Watch where you shop online this holiday season, experts warn


Online shopping promises to be this holiday season, according to experts.

And all of the experts agree that the growth and popularity of shopping over the World Wide Web is linked to the public's trust in medium.

Protecting yourself while shopping on the Web this year doesn't have to include a lot of checklists and parameters; in fact, the American Bar Association has done the hard part for you.

The ABA's Web site is devoted to keeping online consumers educated about their rights and concerns about electronic commerce.

The site is divided into 10 content areas, ranging from transaction security issues to determining which agency to contact to file a complaint.'s list of Shopping Tips is excellent and is a good common sense review for anyone who plans to purchase goods online.

Visit the site at

CENSUS DATA ONLINE. Last year, businesses nationwide completed the government's economic census, and now the results are in.

The compiled results are available online at the Census Bureau's American Business Web site.

American Business has extensive state-by-state information, as well as economic data broken down by areas within the state. You'll also find the latest economic indicators, company data, trade data and business data.

Online visitors can access online reports on trades and services, housing, manufacturing, retail sales, household income, poverty, new homes sales, comparative industry reports and much more, in the form of charts, graphs and comparative studies.

Much of the site's information can be downloaded and viewed in the popular Adobe Acrobat format, making printing a snap.

Visit the American Business site at

TRADE PUB, BUB? If you're searching for trade publications in your field of expertise, there's a Web site that may assist your search. bills itself as the ``Home of the Internet Professional,'' and provides a mother load of info for the taking.

TradePub has hundreds of trade publications listed in its 17 categories, ranging from Business and Finance to Telecommunications and Transportation.

These are the largest publications -- no ``Wired'' magazine or ``Red Herring'' on the list, but publications that are only free to qualified professionals. It's a substantial list of publishers and publications.

To subscribe, you'll have to complete a marketing survey to get the subscription, but that's pretty standard among trade publications.

If finding trade information is on your ``to do'' list, then you might get complete those other tasks that much faster.

For more information, visit on the Web.

FONTAHOLICS UNITE! If you've been using computers for a number of years, you probably remember the days when printer fonts were limited to whatever your printer -- usually a dot matrix -- could produce.

Fancier fonts were available only on higher-priced printers and the ultra-expensive laser printers.

Fortunately, computer users are no longer saddled with expensive printer costs and a lack of fonts for printing.

There's a whole cottage industry of sorts that supports the creation -- and distribution -- of free or low-cost fonts, and they're growing in number every day.

Now I'm what's known as a font-a-holic -- a person who can never have enough fonts installed on his computer. I've got the matching fonts for the typestyles used in all four Star Trek TV series, as well as about half the Star Trek movies as well.

I've got Ding Bat fonts for every occasion, and you never know when you'll need to print something out in Old English typeface, or that font that caps the horizontal parts of the letters and numbers with what looks like snowy and icicles.

My latest ``fix'' in my search for new fonts was found on the Web at has more than 1,100 free fonts in its archive -- with more arriving each month.

And while I like cool fonts, there are few things more tedious than scrolling through long lists of fonts. has alphabetized the list, and then broken it down into categories: Dingbats, Classical, and keeping their latest additions in a New Fonts area keeps things even easier to find.

The site has links to other places on the Web for more free fonts and graphics, ideal for anyone building a Web site or creating something for print.

Visit online at

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to, or visit on the World Wide Web.

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