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Web Watch: Download slang, cookies and weather from the web

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WebWatch is the cooperative effort of two of Phnom Penh's most experienced

Internet users:
David Lewis of Telstra's Bigpond and Bill Herod, information technology

consultant at the NGO Forum on Cambodia. Contact through: PhnomPenhPost@bigpond.com.kh

Dialecticizer

The Dialecticizer is a weird and wonderful little program you will likely find

both amusing and mystifying. By entering any Internet address in the program, you

will instantly be treated to that web site with the text rendered in one of several

dialects (jive, cockney, redneck, etc.). The results are often hilarious. Try it

with the web site of your favorite bureaucracy.

The program will also work with text you copy and paste into a special Dialecticizer

text box. Try it with your organization's annual report or any other document you

think might benefit from a little linguistic enhancement.

As a test, we dialecticized the following finely-honed sentence from a document on

the Royal Government's poverty reduction strategy:

"On the basis of our broad strategy, we have formulated the following policy

response to poverty: promoting opportunities, creating security, strengthening capabilities

and generating empowerment."

Dialecticized into "jive," this becomes:

"On de basis uh our broad strategy, we gots fo'mulated da damn followin' policy

response t'poverty, dig dis: promotin' oppo'tunities, creatin' security, strengdenin'

capabilities and generatin' empowerment, Man!"

Research Tool

Atomica (formerly GuruNet) is a nifty research tool to help you find what you

are looking for on the Web quickly and efficiently. After you download the program,

the discreet little icon "lives" on your desktop always ready for action.

When you want information about something, you just click the icon and type a search

term into the box which slides open on your screen. Then, instead of being given

a list of thousands of web pages containing your search term, Atomica gives you a

rationally organized list of options. For example, it you enter "Cambodia",

Atomica will offer you an encyclopedia entry, country statistics, maps, books, links

and web search results arranged in various categories (health, education, business,

tourism history, etc.). If you simply want to check the meaning of a word, enter

the word and Atomica will open a dictionary to give you a definition, offer quick

access to a thesaurus and translate the word into several languages.

Online Security

Every time you go online, an electronic communications channel is opened between

the computer you are using and each of the computers to which you connect. This communications

link allows you to send and receive data in real time but it also allows some "back

channel" communication between the computers themselves. Often this is quite

helpful. For example, if you browse Amazon.com for a few minutes looking for books

on various topics, you might be surprised to find that the Amazon computer will suddenly

generate a unique web page for you based on what it perceives to be your interest(s).

It will present you with options you hadn't asked for - or even thought of. The Amazon

computer simply constructs a web page based on the information you provided in your

search requests. That is innocent enough - and might even be quite helpful - but

it illustrates a point worthy of consideration: When you are online, other computers

on the Web can gather information about you and can send little bits of data (called

"cookies") onto your computer.

These cookies create a trail of where you have been on the Internet.

Using the same technology, other kinds of data can also be inserted into your system.

Several sites offer you the ability to surf anonymously and to control the information

your computer both sends out and receives. The Anonymizer and SafeWeb are two we

have tested. Both permit the user to log on to their sites then browse to any other

location on the Web without a trace. By managing the settings, the user can even

turn off those annoying pop-up ads many advertisers use to get your attention.

Personal Web Sites

A number of programs now make it easy for the novice to construct very impressive

web pages or even entire sites. Using tools with "cut and paste" simplicity,

one can work from various templates to build attractive sites with professional features

(guest books, forms, photo albums, etc.).

Fortune City's Site Generator is an online program into which the user types (or

imports) text, links, photos, etc. Web pages quickly emerge and can be posted online

in minutes. Photos can be uploaded to the site or photos - even whole albums - stored

on Zing.com can be incorporated.

The Zing option even allows visitors to your site to send your photos as e-cards

to others. Zing also has a program which (through the use of "cookies"

- see above) will show your visitors a different photo from your album each time

they log on.

Geocities has teamed with Yahoo Photos to provide similar features through its PageWizard

program. Another site offering impressive results with even the most modest effort

is the ultra-mod Moonfruit.

Buying on line

If you are intending to buy anything on line then it is worth doing a little research

on the vendor first. A number of sites exist to provide help in this respect including

BizRate. They maintain an assessment of how well online retailers are doing at providing

their service. From the home page click on "Store Ratings" and then select

the product category in which you are interested. This presents a comprehensive store

listing. To find out whether a retailer delivers internationally (many do not!) you

need to click on the profile button to see the international delivery options.

Reference

Library spot is a fairly new addition to the list of reference (or meta-reference)

sites. As well as a comprehensive database of on-line libraries it also has pointers

to reference information on anything from acroynms to dictionaries to quotations.

Flicking through this site we came across a couple of impressive image libraries.

Both UNESCO's Photobank and the Lycos Image Gallery provide good search engines with

which to explore their comprehensive collections.

A good source of reference information that includes people finder, maps and business

directories is InfoSpace. In fact, this is the power behind many of the directories

one finds all over the Web. This site also has a very good international weather

section and includes weather forecasts for 8 of Cambodia's provincial capitals.

Siteseeing

The Phnom Penh Municipality has a new web site with a great deal of information

about the city, its history and administration. There is an organization chart listing

all the districts and departments with links to names of key personnel and contact

information.

Links:

Dialecticizer: www.rinkworks.com/dialect/
Atomica: www.atomica.com
Fortune City: www.fortunecity.com
Zing!: www.zing.com
Geocities: www.geocities.com
Moonfruit: www.moonfruit.com
Phnom Penh: www.phnompenh.com.kh
Bizrate: www.bizrate.com
Library Spot: www.libraryspot.com/
Lycos Image Gallery: multimedia.lycos.com
UNESCO Photobank: www2.unesco.org/photobank/
InfoSpace: infospace.com/

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