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Newsletter No.19

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                             Free Pint
              "Helping you make the most of the Web"
ISSN 1460-7239                                       23 July 1998 #19
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                           IN THIS ISSUE


                        TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
                      "Wish You Were Here ... 
              Travel and Tourism Resources on the Web"
                           by Matt Moore

                          FEATURE ARTICLE
                       "First Amongst Equals"
                             by Ed Burt

                        FREE PINT FEEDBACK

                        CONTACT INFORMATION


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Where do you get expert, impartial advice?

Net Profit is a London-based monthly newsletter that tells information
workers and business managers what's what on the Web. As its name
implies, Net Profit sheds light on ways to make your Internet presence
a profitable venture. We provide clear and authoritative analysis and
advice that is trusted by decision makers in large companies.
For a FREE copy, visit today.

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Each issue of Free Pint becomes more like a magazine than a 
newsletter with the amount we manage to cram in. I hope you are able
to print it out as this makes it much easier to read. At around 
eleven pages it is a small investment to make sure you spot
all those juicy hints and tips - and you can read it on the train 
or pass it around the office to colleagues, friends or journalists!

We have some super articles in this issue.  We start with a timely
look at some of the great Web resources which will help you book and
make the most of your holiday, including travel guides, maps,
currency converters and finding bargain holidays. This is followed
by an article primarily aimed at those trying to get their Web site
listed higher in search engines.  This will also be of interest to
anyone who uses search engines as it answers those questions like 
"Why do some sites get listed higher than others?". We then round off
with a packed Feedback section which answers the question posed in 
the last issue about how to check that hypertext links are still 
valid, along with some handy guidance on effective searching and 
finding international statistics resources.

A tremendous amount of work goes into producing each issue of Free 
Pint and so please do let me know if you enjoy it and find it useful.
Why not send me an email now to I'd also 
really like to know what Web resource you use the most. If you email 
me the Web site address, a brief description of what it is and why 
you like it (including your name and occupation) then I'll pick 
one to publish in the next issue!

May I now invite you to read on and enjoy your nineteenth Free Pint!

Kind regards,
William Hann, Managing Editor

t: +44 (0)1784 455 435
f: +44 (0)1784 455 436

PS: We're always on the look out for original material to include
here and so please contact the Editor, Rex Cooke
if you want to talk about contributing.

PPS: Free Pint looks best in a fixed width font like Courier, and 
is easier to read and use if you print it out first. Reserve your
free copy of Free Pint by emailing or visit where you will also find past issues, 
advertising & authoring details.

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The Update is a brief email sent every other month to keep you
informed of Free Pint's progress. It includes the number of 
subscribers, breakdown by location and occupation and future planned 
issue subjects. To reserve your free copy see the page for 
advertisers at:

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                        TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

                      "Wish You Were Here ... 
              Travel and Tourism Resources on the Web"
                           by Matt Moore

With the misery of the English summer heightened by transport
disruption and sporting defeat, many of us dream of a couple of weeks
away from it all. The World Wide Web offers many resources for
holiday makers. After all, tourism and the Web are both global
concerns. And the multitude of niche markets that make up the
Internet fit in well with current drives toward segmentation in the
tourist industry. In fact the president of the International
Federation of Information Technology and Tourism has stated that
tourism is fundamentally "an information business".  As a consequence
of this, the last two years have seen concerted efforts by the travel
industry to get to grips with the new media.

This article is aimed at information for the tourist. However
those sites belonging to international organisations offer
resources for those with a deeper interest in the travel and tourism


Many of  the traditional guides are available on the Web. Fodors
offers you the opportunity to create your own mini-guide to the city
of your choice. The Lonely Planet offers maps, guides and an
excellent set of country links. The Rough Guide has teamed up with
Hotwired to produce a similar service. Time Out has produced another
set of city guides. Berlitz Globetrotter offers cultural tips and
Michelin offers a routeplanner service - which they charge for.

For national tourist authorities, the World Tourism Organization
provides links to the Internet sites of its member states, as well as
outlining its own products and services. The British Tourist
Authority provides an overview of tourist opportunities in the UK as
well as regional information.

If you want more specific tourist information, enter the name of the
locale and "tourism" into a search engine. An attempt with Yahoo for
Chicago generated this site from the Chicago Convention and Tourism

Airwise provides an independent guide to the world's airports,
listing facilities and offering some enlightening background

For more personal or idiosyncratic views, try searching Usenet,
especially groups such as Like all information
sources, take what is said with a pinch of salt.


The above sites all contain maps of towns, as do many local sites. 
In addition, Route 66 offer a routeplanner for the roads of Europe -
free this time. You enter your destination and point of departure,
and it calculates the most efficient route for you. Route planners
for many different kinds of journey are proliferating on the web.
Rather than offer a cumbersome series of timetables, many sites offer
these journey planners.


The bucket shop has come to the Web. Cheap Flights and Farebase do
not sell tickets themselves, but allow you to identify 'best buys' 
from agents. In addition, many travel agents now have their own 
sites - which also contain information on their products and - in 
some cases - allow you to purchase them online. You can locate 
their sites through ABTA's (somewhat cumbersome) membership database 
or a hierarchical search engine like Yahoo. The larger airlines also 
allow electronic booking.  A list of airlines and airports can be 
found from Aviation Internet Resources, or from Yahoo again. For 
hotels that allow bookings over the Internet, the World Hotel Library
offers one source of these, and guides to cities (produced either 
locally or by publishers) provide another. As with any business 
transaction over the Internet, make sure you are dealing with a 
reputable organisation in a secure environment. Caveat emptor.


Railtrack provides a UK railway timetable / journey planner - similar
services are provided by many of the individual UK rail companies -
which can again be located on Yahoo. Eurotunnel provides links to
Eurostar and Le Shuttle, both of which provide timetables. For
coaches National Express offer a journey planner. Ferry companies
provide timetables too. Yahoo, yet again, provides a useful list of
these. For train sites worldwide, the International Union of Railways
has a comprehensive set of links. For more on airlines, try the
International Air Transport Association.


Should you pack shorts or wellies? The Met Office provides regular
updates and forecasts on UK weather as well as links to similar
offices around the world.  Both the Washington Post and Intellicast
offer global weather services down to the level of major cities in 
most countries. Forecasts for the week ahead are given.


How much will your money be worth when you get there? The most
comprehensive foreign exchange rate site on the Web is based in
Finland, which not only has daily updates for the major currencies,
but also provides links to sources for some of the more obscure money
to be found across the globe. Bloomberg is not bad either.

Finally, if you want a book to read on the beach, try ordering one 
from Amazon.

Enjoy your journey!

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Matt Moore is an Information Specialist with Information Research
Network (IRN), an independent market research consultancy
( He is responsible for the Interstat broking
service - providing clients with statistical research - and the
development of Webstat - a web-based statistical resources site. IRN
offers a full range of market research and analysis services. Areas of
specialist expertise include travel and transport, leisure, business
information, manufacturing and IT. IRN can be contacted at

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                          FREE PINT FACT

                Each issue of Free Pint is sent to
                500 more subscribers than the last

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             Your Help Needed - Free Pint Dissertation

As you may remember, I am the post-graduate using Free Pint as a case
study for my dissertation - "Implications for Commercial Internet
Publishing Strategies". I am seeking volunteers to complete my brief
questionnaire to find out your views on Free Pint.  

If you would like to volunteer then please send an e-mail to me at All participants will receive a copy of the
results when the project is complete. If you have already volunteered
then I will be sending you a copy soon!  Many thanks - Claire Reeves.

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                          FEATURE ARTICLE

                       "First Amongst Equals"
                             by Ed Burt

Getting a top listing in a search engine or directory can drive large
amounts of traffic to your site and in the early days be the
difference between success and failure. Exactly how you get listed
and how you can ensure a top position is a topic of hot contention.
But fear not - it is not as difficult or bewildering as it first

First off, back to basics: what's the difference between a search
engine and a directory? Kept simple, a search engine is an index of
web pages indexed by a computer (eg. searchUK or AltaVista), whereas
a directory is an index of web sites classifed by a human operator,
(eg. Yahoo or UKPlus).  Each has its weaknesses and merits, but we'll
save that discussion for another day. Today, we're concentrating on
getting your site included.

Just about every search engine and directory on the Internet has a
page that allows you to submit your web site address for inclusion. 
Depending upon the individual quirks of the search engine/directory
you are using, each requests a greater or lesser amount of
information. Do make sure you read any notes or tips given on how to
submit your web site and make sure you follow them - they often
contain very important information that will save you time and
increase the likelihood of you getting listed. Having submitted your
site it's then over to the search engine.

In the case of a Directory a team of editors are employed to check,
review and classify each and every site submitted. As you could
imagine this takes time (many months in some cases) and there is no
guarantee you will be included (checking those submission tips again
would be a really good idea).  If you are included you must remember
that the editors are only human and may gloss over many of the finer
details you have included in your site. Consequently, classification
can sometimes miss the mark - which is why they usually ask you to
describe your site on the submission page as it helps them to
understand what you feel is important about your site. So if your
"Turbot Fan Club for the Over 60's" site gets categorised under
"Fish", and "Hobbies/Angling" but not under "Aquatic Pastimes for the
Retired" don't kick up a big fuss - it just is not possible to get
your site listed under every possible heading.

Search Engines take a slightly different approach. You submit your
web site for inclusion in the usual way and, unless the search engine
is targeting a specific market, you should expect your site to be
included within a couple of weeks. Exceptions to this are
country/industry specific search engines, such as searchUK, which try
to keep the Internet to manageable proportions by only indexing sites
which meet strict criteria. (In searchUK's case we only index UK web
sites. All .uk sites are automatically included, everything else is
checked by our team of editors).

So long as your web site meets the inclusion criteria your site will
be indexed by the search engine using something called a robot. Most
search engines give their robots "cute" names for instance,
AltaVista's is called "Scooter" and searchUK has "SuperEwe". These
robots download pages from your web site and index them based upon
the content of each page. Points are awarded for each keyword
depending upon its position and frequency in the page.  Certain
aspects of each page are weighted (earning bonus points for the
keyword) - for instance the page title (the bit included in the
<title></title> HTML markup); domain name; page path (the bit that
comes after the domain); and, in many cases, META tags. Words nearer
the top of a document usually score more highly than words at the
bottom - so it pays to split your big pages up into a number of
smaller ones.  Also avoid repeating the same words over and over
again in the hope of getting huge scores for certain keywords - this
is called "search engine spamming" and search engines are always on
the look out for it. If search engines suspect you of trying to
"spam" they will invariably deduct points and may even go as far as
excluding your site completely.  Thus, when an end-user performs a
query, a search engine will find the documents which have the highest
relevancy score and display them on screen.

Getting listed in search engines and directories is a never ending
process. You will never get the same listing in two different search
engines or directories - each has their own way of interpreting,
classifying and ranking sites. The best thing you can do is identify
which services are most likely to deliver your target audience and
target them, but above all never give up. With search engines look at
the sites which are ranked first under the keywords you want and
study how they have designed their page: with directories try and be 
helpful, patient and have realistic expectations - but don't forget,
only one site can be first on a page.

Some useful links:

Search engines :-
searchUK -
AltaVista -
Lycos -
Infoseek -
Excite -
HotBot -

Directories :-
Yahoo -
UKPlus -

Other useful sites :-
Search Engine Watch -

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Ed Burt is Manager of searchUK (, the largest
UK-specific search engine on the Internet with over 2.5 million
unique UK web pages. searchUK is a fast, friendly and accurate search
engine, automatically filtering out all non-UK web sites and
delivering results through a clean, easy-to-read, uncluttered
interface.  Aimed at beginners and seasoned pro's alike, a wide range
of advanced search utilities and extensive on-line tutorials ensure
that searchUK is the perfect search engine whatever your ability.  No
other search engine in the world provides the depth, breadth of
coverage and quality of results as searchUK.

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                          FREE PINT FACT

         Free Pint is now required reading on a number of
      Masters degree courses in universities around the world

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           All past issues of Free Pint are available at

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                        FREE PINT FEEDBACK

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Subject: Question: software for checking URLs?
From: William Hann, Managing Editor, Free Pint
Date: 20th July 1998

In Free Pint #18 Mark Hepworth, Nanyang Technological University, 
Singapore asked:

"Is there software that one can use to check automatically whether the
URLs on a Home Page are still functioning i.e. no error message and
gets through to a Home Page?  Checking whether it is the same Home
Page as originally referenced may be either too difficult or not
necessarily useful.  An updated and hence changed page may still be

We had a flood of helpful answers from around the globe and I have
summarised the main points here. Link checking utilities primarily
fall into two categories:

Firstly you can run software locally on your computer which will check
the links:

Leslie F:
"We make extensive use of a package called "Cyberspyder".  We opted
for this package because it easily checks links throughout any web
site, is very simple to use (I actually run the link-checking aspect
of our site maintenance, and can tell you it literally took me half an
hour to get the hang of it!) and is relatively inexpensive.  Extensive
information and a free evaluation copy are all available at their
website, which is at"

Mark C:
"Xenu's Link Sleuth(TM) is
spidering software for Windows 95/NT that can check 1500 links in
about two minutes (on a P166 using the 30 threads option)."

Henk K:
"Mark Hepworth might check out Net Probe (, a
shareware programme which allows entry of a number of URLs. Net Probe
can be used to check the URLs automatically at predefined intervals or
manually. The programme then reports pages that have changed."

Mike C:
"Also check InfoLink from BiggByte at where
you can download a shareware version."

Ian J:
"CHECKWEB is an HTML links analyser: it scans HTML pages (online),
explores all the links and generates a log file with all errors it
encounters. It can also calculate page weight in Kb and their load
time with a 28800 modem connection (approximately 3 Kb/s). It is
freeware for Windows 95/NT and requires wininet.dll (which comes with
Microsoft Internet Explorer) Visit
and click on [English Version]"

Evert K:
"Since I have been looking for this, recently, I have (some) recent 
experience. For an overview take a look at The best one for 
me (so far, haven't tried all available software) is InfoLink. 
It scans all URLs in a file and looks for moved URLs, URLs that are 
unavailable and tries to find out what happened to the link."

Secondly you can access a Web site, tell it the page to check and the
process runs remotely and produces a report (either on the screen or
emailed to you).

Mike C:
" and
will both do a free check and report any links that are not 
working - but they will not check the content of the page being
linked to - this will need to be done manually!."

Phil & Moke:
"Yes there is software and it is FREE! Please direct Mark to "The
NetMechanic" an on-line link testing and HTML validator with results
by e-mail Lots more of these Free
utilities and services are on our website at"

There are also a handful of other utilities which offer similar

John Elliot:
"I'm not sure if this is exactly what is required but I make great use
of a great bookmark utility called Powermarks - have a look at it at This enables bookmarks to be
stored and searched using keywords or text strings and does away with
the cumbersome method of filing bookmarks in folders.  It also has the
useful function of being able, on command, to check the URL's that one
has bookmarked: do they still exist, have the sites been changed and
so on.  This may suit Mark's purpose.  I find it great just for the
sheer convenience of filing bookmarks: a web site dealing with, say,
Excel AND Windows patches AND climate change AND the nutritional
qualities of spam (!) can simply be bookmarked using all those
keywords and subsequently located by typing in any of the keywords.
Powermarks is shareware and cost me US$24.95 last 
year; a bargain, in my view.  Just in case anyone gets the wrong idea,
I have no commercial connection with Powermarks or Kaylon!  Just a 
very satisfied user!"

John M. has also been using PowerMarks for a couple of years and adds:

"PowerMarks will check the status of URLs ("not responding," "changed
since last access," "operative and unchanged") at user-prescribed
intervals, or on demand. Its URL-manipulation capabilities are very
useful, and it is available on a demo basis."

Another Web site utility which springs to mind having been mentioned a
couple of times previously in Free Pint is "URL-minder" at which will send you an
email when the content of a page changes.

A big thank you to all those who helped out on this one, including
Mark Cross [Producer of the UKdirectory Printed Edition,], Mike Choroszewski [AMCHO Computer
Services Ltd.,], Leslie Fournier [Internet
Librarian, the NODE Learning Technologies Network,], Henk Js. Kloosterman [Software Consultant,], Ian Jessiman [], Phil &
Moke [Phil & Moke's Secret Free Place,],
John Elliot [Geological consultant, Australia,], John Tracy McGrath
[], WD "Bill" Loughman [Berkeley, California]
and Evert J. Kuiken [].

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Subject: Question: phrase and truncation searching
From: Linda Preston
Date: 24th June 1998

On search engines, how would one best search for phrases with
truncation? At times like these I can only think of stupid examples, 
but can it be done as below:

"media center*" or perhaps "media near (center or centers)"

Thank you
Linda Preston

William Hann replies:

"It all depends on which search engine you are using, and you really
need to read the Help section or FAQ's (list of Frequently Asked 
Questions) for the engine you prefer. You may often need to use
the "Advanced" or "Super Searcher" section of the engine to access 
this functionality, for instance, in AltaVista
( you would need to click on the 
"Advanced" link (top right) and then you could put in:

                        media NEAR centre*

This will find these words within 10 words of each other.  However,
watch out because if the words are NEXT to each other on a page
then this won't pull up the page in the results. For instance 
searching for "free NEAR pint" doesn't display any of the Free Pint 
Web site pages, whereas simply putting "free pint" in the 
non-Boolean searching box lists them all.  Personally I would try
to avoid very complex Boolean searches because search engines are
generally not as reliable as professional online information services.

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Subject: Free Pint #18 Statistics Resources
From: Fiona White, Publications Researcher, Project North East
Date: July 1998

If anyone is interested in finding country specific statistics, an 
excellent starting point is the UK Department of Trade and 
Industry's "Export Market Information Centre" (EMIC) list of WWW
links at
There are links to most other countries round the world as well as 
to news sources, etc.  A hard copy version of this list is also 
available from EMIC.


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If you have a comment, suggestion or letter then why not contact the 
Free Pint team now by email to remembering 
to include your name, title and company or organisation. Please note, 
if you write to us we may publish your letter in whole or part for 
the interest or our subscribers unless you request otherwise at the 
time of writing. Please let us know if you wish your contact 
details to be withheld.

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"To be or not to be: that is the question, whether tis nobler in the
mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

              can be anagrammatised (great word!) to

"In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero,
Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten."

                                                  [Thank you Eric O.]
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Thank you for reading Free Pint.  We hope you will forward this copy
to colleagues, friends and journalists, or ask them to visit our Web 
site soon at

                      See you in two weeks!

                           Kind regards,
                   William Hann, Managing Editor

(c) Willco 1998
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                      FREE PINT FUTURE ISSUES

06/08/98 #20 - News Aggregation & Trade Association Resources
20/08/98     - No issue (summer break)
03/09/98 #21 - Local Newsgroups & Legal Resources

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                        CONTACT INFORMATION

William Hann, Managing Editor
  t: +44 (0)1784 455 435
  f: +44 (0)1784 455 436

Rex Cooke, Editor
  t: +44 (0)1784 455 435
  f: +44 (0)1784 455 436

Alison Scammell, Account Director
  t: +44 (0)181 460 5850

Address (no stamp needed)
  Willco "Free Pint", Freepost SEA3901, Staines
  Middlesex, TW18 3BR, United Kingdom

Web -
Advertising -
Subscriptions -
Letters & Comments -
Latest Issue Autoresponder -

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Free Pint (ISSN 1460-7239) is a free email newsletter for anyone who
uses the Internet to get information for their work in any business
or organisation. The newsletter is written by professionals who share 
how they find quality and reliable information on the Internet.

To subscribe, unsubscribe, find details about contributing, 
advertising or to see past issues, please visit the Web site at or call +44 (0)1784 455 435.

Please note: The newsletter is published by the information
consultancy Willco (, and the publishers
will NEVER make the subscriber list available to any other company
or organisation.

The opinions, advice, products and services offered herein are the
sole responsibility of the contributors. Whilst all reasonable care
has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the publication, the
publishers cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions.

This publication may be freely copied and/or distributed in its
entirety. However, individual sections MAY NOT be copied and/or
distributed without the prior written agreement of the publishers.
All rights reserved.

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