Tales from the Terminal Room

July 2002, Issue No. 34

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Tales from the Terminal Room ISSN 1467-338X
July 2002, Issue No. 34
Editor: Karen Blakeman
Published by: RBA Information Services

Tales from the Terminal Room (TFTTR) is a monthly newsletter, with the exception of July and August, which are published as a single issue. TFTTR includes reviews and comparisons of information sources and search tools; updates to the RBA Web site Business Sources and other useful resources; dealing with technical and access problems on the Net; and news of RBA's training courses and publications.

In this issue:

  • Web Page Monitoring: Updates to WatchThatPage
  • Browser Wars Rekindled?
  • Updates to the RBA Web site
    • Biography.com
    • Gale Biography Resource Center
    • Zephyr replaces Zephus
  • These things are sent to try us
    • Inland Revenue's Cookies Fail Crunch Test
  • Training and Meetings
    • Key Business Resources on the Net
    • Market Research on the Web
    • Advanced Internet Search Strategies
    • EBRD/ETM Meeting: Investing in Eastern Europe
    • ETM Workshop: Web Based Marketing Tools
  • Publications
    • Search Strategies for the Internet, 4th edition

Web Page Monitoring: Updates to WatchThatPage

Since the review on Web page monitoring services was written for the June 2002 edition of TFTTR, WatchThatPage (http://www.watchthatpage.com/) has added some new features. You can now use keyword matching to filter the changes that are relevant to you, for example if you are only looking for news where a company or product name occurs. You have an option to match the whole page or every individual paragraph. If you choose the whole page, WatchThatPage will try to match your criteria for all the changes on the pages you are tracking. If a match is found, all changes for the page are sent to you. If you choose each paragraph, all the changes for each page will be divided into separate paragraphs, and matching will be done for each paragraph separately. Only the paragraphs that match your criteria will be sent to you.

Channels have been added enabling you to divide your pages into groups, where each group will be presented in a separate email and/or personal Web page. This makes it possible to sort your changes into different channels based on importance or content type. Each channel can also have different properties, so some channels can have keyword matching and daily reports, while others can be checked three times a week and report all changes.

The June 2002 review of monitoring services will be regularly updated as a separate Web page on the RBA site at http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/monitor.htm

Browser wars rekindled?

Recent research from OneStat (http://www.onestat.com/html/aboutus_pressbox7.html) shows that Microsoft has lost a small but significant amount of market share to Netscape and Mozilla. Microsoft still dominates the Web browser market but its share slipped slightly during June following the launch of two new browsers - Netscape 7.0 and Mozilla 1.0

According to OneStat's statistics, Internet Explorer 6.0 is the most popular browser with a market share of 46.4 percent and all versions of the Microsoft browsers accounted for 95.3 percent. This is a drop of 1.3 percent since April when it stood at 96.6 percent. The decline in market share is attributed to the recent releases of Mozilla 1.0 and Netscape 7.0. The full list of figures is as follows:

Microsoft IE6 - 46.4%
Microsoft IE5.5 - 23.9%
Microsoft IE 5.0 - 23.6%
Total Netscape - 3.4%
Netscape Navigator 4.0 - 1.4%
Microsoft IE 4.0 - 1.2%.
Opera - 0.7%
Netscape Navigator 3 - 0.5%
Mozilla - 0.4%
Netscape 7 - 0.3%

These figures must be treated with caution as should all browser statistics. Browser usage varies depending on the type of audience a site attracts, and the browser may not be reported accurately. For example Opera can be set to report itself as Internet Explorer or Netscape. This is to get round that extremely annoying "feature" of some sites that refuse to let you in unless you are using one of the mainstream browsers.

Once a Netscape fan myself, I have to confess that I switched to Internet Explorer when development on Netscape ground to a halt. Netscape was slow and cumbersome compared with the improved versions of IE and the early versions of Netscape 6 were very unstable. (I still find Netscape 6 rather "clunky" to use). Netscape 7, recently launched as a "preview" by AOL, looks promising but I have not yet had a chance to review it in detail. The main problems I have had with IE are that the medium security settings I use cause difficulties with some sites and I need additional programs to manage cookies, stop animations and banish pop-ups. On the plus side, the Google toolbar and programs such as Copernic can be integrated into the IE toolbars and right-click menus.

For a while, I used Opera (http://www.opera.com/). It is fast, secure and has a host of built of features such as a cookie manager, pop-up killer and animation zapper. The real downer for me, though, is that there is no Google toolbar for Opera.

I have now switched to Mozilla (http://www.mozilla.org/) for my default browser. If you are, or were, a Netscape fan or just want to try an alternative to IE this is worth a look. Netscape and Mozilla have a common ancestry but I find Mozilla faster and more reliable. You can apply different looks or "themes" so that it resembles Netscape or IE in appearance, or use one of the many independently developed themes. [Beware - some of them are really whacky and you'll need to don sunglasses for the more extrovert colour schemes].

Like Opera, Mozilla has built in cookie, pop-up and animation managers. A little known but extremely valuable feature is that you can increase the font size of the Web page that you are viewing regardless of how the page has been designed (IE will not always do this). And the print function has an option that lets you shrink a Web page to fit the width of your paper. The real clincher for me, though, is that the chaps at Mozilla have written a Google toolbar that works with both Mozilla and Netscape (http://googlebar.mozdev.org/). It looks very similar to Google's IE version and has most of the original's functions. So, for the time being, I am using Mozilla as my default browser with Opera as my second choice..

Updates to the RBA Web Site

Miscellaneous Day-to-Day Essentials http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/misc.htm

Two resources have been added to the Biography section:

Biography.com (http://www.biography.com/)
This is run and maintained by A&E Television Network and has biographies of 25, 000 of the "greatest lives past and present." Some come from the Gale Biography Resource Center (see below) and are extensive, detailed biographies, for example the ones on Margaret Thatcher and Richard Branson. Others are provided by A&E Television Network and vary in the amount of information they contain. You can search by name or browse alphabetically.

A nice feature is that you can check who was born a certain day. I was delighted to see that I share my birthday, May 3rd, with James Brown , Golda Meir, Mary Astor and Pete Seeger. I am not so sure about sharing my birthday with Machiavelli though!

The downside of this site is that there are a lot of adverts plus some persistent and very irritating pop-up windows. It was a colleague who pointed these out to me as my default browser (Mozilla) zaps them before they infest my screen. If you do not have a similar option or program you may prefer to try one of the many other biography resources before looking at biography.com.

Gale Biography Resource Center (http://www.galegroup.com/BiographyRC/)
This service has 300,000 biographies. Subscribers have an option to add the Complete Marquis Who's Who to their subscription, which adds another 900,000 people top the database. This is a subscription only service; there is no pay as you go option.

Mergers & Acquisitions - http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/manda.htm

Zephyr replaces Zephus


From the 8th July Zephus.com was discontinued and visitors are now redirected to the new Zephyr service that is co-published with Bureau van Dijk (BvD). Zephyr contains the same deal information as Zephus and includes links to detailed financial information for the companies involved. It also offers more searching and analysis options. Zephyr provides information on M&A, private equity and IPO intelligence and the database contains detailed information on 70,000 deals with information on a further 40,000 deals per year being added. Zephus concentrated on transactions involving European companies but Zephyr is expanding to include deals world-wide.

Zephus users will recognise the Quick Search option: you can search using various combinations of company name, time period, deal status, deal type, deal value, country, industry or activity.

The Advanced Search goes into more detail for some of the Quick Search options, for example for activity you have in addition to the text description options for US SIC codes, Dow Jones Global Indices and NACE. You also have a host of additional search criteria, for example company financials, quoted companies, companies listed on specific exchanges.

As well as the standard text display options, you can carry out a range of analyses and display the information in tables or charts. You can then export the results to Excel, Word, RTF or ASCII files, or email them to a colleague.

A Zephus feature that is missing is the Email Alert service. This enabled you to monitor a sector, individual companies and even the progress of specific deals and have the news delivered direct to your mailbox. This is currently under development and BvD hope to have it up and running within the next couple of months.

For more information about Zephyr, or to arrange a free trial, email info@bvdep.com

These things are sent to try us!

Inland Revenue's Cookies Fail Crunch Test

In the UK, it is that time of year when we suddenly realise that we have only a few weeks to complete our tax forms and deliver them to the Inland Revenue. I, says she rather smugly, have already done mine but not online as the UK government continually exhorts us to do. I did have a go last year but the Web site kept crashing and after four attempts I reverted to the good old-fashioned paper form. This year I did not even consider the online route, which is just as well because the service had to be temporarily withdrawn following a security breach.

A problem with cookies allowed users of Inland Revenue's online self-assessment tax form to see other people's tax details. An official statement explained: "The way in which the 'session cookie' identifying the user was managed meant that it could, in certain rare circumstances, be presented to another user."

It seems that Inland Revenue's site allocated the same cookie to more than one user because they were using IP addresses to identify users. Many Internet users, and especially those accessing the Internet from home, use ISPs with dynamic IP addressing: that is the ISP allocates a different IP address to a user each time they access the Net, which means that the same IP address may be assigned to several different users in quick succession.

The Inland Revenue said that examination of activity logs suggested that the web site had compromised the privacy of 47 of the site's 28,679 users and there were 665 for whom the possibility could not be eliminated.

The problem has now been fixed and the site is back up and running, but I for one am not reassured.

For the Inland Revenue's side of the story see: http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/news/sa_online.htm

Training and Meetings

Workshop: Key Business Resources on the Net
Organiser: RBA Information Services
Course leader: Karen Blakeman
Venue: Reading Business School, Reading, Berkshire UK
Date: Tuesday, 8th October 2002, 9.30 - 16.30 (re-run on 26th November)
URL: http://www.rba.co.uk/training/bii.htm

This one day workshop concentrates on Internet resources relevant to business applications, and in particular portals and the so-called "invisible web". The emphasis will be on pay-as-you-go and free services. The workshop will benefit anyone who plans to use, or already uses, the Internet for gathering essential business information.

Cost: GBP 195 + VAT (Total cost GBP 229.12)
Discounted rate for those also attending the Market Research workshop - GBP 165 + VAT (total cost GBP 193.87)

Workshop: Market Research on the Web
Organiser: RBA Information Services
Course leader: Karen Blakeman
Venue: Reading Business School, Reading, Berkshire UK
Date: Wednesday, 9th October 2002, 9.30 - 16.30 (re-run 27th November)
URL: http://www.rba.co.uk/training/markres.htm

This one day workshop offers practical guidance on how to find and evaluate Web based statistical and market research information, both free and fee based.

Cost: GBP 195 + VAT (Total cost GBP 229.12).
Discounted rate for those also attending the Key Business Resources workshop - GBP 165 + VAT (total cost GBP 193.87)

Workshop: Advanced Internet Search Strategies
Organiser: RBA Information Services
Course leader: Karen Blakeman
Venue: Reading Business School, Reading, Berkshire UK
Date: Tuesday, 15th October 2002, 9.30 - 16.30
URL: http://www.rba.co.uk/training/searching.htm

Cost: GBP 195 + VAT (Total cost GBP 229.12).

Workshop: Web Based Marketing Tools
Organiser: Effective Technology Marketing Ltd.
Venue: Open Learning Centre, City University, London
Date: Seminar: Thursday 17th October. Practical workshop - Friday 18th October
URL: http://www.dataresources.co.uk/workshop.htm

Speakers include Karen Blakeman, Frank Ryan, Jonathan Gordon-Till, Sheila O'Sullivan

Conference: Investing in Eastern Europe - Company Focus
Organiser: EBRD/ETM
Venue: Royal Lancaster Hotel, London
Date: Thursday, 31st October 2002
URL: http://www.dataresources.co.uk/eebic.htm


Search Strategies for the Internet, 4th edition

The 4th edition of Search Strategies for the Internet is now available.

Publication Details:
Search Strategies for the Internet, 4th Edition.
Author: Karen Blakeman.
Publisher: RBA Information Services, April 2002.
Format: Loose leaf ring binder, 200 pages
ISBN 09527191 9 3
UK Price: GBP 35.00
Prices outside of the UK available on request.

Further details, contents list and order form are available at http://www.rba.co.uk/publications/search.htm

TFTTR Contact Information

Karen Blakeman, RBA Information Services
UK Tel: 0118 947 2256, Int. Tel: +44 118 947 2256
UK Fax: 020 8020 0253, Int. Fax: +44 20 8020 0253
Address: 88 Star Road, Caversham, Berks RG4 5BE, UK


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This page was last updated on 29th August 2002  2002