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Newsletter No.7

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                             Free Pint
          Helping you find quality information on the Web

ISSN 1460-7239                                     5 February 1998 #7
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                Welcome to Free Pint Number Seven!

Here is the seventh issue of Free Pint, once again packed full of 
practical information to help you make the most of the Web. In the
Tips & Techniques section we cover how to incorporate the information
you find on the Web into reports, proposals, etc.  Then we have a
fantastic Feature Article about how and where to find the best
Engineering resources on the Web. This includes plenty of examples
and pointers to some great Web sites.

As you know, Free Pint can only be free to you with the continued 
support of advertisers. However, these advertisers want to know what
country you are in. We never give out email addresses, but we can
say what percentage of subscribers are based in which countries
by looking at the last part of email addresses. However, if you have
an international address ending in ".com" or ".net" then we do not
know which country you are in. If this is the case, then next
Thursday (12th Feb) you will receive an email from us asking you
in which country you are based. If you receive this email then 
please answer as soon as possible to help us create an accurate 
overview of our 4500 subscribers based on country. Please remember
that we are providing this information for potential advertisers so
that Free Pint can remain free. Your specific email address or
country will never be made available to advertisers.

Since its my birthday this Sunday (8th Feb) here is a mini
competition ... why not send me an ELECTRONIC birthday card to created using one of the free services on the
Web?!  You'll find a list at Yahoo! under "Business and Economy:
Companies:Gifts:Greeting Cards:Electronic".   The most inventive,
imaginative or humourous card will get a mention in the next issue of
Free Pint. Please note: I won't be able to reply personally.

I hope enjoy this issue as much as we've enjoyed putting it together.
Please feel free to pass it on to anyone you think may also like to
receive their very own "Free Pint".

William Hann
Editor, Free Pint

PS: If you do not already automatically receive your free copy of
Free Pint, or would like to see past issues, then please visit our
Web site at  You may also find this issue
easier to read and use if you print it out first.

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                           IN THIS ISSUE

                        TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
                     "Fabricating Information"
                          by William Hann

                          FEATURE ARTICLE
           "Engineering resources: examples and sources"
                         by Roddy MacLeod


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TFPL, the premier training organistion in business information,
presents the following courses:
Internet for Market Research                   12 February
Intranet: Anarchy to Sanity                    17 February
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Intranet & Groupware Re-visited                3 March 
Write & design WWW Pages - the Basics          12 March
For further details please contact, visit our
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                        TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

                     "Fabricating Information"
                          by William Hann

In the last issue of Free Pint I made it quite clear that I know very
little about medicine (except for perhaps playing Doctors and Nurses
when younger ... much younger!).  Well, I also used to have a train
set and Lego building bricks, and this is about the extent of my
engineering experience.

However, if you use the Internet regularly to find information to
help your work, then you will have to know a fair bit about 
engineering ... namely "fabricating information".

No, I am not saying that you should falsify or change the information
you find. What I mean is that often you may want to incorporate the
information into your reports, articles, training courses, proposals,
or whatever.

The Foundations

The simplest and easiest way to take textual information from your
browser into another application is to use Copy and Paste.  You
simply highlight with the mouse the information you want, select the
Edit menu and choose Copy. Then go to the application you want to put
the information in and choose Paste from the Edit menu there.

This is fine if there is a little text, but if there is a whole page
of text then you most likely will save the text to the hard disk by
selecting the File menu and choosing "Save As". You can save the file
as plain text or keep all the HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language)
codes. Most browsers will not save the graphics on a page
automatically, and so you need to save those separately. To do this
you simply click on the image with the right mouse button and then
choose "Save Picture As" or "Save Image As".

Tabular Data

With textual information, things get a lot more complicated if the 
information is presented in a table which you would like to transfer
to a spreadsheet program. A recent example of this I came across was
the where somebody wanted to use company filings information from the
SEC Internet EDGAR Databases ( in an 
Excel spreadsheet.

The filings contain tables of information which have been created in
plain text, with columns aligned using lots of space characters. The 
difficulty comes when you try to load this into a spreadsheet and the
program gets confused with all those spaces. This problem has been 
overcome by the more modern spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel:

Basically you save the table as a plain text file. Then in Excel you
choose "Open" from the File menu, highlight the file containing the 
table, and in the "Files of type" box choose "Text Files". On the 
next screen you select "Fixed Width" and click on the "Finish"
button.  You now have a spreadsheet where all the tabular information
has been entered into separate cells.

Some Web sites convert material for you into a more useful format and
offer a hypertext link. When you click on the link you will asked by 
the browser what you want to do next, and you simply need to save the
file to your computer.

The other important thing to note is the difference between a 
proportional and non-proportional font. A proportional font (like 
Times New Roman or Arial) is one where all characters take up 
different amounts of space depending on their size. For instance, a 
capital "M" is obviously a lot larger than a lower-case "i", 
therefore it takes up 
more space in a line of text. A non-proportional font on the other 
hand (like Courier) is one where all characters (including spaces)
take up the same amount of space regardless of their size.  This 
newsletter for instance should be read in a non-proportional font 
because otherwise you won't see the formatting (such as indents)
which have been created using spaces characters. If you read a table
which has been created using spaces (rather than Tabs or other 
formatting) in a proportional font then all the columns will not
align properly.

Problems with Frames

Some Web pages are split into different "windows" which are called 
"frames" (hence the need for a glazier and carpenter). Problems 
can occur if you want to save or print information in a particular 
frame. The way to do this is to click somewhere inside the frame you 
want to save or print. When you do this you may see a thin black 
line around the frame window (this doesn't happen in all browsers).
By clicking in the frame you have ensured that it has the "focus", 
and that its contents (and not another frames) which are saved or 

In some browsers, when you give the frame the focus you will then 
find different options in the File menu such as "Save Frame As..." 
and "Print Frame..." which makes it much clearer that you will be 
saving or printing that particular frame. 

I don't know of a browser where you can print the whole page (and 
all the frames) rather than just the contents of an individual 

Printing Blank Pages

Have you ever printed a page and just got a blank print-out?  This 
usually happens if the page you are printing contains text which 
is a light colour or white (for instance white text on a black 
background).  Printers generally won't print background colours 
and so then tries to print white text on the white paper!  To 
overcome this problem in certain browsers you need to go to the 
File menu and select "Page Setup".  Then put a tick in the box 
which says "Black Text".


Hopefully this has given you an introduction to some of the ways in 
which you can re-use information you find on the Web in your current
projects.  It is important though that you make sure you are not 
breaking copyright law by reproducing somebody else's work, and
always get written confirmation from the original author/producer
that they are happy for you to reproduce their work.

Happy fabrication!
William Hann

Lego is a trademark of the LEGO Group. Microsoft products referenced
herein are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft

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William Hann is a professional information scientist who runs the
information consultancy "Willco". The company provides Internet
consultancy, training, and Web site services. Full details can be
found at

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A high level and comprehensive service recruiting key information 
sector professionals at all levels.  Plus ad hoc services to answer
information market needs in a fast and flexible way.

Sue Hill Recruitment & Services Ltd, Tel/Fax +44 171 732 6718,
71 Montpelier Rd London SE15 2HD email:

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          Free Pint advertising has a proven track record
      See the advertisers page at
                 or call +44 (0)171 681 1653 now!

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                     Computer Novices & Pros:
Keeping current with the newest Windows 95/98/NT & Internet stuff is
a full-time job--so let Lockergnome do the work for you! We'll e-mail
our FREE Windows 95/98/NT newsletter to you twice a month--packed
with the latest 32-bit downloads (freeware & shareware), websites, 
games, MIDI, WAV, TrueType fonts, updates & patches, themes, tips &
tricks, computer industry news, and  much more.  To join, visit:

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                          FEATURE ARTICLE

           "Engineering resources: examples and sources"
                         by Roddy MacLeod

I've lost count of the number of articles I've read which extol the
virtues of the Internet, which then give a couple of often bland
examples of web sites, and continue by stating that everything else
of interest can be found through judicious use of the large search
engines such as Alta Vista or HotBot.  Whilst such search engines are
extremely impressive information retrieval tools (indeed I use them
more often than any other index), they are best for locating
something very specific, for example the home-page of a known
company or service.  They are not so useful if you want to find or
browse similar web sites (for example e-journals in mechanical
engineering, or companies producing software for civil engineers). 
The Northern Light search engine ( with
its Custom Search Folders which 'dynamically group' together similar
sites is rather better for this purpose, but still has many
limitations.  Yahoo! ( is an extremely popular
index to web sites, but its coverage of engineering resources is
relatively poor, with, for example, less than 350 sites being listed
in its United Kingdom: Engineering directory

As a result of the limitations of the popular search engines and 
directories, many users of the Internet are unaware of the range of 
engineering resources which are currently available.  In the 
following paragraphs I will attempt to rectify this in a small way by
looking at a few examples of some of the many different types of 
engineering resources.  As it is normally easier to find examples of 
US resources elsewhere, I will concentrate mostly, but not
exclusively, on UK sites.

As with other sectors, thousands of engineering companies now have 
their own web sites.  Some are humble and some are grand.  An example 
of the former, selected at random, is that of Dieline / Rykel Ltd, a 
manufacturing engineering company 
This home-page is one of many similar sites that have been created 
using the free space made available by various Internet Service 
Providers (in this case CompuServe).  The site is small and contains 
brief details of the company's expertise, its location, and an email 
contact address. Most importantly, the Dieline / Rykel Ltd web site 
can be found through the big search engines mentioned above.  I focus 
on Dieline / Rykel Ltd for no other purpose than as a typical example 
of thousands of similar sites.  Many of these are listed in such 
directories as the U.K.Directory, in its Business: Manufacturing 
subsections, ( and 
the Yellow Web directory in its Engineering section 
( and 
the UK Industry Directory in its engineering section 

An interesting example of a regional directory of engineering
companies is Engineering Ayrshire.  This is an association of 
companies located within Ayrshire in Scotland which have grouped 
together to create a unified web site 
( One example of the many 
directories which concentrate on a particular engineering sector is 
UK Building Resource Pages which includes a categorized index for UK 
Construction Industry web sites (

Large companies can afford to create and maintain substantial web 
sites.  I have chosen AEA Technology plc ( at 
random from the many available examples.  The AEA site contains a 
considerable amount of information about this international science 
and engineering services business, including an extensive product 
catalogue and detailed financial indicators.  An example of a smaller 
company, but one which has its own domain name and a web site which 
also gives a large amount of company information, again chosen at 
random, is Bison Structures Ltd ( 

Given the name of such companies it is easy to locate their web sites 
using the large search engines.  However the best way to find lists 
of similar companies with substantial web sites, or companies within 
various engineering sectors with large sites, is to use a gateway 
such as EEVL (Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library) which lists, 
amongst other things, over 800 quality commercial engineering sites 

Engineers look to their scholarly societies and institutions to 
represent the interests of their profession, safeguard and encourage 
standards of professionalism, and promote their career prospects. 
Many of these institutions have developed exemplary web sites.  
Leading the way in the UK is the Engineering Council 
(, the national representative body of the 
engineering profession.  The Institution of Electrical Engineers 
(IEE) maintains a large and useful site giving information about 
the Institution, its organisation and groups, activities, 
publications, some of which are available in full text, access to 
its library catalogue, and various files under the heading of 
professional and career development (  
Another impressive site is that of the Royal Institution of Chartered 
Surveyors (RICS) ( with over 2,000 pages 
including a searchable RICS Directory and the full text of Chartered 
Surveyor Monthly. Other notable sites include the Institution of 
Mechanical Engineers (, the Institution of 
Civil Engineers (, the Institution of Chemical 
Engineers (, and the Institute of Materials 
(  As well as a Combined Index search 
engine which searches several institutional sites simultaneously, 
(, the Engineering 
Council provides a list of web servers operated by engineering 
institutions (  Many more 
can be found through the EEVL gateway which I mentioned above, and 
the appropriate sub-sections of the University of Waterloo Electronic 
Library Scholarly Societies Project 

There has been a rapid growth in the number of published engineering 
e-journals.  Apart from those published by some professional 
societies, they are mainly of two main types; scholarly journals, 
and trade journals.  Few of the former are freely and completely 
available on the Internet, but those which are include Optical 
Diagnostics in Engineering (, 
Terra-Nova: the European Journal of Geosciences 
(, Journal of 
Corrosion Science and Engineering (, 
Bell Labs Technical Journal 
Electronic Journal of Information Technology in Construction 
(, and Journal of Technology Education 
(  Engineers do rather 
better in terms of the provision of freely available trade journals, 
and useful UK titles include The Engineer Online 
(, Energy in Buildings & Industry 
(, Hot Echo: the Journal of the 
Scottish Software Community (, UK 
Construction and Civil Engineering On-Line Magazine 
(, and Enterprise Manufacturing 
( Titles from 
outside the UK include Chemical Processing 
(, Solid Waste Online 
(, Plant Services Magazine 
(, and Chemical Week Magazine 
( More titles can be found 
through EEVL (mentioned above), and through other engineering 
gateways such as Engineering Electronic Library, Sweden (EELS) 
(  Lund University maintain a 
comprehensive list of civil engineering journals on the Internet 

Bibliographic databases are costly to produce and as a result are 
normally available through traditional online hosts at commercial 
rates.  However, for a variety of reasons, some very useful 
engineering databases are freely available on the Internet.  In the 
US, the Water Resources Scientific Information Center allows access 
to its water resources database containing over a quarter of a 
million abstracts and citations 
(  The ASCE's 
Civil Engineering Database 
( which indexes over 
80,000 civil engineering publications; the Copper Data Center's 
databases, (, the SPIE Publications Abstracts 
database giving details of 90,000 publications, 
(, and the 
Recent Advances in Manufacturing database 
( can all be searched at no cost. 

Finally some gateways to engineering information.  These are usually 
excellent starting points for further investigation.  Some, like EEVL 
and EELS, I have already mentioned.  Other good general ones include 
the WWW Virtual Library: Engineering 
(, Internet 
Connections for Engineering (ICE) from Cornell University 
(, and Engineering 
UK (  For examples of subject 
specific gateways, try Sourcerer: Gateway to the Chemical Industry of 
the United Kingdom (, or Chemical Industry 
Home Page (

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Roddy MacLeod is Senior Faculty Librarian at Heriot-Watt University. 
He edits the Internet Resources Newsletter
(, and is the 
Project Manager for EEVL: the Edinburgh Engineering Virtual 
Library (

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          Would you like to see a certain topic covered?
             Drop us a line to

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                      RBA Information Services

For publications and training on how to use the Internet more
effectively, contact us at RBA. Topics that we regularly cover in
our workshops and seminars include Internet search tools, using the
Internet for business information, beginners guide to the Net,
choosing the right software, how to avoid and get rid of junk mail.
Tel: 0118 947 2256, E-mail:

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Thank you for all your emails and letters, and we have reproduced a
selection here. If you would like to send us a letter, question or
feedback, then please send us an email to

We will not publish your email if you do not wish us to, and cannot
guarantee a reply to all letters. Letters may be edited for content
and length, and we will withhold your contact details if you wish.

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William Hann writes:

We had an email from Christopher Pirillo, the editor of the free
Windows 95-98-NT e-mail newsletter "Lockergnome".  If you are not
currently one of the many subscribers to the newsletter then I would
strongly recommend paying a visit to

Chris informed us that he has reviewed Free Pint in the latest issue
of Lockergnome, and his review is reproduced here with permission:

"There are tons of e-mail newsletters on the 'Net.  Each one is
different (at least, we all hope so).  While I was doing a search
for free stuff the other day, I stumbled up on Free Pint--a new
newsletter that is (honestly) refreshing.  It tackles current
topics in-depth, and a growing subscriber base.  The host is
knowledgeable on a variety of issues and has only begun passing
along information to people who are looking for it.  Past
newsletters have revolved around medical sites, search engine
results, and Internet frauds (to name a few).  Subscribing is
free--you can't beat that price.  Tell him Lockergnome sent ya! :)"

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As you know, Free Pint's success is largely dependent on you the
subscriber spreading the word. We received a great email after  the
last issue, part of which reads:

"... I'd like to express my compliments and thanks for the Free Pint
newsletter. I "discovered" it only yesterday--linked from a link from a
link--and have already subscribed to it, devoured all the back issues,
and forwarded Issue No. 6 to the 200+ employees of my company ..."

What wonderful support!  Why don't you follow this lead (yes, now), and
tell all your friends, colleagues and family about Free Pint.
Its over to you!

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As well as numerous other messages of support, we also received our
first from China.  It reads:

"dear ser,
I'm from China, today I received my first issue of it since subscribe.
It's really an excellent newsletter i'have ever seen!

A little request: How can I get the passed issure of freepint? I want
to have "every bit". my current freepint is <22 January 1998 #6>


May be I should say sorry for my poor english--if my english teacher
see this letter,she will cry :)"

We have witheld the authors name (to circumvent any problems with the
teacher!), but actually think the English is great since we
understood every word. In answer to the question, you will find a 
complete archive of past issues (which is fully searchable) on the
Web site at    Whilst there, you may also
like to post messages, questions and feedback, and interact with other
subscribers and authors on the "Free Pint Forum".

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         Promotional gifts supplied by Riverside Promotions
                Tel: 01784 454785  Fax: 01784 466157

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Well, we hope you have found Free Pint to be informative and useful.
Please remember to send an electronic birthday card if you have a
spare moment, and continue to support us by spreading the word.

                           Kind regards,

                       William Hann, Editor

(c) Willco 1998
ISSN: 1460-7239

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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.

More details about subscribing, contributing or advertising can be
found at or call +44 (0)171 681 1653

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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