Research & Innovation
Real Work on the Web
So many of us have access to the Web but still use it as we do TV, as a passive entertainment device or at best to do a few simple tasks. There are literally billions of web pages available. Some have detailed information on processes, others have...
May 1, 2004 By Pulp & Paper Canada
So many of us have access to the Web but still use it as we do TV, as a passive entertainment device or at best to do a few simple tasks. There are literally billions of web pages available. Some have detailed information on processes, others have instructions on technical procedures, many technical papers are available on-line and there are utilities for performing calculations or other tasks.
Many of the major vendors supplying the P&P industry have excellent websites, offering information, papers, and searchable databases. Most of the associations (PAPTAC, TAPPI, and others) also provide information, though some of these have costs associated with the available information while others may be accessible to members only.
Some sites associated directly with our industry:
Several of the major journals are available on-line, including Pulp & Paper Canada, TAPPI Journal and JPPS.
Both PAPTAC and TAPPI offer excellent sites.
Any site hosted by a pulp producing company often has some useful information.
Any site hosted by a supplier to the pulp industry will have some very good information on their aspect of the industry. You can find specifications, recommendations, diagrams and drawings. Some of the graphics are very useful, but be sure to get permission for public use.
A chemical supplier also has very detailed information on the application of their chemicals, lists of their technical papers, calculation utilities, safety information (including MSDS) and much more.
Research organizations have excellent sites that detail both the researchers and their projects. They are solving the problems of now as well as doing the cutting edge work that mills will use ten years from now.
Reference/news sites can provide information on the state of the industry. There are several that are dedicated to our industry.
Most sites have links to other sites of greater or lesser relevance to pulp & paper.
There are other websites, not directly related to our industry, which I have found to be of some use. I am sure there are many alternatives, but these are the ones I have used successfully.
Map or direction sites: These can show a map of almost any area in North America (I have not tried anywhere else). In addition, they can give (very!) detailed directions for travelling from one location to another. You have to try it to see how good they can be. The one I use is MapQuest.
General news: As I travel a great deal, I find it is easy to get out of touch with current events. Despite my remarks above, it can be useful to be aware of the latest sports, world events or regional news. My favourite is CBC, which I access via AvantGo on my Palm.
Weather: For those of us travelling to different areas, particularly in winter, it can be very important to know the conditions at your destination. There are several popular sites, but the one I find easiest to use is Environment Canada.
Searching: Finding anything on the web can be a challenge. Be aware that it takes good technique as well as a good search engine. My favourite is Fast/All The Web, which lives up to its name. Most search engines can be customized and your preferences stored.
Phone directories: Any time you need to find a phone number, particularly in another region, there are many sites that can help. Most seem to access similar lists. My favourite is myTelus.com for NAFTA, but for elsewhere in the world, I use WhoWhere?
Reference sites: There are many sites in my ‘Favourites’ folder that are not directly related to P&P. These sites provide information that would normally be looked up in a reference book or at the local library, but they have the advantage of being immediately accessible from the comfort of your office. Some that I have bookmarked are Canada Post, Merriam-Webster OnLine, several photo galleries, language translators, MSDS listings, toxicological term definitions, hotel information, chemical testing and many others.
Just about any topic you can think of has a web page. An important consideration is that any website is generally only a few clicks from any other. This means that some very unusual sites can be accessed accidentally. I have been caught by a website that popped up windows all over my computer screen. I finally had to disconnect from the web to stop the website from taking over. There are also websites that put ‘spyware’ on your computer. This is software installed without your knowledge or permission, for the purposes of the website owners. Most of it is innocuous, but all of it takes up room on your computer and monitors some aspect of your computing activity. There are programs that will protect you from these intrusive websites and/or programs, though corporate connections are usually protected by firewalls. The programs I use are AdAware and PopUpStopper.
As you can see, there are hosts of websites available for almost any purpose that you could think of, and many you cannot. The web can be a complete reference library on your desktop — if it is used correctly. It can also be much more, giving you instant access to so many services that are just not available anywhere else. You just have to know about it and use it. Just some of the sources available would give you:
the detailed directions to a hotel in a strange new city (saving yourself the aggravation of getting lost);
that technical paper your boss never heard of (which was published in a journal 10 years ago);
the program for an upcoming conference;
the latest news on our industry.
All this at the click of a link or even assembled for you in your morning email — that’s how you will be starting the use of this powerful tool.
Dan Davies is the application manager at Degussa Canada in bleaching and water chemicals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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