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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Web Watch: Portals and bookmarks make it easier

Web Watch: Portals and bookmarks make it easier


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:


AN Internet portal is a web site that serves as a gateway, an entrance point to the

web's spectacular complexity. Yahoo!, Excite, Lycos, MSN and Go are common general-interest


Most portals offer easy access to a directory service, a search engine, news and

other routine services such as web-based e-mail. Some portals (such as My Yahoo!

and My Snap) can be customized to reflect the user's particular interests. For example,

you might want to see a simple weather report on several cities or headlines from

selected news services every time you log on.

For links to the most popular portals and some general information about them, see

the Portal-Select or the Essential Links web site.

There are also specialized portals based on particular interests or professions.

The Asia Observer portal is a good example. This carefully-constructed and well-maintained

site gives users easy access to current news and web sites on every country in the

region. Each country has its own page on the site with links to quickly guide users

to book reviews, human rights reports, maps and other useful materials and discussion


Other examples of specialized portals are MekongInfo, the "regional information

system on participatory natural resource management" and Eco-Portal, a wonderful

source for all sorts of ecological information.

News junkies will love the Paperboy and TotalNews portals with access to thousands

of papers and magazines from around the world.

The use of such portals can save you a great deal of search time, quickly guiding

you to information you might never even have thought of looking for on your own.


Bookmarks (or "favorites") store Internet addresses so one can easily

return to any previously visited (and marked) site even months later. Anyone who

uses the Internet frequently will quickly build up a long list of bookmarks.

Browsers provide simple tools to organize bookmarks with logical names into logical

folders (e.g. one might have a news folder with bookmarks for the BBC, CNN, the New

York Times, etc.) and it is important to use this function if bookmarks are to be

really useful.

One problem with bookmarks is that the browser stores them on the local computer

used to create them. Suppose you access the Internet on different computers. There

are web sites (see below for several popular ones) where you can store your personal

bookmarks and easily access from any computer connected to the Internet anywhere

in the world

These sites are free and include additional useful functions.

Yahoo Companion, for example, will keep track of your bookmarks and give you storage

space for photos, addresses - indeed any computer file. Using Yahoo's "briefcase"

function, for example, you might store your CV, a graphic file of your passport,

insurance information, medical records, etc.

You could then access them - and transmit them - from anywhere on the Internet.

The SpotOn web site offers a particularly sophisticated approach to bookmarks. SpotOn

will store your bookmarks, then "load" them into the computer you are using

so you can quickly browse through the sites you pre-select without having to wait

for each site to load separately. In other words, while you are looking at the first

site, SpotOn automatically loads the additional sites so they are ready to view when

you move on to them. This is particularly convenient if you regularly check the same

several sites.

SpotOn even makes it possible for you to organize a "tour" of selected

web sites. You can then e-mail a link for the tour to someone else. You might, for

example, send a tour of selected sites related to a project to a colleague or a tour

of your favorite Cambodia sites to friends and family back home.


The Internet is certainly having its impact on language as new terms enter common

usage (e-mail, online, download) and old words take on new meanings (bookmark, link,


Spelling and grammar are also being affected. For example, no Internet or e-mail

address can contain a blank space. Ever. One often sees blank spaces in such addresses

on business cards, letterheads or other printed materials. There is a very simple

explanation: they are wrong. Such addresses will not work.

To deal with this fact of electronic life, one often hears that several words must

be entered as "all one word." That's why the Internet address for the BBC

World Service's East Asia Today is Can't

remember the Phnom Penh Post's web site? In webspeak it couldn't be easier:

Another hard and fast rule to remember is that Internet and e-mail addresses cannot

end with a "." (always pronounced "dot"). A friend may write,

"My e-mail address is" That final "." is a period

at the end of the sentence, not a "dot" in the address.

And while we are on the subject of addresses, what is the difference between an Internet

address and an e-mail address? An Internet address (also known as a URL or uniform

resource locator) gives the location of a computer file on the Internet a user can

access (a web page, text document, graphics or audio file, etc.).

An e-mail address gives the location of an e-mail account to and from which electronic

mail can be transmitted.

Think of a URL as a street address and an e-mail address as a post office box number.

If you want to look around through some information about a subject, you would use

Internet addresses. If you want to send a message to someone, you would use an e-mail


It is useful to understand this difference because the terms are sometimes confused.

Even published references sometimes list an e-mail address as an Internet address

or vice versa. The easy way to tell the difference is to look for the telltale "@".

An e-mail address will have one and only one.

An Internet address will usually, but not always, start with "www" (world

wide web), and will not have only one "@" (though in rare cases it may

contain more than one).

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