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Wired World

Top Ten Things That Suck ... for Surfers

By Kristin Gambill and Christy Crews

Originally Posted

Summer's on and the surf's up, baby! As we recently sat on the patio sipping drinks and watching the cows grow here in the Midwest, we couldn't help but envy those Coasters for their access to actual surf. We can -- and do -- get the neato umbrellas for our drinks, but, as for the refreshing coolness of water, if it ain't raining or it ain't chlorinated (or there are no cute guys around), we stay pretty dry around here. As the alcohol made us even more jealous and petty, we got on a kick about things that would suck if you were surfing, just to make us glad that we weren't. You know, salt water on scrapes, sunburn, jellyfish stings, your thong riding higher than you were when riding that wave, lovelorn dolphins, and the like. And then, because we really are geeky babes at heart, we came up with ... The Top Ten Things that Suck for Surfers On Line (Well, Not Including Microsoft)

  1. Viruses. You don't want to catch a virus from your on-line activities any more than you want to catch a virus from your post-surfing activities in the sand. For tips on how to diagnose, treat, and prevent computer viruses, read our recent two-part series.

  1. Unnecessary Flash. While a nice big flash from the hot surfer in front of you is an added bonus on the waves, on line it just hogs bandwidth and time. Instead of adding Flash to your site to obnoxiously delay your site visitors from getting what they really need and want from your site, use it only as needed to enhance the user's experience.

  1. Stupid Forwards. While urban legends have a time and a place, like perhaps to pass time drinking around the campfire on the beach, they just plain suck on line. Stop the insanity (!) by never forwarding hoaxes, fake virus warnings, get-rich-quick scams, and other dumb messages. Check authenticity at a hoax-busting Web site, if you're ever in doubt.

  1. Map Mistakes. We all rely on Yahoo maps to help us find places in this big world of ours. It's a wonderful tool when it works, but few things suck more than when it doesn't, and you spend half your day trying to find the ocean-front property Yahoo plotted out for you in California only to learn that Yahoo mapped out the charming, six-person town of California, Missouri, instead!

  1. Expired Links. Let's face it, we've all been caught leaving our cars in expired parking spaces at least once. Just as it sucks to have to pay a $10.00 parking fine for the hour your classic VW bus spent illegally in Santa Cruz while you were surfing, it also sucks to find just the information you need on Google, only to click the link and find it broken. Be sure to check the links throughout your site monthly, to ensure everything's still linked up and ready to go!

  1. Forms with Errors. It sucks when a guy asks for a hot chick's number only to dial it later and find out that she stiffed him with a fake ... or so our husbands tell us. This is no different than stiffing site visitors with contact forms that contain script errors. (Scripts are computer programs written to perform specific tasks ... like processing your on-line order at Victoria's Secret. When a script malfunctions -- always because of an error on the part of the programmer who wrote the script -- you experience a script error.) Even worse is when you've spent a grueling day sitting in your pajamas, sipping coffee, filling your virtual shopping bag, only to find out at the checkout that there's a script error on the site, and you have to abandon your purchase, never to regain the last hour of your life.

  1. No Alternatives. When you're spending the day at the beach, you always want alternatives: hard lemonade or beer, blonde or brunette lifeguard, sun or shade. Alternatives are also essential for on-line customer service and contact from your clients. In addition to a "contact us" form, your site should provide an email address, phone and fax numbers, and maybe even instant message options, so your clients can reach you in the manner that's best for them. Otherwise, how will customers contact you if there's a problem with your site's forms? Telepathy?

  1. Invasive Ads. These are the Internet equivalent to the guy who won't take "no" for an answer at the bar: annoying, in your face, and constantly in need of shutting down. The "new and improved" banner ads of the past year are even worse than the original "Las Vegas"-style banner ads from a few years past. Now, instead of just incessantly flashing in a static position on a Web page, hundreds of ads pop up out of nowhere, opening separate browser windows that need to be shut down. Or, worse yet, are the ads that swoosh in from the top or side of the Web page giving even the soberest Internet surfer vertigo.

  1. Network Solutions. These guys are the ambulance chasers of the Internet. Through intentionally misleading marketing efforts, they sit like vultures, ready to keep a bigger percentage than necessary of your hard-earned money with every URL you register through them. Then, to add insult to injury, they deliberately mail out "time to renew" notices years in advance in an attempt to mislead customers into prematurely renewing their URLs. Their business strategies make us think they're trying to compensate for something ... (why else would they like it "premature"?)

And, of course, the #1 thing that sucks most for Internet users ... when we can't access it! Enough said. Now that the corn out our front door has grown another two inches and our fru-fru girly drinks with umbrellas have run dry, we're ready to end our bitch session and begin focusing on the positive things the Internet has done for us. Help us out by contributing your nominations to the Top Ten Things that Rule ... for Surfers to us. If your nomination makes it to the top half of our list, you win some cheesy promotional crap from CornerBarPR.com.

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