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Ecommerce / Web Marketing Ezine
August 26 2001

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Taming the Beast Ezine - August 26 2001


A note from Michael and Kathy

1. Microsoft & others still implementing Smart Tags 
2. Looking for freeware/shareware?
3. Article summary - Internet Statistics (Updated)
4. Article summary - eCommerce & the Global Internet Community
5. From the Archives - You ARE being watched

Closing Notes and contact details


August 26 2001

Greetings All,

Welcome to another issue. Smart Tags are a hot topic still, so we'll examine these nasties and how to combat them. Microsoft is not the only company to utilise this type of technology. We'll also catch up on the latest articles on offer from Taming the Beast. The articles are FREE for reproduction on sites, ezines and newsletters.

For those of you who had emailed us last week, we apologise for our slow response in replying. Our email server was down for two days, but we are assured by our service provider that no mail was lost. If you did not receive a response from us by now, it means that mail was lost and we'd appreciate you contacting us again. We apologise for any inconvenience. 

Please forward this newsletter on to those who you feel may be interested in the subjects discussed. If you have received this in error, we apologise, and by replying to this email with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line, we'll remove you from our list promptly. To those of you who have subscribed, we assure you that your email address will not be distributed to any other party for any reason, in accordance with our privacy policy.

Michael and Kathy


1. Microsoft & others still implementing Smart Tags 

There has been a great deal of press over recent months regarding Microsoft's much maligned use of Smart Tags and understandably so. For those of you who aren't aware of Smart Tags, one of the capabilities is to give internet browser/plugin software companies the ability to introduce their own hyperlinks onto your web pages - without your knowledge. This is achieved by special instructions included with browsing software to "highlight" certain words on your pages such as "camcorder", enticing you to move your mouse over them. A drop down box then appears over the highlighted word "offering" a selection of links related to that word. If a link is selected, a visitor is transported from your site to another. The owner of the web page has no control over the destination, nor receives any compensation for unwittingly providing the lead.

A note of clarification - many articles I have read have stated that Microsoft shelved the use of "Smart Tags" after the backlash from consumers - this is incorrect. On searching through Microsoft's archives, I came across this excerpt dated August 8:

"Office XP, the newest version of Office, has already delivered on Microsoft's .NET vision with new features such as Smart Tags, which automatically provide relevant information from within a user's computer or from over the Internet"

http://www.microsoft.com/PressPass/ features/2001/aug01/08-08pc20.asp

So while the function is supposedly being removed from within Windows XP (for this year), Office XP still uses it. And Internet Explorer is a part of Office XP.

A page on Microsoft's site that contained information regarding Smart Tags has been removed recently:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows /ie/preview/smarttags/

If any of our readers can clarify this further or is using XP and has experienced the implementation of smart tags while surfing the Internet; I'd be very interested in hearing about it. A colleague recently installed IE6 (stand alone) and noticed that Smart Tag functions were an option during a custom installation. 

Smart Tags do have legitimacy, such as Microsoft Word users being able to utilise the tags to create drop down boxes with links to other documents. The major difference being that in this case, the author has control over implementation.

To their credit, Microsoft has also released information on how to prevent Smart Tags from operating on your site. You will need to insert the following lines between your <head> </head> tags on each page:

<meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">

Microsoft is not the only company involved with the usage of "Smart Tags". eZula (TopText) and Surf+ both use the same kinds of technology in their plugins to "provide relevant links to surfers"... in other words... ads...

I have enough ads on my site and would hate to annoy visitors further with unwelcomed and uninvited parasitical software altering the text on my pages.....  and speaking of ads ;0)

RoboForm: Free Password Manager

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2. Looking for Freeware/Shareware? Taming the Beast has over 11,000 downloads available through it's association with the IBoost network. The download library includes the following categories:

- Business
- Email tools
- Information management
- Multimedia and Graphics
- Network and Internet
- Palm Pilot
- Programming
- Desktop
- Utilities
- Web Authoring
- Games

To visit our software archive, go to:

http://www.tamingthebeast.subportal. com/sn/

3. Article summary - Internet Statistics (Updated)

Some interesting facts and figures regarding Internet usage over the month of July. Includes monitor resolution, browser and OS stats.

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Web industry tests, exams & IQ testing from a ISO9001 certified company. Sit a free exam!

Looking for great web development books on PHP, CSS, Flash & ASP? Download free chapters!

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/julystats.htm


4. Article summary - eCommerce, Communications and the Global Internet Community

In our increasingly online world, cyberspace is still experiencing "gold fever", but there have been and will be many casualties. Only the innovative, responsive, financially sound and flexible will survive. Many new markets are joining the world of eCommerce; over the last 6 months I have seen a remarkable increase in visitors to my site from countries such as India. This trend means more visitors to our sites perhaps; but it definitely means more competition between web developers, etailers and other service providers.

Are you ready for some major power shifts?

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/globalinternetecommerce.htm


5. From the Archives - You ARE being watched

While the benefits of rampant commercialism of the Internet have benefitted us by a decrease in access costs and increased availability to free software and information, there are some legacies.....

I run a website and I am always interested in the demographics connected with it. Like most webmasters, I have server logs that tell me how many visitors I have had that day, which pages were viewed the most etc, etc. I am always on the lookout for more accurate statistics and I recently came across a great little utility.

....then dropped it like a hot potato....

I won't name the software as I don't want any undesirable attention, but I'd just like to make you aware that it's out there and what it does.

If you come across a web site that states something along the lines of "you can chat with a sales representative, live", there is a good chance that your movement through the site is being tracked, not just by a computer, but also a human operator.


It works like this on the controllers end once you visit a page on the site:

- an audible and visual alarm is sent to the operator

- on their screen it shows you as a series of numbers/letters known as a IP/Host address (and remembers it for later). The IP/Host address is the address of your computer at the time on the internet. This is the type of information that hackers drool over.

- you are then being tracked through the site - the pages you visit and the length of time you spend on each one

- the operator can then request to chat with you, or you can request to chat with the operator. A window will open up in your browser so the conversation can occur

- the operator can also "push" certain pages to be displayed

- if you engage in a chat session with the operator, the transcript can be saved for viewing by the operator the next time you are on that site. A "profile" is built up.

As I am typing this, my browser is sitting on one of these pages. My firewall software is going insane.....

This software is not released by the "Internet Underground", but is freely available, legal, widely advertised and used by some very prominent companies - I have witnessed it on their sites - just prior to hitting the "back" button.... There are versions of it that are free. You do not need to join a secret society to learn about it. The company is very up front regarding the capabilities of the utility.


The first time I ran the software, I was absolutely stunned by the information it was giving me. 2 days later I removed it. It didn't feel "right".

- You don't need to be a computer genius to install this software

- Because the data comes via the software companies servers, I don't know if/how they were utilising the data

- There is no real screening of applicants for this software

- This software could be used on a legitimate site, the data gathered and used for illegitimate purposes

- The page you came from prior to that site could quite possibly be indicated (known as a referring page)

I guess there are two ways to view this software:

a) A major development in customer service in an online environment.

b) Intrusive and uninvited. I am yet to see an advice on a web site running this kind of tracking that your movements are being monitored in an effort to "improve customer service". The tracking could be defended using the analogy of a salesperson in a store; or a shopkeeper. But at least you can see them and you know they are there - and they usually don't keep notes regarding your conversation with them!

This software has won many major industry awards. I have nothing against commercial utilisation of the web, I am a part of it, but utilities such as this do raise some questions regarding privacy ethics.

In my country, when you call a major company via the telephone, there is usually a recorded message stating that your call may be monitored for "coaching purposes" or "quality control". You are given the option of requesting that the call not be monitored.

I would like to see the same option on the 'net

What are your thoughts?

related articles:

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/freedomofspeech.htm

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/watched2.htm

http://www.tamingthebeast.net/ articles/reassurance.htm

Michael Bloch 
Tutorials, web content and tools, software and community.
Web Marketing, eCommerce & Development solutions. 

Copyright information....If you wish to reproduce this article, please acknowledge "Taming the Beast" by including a hyperlink or reference to the website (www.tamingthebeast.net) & send me an email letting me know. The article must be reproduced in it's entirety & this copyright statement must be included. Thanks. Visit www.tamingthebeast.net to view other great articles FREE for reproduction!


For those of you who have been utilising our image search engine; AltaVista have dropped the affiliation with BeFree (who we were obtaining the search box through), so we are utilising an image search box directly from AltaVista themselves. There had been some problems with this utility for a few weeks, so we are glad to say that it has been rectified and proper results will be displayed.

Well, that's all for this Taming the Beast update. We appreciate your support and the next time you visit, take the time to fully explore the site as it is expanding rapidly. We are very open to feedback, so please don't hesitate in contacting us.

We hope that life is treating you kindly.

Regards from Australia

Michael Bloch & Katherine Tyndale
Taming the Beast - Established 1995
Tutorials, web content and tools, software and community
Marketing, eCommerce and General Training Services

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