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Cycling Celebrities in our Midst

Posted by    |   August 29th, 2008   |   No responses

At Insight Designs, we've long believed in having a good work-life balance. That means working hard and playing hard. Two members of our team -- partner Nico Toutenhoofd and designer Keith Harper -- have taken "playing hard" to a whole new level. This summer, they both managed to work full-time jobs and take the Colorado cycling world by storm. Earlier this week, Nico, 40, clinched the coveted "Colorado Best All Around Rider" award for bicycle racers aged 35+ by winning the Colorado State Criterium Championships on Sunday. Nico was leading the point series throughout much of the summer, but then fell to second place behind Danny Sullivan of Aspen in August as Danny turned in some impressive end-of-season results. But thanks to help from Keith and his other fellow teammates, and his training buddy Kevin Nicol, Nico managed to win the final race of the series and secure the 2008 Colorado Best All Around Rider award. Along the way, Nico earned 10 first-place finishes -- among them the Colorado State Time Trial Championship. He took second in eight events, including the Mt. Washington Hill Climb in Jackson, New Hampshire. And one of his most impressive third-place finishes was at the Masters National Time Trial Championship in Louisville, Kentucky. Keith also had quite the summer. He had six wins and three second-place finishes. Keith, 39, often raced Pro-1-2, meaning he was competing against the best of the best. The highlight of his summer was taking first in the Pro-1-2 category at Denver's City Park Criterium. Congrats to Nico and Keith! You guys are amazing!
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Web Rules Worth Following

Posted by    |   August 28th, 2008   |   No responses

True, we are a group of creative, free-thinking, innovative individuals. However, when it comes to creating websites, there are some rules worth following. recently posted the "10 Commandments of Web Design." None of these were new to us at Insight Designs; we've been living by these rules for years. But we thought we should share them with you. 1. Thou shalt not abuse Flash. 2. Thou shalt not hide content. 3. Thou shalt not clutter. 4. Thou shalt not overuse glassy reflections. 5. Thou shalt not name your Web 2.0 company with an unnecessary surplus or dearth of vowels. 6. Thou shalt worship at the altar of typography. 7. Thou shalt create immersive experiences. 8. Thou shalt be social. 9. Thou shalt embrace proven technologies. 10. Thou shalt make content king. To read more about each commandment, check out the full article on
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Getting Rid of Spam Headaches

Posted by    |   August 21st, 2008   |   No responses

How many times do we come to work, open our email and find our inbox is full of messages promising us free prescription drugs or a super cheap, super wonderful vacation to Miami? As you know, this is spam, and it has become more than just an annoyance. It has become an increasingly costly business expense. According to Nucleus Research (Spam: The Repeat Offender, April 2007) spam increased by 57% in 2007. Email users at work receive on average 21 spam emails per day and looking at these emails and dealing with these emails uses 4.5 minutes a week. That doesn't seem so bad until all this time is added up, and we find that U.S. businesses are losing $70 billion a year due to lost productivity. (Also troubling is that most viruses are introduced to a computer via spam email, but we'll talk about this in a future blog.) Spam is a problem but there are things one can do to lessen its impact.
  1. Do not use your email address when posting on message boards, newsgroups or other types of public forum. Spammers use programs called "bots" to "mine" or find and gather email addresses from public sites.
  2. Don't use your work email when making an online purchase or filling out any other online forms.
  3. Disguise your email on your website. Try using "user at companydotorg" instead of "" A spam bot looks for emails in the standard format and won't be able to identify your email in disguise. (You can also ask your web agency to encrypt your email address on the page.)
  4. If you want to post comments or messages to a public site, consider using a dummy address.
  5. When you receive spam, delete it, don't open it, don't reply to it, and definitely don't open any attachments or click on any links. And avoid using the "remove me" option if it is in the spam, because many spammers will use this response as a means to validate your address and send you even more spam.
  6. Go to SpamCop and report the spam. This is a free service, and it takes very little time to complete a report.
  7. Talk to your IT department and/or email provider about the email and spam filters that you are currently using and find out what other options might be available to you. If you're not pleased with your current spam-filtering service, consider trying Message Labs; we at Insight have been using them for years, and we're very happy with their service. One person in our office went from getting 500 plus spams a day to just 15 or 20 after switching to Message Labs.
You may remember when it was next to impossible to get through dinner without the phone ringing and some telemarketer was asking for this and offering that, but now with things like the no-call list and caller ID, these calls have all but disappeared. Can we hope for the same when it comes to spam? We can. It will take time and effort, but the savings will be worth it.
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Why all the twisted characters?

Posted by    |   August 19th, 2008   |   No responses

In the past week, I've had three clients ask me why they have to decrypt a set of squiggly letters and/or numbers almost every time they fill out an online form. The simple answer: so the website knows you're human. It's called a CAPTCHA (for Completely Automated Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart). A CAPTCHA is a program that can generate and grade tests that humans can pass but current computer programs cannot. For example, humans can read distorted text, but current computer programs cannot. CAPTCHAs are used by millions of websites to prevent abuse from "bots," or automated programs written to generate spam. Bots can't read distorted letters, so they can't get past the CAPTCHA feature. If you don't already have a CAPTCHA on your online form, you should add one. It's pretty straightforward, but you'll probably need help from a web programmer. They're great for preventing comment spam in blogs, giving more validity to online polls, and protecting your free registration processes (who wants a computer overloading your system with bogus account setups). Even for simple contact forms or email-this-page features, they prevent the headaches of spurious submissions. But what's even more amazing is a new program called reCAPTCHA. Instead of having you type random characters as CAPTCHA does, when you use reCAPTCHA, you're actually unknowingly helping to digitize vast libraries of old books and newspapers. It's definitely one of those wish-I-had-thought-of-that-first ideas. I heard about it on NPR this week; check out the article and podcast on their website for the full details. But in short, reCAPTCHA is the brainchild of Luis von Ahn, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist who helped develop the original CAPTCHA. He quickly realized how much time people were wasting typing in those twisted letters and thought that time could be put to better use, perhaps deciphering words that really needed to be deciphered. Enter libraries and newspapers trying to digitize their collections. Ahn paired with The New York Times, which is digitizing newspaper back to 1851, and a nonprofit called the Internet Archive, which is digitizing thousands of books. And in the past year, he says web users using reCAPTCHA have transcribed enough text to fill up more than 17,600 books! Bravo Ahn! Finding a way to make to make websites more secure while digitizing old print resources at the same time. Brilliant, I say. ...And reCAPTCHA is a free service. Check out their site at
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We’re blogging!

Posted by    |   August 14th, 2008   |   No responses

After years of setting up blog after blog on behalf of our clients, we decided it was time we at Insight Designs had our own blog. We have things to say and news to share. So this is where we'll do it. This blog will be the go-to spot for everything from the latest in new technologies we're using and cool sites we've launched to the incredibly brilliant employees we've hired as well as simple announcements about staff retreats and holiday parties. We hope you'll join in the conversation with us. Leave a comment to let us know when you like one of our sites - and when you don't. We're tough; we can take the constructive criticism. I'll probably still send an email once every couple of months to keep those of you nonbloggers in the loop. But if you're really interested in what Insight has to say, you should probably go ahead and subscribe to our RSS feed. Off we go! Oh, and if you haven't noticed, the introduction of our blog is part of our newly-designed corporate site. Check it out at More than a year in the making, we're glad to finally have it out there for the world to see. And we're particularly proud of the chronological display of every site we've ever created. More than 250 of them dating back to 1999.
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