How to use the new, improved Birdhouse!

Now that you've found us, you might be asking how can you locate those features you've always enjoyed, along with some brand new ones. Here are the answers…

Reader Mail/Ask the Insiders/Mail Bag
On the lower left area of the Birdhouse home page, you will see two different links. One says "Reader Mail". The other says "Ask the Insiders". The links go to the same page where Ray and Brian will continue to post answers to email questions sent in by you. Our email addresses are there. In fact, there are here, too. raymileur@yahoo.com and brwalton@earthlink.net

Cardinals Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Ray Mileur's undercover reports on players are updated regularly, but like Reader Mail, you have to remember to look. There is a link, again on the lower left of the home page, which will take you to the CIA page.

Cardinals Injuries
Ray Mileur posts regular player injury updates on a new, special page. You guessed it; you access this page from the link on the lower left of the Birdhouse home page.

Cardinals Interviews
One of our more popular features is Brian Walton's interviews with Cardinals' newsmakers. This page links back to all of the interviews over the past year and can be linked to from the lower left of the home page. In the future, new interviews will appear as feature stories and will be part of the insider package. That way, you'll know when new ones are added.

Cardinals Schedule/Broadcast News
Rather than recreate the entire Cardinals schedule here, since it is readily available elsewhere, instead we are using this area to post all of Brian Walton's articles about the Cardinals radio, television, satellite and internet broadcasting plans. Look for the link "Cardinals Schedule" on the lower left of the home page and also via the "Team Schedule" link on the black horizontal task bar underneath the Network Hot News on the top center of the home page.

Message Board
As part of The Birdhouse joining the Scout family, we are now tightly integrated with the Scout message board. You can link to that community by clicking on the "Message Boards" link on the lower left of the home page or on the link of the same name on the black horizontal task bar just below the site logo.

There are other links on the lower left area of the home page, but you get the idea. Let's move to the top center of the home page.

Network Hot News
Here, you will see a list of the five most recent news updates on Cardinals players, with a link to the entire list. Again, this area is located at the top of the home page.

User Area
Just to the side of the Network Hot News toward the upper right of the home page is the User Area. If there is a Welcome message with your email address and user id displayed, you are properly registered and logged onto the site.

Articles
Oh yeah, articles. Well, as they should be, they are front and center. The Top Story is heading the left column under the site logo and the Lead Story is next to it in the center column of the home page. Underneath the Lead Story is a listing of the most recent 10 to 12 stories that have been loaded.

However, if you haven't been to the site in a few days, make sure to also click on the "More Stories" link that is located at the bottom of the list of stories. That way, you won't miss stories that might be just a few days old. This is very much like the "Page 2" function on the old site.

Other Content
Don't forget to sample the wealth of content available via the other sites that are part of the Scout.com family. There are links all over the home page to stories and sites from our partners.

Well, that's the end of this introductory tour. If you have any questions about the new site, just let us know!

For those who missed it, our introductory letter is included below.

Dear Readers,

We are writing this letter to inform you of some exciting changes that are currently underway at The Birdhouse. We have decided to align our site with Scout.com, the internet's largest independent sports network. Scout publishes 39 team-specific sports magazines, the largest such group in the USA. In addition to a major focus on high school and college athletics, Scout features independent websites associated with teams from four major sports; NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.

What this means is that we are moving to a model where some of our content will continue to be free to all readers, while certain other content will be available only to "Insider" subscribers. Subscriptions to the "Total Access Package" range from $7.95 per month to $21.95 for three months to $79.95 for the year.

Once you subscribe, you'll receive full insider access not only to the Birdhouse, but also totally free access to the literally dozens of MLB and other sports sites that are part of the Scout network.

Scout's previous Cardinals offering consisted of a free message board, which will continue under the able direction of BleacherBum593, BrotherBri and Gagliano. In the future, there will also be a new, premium message board specially reserved for those who subscribe to our site.

We did not quickly make the decision to change, nor do we take it lightly. However, you must understand that it has not been free for us to deliver the quality and quantity of content you have enjoyed every day. Probably not many of the nearly 100,000 site visitors last month were here back in 1997 when the site began, but even those who are more recent arrivals can hopefully appreciate our need to cover expenses that have increased substantially as the site's popularity has grown.

Another important benefit to us is that the Scout website model will free us from the increasing burden of site management, so we can devote even more of our time reporting about the Cardinals.

Again, we want to emphasize that we will continue to provide a mix of content, some free and some insider-only. Breaking stories, interviews and Spring Training coverage are areas we know will be part of the "Total Access Package", as will certain other columns of unique content.

There will be some duplication between the old site and the new over the upcoming days as we complete the migration to the new website design. But, your existing bookmarks will continue to work for the foreseeable future.

While we know there will be some reader disappointment, we hope the majority of you will understand. We ask you to consider supporting us as we move ahead and expand our coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005 and beyond!

Ray and Brian


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