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Sree Tips
A free monthly newsletter of Web tips and tricks
Nov. 2002:

From Sreenath Sreenivasan
Columbia University journalism professor
Tech Guru" on Thursday mornings in NYC area
[Tech Guru archives at
Now with Real Video archives]

Subscribe: (just one message a month)

Welcome to the latest issue of the SreeTips newsletter (it's back after a hiatus). As always, I look forward to YOUR tips, feedback and suggestions: This month's tipsters: Akash Alam, Pat Arnow, Mervin Block, Jon Dube, Sandy Edry, Atilla Kocsis, Rob Romano, Al Tompkins. This newsletter started as an offshoot of the "Smarter Surfing: Better Use of Your Web Time" workshops I teach around the U.S. and abroad. If you are interested in having me do a session for your office, organization, school or hamlet, please visit

Why wait a month for the next newsletter? Visit the constantly updated "Smarter Surfing" links at
Also see new "Web Tips" published every Tuesday & Friday on (co-written by Jon Dube of

Reminder: Your friends can add themselves to this once-a-month list by e-mailing

{Cheers, Sree}

(sites I find useful in some way)

After receiving complaints about the structure of my personal site, (too crowded! too busy! too ugly!) I have set up a new tips site filled with, well, tips of various kinds. It's SUPPOSED to be easier to navigate. You be the judge.

If you are looking for statistics, this is a great place to start. It provides links to data about all sorts of topics (business to education to sports). The site, run by stats maven Peter Bruce, doesn't provide the data itself, but links out the best places on the Web for the respective stats. For example, if you wanted to find the latest salary info for college professors, will send you to "Faculty Salaries, 2001-2" at the Chronicle of Higher education <>.
ARCHIVE TIP: Another good site for statistics is the "Finding Data on the Internet" page provided by journalist Robert Niles on his site:
This useful site allows you to manage your passwords (remembering Web passwords has never been my strong suit). Once you download the free version of the software, it lives in the background of your computer and remembers passwords, Web identities and such, and shows up only when a site prompts you for the information. Your data is stored on your PC, rather than on the company's servers, which means it's mostly safe for you to use. I would not use it for your most important passwords, such as online banking, or if your PC is shared with others. You can opt out of using Roboform for particularly sensitive sites. There's a more sophisticated paid version for non-personal use (for $30), but like the free version, there's no Macintosh support on that either.
The London-based site offers many useful features, including basic facts on 200+ countries and territories, along with a visitor's guide, maps, current news links, and Web resources. I use it to find basic information about countries I don't know enough about or to start research about a nation or region. As with any Web resource, it's good to double-check the information, especially since the amount and quality of data on this site is not uniform. Still, this is a good resource worth checking out.

ENCORE: Last issue's New-ish USEFUL SITES

(new feature here: some recent segments)'s Tech Message Board -- a place to post your questions about the Internet, gadgets, etc., and have them answered by others (and me).

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(proof "fun" is a subjective word)

Predict Time's Person of the Year
-- contest to predict this year's winner
I have been a fan of Time's "Man of the Year" issues (renamed "Person of the Year" of late) since grade school -- even though I have rarely agreed with the choices. So in 1999, I launched an informal little contest to see if my friends could predict who would be the "Person of the Century." 73 people from six countries entered that year. It's time for this year's contest -- your chance to predict who Time magazine editors will pick as the 2002 "Person of the Year." Not who you WANT it to be, who it WILL be. Stop by and submit an entry. Please ignore if you hate lists, contests or Time's "Person of the Year." We may all have thoughts on who we would LIKE each year's winner to be, but that doesn't mean our choice SHOULD, or more importantly, WILL, be chosen. So let's put your prognosticating skills to the test. Note: this contest has NOTHING to do with Time Inc. Deadline: Friday, Dec. 10, 2002.

ENCORE: Last issue's New-ish FUN SITES

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(A SreeTips reader shares a tip - last issue's was so useful, I am repeating it)
Have a tip you would like to share? Send it to

SANDY EDRY, NY-based writer, suggests visiting
"It is incredibly useful -- especially for journos doing celebrity stories. It gives you the publicity agent and/or manager for practically everybody who's anybody." I agree: the site works well for Hollywood celebrities and it is worth going through the almost instant, free registration process to test it out. Of course, written out as a URL, the site's name becomes pretty funny:
Sandy's e-mail:
Have a tip you would like to share? Send it to

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(my starting points for various things; may change monthly)

Search Engine:
The best search engine out there. 'Nuff said. But here's Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal on Google: "...simply the best search site I've ever used." If you know Walt's work -- and you should be following it religiously at -- you know that he doesn't hand out such praise often. Be sure to download the free Google toolbar; it will change the way you search: (no Mac version right now)

Reference Site:
Excellent reference site. Don't just take my word for it. The New York Times quoted U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell saying this is his favorite Web site. Run by Bob Drudge, Matt's dad (though Refdesk doesn't run rumors).

The Encyclopedia Britannica on the Web -- basic info free of charge (the full-access version, which used to be free, now costs $7.95 a month, or $50 a year).

In offices, dictionaries grow legs and walk. Hence an online dictionary is a must. This one addresses a major problem I have had with traditional dictionaries: You need to know how to spell a word before you look it up. Not here. Just punch in an approximation, and it will give you a suggested list. And nice etymology. Also see the new button for your browser; once you download it, you don't need to go to the site itself in order to lookup a word. You can do it right from whatever site you are in.

National Geographic's Map Machine
Leave it to National Geographic to make the best online atlas with these dynamic maps that will take you to any spot you choose and allow you to change what kind of map you see, on the fly. I had no idea there are three towns named Santa Claus in the U.S. or that my grandfather's village in India is an easy find.

Driving Directions:
For U.S. driving directions, MapQuest remains the best site. But I also like the new "straight-line" maps from MapBlast <>

World Time:

The best set of world clocks and calendars. I like the personal world clock, which allows you to set and track time in up to 16 cities at one glance.

Software Downloads:
No need to hit the store to buy software. Almost everything you need is online and has free trials.

Media Goings-on:
Jim Romenesko's Media News
Hosted by, this is news-junkie heaven. I read it more often and more closely than any other site.

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Must-Sree TV
My "Tech Guru" segments on WABC-7 in the New York City area run every Thursday morning on channel 7 at 6:45 (yes, that's the a.m.). This is a link to archived Web versions of my segments -- now includes Real Video versions for the newer segments.

"Smarter Surfing" Workshops
Smarter surfing for people of all skill levels. Interested in scheduling a class for you and your colleagues? Learn more.

"Smarter Surfing" Links: Better Use of Your Web Time
Links for various categories of sites, annotated for your surfing pleasure.

SreeTips -- the new site
Links to my tips and thoughts on various items, including laptops, digital cameras, freelance writing, Web production and more. Web Tips

Every Tuesday, I write a short Web tip for; MSNBC technology editor Jonathan Dube writes one every Friday.
If you're in the news biz, you may want to subscribe to Jon's terrific monthly newsletter - "tips & talk for the wired world." Drop an e-mail to

Sree Talks
List of forthcoming talks and presentations in various cities.

Info Overload & Moi
An essay for on handling information overload (yes, I am a major info polluter).

[Reprint requests:]

That's it for now.

Remember, you can track my "Smarter Surfing" links at

See you (your inbox, actually) next month.

Cheers, Sree

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Sree Tips List
Copyright 2002

Feedback: > newsletters > Nov. 2002

See text archives of my Tech Guru appearances on Channel 7 -- Thursday mornings at 6:45 in NYC area