Home Page JumpPoint

Free yourself of the unhelpful home page!

Your home page comes up every time you open a new browser window, and most browsers include a button on the toolbar as well as a keyboard shortcut to take you back to your home page.  This suggests that many people think the home page is important for you to see, and a place you would like to get back to quickly.

But what do you have for your home page?  Many people never change from the default, either out of ignorance or indifference.  Well it's time to change all that.  Sound the battle cry:  "MSN.com is a productivity killer".

If you want to see your browsing habit improve, your productivity increase, take better care of your finances, and forget less deadlines, you'll come up with your own "Home Page JumpPoint".  You do this by creating a HTML file of links to quality web sites, putting it on your website under a page with a minimal code and a short file name, and changing your browsers home page to this new file.

What kind of format should your JumpPoint be in?  Whatever works best for you, and this will take some planning and testing.  Let's look at a JumpPoint Example.

A JumpPoint Example page with descriptions

(I've included the text on the left only as description, it does not actually appear on the page).

The example is broken into 5 main parts and then "Other":

Extra Tips

Quick!: When you want to search for something, you want to get there as quick as you can.  Putting your search engines at the top of the page ensures that they will always be visible when the page first loads, and if it's the first link, all it takes is Tab twice and then Enter, and you're there.  Examples

Common: Here are the pages that you would go to every day.  Your webmail (Yahoo/Hotmail), TV listings, Job Search, etc.  Examples

SHOULD: All those websites you SHOULD be looking at.  If you are a student taking classes, put links to your professors website here, or make a page about that class and then link to it.  Having this near the top serves as a constant reminder of your schoolwork.  If you are long past your student days, you could have a section devoted to different aspects of your job, those forms on your companies intranet you have to fill out just to get a paperclip, the "suggestions" web box, the company home page, etc.  If neither of those interest you, why not link to "continuing education" sites to help you stay on top of the next big thing.  Having these links help keep you on top of deadlines because you are always reminded of them every time you open a new browser window.  Examples

Notes: This may even go beyond some of the brighter kids in the class, but you can set up a computer to be a mail server, and forward email sent to it from a web page by using specific HTML and CGI code.  If you want to learn how to set this up for yourself do a search for "html" "cgi" and "email" on your favorite search engine.  Examples

History: IE has a default of 20 days for it's history, meaning if you have been to a page in the last 20 days, all links to that page will show up as purple.  Your history section should always be purple.  This means that you should list sites here that you SHOULD go to, but not more than twice a month.  If you are a web master, it's a good idea to list all of your pages here, if you aren't a web master, maybe only list your companies/universities home page.  A "Personal Finance" section does well here to so that you can keep an eye on your bank/credit/Netflix/cell phone accounts.  Examples

Other: You'll notice something missing that seems obvious: Plain Text reminders.  Why not include something like "Your girlfriend loves it when you email her for no reason but to say hi."  "Is the server backup working properly?"  This takes some time, but if you can think of some good reminders that won't get annoying, try putting them between each section, relative to importance.  Examples

Another missing item: Link for the Day.  Some websites you like to visit on specific days.  Friday is when the new comic is posted, Sunday is when the really good news stories are printed, Wednesday you need to check the TV schedule for when your favorite show comes on, etc.  You can be as flexible as your tastes: MWF for new comics, First of the Month for news stories, or just link to a QuickBrowse account where you already have them set up.  Examples

Another set of links you can add that may seem strange: Links that point to internal networks or local files.  If you have a home network, you could put in the IP address to the routers interface so all you would have to do is click on the link.  You could even point to local files that you could get to without having to open a file explorer window.  Of course, this won't work outside your network, or on a computer without the local file.  Examples

Keyboard Shortcuts to take you back to your home page

In Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, and Mozilla; it's Alt+Home or Cmd+Home for Macintosh.  In Opera; it's Ctrl+Q

The home page is important for you to see

AOL outdoes all the major browsers, it even includes a "Welcome Screen" with buttons you can press to go to specific content.  Of course the content providers pay good money to be listed there.  In the browser wars of the late 90's the home page was considered a way to win the hearts and minds of the users by pushing your page on them with every new browser window.  It's all about the money.  Portal sites like Yahoo had a whole philosophy of having you as their home page so that you could then jump to any other site on the net from their page, this meant you always looked at ads on Yahoo pages first.

Ignorance: How to change your home page

You can change your home page in Internet Explorer by going to Tools>Internet Options>General>Home Page.  For Netscape Navigator/Mozilla go to Edit>Preferences>Home Page.  For Opera go to Options>Settings>General>Home Page.

Indifference: Why should I change my home page

It may seem I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.  You may have MSN on, and you like being able to read the interesting stories MSN brings up every day, or you have it set to your My eBay page so you can see all your auctions and bids, or have it auto-login to your Hotmail account, or perhaps you like to be taken right to Google's search engine.  What's so bad about that you ask?  Nothing, it's fine, in fact if 51% of what you do online is on that website, maybe you should keep it that way.  Consider this though, every time you have to open a browser window and DON'T go to that page, you have to wait for it to load, or press Esc to cancel the load, and then wait for the browser to get ready again for you to type in the address, or scroll through your huge favorites list, before you can even go anywhere else.

MSN.com is a productivity killer!

Not convinced?  Go to MSN and have a look around, then come back. Hold down your Shift Key and then click this link to MSN.com (Holding Shift and then clicking on the link causes it to open in a new window).  Not to get into a lot of details, but MSN runs a few scripts to see if you are logged in with passport, then pulls content from several areas of the web, images are downloaded, weather data is downloaded, etc.  For those few extra seconds it takes to download, what do you get?  Links to stories, (one that is always vaguely sexual and hard to ignore), links to email, a text box to search, ads, and even more content down the page that you don't even start to look at before going to the address field and typing in the address you're really wanting to get to.

Have you even been sidetracked by a story?  You're intent on solving a problem, and open a new browser window so that you can do a search, and then a headline blindsides you and you stop what you're doing to read a story and find out "7 food myths we all fall for".  (Turns out starving a fever doesn't help)

MSN isn't alone, My Yahoo! and My Ebay are just as guilty.  They all try to have an interface that appeal to a wide audience, and you can even customize the page without having to get into HTML code, but if you want a fast loading, personalized, productivity increaser: a JumpPoint is the way to go.

Quick! Examples

Merriam-Webster Dictionary http://www.m-w.com/
Google (Search Engine) http://www.google.com/

Common Examples

QuickBrowse (Stitches together a list of webpages into one long web page) http://www.quickbrowse.com/
TV Listings http://tv.yahoo.com/
WorkSpot (Use a Linux Terminal inside your browser) http://www.workspot.com/

SHOULD Examples

W3C Schools (Group that sets standards for the internet) http://www.w3schools.com/

Notes Examples

HTML Code for Form:
<FORM action="http://address.com/cgi-bin/email.cgi" method="post">
<INPUT type="hidden" name="TO" value="to@address.com">
<INPUT type="hidden" name="FROM" value="from@address.com">
<TEXTAREA rows="5" cols="72" name="BODY" wrap="virtual"></TEXTAREA><br>
<INPUT name="SUBJECT" value="" size="20">
<INPUT type="submit" name="submit" value="Send">

CGI Code for email sending script:  (Unknown at this time, if you have an idea I'd love to hear it)

History Examples

Personal Finance:
Netflix http://www.netflix.com/
Netbank http://www.netbank.com/
Cingular http://www.cingular.com/
Discover Card http://www.discovercard.com/
Verizon http://www.verizon.accountonline.com/

Throw-away Spam Email Addresses:
Hotmail http://www.hotmail.com/
Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com/

Play Time:
Penny-Arcade (Comic Strip on Gaming Industry) http://www.penny-arcade.com
Slashdot http://slashdot.org/
Ars http://www.arstechnica.com/

Plain Text Reminder Examples

How could I be better at my job?
Have you given a sincere compliment today?

Link for the Day Examples

QuickBrowse (Stitches together a list of webpages into one long web page) http://www.quickbrowse.com/
A news website every Sunday (if you haven't seen a TV or newspaper all week) http://news.google.com/

Internal Network / Local File Examples

Password File C:\password.txt

Extra Tips: Some helpful tips to round the whole thing out:

If you have any ideas of how to further improve this, I'd love to hear them.

See more of Tiny Empire's ShortNotes to fix your problems.

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