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Getting personal on the Web


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 7, 1998

QEven with a technical background, Dominique Conus found building a personal Web page a challenge.

"I taught myself how to do all this," said Conus, 51, of Dunedin. "I know a lot about computers, but with mainframes. . . . It's been a learning experience, a long, slow, grueling kind of thing."

The page (www.zdsite.com) is a tribute to Conus' father, Serge Conus, a musician who died in 1988. The music is not easily categorized, Dominique Conus says. Some of it is "very serious classical music, yet it can be amusing and fun to listen to."

"It's an effort to make sure this music doesn't die . . . that the music lives on," said Conus, an only child who inherited the music. "I thought that would be the best way to publish it."

Conus is not alone in creating a personal Web page. Thousands, maybe millions, of people are taking advantage of access and easier-to-use software for personal matters on the Net, whether it's displaying baby pictures or touting an accomplishment or just saying "we're here" to the world.

Today, we're starting a series on issues for small businesses to consider in whether to set up shop on the Web. We're also issuing an invitation for those with personal Web pages, or those who are thinking of setting one up, to take advantage of Site Seeing columnist Jules Allen's expertise. (Jules agreed only after being promised a free lunch, with dessert, of course.)

Readers can send their Web addresses to us at techtimes@sptimes.com. Over the next few months, we'll choose some as examples that work or offer suggestions on how to improve some. (All of this will be done in Tech Times. We can't give individual advice, and not all that are submitted will be used.)

Beyond technical tips, some of the pages may have compelling human interest angles, such as the Conus page.

Conus, a computer operator at Morton Plant Mease Hospital, says he puts 20 hours or more a week into the page. "I enjoy doing it, so (it) doesn't seem like I'm putting a lot of time into it."

As part of the site, he is allowing others to post memorials there for free. He also is trying to sell tapes of the music, with slow results so far.

"I haven't made any money yet," Conus said. "If I do make money, I'll take it because I'm putting a lot of time into it."

Conus' wife has helped him categorize the music, and the oldest of his three children has also pitched in.

But mostly it's Conus, who feels a family responsibility.

"It's almost an obsession," he said. "I'm the Conus legacy. This is it."

In the process, Conus discovered something else.

"My father was always too busy for us, always involved with his music," Conus said. "After he died, I got to know him better through his music.

"It's very touching, it's very pure, it's very real, it's not phony, no false notes, real genuine."

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