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Article citation: Nigel Almond, (2012) "Internet update", Property Management, Vol. 30 Iss: 1, pp. -
Finding information on the internet is not always easy, particularly when information is often updated. In such instances how do you keep track of changes? There are a number of ways in which this can be done.
One simple solution is to utilise search tools. Google, has an alert system which you can tailor to your own needs (www.google.co.uk/alerts). To set an alert is simple. First you need to enter your search term. This could be a single word or a particular phrase. At this stage it is worthwhile considering if you need to restrict the search. For example, you may wish to use quotation marks around a particular phrase. I use alerts to keep track of some of the reports I produce. One, called the Great Wall of Money needs to have quotation marks around, otherwise I would end up with results for charity walks along the Great Wall of China!
Quotation marks can also be used around single words, if you are specifically after that word. This is important where a word could be split in two. You may also wish to consider the use of “OR” in the term. This could be the case if you are after something that was published in say 2005 or 2007. The help section on Google provides more details on this.
Having decided upon your particular phrase or word, the next decision is to tailor the search to your needs. First, you can search everything, or you can narrow this down to news, blogs, video or discussion. You can also select the frequency in which you receive alerts. This can be as it happens, once a day or once a week. Finally, you can decide on whether you want only the best results, or everything. Finally, having done all this you then need to enter your e-mail address, this is the one you want the alerts sent to. You will receive an e-mail to verify that you have requested an alert. This ensures that only the recipient receives the information. You will then receive alerts according to the time frame set and you can then view or ignore the links at your leisure.
An alternative to alerts is the use of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. These are used where particular information is updated on a regular basis, for example a monthly or quarterly report. In this way a feed can be set up so that users can be alert to when the new update is available. If a RSS feed is available the web site will show this by displaying the following icon <$>\raster="Fig143550f.1"<$>, or show RSS.
There are a couple of ways of viewing updates. The first is to visit the web site and look for the RSS icon. Some may have a “sign up to RSS feeds” link. By clicking on this link a new page will appear listing the recent updates. Depending on the organisation, some will only have a couple of updates, others will have hundreds. At random, I stumbled upon the Henderson web site and selected their RSS Feeds. In total there were 167 updates. I could then filter these by category, including media centre, or even property. There was also a date filter, title filter or author filter. You can also alter the filter to be ascending or descending.
From this stage you can then set up alerts. This could be either through your internet browser or through your e-mail. There is usually help available on how to set up. The procedure may also vary depending on the version of the browser you have. To add to your internet browser is easy. On the RSS feed page there will be a ‘Subscribe to this feed’ link in the yellow dialogue box at the top. Click on this link and a dialogue box will appear, such as the one in Figure 1. I add to my feeds folder (you can add more and manage, if you have a number of feeds). Click on subscribe and it is all set up. Once set up, you can then visit that web site and select the feed within your browser.
An alternative is to set a feed up within your e-mail account, if its allowed. I use windows live mail for my personal e-mail use and can easily set up through this as there is an icon within the system, which simply allows you to copy they appropriate hyperlink into the dialogue box, and that is it. It is also possible in Microsoft Outlook too. This can be a bit more complex. If you go to Tools, then Account Settings. On the “RSS Feeds” tab, click new. You can then copy and paste the hyperlink into the box, click add and then OK (see Figure 2). If you use a different e-mail package, it is worth consulting the help section to find out if it supports feeds.
Of course, there are other ways in which you can keep up-to-date with information. Working in the field of research, I am regularly publishing reports that are uploaded to our web site. Like many property consultants we often hold distribution lists, which are then used to circulate reports by e-mail. With many companies doing the same, there is a danger that updates are missed or deleted too easily. To combat this, the DTZ research web site (www.dtz.com/research) has been updated. The site enables you to select your interests and preferences, so that when a DTZ Research report is added that meets your criteria, it will automatically send you an e-mail with the report attached – this way you only receive reports in which you are interested, rather than you being sent a number of reports in a generic e-mail that may have no relevance or interest to you and your business.
To subscribe you need to register. Once you have done this you can click on the “Notification preferences” link on the left hand side of the research home page. You can then select your interests by geography (using an interactive global map), property type and/or by DTZ report series. It would be great if such a system were available on other sites.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of DTZ.
Associate Director, DTZ. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org