Tales from the Terminal Room
January 2003, Issue No. 39
Please Note: This is an archive copy of the newsletter. The information and links that it contains are not updated.
Tales from the Terminal Room ISSN 1467-338X
January 2003, Issue No. 39
Editor: Karen Blakeman
Published by: RBA Information Services
Tales from the Terminal Room (TFTTR) is a monthly newsletter, with the exception of July and August, which are published as a single issue. TFTTR includes reviews and comparisons of information sources and search tools; updates to the RBA Web site Business Sources and other useful resources; dealing with technical and access problems on the Net; and news of RBA's training courses and publications.
In this issue:
NorthernLight to close public web site
NorthernLight users were astonished to discover after the Christmas and New Year break that the pay as you go service has been discontinued. The first that we knew of it was the notice on the NorthernLight home page, which said "Effective January 1st 2003, divine has discontinued the sale of its special collection articles on a pay per view basis. Thank you for your patronage over the years and we are sorry for any inconvenience."
Confusingly, the collections are still searchable and you still get a list of results. When you click on the buy button, though, another message about the closure pops up. All accounts have been terminated, which means that Alerts no longer work. I used this to monitor the news and press release database and it was an excellent service for which I would have been prepared to pay.
To be honest, this does not come as a surprise. Over a year ago NorthernLight announced that it was discontinuing its World Wide Web site index. The index remained available on the Nlresearch.com version of the service but was not updated. Then the special collection started to go down hill. Tables of contents - essential for identifying which section of a document you need - disappeared, and the relevance of search results started to decrease dramatically. In fact, some of us began to wonder if the relevance ranking algorithm was working at all.
A number of people have contacted NorthernLight in an attempt to find out that what is going to happen to the rest of the service. The News Search is still online but will soon disappear. The NorthernLight technology behind the site will continue to be available from divine but the public site will be revamped as a marketing tool.
What really annoys me is that they did not have the courtesy to inform their paying customers about the closure. A simple email would have sufficed. But at least I have not lost any money as some people have.
AlltheWeb has updated its search technology. The first, obvious change is that AlltheWeb now tries to automatically determine your country of origin and presents page results in your local language and English. This is done via your IP address and is not foolproof as has been proved in the past with similar initiatives from other search tools. You could be based in the UK and on a network that emerges in the Netherlands, so you would see results in Dutch and English. This can be changed, though, under "Customized Preferences".
AlltheWeb also now supports the Boolean operators AND, OR, and ANDNOT. You have to use the Advanced Search page for this and must ensure that the pulldown search specification menu next to the query box is set to "Boolean expression". There is an additional operator called RANK, which gives preferences to search results that contain given keywords.
And for toolbar and sidebar fanatics, there are a range of browser tools for Opera, Mozilla, Netscape, IE and Sherlock. (http://www.alltheweb.com/help/tools/).
International Graduate Summer School Short Courses
Before I can go any further, I must declare an interest in this series of courses: I am leading a one day workshop in the third module on Placing your Library on the Web! Now read on...
The International Graduate Summer School (iGSS) in Librarianship and Information Science is celebrating its 30th year by opening its doors to UK information professionals with three short courses this summer. Based in the Department of Information Studies (DIS) of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, the three residential 3-day courses offer the chance for professional development while mixing with overseas colleagues.
The courses are:
Each course is residential and costs £785. More information can be obtained from Joyce Wallace Administrator, Department of Information Studies University of Wales, Aberystwyth Tel 01970 622157 Fax 01970 622190 Email Joyce.Wallace@aber.ac.uk
URL for further information: http://www.dil.aber.ac.uk/IGSS/
Trade Association Listings
Several lists of Trade Association sites have been added to the Trade & Service Directories and Statistics pages of our Business Information on the Internet directory. Trade and Research associations are much neglected sources of industry and sector information. They often have useful background data and statistics on the industries and subjects that they cover, and sometimes have directories of members. Gale (http://www.galegroup.com/) produces several directories, regarded by many as the reference sources for tacking down association, in hardcopy and electronic form. For those on a limited budget, though, there are several free if less comprehensive listings on the Web.
IRN-Research (http://www.irn-research.com/) used to have a very nice annotated listing of associations that indicated which sites had statistics and member directories. This disappeared after the recent site makeover but can still be viewed on the Wayback machine at http://www.archive.org/ .
For UK associations the Trade Association Forum (TAF) (http://www.taforum.org/) has a directory of UK trade associations that can be searched by name or description. Information on each association includes address, telephone and fax numbers, main contact and a link to the association's Web site.
If you are looking for European associations try the European Trade Associations (http://www.eurunion.org/infores/business/trade.htm). This page lists EU federations and committees in various industry and service sectors, and each in turn lists individual member associations. For a keyword searchable database, follow the link near the top of the page to Coneccs (http://europa.eu.int/comm/civil_society/coneccs/index_en.htm)
The Marketing Source Directory of Trade Associations (http://www.marketingsource.com/associations/) covers 35,000 business, trade and professional associations 90% of which are US based. Similarly, the Gateway to Associations (http://info.asaenet.org/gateway/OnlineAssocSlist.html) produced by the American Society of Association Executives has a heavily US biased list of 6,600 associations. The Internet Public Library's Associations on the Net (http://www.ipl.org/ref/AON/) is another heavily US populated database with sites listed under broad categories or searchable by keyword.
Finally in this list, the The Scholarly Societies Project (http://www.scholarly-societies.org/) is truly International in coverage. Do not be deterred by the earnest sounding name. This is a wide ranging collection covering trade and research associations, royal societies, international unions and federations. You can search by subject, country or language.
Top 10 Business Sources http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/top10/
The following were voted as the top business sources by delegates attending the Business Sources workshop on January 30th. There are two sites at number 10, but we decided not to put it to the vote as both are excellent resources and it is their first appearance in this listing.
Gizmo of the Month
The war against the ever increasing amounts of spam (unsolicited email) rages on. There are a number of actions you can take at your end of the email link with services such as SpamCop and Brightmail zapping the junk once it reaches your mailbox. The trick, though, is to stop it getting there in the first place.
A significant amount of spam arises as a result of registering for access to a service: far too many sites disregard your "opt-out" or don't have an opt-out option at all :-( You can use "throwaway" accounts, such as Hotmail, for registration but signing up for a new one every time your mailbox is blitzed is tedious. This is where SpamGourmet can help.
SpamGourmet describes itself as "self-destructing disposable email addresses, titanium strength spam blocking". There are various levels of protection. If you want to register for a forum, for example to get a registration code or ID and password for access, you would give them a SpamGourmet address that allows a maximum of two emails through. These are forwarded to your real email address. After that all emails to your disposable address are deleted.
The advanced options allow you to increase the number of emails you are willing to receive. For example, you could set up the email firstname.lastname@example.org where cats is a word you have not used before, 10 is the number of email messages you want to receive at the address (up to 20), and mainecoon is your username on Spam Gourmet.
The service is free and has been set up "by folks who've been driven rabid by spam since 1993"! If you want to support the service in some tangible way, you can make a donation or buy a t-shirt or mug.
Meetings & Workshops
Workshop: Key Business Resources on the Net
Workshop: Market Research on the Web
Workshop: Advanced Internet Search Strategies
Workshop: Business Information: Resource Management Strategies
TFTTR Contact Information
Karen Blakeman, RBA Information Services
TFTTR archives: http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/archives/index.shtml
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