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Country Commercial Guides
The United States Commercial Service sponsors a site of Country Commercial Guides at http://www.usatrade.gov/website/ccg.nsf. Each guide provides the country's business, economic, and political environments. It also furnishes information on how these environments will effect business in the United States.
You can select a country from the list of drop-down options. The country commercial guides for 2002 have chapters on economic trends, the political environment and leading sectors for US exports and investments. Additional chapters include financing, statistics and country contracts. You can get each chapter as individual HTML documents, or the whole shmeal as one large, long-loading document. These reports are very detailed and include a variety of information like major media for the country, ad agencies, major import and export tables, and contact information for customs officials, investment banks, hotels, and embassy and trade related institutions.
Across the top you will find additional links to market research and trade events. There is also a link for consulting and advocacy which offers assistance in developing an export strategy and settling disputes. In the left column of the front page, you will find a search engine for locating export assistance centers by zip codes. Information dense; worth a look!
Michigan Licensing Information
Michigan's official state Web site now features a new source of licensing information. To access the database, go to Michigan's site at http://www.michigan.gov/ and click on Licensing, Certification and Permits in the left column, or go straight to
There are five sections here: Agriculture & Food, Environment, Health & Human Services, Individual & Personal and, the one we are going to focus on,
Business & Industry. Business & Industry has nine additional subheadings including Finance & Insurance, Business Taxes & Registration and Professional Occupations.
Information under Professional Occupations is broken down again by each of the sub-headings. For some professions you get just information the profession's presence in Michigan, requirements, costs, etc. For others there are application forms available online. To look up licenses there are three search engines: a licensed professional lookup, a health care lookup, and a consumer and industry services license lookup that encompasses the first two.
Other services on the Business & Industry site include a Credit Union look-up which can by searched by name, charter number, mailing location, or from the drop-down list of counties. A toll-free number is offered for additional assistance.
Bookmark this site at http://www.w3schools.com/ if you're looking for some knowledge: it offers completely free Web tutorials. What you can learn is listed in the left margin under the headings of HTML, XML, Browser Scripting, Server Scripting, .NET and Web Building (There are several subcategories for each topic.)
The center column offers links to tables of contents for test quizzes and examples you can try.
When I clicked on XML School, an entirely new list of XML options appeared in the left column encompassing more detailed XML topics (validation, element, syntax, etc.), so you can jump to a specific topic if you like. But before starting with the basics, you are told what you need to understand before learning XML. Lots you can pick up on this site, nicely and simply organized.
Worth a look.
Records Still a Mystery - Federal Computer Week: December 24, 2001.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has surveyed federal agencies and determined most still don't know quite what to do with electronic records, or even what an electronic record is.
The NARA says a record documents a "transaction of public business," whether it be a book, map, spreadsheet, picture or e- mail. E-mail messages are amongst the least likely to maintained in a recordkeeping system, because they are not recognized as electronic records. An alarming example is the policy of the Energy Department to print and save e- mails deemed to be records, while it actually receives over a million e-mails daily.
Some say NARA has provided the proper guidelines for handling electronics records. The survey showed too little money and time being spent on recordkeeping by most agencies. Check out the full article at:
[Editor's Note (SP): The text of the NARA report is available at http://www.nara.gov/records/rmi.html.]
News Search Engine News
For a while there was a real dearth of news search engines. Then starting late this year there was a veritable explosion of news search. Now you can't swing a shillelagh without hitting a news search engine.
Even Google's jumping on board. Though their search results have included news for a while, now they've made available a page of headlines at
http://www.google.com/news/newsheadlines.html. Headlines are divided into several different sections. Google tells me there may be some enhancements in the future; I suspect they're waiting to see how popular this page becomes.
Unfortunately Excite News search (http://news.excite.com) isn't what it used to be. The site offers several tab's worth of categorized news.
News search is now handled by Dogpile's Newscrawler. We'll miss you, Excite NewsTracker!
Finally, NewsIsFree is offering a changes.xml file from which you may get details at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/syndic8/message/1064. This is the file that Daypop is using to index news headlines. If anyone else starts using this file to build a news search engine, please let me know.
Turbo10 Opens Their Site to Specialty Search
Metasearch engine Turbo10 (http://turbo10.com) announced this week that specialty search engines can register their engines at Turbo10 and have results from their engines included on Turbo10's site. You can access the sign up form at http://turbo10.com/cgi-bin/joinupengine1.cgi.
I'm not much for meta-search engines, but this one is pretty interesting. It "clusters" results, allowing you to narrow down a search using a pull-down menu at the top of the page. It's not perfect -- on a search for "hawk" one of my clustering results was "and" -- but it did pick up "Atlanta" and "hawks." Looks like you'll have to use Netscape or IE with this site, though -- I couldn't get it to work with either Mozilla or Opera.