As a computer geek, I sometimes forget that not everyone spends 10 hours a day on the computer. So I rely on my colleagues to remind me when I take too much for granted. I just figure that everyone knows all the cool tricks for navigating our website — or any website, for that matter. So at the request of my co-workers, here are a couple of tips that will make you a more efficient surfer.
Step #1 is to know which browser you are using. What’s a browser, you ask? Sheesh. You sound just like (name deleted to protect the guilty.) A browser is the program you use to access the Internet. What’s a program? EIYEEEEE! A program is, like, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer…or Word…or Solitare.
If you have a PC, you are probably using Microsoftï¿½s Internet Explorer as your browser to "explore" the worldwide web. Now, Iï¿½m going to show my colors here. At GoSwim.tv International Headquarters, we use a PC for certain functions, and it came with Microsoft Internet Explorer set as the default browser. ("Default browser" is computerspeak for the browser that opens up automatically each time you go online.) Each time I log on to the net using Explorer, Iï¿½m amazed that people still use it as a browser. It bombards me with pop-ups, ads, spyware, SHEESH…itï¿½s a MESS. I understand that people have personal preferences when it comes to their browsers, and maybe some of you have solved all these pop-up issues with additional software, plug-ins, and much effort. But if you are looking for an easier way, Iï¿½ve got one word for you… FIREFOX! Go download it, and make it the default browser on your computer. Even if you have to reset all of your bookmarks, trust me, youï¿½ll enjoy your time on the web MUCH more.
For you Mac people (yeah, I know there are only two of you, but the good news is that both of you work with ME!:>)): SAME THING. Get GET FIREFOX! Although I love supporting Apple, and although Safari (Appleï¿½s browser) has been described as ï¿½elegant," it still doesnï¿½t function with all sites nearly so well as Firefox does. (And this isn’t just me saying this. Nearly every geek or techy will tell you that Foxfire rocks as a browser.)
OK. Now that that’s settled and everyone is using MY favorite browser, we can proceed to Step #2 and look into some of the cool techy stuff on our site.
Obviously, the Drill of the Week videos are cool but, to see them, it’s essential to have Macromedia Flash plug-in loaded on your computer. The download is free, and takes only a couple minutes. If you need help using Flash once it’s loaded onto your computer, here’s a set of instructions that will help. If you don’t need help with Flash, just click the PLAY VIDEO button at the top of each of our drills, and the video should start to play. Why do we use Flash? Because it’s easy for just about everyone to use, and the size of the video file itself is small. If you want our Drills of the Week in a downloadable form, our Drill-of-the-Week Collection, Volume #1 is the way to go. It’s a CD that allows you to see the videos any time you want.
If you would like to get GoSwim.tv news and site updates automatically, here’s a program that makes that EASY. RSS Feeds RSS stands for REALLY SIMPLY SYNDICATION. There are other terms, but thatï¿½s the one I like the best. What it means is that weï¿½ve enabled you to grab the TEXT from the articles automatically using an RSS Reader.
There are many RSS Readers on the market. Some cost money, others are free. Iï¿½ve downloaded a couple of them for review.
First, on the PC, I grabbed an RSS Reader called Sharp Reader. This is a donation-based reader. That means that if youï¿½re counting pennies, itï¿½s free, but if you throw them a couple bucks you’ve done your part to keep good independent software coming.
Depending on your reader, and computer, we supply two RSS Feeds: 1.0 and 2.0. For me, 1.0 is usually more successful. Clicking on that link will give you a page full of jibberish, but what youï¿½re really interested in is the webpage address (URL) at the top… http://www.goswim.tv/pMachinePro/index.xml. Select that address, and hit COPY.
When you open SharpReader, the first line will have an ï¿½Address:ï¿½ bar in it. Put your cursor in the address bar and hit PASTE. Then click the ï¿½Subscribeï¿½ button. Once thatï¿½s done, youï¿½ll see the ï¿½Titleï¿½ list filling up with the last 30 articles, or recent posts, from GoSwim.tv. By clicking on any of these, you’ll pull up the first paragraph of that article. In SharpReader, double clicking on the title will also build the webpage in the viewer at the bottom of the page.
You can dig a little deeper into this program, and set it to refresh the articles listed every day, or every hour, whichever is your preference.
Second, for the Mac, Iï¿½ve downloaded NewsFan. This is a more robust reader, with more features. It’s also NOT free. While there are free versions, I figured Iï¿½d look at a for-pay version. You can use it for two weeks, but then itï¿½ll run you $25.
NewsFan works the same way the PC version does, but will either send you directly to the page on the net, or build the webpage in the lower frame. NewsFan also has a ticker that can run across your screen. For you REAL geeks, this gives you the ability to forward selected news to your cell phone or mobile device.
Why do you want an RSS Reader? You can enter all your favorite sites, then get back to your normal work or job, and have the reader alert you to new headlines, news, or posts. You see the headline…and can then decide if you want to spend your time heading to the web to read more. Itï¿½s just a way to use technology to make your day more efficient.
Weï¿½ve been publishing to our site in the RSS format for close to two years. Because we write anywhere from 2 to 7 articles a week, there is a LOT of information on the site. Finding what you need can be a bit tough, so learning how to use the SEARCH function on the site is becoming more and more important. Here are some tricks that will help you be a better navigator not only at GoSwim.tv — but also at Google, Yahoo, and any other search engine you use.
Here’s a real-life example to highlight one of the tricks:
A few weeks ago, someone wrote to us asking if we knew how to avoid getting leg and foot cramps while swimming. They’d explored our site for an article on cramps and couldn’t find anything. It turns out we HAD written an article on the subject. But we hadn’t used the word "cramps" in the title. How did we find the article? And why couldn’t the swimmer find it?
The swimmer had performed a typical search, and had typed TWO words into the search box: MUSCLE CRAMPS. One thing you have to understand is that if you type TWO words into the search box, the search engine is going to search for both words independently. Hereï¿½s our illustration:
Search for: muscle cramps
Our article on cramps is called "Sneak Attack." If you type muscle cramps into the search box, that article comes up in 58th spot. It does NOT jump out of the list. Thatï¿½s because the engine is searching for MUSCLE as well as CRAMPS.
To make the search a bit more defined, try to search for just ONE word. Letï¿½s try: cramp.
OK…that gets us closer. The article appears in the 10th spot, but it would still take some clicking to read through the other articles and zero in on the one we want.
Let’s try something a little different: cramps.
Adding that ONE little letter has moved the article up to 4th on the list. Great, but still NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
Now, let’s try something that will force the search engine to look for our string, or combined words, in the EXACT order we type them. By simply placing quotation marks around the words youï¿½re looking for, the engine will return ONLY those articles, or posts, that have those words together, in that order.
Letï¿½s try: ï¿½muscle crampsï¿½
Wow… yep… that did it. "Sneak Attack" is the ONLY article that shows up.
While searches for things like ï¿½breaststroke kickï¿½ are still going to return a TON of articles, we hope this little trick will help you pinpoint your info a bit better.
We hope these few little tricks help you become a better navigator here at GoSwim.tv. And we apologize for taking so long to explain some of the tricks, but, again…I took it for granted that everyone knew. I had the same problem when I started coaching.