Blogs are turning out to be in competition with traditional media messages, though, and 'wasting' employees' time.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. A veteran speaks his mind.

In his 25 October 2005 post ('Blogging on the Clock'), 'Terrance' comments on the trend described in the previous section: "I can believe it. I've even been there, before I got my current blogging-related job. If you ask me, the amount of time spent blogging or reading blogs at work probably speaks to the reality that a great many of us spend eight-or-more hours a day toiling away at jobs that don't interest, challenge, or inspire us..." Also: "Meanwhile, some employers are cutting off the discussion by cutting off access to blogs from the office." mediacenter.blogs.com. P.S.: Terrance Heath is now the blogmaster at EchoDitto echoditto.com. Their mission statement says inter alia: "We create vibrant communities online and empower people through the creative use of emerging technologies. … we believe that building authentic internet voices and the establishment of a vigorous open source community is critical to the functioning of our democracy." And: "Blogs are the future of communications. There are nearly 5 million blogs in America now, and that number is growing by about 15,000 EVERY SINGLE DAY. There are now 50 million Americans who read blogs, and some individual blogs have more daily readers than newspapers like the Boston Globe and Arizona Republic. As study after study has found, blog readers represent one of the most affluent and attractive audiences available." QuiteATake.com last covered blogs in the opening section of the article that talks about the spam menace in blogosphere. hindustantimes.com.

E-MARKETING NO-NO. Illegible e-mail.

This shouldn't happen to you if your e-mail marketing messages are delivered directly to the inboxes of your prospects. The '2005 Broken Link Study' by SilverPOP showed that, in the US, around 40 percent of such e-missives arrived at their destinations 'broken'. The 'faults' identified were: (1) less than five broken components (20.97%); (2) five or more broken components (10.89%); (3) extremely disruptive errors (6.85%); and (4) indecipherable messages (1.61%). This meant that only 59.68 per cent of the e-mails ended up displaying 'properly'. The chief suspects for this misdemeanour were e-mail clients and spam filters that prevented images from rendering. The e-mail service provider (ESP) analyzed e-mails from 357 companies in nine industries to decide how each e-marketer's campaign appeared in various e-mail clients' inboxes including AOL 8.0+ Plus, AOL 9.0, Earthlink, Gmail;, Hotmail, Outlook 2003, Outlook Express 6 and Yahoo!! Mail. Seventy-one percent of the companies surveyed here were regularly conducting e-mail campaigns. This was up from 30 percent in 2002 when the initial study was conducted. Of the 496 HTML e-mails received, 40 percent contained missing graphics or indecipherable messages. In 2002, the rate was 42 percent. Back then, one in five marketing e-mails sent through the domain didn't make it to the inbox properly. Now, only one in 10 e-mails have trouble rendering. The four recommended preventive steps for trouble-free e-mail campaigns are: (1) Include text within the e-mail; (2) Include a link to view creative in a Web version of the message; (3) Know what the message looks like without images; and (4) Request to be added to the recipients' address books. The study didn't deal with the effect of authentication technologies (e.g., SPF and sender ID) on render rates. Silverpop's VP of strategy, Elaine O'Gorman, told ClickZ Stats that they improve success. clickz.com.

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place.

Copyright (c) 2001- 2005 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles athttp://www.asiaondemand.com/. Website:http://www.addgandhi.com/original/. You may e-mail him at dmankar@bom8.vsnl.net.in.

First Published: Nov 05, 2005 09:30 IST