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Here are some answers to just a few questions we always seem to get:

Why a web site instead of a card?

Well, we have always struggled with how to fit a whole year's worth of information on one or two sides of a standard letter sheet. Second, we figured this would be more interesting. Third, we thought that many of you expected this.

We started this last year (2005) so this is our 2nd year. We had huge plans to put together a much bigger/better site than we had last year. Alas, Ray spent the last month struggling to get Scalix 11 out the door (See Ray's description) Needless to say, this precluded his working on this until just before Christmas.

Is it cheaper than sending cards?

In general, we do send some cards but this can reach many more people. We moved our hosting this year to prxy.com. The costs for hosting are not significant. However, the cost for the tools to do the authoring are!

What tools do you use?

Last year we used a relatively low cost solution called Namo. However, this year, when we went to extend the site, we were having difficulty with the s/w keeping the web site syncronized with our local copy of the site. So, we bit the bullet and downloaded the trial to Dreamweaver 8 plus Fireworks 8.

The learning curve to these two has not been small. It kills us how Adobe has their own way of thinking about things and it is not at all like "normal" windows GUI programs. This was one of the main reasons we liked Namo.

Ray has taken to calling it DreamKiller. Fireworks is pretty powerful and we couldn't have done the effects on the first page without it but it took a huge amount of tinkering to get it to look like that. Even now, if you use IE vs Firefox, you will notice the placement of the balls is different. Not sure why that is.

As if that weren't enough, we installed the release cadndidate for Microsoft Windows Vista on one of our notebooks. Let me just save you alot of agravation: wait until SP1. I can't think of a single reason why you should shell out $200 for Vista - unless you like your machine to run slower, be less flexible, complain every time you try to do anything and not support all your devices. Honestly, I am very disappointed. Microsoft has tripped up bigtime. I'm seriously considering a MAC now! (Ouch, did I say that?)

Does it take a lot of time?

Unfortunately, yes. Especially since we only do this once a year and so we have to relearn the tools every time. As stated above, due to the end-of-year crunch at work combined with the learning curve for the new tools, it has pushed our deployment past the ideal (which would have it completed before Christmas.) Well, you know what they say, "Best laid plans..."

The tools are either very simple - kind of like powerpoint - or they are very fine grained with tons of features.

Of course, this doesn't say anything about the constant nagging of the family memebers who have not given any input into the web site.