Tales from the Terminal Room
April 2005, Issue No. 61
Please Note: This is an archive copy of the newsletter. The information and links that it contains are not updated.
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Tales from the Terminal Room ISSN 1467-338X
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; 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:
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Information Today is running three conferences in parallel in Paris on June 1st-2nd: WebSearch Academy, Collaboration in the E-workplace and Enterprise Search.
The WebSearch Academy (http://www.infotoday.com/Paris/WebSearch/) concentrates on how to carry out research on the internet. It will focus on
I must confess to having a vested interest in this particular event as I am presenting the sessions on desktop search and speciality search engines! Other presenters include Phil Bradley, Greg Notess, Ran Hock and Marydee Ojala.
Enterprise Search - Solving the Findability Dilemma in Your Organisation (http://www.infotoday.com/Paris/EnterpriseSearch/) will look at:
Collaboration in the E-Workplace Strategies, Technologies, People & Culture (http://www.infotoday.com/Paris/Collaboration/) is intended to help you select and implement collaboration technologies in an organisation:
All three are taking place at i-expo (http://www.i-expo.net/) at CNIT- Paris La Defense, France. Further information and registration forms can be found at http://www.infotoday.com/Paris/
BananaSlug is an interface to Google but with an extra feature. You put in your search strategy and then BananaSlug adds a random search term. Alternatively you can select a category for your random word - e.g. animals, great ideas, random number, themes from Shakespeare. The idea is to promote serendipitous surfing. By adding a random term, which may or may not be relevant, you pull up pages that are buried way down in the results list and which you would probably never see. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I found that if you are looking for statistics or market data selecting a random term from the number category works quite well. BananaSlug uses the Google APIs and is limited to 1000 queries a day. If the site is past the limit, you are diverted to Google with your search terms and random word.
And yes, there really is a creature called the banana slug. According to Wikipedia their body is usually bright yellow but they can also be green, brown, or even white. They are the second largest slug in the world - I have no desire to find out about the largest - and can be up to 25cm in length. And I thought we had problems in Caversham with those horrible 10 cm orange and brown things. Yuk! Let's change the subject.
This is not like the Google related or similar pages where you start with a single relevant page and ask Google to find other pages similar in type and content. The Gigablast offering works at the search level: you type in your search strategy as usual and near the top of the results list there is a "related" pages section displaying a few extra pages with a 'more' link to other "related" pages.
I found that they do not always appear, especially when you type in a complex strategy. Also, I am a bit suspicious as to how these so called related pages are selected. Gigablast gives an example of searching on Colorado activities:
"You will see many webpages which are contextually related to the original query terms, but have no obvious direct connection to them. Many show the word Colorado, but not activities or activity, yet the pages all seem to fit well into the descriptive two-word query Colorado activities."
After running a few of my standard test searches, I have the impression that a lot of these pages could be paid-for placements. Not many were relevant to my searches. But perhaps I am being uncharitable. More useful to me is the Giga Bits section, which shows alternative search strategies and I find that those really are relevant.
An interesting tool that runs your search on both Google and Yahoo at the same time. It displays your results in two frames alongside one another in your browser so that you can view both sets at the same time. In practice, it is better to look at them one at a time: I started to feel seasick trying to compare the results in both sets. If you just want to compare coverage and results between Yahoo and Google for a particular search strategy then use Thumbshots Ranking (http://ranking.thumbshots.com/).
Google has added the UK to its list of Local Search countries (previously just the US and Canada). You type in what you are looking for e.g. double glazing, restaurants, and the location, which can be a town or postcode. Google then combines information from its web database with Yellow pages. A map is produced alongside the list of results with the locations of the businesses marked on the map. The businesses nearest your location are listed first and subsequent pages of results move further out. When you click on the location on the map, the address pops up and you can also ask for directions. The route from your starting point is marked on the map and there are detailed written instructions, for example "Turn left at Playhatch Road - go 0.6 mi". It is not perfect, though. My search on restaurants in Caversham missed three excellent eateries in the centre of the village that are in both Google and Yellow Pages.
I was alerted to this search tool by TFTTR reader Simon Wren. Like most people, I suspect, I had assumed that it just searched videos and television programmes but it also covers radio broadcasts. I have used it several times to locate BBC radio news items on various topics and the trick is to keep the search as simple as possible. The "transcript" of the broadcast is computer generated and the end result can be interesting if not hilarious. Another TFTTR reader, Emma Wood, reports that she successfully used it to track down TV items on the German exploding toads story. (No, I am not going to tell you any more about the toads. You can search for it yourself!).
This is the web site of the new UK government department responsible for, amongst other things, VAT and Income Tax and formed by the merger of the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise. Having spent many hours, days and weeks trying to find my way round the old Customs & Excise site I was horrified at the prospect of having to start all over again. I was relieved to find a clear, easy to read home page and was able to navigate quite easily through the site to most of the information that I needed. The search options got me quickly to those documents and guides that I could not easily locate via the menus. Overall, I am impressed.
This is a frequently asked question on many of my courses so I thought it was about time I compiled a short list of some of the resources that are available. Tracking legislation through parliament can be done relatively easily. The problems start when you want to find amendments to existing legislation and up to date copies of amended Acts. For example, HMSO - UK Legislation at http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts.htm provides free access to Public General Acts as originally passed by the UK Parliament but does not republish them when they are amended. For the consolidated amended full text, you will usually have to go to one of the priced services.
Westlaw.uk (http://www.westlaw.co.uk/overview.htm) is updated
on a weekly basis and gives you the consolidated full text and allows
you to see how the law stood both before and after amendments.
LexisNexis (http://www.lexisnexis.co.uk/) provides access to the full,
amended text of Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments in England
and Wales and legislation of the Scottish Parliament.
For new legislation and amendments, there are several free resources. UK Parliament Bills before Parliament can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/pabills.htm. A complete list of public bills introduced in Parliament in the current session, together with information about their progress through Parliament appears in the Weekly Information Bulletin at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmwib.htm . The Bill index at http://bills.ais.co.uk/, owned by The Stationery Office, provides links to the full text of bills, the Hansard debate and any proposed amendments.
The Department for Constitutional Affairs (http://www.dca.gov.uk/legist.htm) has a page were you can track progress on current legislation for which the Department is responsible and also access details of past legislation that has been implemented. There is a set of publications within the site belonging to the Electoral Commission. The list is not easily accessible so go to the home page at http://www.electoralcommission.gov.uk/ and then search on "legislation tracker".
There is a free bill tracker in the Butterworths site at http://nxtpresa.butterworths.co.uk/freelaw/billtracker/bills.asp. This details the progress of all public Bills before Parliament in the current session and is updated daily when Parliament is sitting.
If you are totally confused by UK legislation and the procedures involved Stephen Young has written two excellent articles on the topic:
The Electronic Parliament: Resources for Tracking U.K. Legislation. By Stephen Young http://www.llrx.com/features/e_parliament.htm. Published November 15, 2001
Researching Primary Legislation of the United Kingdom. By Stephen Young http://www.llrx.com/features/uklegis.htm. May 2003
Google does not provide a list of sources for its News service, but this site runs a php script that captures the Google News home page every 15 minutes and then logs the sources it finds. You can view sources for all countries or select an individual country from the drop down list. However, the country option does not appear to be very accurate so it is probably best to stick to the "all" option. As of May 1st, a total of 4804 sources were listed. The default listing is by source, but you can change that to Frequency- that is by the number of articles per source. According to this site, the top 5 are: ABC News, Reuters, Terra España, Xinhua and The Scotsman.
I came across this little gem while checking up on some telecoms related sites. My favourite "alternative" definitions are:
Instead of the usual Q&A, this month we have a Top 10 Tips 'n' Tricks. This is similar to the Top 10 Business Sites in that the list is compiled by delegates attending my Internet Workshops. On this occasion it was the Advanced Search course held at Manchester Business School.
If you have ever wondered what on earth all those "processes" that appear in Windows Task Manager after you hit Ctrl-Alt-Del are doing, this is the site for you. Type in the full name of the process, for example dragdiag.exe, and ProcessLibrary will tell you what it does and whether it is legit, spyware, a virus or a trojan. The database is free and maintained by a company called UniBlue. They sell a program called WinTasks Pro which helps deal with any nasty processes that you may find on your computer so they have a vested interest in providing the database. If you are not sure how to remove the bad guys from your system or they just keep popping back up, it may be worth investing US$ 49.95 in the program. In any case, the ProcessLibrary is still a very useful resource.
Untangling your web: effective web site management
Workshop: Statistics minus the lies
and damned lies
Key Business Sources on the Internet
by Karen Blakeman: Search Engines - what's new and what's hot.
Presentation at the UKeiG event "Defining the Digital Roadmap - future
directions for the e-information profession"
Business Information on the Internet: Free vs. Fee
TFTTR Contact Information
Karen Blakeman, RBA Information Services
TFTTR archives: http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/archives/index.shtml
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Copyright (c) 2005 Karen Blakeman. All rights reserved
|This page was last updated on 3rd May 2005||Copyright © 2005 Karen Blakeman.
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