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Newsletter No.63


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                             Free Pint
         "Helping 28,000 people use the Web for their work"
                    http://www.freepint.co.uk/

ISSN 1460-7239                                    25th May 2000 No.63
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                           IN THIS ISSUE

                             EDITORIAL

                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                       from Michelle Alcock

                        TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
        "Maximising Press and PR Exposure via the Internet"
                         By Stuart Cliffe

                             BOOKSHELF
        "Competing with Information - A manager's guide to
         creating business value with information content"
                     Reviewed by Martin White

                          FEATURE ARTICLE
                  "XML : Perception to Practice"
                         By Stuart Campbell

                           FREE PINT BAR
                         by Simon Collery

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FT.com has launched a new online bookshop which enables users to buy
FT.com imprints and other business related books at discounted prices

  You can also take part in a live discussion forum with the author
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                      >>>  ABOUT FREE PINT  <<<

Free Pint is a community of business professionals who use the Web
for their work. Members receive this free newsletter every two weeks
packed with tips and articles by information professionals who share
how they find quality and reliable information on the Internet. Sign
up at <http://www.freepint.co.uk/> for free access to the substantial
archive of articles, book reviews, industry news and events, and have
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                             EDITORIAL

I spoke a couple of issues back about the importance of fundamentals
and long term viability of Internet businesses.  I'm currently reading
a fascinating book called "Of Permanent Value" about the
tremendously successful stock market investor Warren Buffett. This is
the guy who believes in investing in stocks and shares for the long
term and who has managed to achieve compounded rates of return
equivalent to 30% year on year for the last forty years.

Even with the recent market corrections for business-to-consumer
dotcoms and liquidation of certain high-profile sites, most of the
criteria he has used over the years to value businesses still apply
in the new economy. Indeed, the famous troubleshooter
Sir John Harvey-Jones (former Chairman of ICI) was speaking at the
Institute of Directors only last week about how IT doesn't change
business fundamentals, just the pace of change.

My day yesterday at the busy "Internet World" and "Online Information
for the City" shows underlined all of this, highlighting the amount
of buzz surrounding this industry which is now being tempered with a
bit more realism.  Indeed whilst talking for the City Information
Group yesterday evening about online communities, I found out from
friends that their flotation plans have been put on hold. They have
already followed the investment route but I feel happy that companies
like theirs, with demonstrable core competencies, have nothing to
worry about in the current climate.


We're working on an exciting new membership system at the moment which
will allow you to login to the Free Pint Web site and modify your own
account online. We'll be writing to you shortly with a password which
will allow you to have much greater control over your subscriptions to
Free Pint content.

In today's issue there is definitely something for everyone. As well
as the usual mix of tipples, goings-on at the Bar, book review and
forthcoming conferences, we have a super article about getting great
PR from simply being helpful. If you're a Webmaster and think you
should know more about XML then the feature article couldn't be a
better introduction.

We do value your feedback on any aspect of the newsletter, either
directly to me or at the Bar online. If you can pass this edition on
to your colleagues or spread the word any other way then that really
would be appreciated.

Kind regards,
William

William Hann BSc MIInfSc
Founder and Managing Editor, Free Pint
e: william@freepint.co.uk
t: +44 (0)1784 455435
f: +44 (0)1784 455436

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                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                       from Michelle Alcock

* <http://www.google.com> This is a search engine which only
   searches. You won't find the weather or the news on its home page.
   It is fast and usually brings up what I want in the first couple
   of sites returned.

* <http://www.anzwers.com.au> Another search engine, but I find this
   one particularly useful for Australian queries.

* <http://www.bluemountain.com> This is a greeting card site.
   I often forget friends' birthdays and this site gives me the
   opportunity to send them a card electronically.

* <http://www.ipl.org> This is the site of the Internet Public
   Library, which I have found to be very useful in answering queries
   that I could not find the answers to elsewhere.

* <http://www.lonelyplanet.com> This is the lonely planet site and
   when I want to fantasise about getting away from study, work and
   family for a holiday, I come here.

Michelle Alcock is a Library Technician and uses these sites
regularly when she is on the reference desk helping customers.
She lives in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


   To submit your top five favourite tipples see the guidelines at
<http://www.freepint.co.uk/author.htm> or email 

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                        TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
         http://www.freepint.co.uk/issues/250500.htm#tips

        "Maximising Press and PR Exposure via the Internet"
                         By Stuart Cliffe

Companies spend millions to achieve the sort of media coverage we get
on a regular basis.

That's not just spamming hype - Barclays recently paid a rather large
amount for their 'Big' adverts, and as a result - according to recent
searches on the 'News Now' site - attract about 30 very negative
comments from the press per month.

<http://www.newsnow.co.uk/-NewsFeed.News.BusFin.htm>

Let me explain: I'm CEO of a customer group which helps private and
commercial customers obtain information about - and raise complaints
with - bank and insurance products and services.  My job includes a
high proportion of press relations.  We need to tell customers that we
exist, and - from time to time - apply a little psychological pressure
with institutions, but our funding is always marginal, so good PR is
essential.

Our budget for press promotion is zero. We spend time, certainly; we
apply some reasonable amounts of ingenuity and common sense. We
inevitably incur travelling expenses, some of which are refunded by
individual TV and radio programmes.

Despite that, our press exposure so far in 2000 has averaged nearly
150 interviews per month from national press, TV and radio to local
journals from Pontefract to Lowestoft.

How we achieve this coverage will be of interest, although for reasons
which will become clear I don't necessarily guarantee you'll be able
to match it.

First we're not-for-profit; so there is a certain understanding that
we don't have a marketing budget and our only outlet is publicity.

Then of course we're hugely customer friendly. We (if you'll excuse a
major oversimplification) beat up on banks and insurers for individual
unhappy customers, and try to act as a general watchdog to protect
financial service users' rights.

We understand:

- the media: a colleague and I do the interviews, and we both have a
marketing and PR background. We return calls quickly.

- that journalists and researchers need clear and careful briefings so
that we all understand the technical issues. They can ask sensible
questions, and we can give good, succinct answers.

- that we must be aware from day to day what issues will be raised
with us by journalists because of action elsewhere. Bank takeovers,
cash machines charges, Cruickshank reports - we need to be aware not
only of the issues, but what is currently being said about them.

To stay informed we use sites like the BBC News, Times, London Evening
Standard, DTI, OFT, Treasury and other .gov.uk departments fairly
intensively.

<http://news.bbc.co.uk>
<http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/>
<http://thisislondon.com/dynamic/news.html>
<http://www.dti.gov.uk>
<http://www.oft.gov.uk>
<http://www.treasury.gov.uk>

Where banking research or background is required, the Chartered
Institute of Bankers have a modestly entitled 'Supersite' that lists
financial service regulatory bodies, commercial and other
organisations at home and overseas. The British Bankers' Association
(BBA) also has current and historical technical information.

<http://www.cib.org.uk/supersite/index.htm>
<http://www.bba.org.uk>

The insurance industry is not quite as organised. Its professional
body the CII has a London based library that is available for some
technical research - even real world visits in extreme cases.

<http://www.cii.co.uk>

Various professional magazines have Link pages which help identify
insurance companies and brokers on the web, and there are Insurance
Company and Intermediary groups with their own sites and membership
lists.

<http://www.insurance-first.com>
<http://www.insuranceage.com>
<http://www.insurancetimes.co.uk>
<http://www.abi.org.uk>
<http://www.biba.org.uk>

Because we are involved with disputes, we also need legal news. The
surprisingly comprehensive availability of information from a sector
which is still perceived as using quill pens some of the time has
already been well profiled. If in doubt go to Delia Venables for legal
leads almost anywhere.

<http://www.venables.co.uk/>

Having detailed our external sources of information overload, you
should also be aware of our internal resources.

We use W98 hosting an eclectic variety of software including some from
bygone ages. Our guiding principle is "don't fix it till it's broke"
mainly because the strain of trying to keep a busy real time helpline
service running, while also retraining everyone in how to use this
month's version of the word processor is one we like to avoid.

Somewhere in there is a 'smart' database that has been collecting
details of financial service complaints for nearly 10 years. Two of
the hiccups in running a helpline are: i) your callers often don't
actually know what problem they have, and therefore which questions to
ask and ii) as a result there is no such thing as a standard screen
layout.

Screen headings tend to be: name, address, and 'details'.

We do keyword searches to research specific matters, and use our
experience of answering past problems to support advisers in the
present.

Our database uses the 'if it won't start: do you have petrol?' sort of
logic to lead advisors through various levels of enquiry, then to a
model answer. Such standards give consistency and accuracy in
responses - and save valuable time.

The answers we give most frequently are printed as DataSheets, and can
be sent out by post. Current versions are also on the web. This saves
some call time, and gives callers a printed response that saves taking
lengthy notes - and often getting it wrong.

We also save press cuttings - the same database lists articles we have
viewed from around the world which cover particular points.

We list landmark legal cases which are often mentioned in disputes. It
is important that we have at least some idea of the meaning of each
one. However we are not legal advisers, and with only telephone
information on a particular case, could not hope to comment usefully
on whether or not the same circumstances might apply. This is for
information only.

If all else fails we use a legal advice service of our own - Law
Express in Bristol who are commercial suppliers of consumer legal
information to a variety of employers and unions.

<http://www.lawexpress.co.uk>

So we have our external information and research, our internal data
gathering and communications. All this leads to a certain excess of
expertise and information which can usefully be deployed to the Press.

Like any organisation we issue press releases, and will continue to do
so. But these tend to be detailed comment on specific issues. Some
large organisations issue frequent releases, on the basis that one or
other each month will attract some attention.

A little while ago however we started talking to the journalists and
researchers who were contacting us - would they be interested in being
added to a mailing list to receive free technical and factual
information about current financial issues?

This would not be an in-depth release, just paragraphs on issues -
like cash machine surcharges - being raised on our helpline, or which
had caught our attention as being of some concern to customers.

The answer has always been a resounding 'yes' - we now have a couple
of hundred individual journo and programme emails from national down
to local media, and it is still growing.  Anyone who feels that our
information and opinions might be useful to them, please contact
<fpaddme@LemonAid.net>.

We issue our notes about once every 15 days, and whether or not the
content is interesting, our position as experts in this field is re-
confirmed. Journalists talk to us about our own points, or about the
issues they think are important. And we get another interview.

Good PR produces new members, has caused us to be involved in setting
up the BSI's BS8600 Complaints Handling standard, and to contribute to
various banking and insurance regulatory reviews. In general it is
indispensable to the growth of our organisation.

Of course we do have a website. We're <http://www.LemonAid.net> after
someone described customers with too little money or too many problems
as 'lemons'. We help lemons, so 'LemonAid'.

The site at the moment is a disgrace - our only excuse is that we have
to spend too much time on alligators. Swamp clearance has to wait. We
mention it at this late stage is because after throwing all sorts of
information at it for years, we are at last in a position to apply
some logic and common sense. The correct design is 'obvious' in
hindsight, and currently under construction.

Because people look to us for factual information, we'll have a
section which is all summaries and links, and a researchers dream.

For those who like their facts a little pre-digested, we'll do our own
research, jump to our own conclusions, and write some articles to
entertain browsers. This section will also include DataSheets on
frequently asked questions.

If you are looking for the answer to a specific problem, and bearing
in mind you probably don't know enough to ask the right questions,
we'll include a list of recent queries and model answers. New problems
are infrequent, so you should find something close to your situation
if you look.

There are other specialist sections - including after a recent
personal and VERY close shave, something on Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Another specialist item will be a section for communities which have
lost, or are in danger of losing, their local banking services. This
seems another case for an email newsletter keeping local groups in
touch with developments - in Post Office banking for instance.

The site will be informed by ongoing calls, disputes, and
developments, and should be up and running shortly. Meantime visitors
get to see our 'old' presentation, about which you can only say "it
loads quickly."

Our business, we think, is receiving and processing a lot of
information, to send it out again to interested recipients in easily
digestible form. Those target customers include the media, who
themselves have to find daily topics of interest to cover. If we can
help them, they will certainly help us.

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Stuart Cliffe, FCII MCIM is an Englishman abroad, based in Wales. He
is also an insurance underwriting, marketing and systems specialist
now dealing mainly with banking. As Chief Executive of the National
Association of Bank + Insurance Customers he is recognised by the
media as an expert customer spokesman on most financial service
issues. Having started in computing in the days when bugs in the
system were cured with rolled up newspaper, he has helped develop
software for user-friendly Windows-based business planning, forensic
checks on bank mortgage and credit card statements, and 'smart'
customer service support. Contact him via the NABIC website
<http://www.LemonAid.net>.

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Related Free Pint links:

* Read this article online, with activated hyperlinks
  <http://www.freepint.co.uk/issues/250500.htm#tips>
* Free Pint Bookshelf review of "Poor Richard's Internet Marketing
  and Promotions" <http://www.freepint.co.uk/bookshelf/richard.htm>
* Discuss this article with the author now at the Free Pint Bar
  <http://www.freepint.co.uk/bar>

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Access this most authoritative database to identify the right
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services, as well as for finding out who does what in the IT industry.

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                        FREE PINT BOOKSHELF
                http://www.freepint.co.uk/bookshelf

        "Competing with Information - A manager's guide to
         creating business value with information content"
                     Reviewed by Martin White

At a TFPL New York Business Information conference a couple of years
ago Donald Marchand, Professor of Information Management and Strategy
at the IMD business school in Lausanne gave a most interesting
presentation on the ways in which information can create significant
business value.  One of the points he made at that time, and to which
he returns in the introduction to this book, is that general and
senior managers have a critical role in leading and managing a company
to use information in this way. Professor Marchand also described his
Strategic Information Alignment (SIA) framework which is a conceptual
model that assists managers to ask three key questions.

 * Why is information important to competing in business today and
   in the future?

 * What priorities for information use and management are
   appropriate?

 * How should managers implement their strategic priorities and
   achieve improved business performance through people, information
   and IT?

I have been using this SIA framework (with acknowledgement) in my
presentations on intranet strategy development, and it works, but
until now the only reference to the framework had been in a series on
Mastering Information that the Financial Times published in early
1999.

After two scene-setting chapters by Professor Marchand the core of the
book consists of ten chapters dealing with the four axes of the SIA
framework, each of which is a way of putting information to work for
competitive advantage, namely adding value with customers, creating
new reality, reducing costs, and minimising risks. These chapters are
then followed by five more where the emphasis is on the practical
application of the basic principles of the SIA framework.

Do not be put off for one moment by the fact that this book consists of
individual chapters by business school professors!  First, the use of
the SIA framework enables all the chapters to have a common focus and
vocabulary. Second, these professors clearly work in the real world,
and have listened to, and learned from, their students, clients and
each other.  A helpful touch is that e-mail addresses are given for
each of the authors.

Within each chapter the format is also consistent, with selected case
histories (mostly quite current and familiar), concise analysis,
practical guidance on management responsibilities and actions, and a
set of questions that can be used to assess the performance of the
company against current best practice and to set a framework for a
company information management strategy.

I was initially disappointed that the role of corporate information
departments, and the use of commercial information services is
scarcely mentioned in the book.  On reflection I decided that good
managers reading this book and wanting to achieve best practice in the
use of information will soon recognise the contribution that
information professionals can make without it.

I have two small criticisms.  First, the important benchmark questions
are printed in a lighter tone than the main text, making them
difficult to read, a very poor piece of typographic design. Second,
although there are some literature references at the end of each
chapter they are few in number and are often to short news items in
newspapers and magazines. Business school case studies are also cited,
which are often not in the public domain.

The amount of expertise packed into the book is quite extraordinary,
and yet it is very readable.  I recommend you buy as many copies as
you have senior managers, because reading this book and putting in
effect the advice of its authors will have a very positive effect on
the performance of your organisation.

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Martin White is Managing Director of Intranet Focus Ltd.
<http://www.intranetfocus.com>. The company provides services in
strategic intranet and corporate portal design, and in the development
of networked delivery strategies for publishers of both business and
scientific information services. He is a member of the Editorial Board
of the International Journal of Information Management and on the
Executive Board of Online Information 2000. He has recently
contributed articles to Free Pint on Knowledge Management and on
Portals.

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Related Free Pint links:

* Find out more about this book online at the Free Pint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.co.uk/bookshelf/competing.htm>
* Read about other Internet strategy books on the Free Pint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.co.uk/bookshelf/strategy.htm>
* Read customer comments and buy this book at Amazon.co.uk
  <http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0471899690/freepint0c>
  or Amazon.com
  <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0471899690/freepint00>
* Search for any other book from Amazon via the Bookshelf homepage
  <http://www.freepint.co.uk/bookshelf>

To propose a business-Web-related book for review, send
details to .

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                          FEATURE ARTICLE
        http://www.freepint.co.uk/issues/250500.htm#feature

                  "XML : Perception to Practice"
                         By Stuart Campbell

XML. eXtensible Markup Language. Yet another acronym to clutter our
mind and budgets with.  However, it's an acronym which you had best
remember - quickly!  For many, XML is the new magic bullet, and is
destined to take the crown from HTML and to replace tried and tested
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) which is the cornerstone of
Business-to-Business transactions (B2B) of today.

Name any software vendor and they will have announced an XML
partnership, interface, or other functionality.  You name the majority
of users and many will have never heard of XML.  In this article I
intend to present some ideas of where XML fits into the practical
world of today.  But first, what exactly is XML and where did it come
from?

XML is a computer syntax derived from SGML (Standard Generalized
Markup Language) which is a complex standard providing structure to
documents ranging from books to the entire technical references for
battleships - 10 tonnes of it!.  Due to its complexity SGML hovered in
the background until Tim Berners-Lee derived the much simpler HTML
from it - and the rest is history.  So XML is much like HTML in
format, since they both have the same common ancestor.  PRACTICE: XML
technology is familiar and thus experience, implementations and
resources are all migratable.

HTML was primarily designed to enable presentation - e.g. for
presenting information in a browser.  From this origin, HTML has grown
- tables, forms, interaction and so on  - but this is essentially the
problem of HTML.  It has expanded as designers and users have required
more and more features but HTML is simply not intrinsically designed
for such extensibility and thus it too has become complex.  PRACTICE:
XML is a response to the by-design limitations of HTML.

The e-Landscape is also extending.  From a web initially driven by
marketing to a current focus on B2B transactions and B2C (Business to
consumer) interactions that add more value than just marketing
presence - for example, banking, ordering, logistics etc.  Each of
these areas requires highly structured information if the data is
going to be reused within related business applications as with EDI.
Thus, users have been demanding a solution which focuses on
structuring information in terms of content rather than presentation -
a little like a database focuses on structure.  PRACTICE: XML
solutions provide data structuring at their core.

Also it is clear that the extension is away from PCs to other devices;
TVs, PDAs, Mobile Telephones are all destined to take their share in
the information world.  These devices often only need (or can handle)
certain profiles of information.  For example, with the Internet
enabled phones of today there is not the capability to handle large
graphics.  They need the data content, but the presentation is limited
by the size of the phones' display panel as well as the bandwidth.
PRACTICE: XML profiles are easy to create.

Thus, what was needed is a simple language, which could be as popular,
usable and be leveraged from the success of HTML, but at the same time
to be flexible enough to deal with the new landscape.  Welcome to XML!

XML is a subset of SGML; but whereas with HTML all the tags are pre-
defined (H1, TITLE, BODY etc.) with XML there are no such predefined
structures.  The structure is defined by users in an XML
Document Type Definition (DTD) although in the near future these will
be replaced by 'XML Schema'.  In fact HTML is simply a DTD of SGML.
Schemas have the same basic role as a DTDs but extended functionality,
such as datatyping which is needed for B2B, and are themselves
structured in XML syntax making them easier to process.
PRACTICE:  Many XML standards are still at working draft stage and
thus many aspects of XML are relatively unstable.

Let's take an example - a catalogue entry for a product.  In HTML it
would probably be described through an entry in an HTML table, for
example:

<TR>
  <TD>Computer Speedy</TD>
  <TD>1000MHz</TD>
  <TD><IMG SRC="speedy.gif"></TD>
</TR>.

This works fine, but all you can essentially do is present the
information in one way.  If you wish to present it differently you
need to re-write your pages or, for example, if you wish to search you
need to know that the first column of the table is actually the
product identifier and the second column relates to the speed
property.

With XML the format would be similar to:

<Product>
  <ProductCode>Computer Speedy</ProductCode>
  <Speed>1000MHz</Speed>
  <ProductImage>speedy.gif</ProductImage>
</Product>.

The basic XML structure is composed of compulsory beginning and end
tags containing content although as with HTML, attributes can also be
included.  With this structure it is easy to parse (read) it to find
the range of computer speeds in our catalogue and then report the
related product code element.  If I wish to present this same
information on a browser I simply need an external display profile
(XML stylesheet) which would include the image whereas if I were to
use the phone based viewer I would simply access a different
stylesheet without the image.  PRACTICE: XML is extremely flexible yet
very simple.

The main problems are of course: 'Who defines the tags?' and 'What
if they are duplicated?' - for example a 'speed' of a car is a
slightly different concept from the 'speed' of a computer.

With B2B EDI the data formats are defined by bureaucratic, consensus
building, international organisations such as the United Nations.
With XML the definition is by users.  However, users are recognising
that it is in the best interests of their community to develop a
common language for at least the core elements; for example: package,
catalogue, invoice etc.  Some of these will be common with other
sectors (e.g. address) and some not.  For common items it makes sense
for cross sector co-operations.  This flexible but co-operative
approach to standardization is what industry has seized upon with XML.
PRACTICE : However, at the same time it illustrates the weakness of
XML in that it does not define these semantics - for example, what
exactly is a Title - Mr, Mrs, Manager, Lord of the rings?

In terms of duplicate tags this is taken care of by a concept called
namespaces.  Namespaces associate an element to a unique Uniform
Resource Identifier (similar to a URL) which in turn is allocated to
an owner.  For example, 'ean:order' would refer to the order element
(document) defined in the ean namespace.

The namespace standard is just one of a series of companion standards
to XML.  XML itself is very simple, but the power and usefulness is
built up by extending the basic functionality through accompanying
standards in an overall XML architecture.  For example, just as
Cascading Stylesheets (CSS) are companion to HTML for presentation;
there is a standard called XSL (XML Stylesheet Language) which can
define presentation of XML documents; XQL for querying XML documents,
XLink for defining links between documents etc.  PRACTICE : There are
now so many candidate XML 'standards' that it is difficult to know
which will 'win' and which will pass by the wayside.

To use XML there are a multitude of tools dealing with the different
aspects.  XML enabled browsers such as IE5 and Netscape 6, parsers,
tools to design DTDs, Stylesheet editors, document generators etc.
One of the problems is that many of these tools are not interoperable
and thus when you start to integrate XML in a real environment,
particularly business applications, you end up needing to create
considerable coded glue to tie it all together.  PRACTICE : Beware, as
many of the best tools are free or shareware, this offers both the
benefits of cheap tools with the disadvantage of what happens to the
tools in the future.

This simplicity, flexibility, path forward from HTML, and
companionship has made XML highly attractive.  Most medium to large
sized software vendors have either implemented or announced XML
extensions to their products or even have stated that the underlying
product architecture will be XML based. XML is a core in Microsoft
DNA, Oracle have implemented XML ability in its latest database
offerings.  WAP phones use Wireless markup language (WML) and WML is
simply a specific XML DTD.

So, is XML the magic bullet?  It seems to be in many senses.  However,
many of the issues with existing technologies are still there to be
resolved.  Standard message formats, semantic libraries, integrated
tools, plug and play environment, stability.  Watch this space!

Useful links to accompany this article:

* Standards:

W3C                  <http://www.w3c.org>
European Commissions <http://www.diffuse.org/xmlguide.html>

* Technology:

Microsoft            <http://msdn.microsoft.com/xml/-forum>
IBM XML Zone         <http://www.ibm.com/developer/xml>

* Information and Resources:

<http://www.xml.org>; <http://www.xml.com>;
<http://www.oasis-open.org/cover/>

* Initiatives:

Biztalk              <http://www.biztalk.org>
OASIS                <http://www.oasis-open.org>
RosettaNet           <http://www.rosettanet.org/>
ebXML                <http://www.ebxml.org/>

* Tools:

XML Spy -ICON         <http://www.icon.at> (XML Editor)
Near & Far - OpenText <http://www.opentext.com> (DTD Design)

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Stuart Campbell BSc (Hons), DIS is Operations Manager at 'CMASS -
Critical Mass in Electronic Commerce' <http://www.cmass.co.uk> and has
been involved in EDI and XML for over 10 years.  Recently Stuart has
established and runs  CMASS' XML Introductory 1-day and Practical 4-
day XML training courses.  CMASS also provides B2B products and
services in the field of information exchange including training,
consultancy, and implementations.  CMASS markets the EDIFECS range of
community collaboration tools that assist you in developing electronic
relationships with your whole network of partners.  Mail Stuart @
 if you have any comments on this article.

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Related Free Pint links:

* Respond to this article and chat to the author now at the Bar
  <http://www.freepint.co.uk/bar>
* Read this article online, with activated hyperlinks
  <http://www.freepint.co.uk/issues/250500.htm#feature>

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              >>>  A DIFFERENT TIPPLE EVERY DAY  <<<

      If you've got to get your daily fix of Web site reviews
  then read Simon's Tipple every working day at the Free Pint Bar

                   http://www.freepint.co.uk/bar

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                           FREE PINT BAR
                         by Simon Collery
                   http://www.freepint.co.uk/bar

Here is your summary of what's been happening at the Free Pint Bar
over the last couple of weeks. To read a discussion thread you can
access this summary online with activated hyperlinks
<http://www.freepint.co.uk/issues/250500.htm#bar>, visit the Bar
itself  or add the message number to
the end of .

One thing that puts people off spending money over the Web is the
potential security risk involved in giving out credit card details.
In brief, it is not wise to send credit card details by email or
through a site that is not secure (3257).  Another thing giving people
the jitters at the moment is viruses (3286).  There are some good
sites with information on how you can protect yourself against the
threat of these destructive agents (3312, 3314).  The data you save
may be your own!

And luckily the Web itself is often the best place to look for
information on things Web related.  Whether it's legal issues (3293)
or Internet growth and economy (3302, 3326), data is usually
forthcoming, but if you know where to find statistics on UK ecommerce
transactions and email usage, please post the goodies here (3310).

Demand in the Bar is still mainly for resources, so that's what we
have been dishing out.  Poetry and literature get a look in (3204), as
do law (3237), PR (3263), transportation (3271), manufacturing (3273),
B2B (3291), breast cancer (3222), Web site reviews (3305) and
cosmetics (3315).  Do you know about interest rates for various types
of security (3259)?  Isn't it well for those that have the ready
rhino.

We also mixed some cocktails: Swiss company information (3311), Dutch
pharmaceutical companies (3325) and UK telecommunications salaries
(3316).  Interest in searching tools has continued, tools such as meta
search engines (3211, 3239), book comparison engines (3220), Australia
specific tools (3242), journal back issue finders (3255), UK search
engines (3276) and country specific search facilities (3287).  And
we're always willing to try new recipes.

On the technical front, there have been queries about database
software (3208), Internet phones (3252), intranet and KM software
(3261), customized emails (3303), maximizing one's Internet connection
(3304), IIS server setup (3327), DVD (3339), load testing (3342) and
coping with the change in power supply when taking a computer from the
UK and setting it up in Canada (3354).  Honestly, don't people employ
techies any more?

There have been more general questions about surveys on KM (3225), how
to put together press packs (3219), information on publishing
companies (3228) and virtual teams (3300).  I only know about virtuous
ones.  Several questions relating to content were raised (3234, 3238,
3244), and someone is looking for a register of seals (3262), whatever
that might be.  Finally, finding free content for a newsletter is
bothering one punter (3355).  Now, who would know about that?

Simon Collery, Business Development, Free Pint

Remember, to read this summary with activated hyperlinks visit ...

         <http://www.freepint.co.uk/issues/250500.htm#bar>

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Bar:     Do you have a research question or Web-related comment? It's
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Digest:  To have the latest Free Pint Bar postings sent to you every
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Archive: Dormant postings older than 45 days are moved to
         

Email:   To write to the Free Pint team, please send your email to
         

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                         FORTHCOMING EVENTS
                 http://www.freepint.co.uk/events

The Hypertext '00 meet will be run back to back with the Digital
Libraries '00 event in Texas.  Around the same time the WebContent
hungry will be discussing my favourite topic, content.  The Supercomm
2000 conference in Georgia will be taking place then also, so you'll
have to choose between them.  And if that isn't enough, eMarketing
2000 will be overlapping with the last two, and the next six.

Those will be the NetWorld and Interop event in Japan, the e2e 2000
bash in London, the Library and Information Show in London, the
Corporate Portal Seminar in Washington, the i-deals four day gathering
in Colorado and the Data in the Digital Library shindig in Chicago.
All in all, you'll need to do a bit of delegating if these are all of
interest.

Full details of these and many other forthcoming conferences and
exhibitions in the online-information and Internet industry can be
found on the Free Pint Events page at http://www.freepint.co.uk/events

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                           FREE PINT GOLD

This time last year we ran an article which highlighted the benefits
of the Internet for learning foreign languages.  It didn't just review
the multitude of sites with tutorials, reference materials, courses
and the rest, but also noted the availability of sound files and the
chance to converse by email and ICQ with native speakers of numerous
current languages.

Another article was on Central and Eastern European resources, giving
a large set of annotated links to sites on all the countries involved,
divided into a number of categories.

This time two years ago we had an article about bots, devices which
carry out some of the more arduous chores of researching, searching
and filtering data.  Three such bots were reviewed, Copernic, Bullseye
and Agentware.  I don't know about the last, but the first two have
developed a lot in the last two years.

Then there was an article on food industry information on the Web,
government information, academic sites, industry data, medical, health
and nutritional information, retailer information and legal
information.

Free Pint one year ago ...

* Free Pint No.39 27th May 1999 "Languages resources on the World
  Wide Web" and "Central and Eastern European Web Sources"
  http://www.freepint.co.uk/issues/270599.htm

Free Pint two years ago ...

* Free Pint No.15, 28th May 1998 "Web Slavery -  Automating
  Information Retrieval" and "Food Industry Information on the Web"
  http://www.freepint.co.uk/issues/280598.htm

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                   FREE PINT FORTHCOMING ARTICLES

      * Corporate Web sites * Space Science and Engineering *
     * Legal Information * Aeronautics * Researching for TV *
         * Web sites for SMEs * Genealogy and the Web *
     * Surveillance * Surfing the Sludge * The Invisible Web *
    * Web sources for handheld computers * Insurance Web sites *
  * Internet Intelligence * ICQ * Puppetry and Animation Sources *

                                                        [Provisional]
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Thanks for taking the time to read through today's Free Pint. I hope
you've picked up a few handy tipples and can possibly help us by
spreading the word to others who may not already enjoy their
own regular Free Pint.

                       See you in two weeks!

                   William Hann, Managing Editor
                      william@freepint.co.uk

(c) Free Pint Limited 1997-2000
http://www.freepint.co.uk/

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                        CONTACT INFORMATION

William Hann BSc MIInfSc, Founder and Managing Editor
e: william@freepint.co.uk t: +44 (0)1784 455435 f: +44 (0)1784 455436

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Free Pint (ISSN 1460-7239) is a free newsletter written by information
professionals who share how they find quality and reliable information
on the Internet.  Useful to anyone who uses the Web for their work, it
is published every two weeks by email.

To subscribe, unsubscribe, find details about contributing,
advertising or to see past issues, please visit the Web site at
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Please note: Free Pint is a trademark of, and published by, Free Pint
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The opinions, advice, products and services offered herein are the
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Product names used in Free Pint are for identification purposes only,
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