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Virtual Flowers and E-Cards

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					Article Directory: ArticleSlash Category: Computers-and-Technology

Virtual Flowers and E-Cards
by J. E. Williams

Free Technology that Brings People Together Virtual flowers and e-cards are like electronic greeting cards sent over the Internet. They first became popular in the mid-nineties, when a handful of innovative sites began offering them as a convenient way to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. Since then, they've become a part of our culture, with many millions of virtual bouquets, ecards, and animated greetings sent worldwide for almost every occasion and sentiment. There are literally hundreds of Web sites that offer them -- in many cases for free. After more than a decade, the popularity of virtual gifts is still growing. Why? Like e-mail itself, e-cards are one of the ways the Internet brings people closer together. In today's fast-paced, high-tech society, it's increasingly difficult to keep in touch with people in a personal way. Virtual gifts and e-cards make it easier. Whether humorous, romantic, satirical, or sweet, an e-greeting makes a quick message more thoughtful, creative, and personal. In short, virtual flowers and e-cards are fun! They're easy, too. Simply visit your favorite e-card site, pick a picture of some beautiful flowers, a card, or other virtual gift, add your own message, and send. Most virtual sites allow you to specify a delivery date, or send your greeting immediately. The recipient receives instructions by email on how to view your private greeting online with the click of a mouse. And, they can respond to you with their own virtual card in return. Virtual flowers and e-cards are particularly popular for birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, congratulations, and thanks. Of course, electronic card sending explodes at Valentine's and Mother's Day, too. Other uses may be less obvious -- like asking someone out on a date, sending digital invitations for a party, or saving money on postage with electronic Christmas cards. Most virtual sites make it easy to send the same e-greeting to multiple people or even vary each one slightly. With a little imagination, the options are almost limitless. The most common types of e-cards include a static image, animated gif, Flash file, or JavaScript-based animation. Some include music, allow you to record your voice, or have other customizable features. They're all compatible with most current computer and e-mail systems, as long as the recipient has a regular email address (e.g., johndoe@aol.com) and Web access. So, while virtual gifts may not work when sent to some private email networks (such as private dating networks) or recipients who do not have Web access, they're great for almost anyone with normal email. You'll find virtual flowers and ecards at most Web portals, such as AOL and MSN, as well as more specialized sites, such as BlueMountain.com, Hallmark.com, iFlowers.com, and AmericanGreetings.com. Many virtual bouquets, egreetings, and digital postcards are still free, but some are not. Stick with those that are free, at least when starting out. After all, why pay when you don't have to? Look to trusted sites, like those listed above, too. Quality sites keep information confidential and will not add your email address to mailing lists. Their reputations and web site traffic depend on it. A few other sites may be less scrupulous in protecting you from potential Spam. So, avoid any that do not clearly specify confidentiality.

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If you've never sent a virtual greeting, you'll be surprised at just how easy it is. To test the waters, simply send an ecard to yourself. It only takes a few moments, and you'll see how the whole process works for both the sender and recipient. Once you do, you'll be hooked, because virtual flowers and e-cards aren't just a passing fad. They're definitely here to stay, and a great way to bring a smile to almost anyone's face. ***

By John E. Williams with special thanks to iFlowers
Tags: virtual flowers, e-cards, ecards, emessage, flowers, e-flowers, internet flowers, send flowers, Source: ArticleSlash.net

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