By Chuck and Brenda Surack
Owners, Sweetwater Sound Last issue we mentioned that there were some pretty exciting developments in the works here at Sweetwater. As you're probably aware of by now (since you're holding it in your hands), one of those developments is the conversion of our Sweet Notes newsletter to full color. Just as the early issues of Sweet Notes evolved, so too will this "new and improved" color version. As you can probably imagine, converting any publication to color involves a lot of hard work, but we think the color photos and new graphics make Sweet Notes more readable than ever. Keep an eye on these pages in the months to come!
Now for the really big news: Thanks to the incredible efforts of a number of Sweetwater staff members and consultants, we're able to announce that effective immediately, Sweetwater is the very first major music retailer with its own World Wide Web and FTP (file transfer protocol) servers on the Internet. We're really excited about this because it's a whole new way for us to communicate directly with you, our customers. But it's also just the tiniest tip of the iceberg.
As of right now, you can access current and back issues of Sweet Notes newsletters, get an up-to-the-minute list of manufacturers whose products we carry, have access to special late-breaking news and advance notice of special sales, get e-mail flash bulletins and links to other associated home pages and much more. But future capabilities will include a number of features that we're still working on, like electronic order placement and on-line shipping information and... well, we probably don't want to give away all our secrets quite yet.
There are several ways to get online with us. The easiest way for most people is via a commercial information service like CompuServe, America Online or Prodigy. To access the fastest growing, most graphical and probably the most exciting part of the Internet, the World Wide Web (or WWW) you must have a WWW browser. Prodigy has included a WWW browser in its latest software. AOL and CompuServe are including WWW browsers with their latest software, AOL 2.6 and CIM (CompuServe Information Manager) as this newsletter goes to press, so browsing the Web from within CIM, AOL or Prodigy should hopefully be available by the time you read this.
Another means of accessing the Internet for WWW browsing and file transfers is from work. Many companies now have Internet access for employees, so you may want to ask your network administrator about this.
The final way to tap into the Internet is using an Internet Service Provider (ISP). There are several large national or regional companies that provide full Internet access. Shareware and freeware is available on the Internet and from these ISPs to allow you to download files from FTP sites and do WWW browsing and also all your E-mail.
A couple of National ISPs include PSI and their InterRamp service (800-774-0852), NETCOM (800-353-6600) and Spry (800-557-9614 extension 213). You can find Local ISPs by checking with local computer clubs or computer stores (many are too new to be listed in the yellow pages). When you use an ISP to access the WWW, you must acquire a WWW browser (like Netscape or Mosaic). Sweetwater's WWW site is optimized for Netscape 1.1N. You must also have a PPP or SLIP connection. If you tell the ISP this they should be able to get you set up. Of course, you also need a modem, and the faster the better. 9600 is barely acceptable, 14,400 is OK and 28,800 is great. Several of the ISPs will give you free trials and/or unlimited access for the first month or so.
Once you have Internet access, all you have to do to browse our Home Page is to enter the string: "http://www.sweetwater.com". It's as simple as that. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Of course, before we forget, we also want to remind you that you can still send e-mail directly to your sales engineer (or anyone else here at Sweetwater) simply by using his (or her) first name, followed by an underline, then the last name and finally "@sweetwater.com". For example: "firstname.lastname@example.org" would send mail directly to Jim's electronic mailbox. If you're not sure who your sales engineer is, give us a call or send an e-mail message to "email@example.com".
One final important note: Customers are sometimes surprised by the amount of information our sales engineers request when taking credit card orders. We ask for this information specifically to safeguard all our customers from potential credit card fraud.
We now have security systems in place that alert us when there is the possibility that someone is using your credit card illegally to make unauthorized purchases. When and if a fraudulent attempt is ever made, we notify you immediately, as well as the bank that issued the card and appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Plain and simple, credit card fraud is a criminal activity subject to severe penalties. Regardless of how they wish to rationalize it, there's nothing cool or hip about what these people are doing they are stealing, as well as driving up prices industry-wide due to losses which occur because of fraud. Like you, we want it stopped and we're doing something about it.
That's all for this issue. We really hope you like the new color Sweet Notes and we look forward to your browsing the Sweetwater Home Page on the Internet. Enjoy!