IE 6 – DIE!!!

Google has announced that from March 1, 2010 it will start to phase out support for Internet Explorer 6 in Google Docs and Google Sites. IE 6 users who have visited YouTube (owned by Google) over the last 6-8 months will already have seen notices telling them to switch to a more up to date browser but now that policy to stop supporting the browser is spreading to Google’s other services. Microsoft has said that it will continue to support the browser with updates until 2014 (BBC News Microsoft backs long life for IE6), which hardly encourages organisations to upgrade. Hopefully, Google’s announcement will sound the death knell for this antique.

I am still gobsmacked by the number of organisations that still use IE6. About 20% of the in-house workshops I do have to be run on computers using IE6. Many people highlight local government as the major culprit but there are major international corporations who are still using it. The most common excuse I am given is that in order for them to use bespoke internal databases they have to program an interface between the browser and the databases. Changing the browser means rewriting the code. The scariest set-up I have come across was in an international investment bank whose CIO told me that the easiest way for them to connect a browser to a key database was to make use of  a security loophole in IE 6, which means that they can’t install security updates!

You may think that removing IE 6 support from Google Docs and sites won’t affect the general user. Check the results from your Google searches over the next few weeks. I bet there will be formatted files such as PDFs, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations in the mix. If you want to preview the file before downloading the HTML option is still there for some, but an increasing number are being previewed in Google Docs. And when it comes to accessing web sites it is not just Google services and applications that suffer under IE 6. Forget about fancy Web 2 applications: I am finding in my business information workshops that essential features of many web sites are not displayed in IE 6 .

For the web to move on and integrate new technologies IE6 really must die

Web 2.0 – the truth behind the hype

CLSIG is re-running the popular Web 2.0 event it held last year in London. Both Phil Duffy and I are presenting again but this time it is to be held in Birmingham. Details are as follows:

Event: Web 2.0 – the truth behind the hype

Date: Monday 1 March 2010, 6.30-8pm. (Doors open 6 pm)

Venue: Hammonds, Rutland House, 148 Edmund Street, Birmingham B3 2JR.

What is web 2.0 and what isn’t it?

In this seminar Karen Blakeman, Independent Information Trainer and Consultant at RBA Information Services, and Phil Duffy, Information Services Manager at Hammonds LLP will debate the pros and cons of using web 2.0 tools and technologies. This event was sold out and highly rated by attendees in London earlier this year.

There will be a networking reception after the event.

Booking Details

All seminars are £10 for CLSIG members, £15 for non-members and half-price for the unemployed. To book or for more information please email  Cheques should be made payable to CLSIG and sent to Irena Valouchova, Denton Wilde Sapte LLP, One Fleet Place, London, EC4M 7WS or DX242 City. Please note that refunds are only available up to a week before the event. Travelling details:

CLSIG website:

Google Reader tracks web page changes

So you are an RSS addict but your favourite news page does not have an RSS feed. There are plenty of tools that will monitor a web page and notify you of changes by email or RSS (see my list Monitoring Web Page Changes at but now Google Reader also has an option that will allow you to monitor changes to most web pages. All you need to do is log  in to Google and open Google Reader, click on Add a subscription, and then enter the URL of the page you want to monitor. That’s it.

I am testing it out on 3 web pages and comparing the results with Page2RSS and the desktop program Website Watcher. My comparison has only been running for 12 hours but already there are differences between Google Reader and Page2RSS. Google Reader is picking up more changes than Page2RSS, which is not surprising because Page2RSS checks a page just once a day and Google checks pages more frequently. But what I did not expect was that Google would miss a major change that Page2RSS picked up. Had I bothered to look at the web page when Google Reader had told me it had changed I would have spotted the new text that it had missed but the temptation is to just view the reported change in Google Reader. Website Watcher, though, has come up trumps every time and picked up all changes to the pages, probably because I told it to check the pages in question every 10 minutes.

The initial stages of my trial suggest that Google Reader is a good way to track changes to web pages as long as you only need to know if a web page has changed in some way and as long as you go to the live web page to view the changes. It seems that if a web page changes frequently throughout the day it will not pick up and report every single change. Google Reader checks pages at pre-determined time intervals but I expected it report on all of the changes since it’s last report. It doesn’t and that puzzles me.

If you really need to know about web page changes as soon as possible then a desktop tool such as Website Watcher is the bees knees. You can choose how often it checks the pages and you can also tell it look for specific keywords  – useful if you are waiting for a product launch announcement for example.  Website Watcher can also easily monitor whole directories of pages. It is not free – prices start at 29.95 euros  (see for details) – but it gives you far more options and control than Google Reader.

Guest Post: Top 10 Tips for Marketing a Small Business Online

Guest post by Joseph Eitan founder of Photo Paper Direct.

If your small business depends on Internet traffic for its revenue or if growing your small business during 2010 has to be done hand in hand with the Internet, you’ll need to know how to market it online. If money is no object you could hire an agency to create your online marketing strategy, but for most of us as small business owners it’s a luxury we cannot afford. Here are 10 tips for marketing a small business online.

Free is the magic word – There are a few online marketing activities which are both free and worthy of your time. Be sure to use them.

1. Register with Google Maps – Google allows local businesses (big or small) a chance to register their business address and phone number in its local listings. If for example someone searches for a keyword together with a location e.g. ‘nw11 plumber’, the search results will include listings from Google Local displayed on a map next to the normal search results.

2.  Upload products to Google Product Search – To start selling your products on Google Products all you need is to prepare a data feed and a Google user account. Also known as Google Base, this free service from Google allows businesses to list products or services on its first page results. In most cases these will appear just below the paid results and will include an image, title, price and direct link to the product or service

3. Get a voucher for AdWords – Google’s AdWords is by far the biggest paid ads medium. If you search hard enough you may come across a free voucher which will charge your account and let you use Adwords at no cost until the funds run out. Your bank might offer such voucher when you open an account or when you attend a Google university course (which is free and managed by Google).

4. Use social marketing – The key to dominating the social landscape is to become an authority in your industry. To achieve this status consider using services such as Twitter to share relevant information, Yahoo Answers to answer industry questions and so on.

5. Create a blog – Blogging can go hand in hand with a social marketing strategy and is considered very effective. There are a few blogging platform which are free such as WordPress and the key is to integrate the blog within your website so it looks and feels apart of the brand, for example
Consider paid services
– Most online marketing activities are unfortunately not free, however most could be executed within a small budget so you are able to test the waters and quickly stop or pause.

6. Register with niche directories – Most industries have a few directories which will drive qualified web traffic to your site. Try not to register with directories which offer little value or are unrelated to your industry because you really want to generate web traffic which is likely interested in your products or services.

7. Start an affiliate program – Affiliate Marketing is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a business rewards another for each sale which the other business generated. You can either self manage the program by buying an off the shelf affiliate tracking software or use a type of middleman service to link between you the affiliate. Each has it’s pros and cons, and each case is different.

8.  Email marketing – Newsletters, product updates and email promotions are fantastic to keep in touch with customers and ease to manage. The key is to communicate relevant messages, at the right time and at the right frequency. There are a number of web based email software providers, some such as Mail Chimp even offer a free plan.

9.  Improve search engine ranking – The most cost effective marketing channel with the lowest cost per acquisition is the natural traffic channel also known as seo. By optimising your website in accordance with the search engine guidelines you will notice that with time organic traffic will find its way to your site. Although this channel is technically ‘free’, it does require a lot of your time, hence similar to a paid service. For more on search engine optimisation, head to Google.

10. Use 3rd party sites – Sites such as eBay, Amazon, and will allow you to list your products for a small charge.  Because they already have high levels of quality traffic and you don’t (yet) you are able to put your offers in front of the right target market quickly.

What are your online marketing tips for small businesses?

Joseph Eitan is founder of Photo Paper Direct. Joseph started the business a few years ago which now sells a selection of Inkjet media from large format paper to cartridges.

Cayman Islands company registry

The General Registry Cayman Islands ( enables you to order birth, marriage and death certificates and now has a company search option. To gain access to the company search you first have to register (free of charge).  To view records you have to set up an account and deposit US$ 73.18, which is the cost of two company records. You can revisit the results of a search, free of charge, up to 24 hours after performing the search. Results include Company name, File number, Formation date, Registration date, Entity type, Registered Office, Status & Status date.

Many thanks to Suzanne Bartlett for the information and feedback on the service.

The snow has started to clear in Caversham and the lower half of the road on Donkin Hill looks as though it has been repeatedly bombed. Major cracks, huge potholes and an alarming amount of subsidence are now in evidence. It is a scene that is going to be repeated over the whole of the UK in the next few days as the snow and ice retreat to reveal the damage caused by the freezing weather. I shall be out with my camera and reporting the state of the road to the council via FixMyStreet (see my earlier posting on this excellent service). I am sure our local Council will be inundated with similar reports from around Reading. is run by Warranty Direct who specialise in used car warranty, new car warranty and extended warranty. It is a “Campaign website to highlight poor state of British roads and help motorists seek compensation from Councils”. Type in the first part of a postcode or the name of a town to view a Google map showing the location of any potholes in the area. Click on a marker to see a more detailed description of the problem.

Potholes UK

To report a pothole you need to register and sign in. First enter a title and description and then the street name and town. A Google map should appear with a marker and you can then drag the marker to the exact location of the pothole(s). You can also upload a photo. Once you have submitted your report you are taken to a page where you are encouraged to report the problem to the local council.

There is a blog at where they talk about pothole issues and highlight news stories. is also on Twitter at

I am not sure how useful this site really is for motorists as it is dependent on people reporting potholes to the web site, so it is not comprehensive. It is also not clear who marks the potholes as filled when the repairs are made. Feedback on both of those points would be welcomed.

Thanks to @cllrdaisybenson for the tweet that alerted me to the site.

Switzerland in Figures

This is a very useful three page PDF summary of Swiss statistics from UBS. It contains more than 1,600 facts and figures on the Swiss economy and each of the cantons, and an international overview of key data. Data includes population, employment, the financial situation, indebtedness, tax levels, and figures on the economy and living standards. This is the 2009 edition.

UBS Switzerland in Figures

Thanks to Gary Price for the alert (

Fix My Street

FixMyStreet is another service from those excellent people at So you’ve got a problem in your neighbourhood that you thought your local council would have dealt with by now. Road drains not clearing? Broken man-hole cover? Industrial waste dumped in your street? Your council may not know about it so this is your opportunity to tell them or chase up an ongoing problem.

All you have to do is enter the postcode, street name or area. You should then see a map showing existing and previous problems.


To report a new problem, click on the location of the problem on the map. A purple flag will appear and then you fill in the boxes: category (drop down menu), details of the problem, upload a photo if available, and email address and telephone number. Then Submit. FixMyStreet will send your report to the council on your behalf. “Simples”!

You can also subscribe to problem alerts. These can be delivered by RSS feeds or emails alerting you to problems within 7.3 km of your post code (the default), or 2, 5,10 or 20 km. Alternatively you can choose to receive all alerts in the area covered by your council or ward.

Information on other projects such as they “They Work For You” (details of your MP and their activities and “What do they Know ” (Freedom of Information) are available at

UK’s Tweeting Councillors

Heavy snow hit us overnight in Caversham and as I write the fluffy white stuff is still falling. From my office window I can see through a gap in the houses opposite the traffic on Briants Avenue and there have been no buses, or indeed any traffic at all. Our local radio stations provide good general information and updates on the weather, roads and public services but #rdg in Twitter is by far the best source of detailed local news. So today I was paying extra attention to the #rdg column in my Tweetdeck and spotted that one of Reading Borough’s councillors, @CllrDaisyBenson, is on Twitter. A couple of tweets later she informed me that three of her Lib Dem colleagues are on Twitter and about the same time I found the CllrTweeps web site – Finding and following the UK’s Tweeting councillors at

The list was started by @CllrTweeps who is @JamesCousins. The project is currently being developed by James Cousins and @DafyddBach. Not surprisingly the wonderful @Liz_Azyan has been involved with the list and is credited with identifying a lot of the councillors.

You can search the list by council, party and “tweeps” – an alphabetical list of tweeting councillors.If you are a tweeting UK councillor and not on the list details of how to add your user name are at

UK Tweeting Councillors