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A New Haify Welcome


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Starting this week, I'm going to personally send out e-mails to all newly registered HAIF members to welcome them on board and let them know about all the different features HAIF has to offer.

I'm posting a copy of the letter here so that everyone can see, because I think even veteran HAIFers (myself included) don't realize all that HAIF has to offer.


As the editor of HAIF, I want to welcome you to the forum.

No, this isn't some automated piece of robo-mail. This is an actual letter I send out to new users to let them know a little about the community they've just joined. There's a real person on the other side of this mail, so if you have any questions about HAIF, please feel free to reply.


Most people visit HAIF just to read what other people have to say and to update themselves on what's going on in their neighborhood. While we do encourage people to post messages, you are more than welcome to simply read HAIF. A number of our star message writers have started out spending a year or two or even three simply reading what other people have to say. Once they start two-way communication, HAIF becomes a whole different experience for them.

In addition to the message forum which you are already familiar with, we have a number of other HAIF features that you may find of interest. Please take a minute to glance over these.


If you are not yet comfortable with sharing your thoughts on the issues of the day in the wider forum, you can have a blog all to yourself. It's an area where you can spill your guts in what amounts to you your own public diary. You can talk about things that are important to you like motorcycle racing, or politics, or shopping. Venting your rage or waxing poetic, it's your space to write about what you want. Just click on the "Blogs" link near the top of most HAIF pages to get started. It's free.


The HAIF Gallery is a place where you can share your photographs. Whether it's some cameraphone shots of your dog in the backyard, or panoramic scenes of the Houston skyline, you can upload your pictures and share them with others. You can even send them as e-mail picture postcards to your friends and family. This is a free service.


This is a place where you can publicize your community group's upcoming event. Things like lectures, public hearings, theater performances, and other events can be added to the calendar so that your fellow HAIFers can see what's going on in your world. Items added to the calendar also appear at the bottom of the main HAIF page as they draw near so people planning a couple of days ahead can see your event. You may also want to place an announcement in our "Community Announcements" section. Both of these are free services.


There are people find HAIF to be something of an addiction, especially once you get used to the characters and issues being discussed. For those people who can't get enough HAIF, there's HAIF:NOW which presents a streaming list of the most recently updated threads on HAIF. Just click on the "HAIF:Now" button and a new window will open up showing the threads with the newest posts, and it updates automatically. It was originally intended for people who HAIF from work, so there's a "Here comes the boss!" button you can click if you think someone's looking over your shoulder. It was also designed with mobile devices in mind. It is low-bandwidth for cellular connections and formatted to fit Blackberries, iPhones, and other mobile devices. And yes, like just about everything else of HAIF, it's free.


Once you've decided you like HAIF you will want to tell your friends. That's why we have HAIF cards available. These are high-quality business card-sized cards that you can hand to someone you think will enjoy HAIF. Since having someone write down a web address is awkward at best, you can simply hand them one of our fancy schmancy cards. To get a pack, simple e-mail or PM your mailing address to me and I'll get them in the mail within a couple of days.


radioHAIF is something new we've just started to help promote Houston, foster communication between Houstonians, and create a greater sense of community. Right now, much of the music you hear on Radio HAIF is from mainstream bands that everybody knows. But the goal of the station is to give emerging artists from Houston and the rest of Texas the exposure they have been sorely lacking. For every ZZ Top and Beyonce to come out of the Bayou City there are dozens of equally talented bands and singers who for one reason or another simply don't get the airplay they deserve. radioHAIF plays in iTunes, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, and other streaming media programs on Macintosh, Windows, and Linux machines. Go to http://www.radiohaif.com to listen.


HAIF-TV is another recent project of ours. Right now it scours YouTube for videos pertaining to Houston, real estate, home improvement, and other popular HAIF topics. In the future we will feature our own original content created by HAIF members for the HAIF community. To see what's on today, click http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/HAI/HAIF-TV.php


If you find yourself on a low-bandwidth connection like dialup or cellular, click the "Lo-fi version" link at the bottom of any HAIF page for Diet HAIF. This is an ad-free, text-only version of HAIF that works great over slower connections. The direct link is http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/l...rsion/index.php


If your web browser or e-mail client supports RSS feed syndication, it's a great way to keep up with what's going on at HAIF at your own pace. Just point your feed reader to feed://feed.houstonarchitecture.info/HAIF


There is a section of HAIF called The Houston Posts where we spotlight the best messages and threads from HAIF. This is available as a separate RSS feed: feed://feed.houstonarchitecture.info/TheHoustonPosts


For die-hard HAIF fans there is no substitute for ad-free HAIF. It gives you the ability to surf the forum without seeing any banner advertising. Rates start at just $5/month. Click "Remove Ads" near the top of the forum pages for more information. This is the only HAIF service that currently has a fee.


HAIF was started in 2001 as a small discussion area for the Houston Architecture Info web site. Since then it has grown tremendously and is considered by some the largest, most influential internet form dealing with Houston and its issues. It seems like bad luck to track and obsess over the competition, but we've been told that HAIF is the largest internet forum in Houston. Larger than any of the TV stations or even the Houston Chronicle forum. We have taken no steps to verify this, but here are our numbers from January, 2008:

Average number of unique visitors per day: 16,000

Average number of page views per day: 85,000

Average number of unique visitors per month: 476,000

Average number of page views per month: 2.6 million

Again, thanks so much for joining HAIF. I hope you will return again and again to check up on what's going on in Houston, to voice your opinion on the issues important to you, and to let everyone know what's going on in your neighborhood.

If you have any questions, just ask.

Wayne Lorentz




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