Tales from the Terminal Room
June 2005, Issue No. 63
Please Note: This is an archive copy of the newsletter. The information and links that it contains are not updated.
PDF version (64 KB)
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:
A reminder to readers that Tales from the Terminal Room is now available as an RSS feed. The URL for the feed is http://www.rba.co.uk/rss/tfttr.xml .
Further information on RSS feeds can be found at http://www.rba.co.uk/rss/rss.htm and Wikipedia has a good article on the topic at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS_%28file_format%29 .
If you decide to go down this route and already receive TFTTR by email you can remove yourself from the email distribution list by going to http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/ and filling in the form, making sure to check the unsubscribe button before submitting it.
Transcending Boundaries: Information Technologies & Strategies for the 21st Century
The 7th annual Internet Librarian International will be held Monday and Tuesday, 10-11 October, at a new venue for 2005 – London's Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington.
Keynotes this year include Ronald Milne from Oxford's Bodleian Library on the Google digitisation project, and Steve Arnold on relevance and the future of search. Topics covered by the conference will include:
The full programme and a booking form can be found at http://www.internet-librarian.com/.
CILIP Member Discount: If you are a member of CILIP there is a special 20% discount off the full two-day conference fee.
29 November - 1 December 2005 Grand Hall, Olympia , London
http://www.online-information.co.uk/ or http://www.cme-expo.co.uk/
The Online Information and Content Management Europe exhibitions and conference will be held from 29 November - 1 December 2005 in the Grand Hall at Olympia, London. Online Information and Content Management Europe bring together companies who provide information resources, solutions for information management, knowledge exchange, epublishing, content management, intranets and extranets. Following a successful launch in 2004, this year also sees the return of three complementary events: Enterprise Document & Records Management, Enterprise Search Solutions and ePublishing Solutions.
The Online Information Conference, which runs in parallel with the exhibition, will be exploring the major issues and key trends shaping the industry, and predicting developments for the future. The International Information Industry Awards will be held on the second evening of the event.
My summary and comparison table of the major search tools has been updated. The chart compares the main search features and commands for Yahoo!, Google, Exalead, MSN, Gigablast and Teoma. I have given up trying to squeeze everything onto one page. There are so many features that are worth mentioning that it now occupies three pages. The HTML version is available at http://www.rba.co.uk/search/compare.shtml and the PDF at http://www.rba.co.uk/search/compare.pdf .
Google has launched a new Video Search tool. Its collection includes videos from news channels and web sites. Searching is relatively straightforward but there are not many that can be played free of charge, so Google has added a 'playable option'. You can spot the playable ones in the results list by the triangle icon next to their entry. Google suggests a number of terms you could use, including Greenpeace, AdWords and breakdancing to find free videos. One searcher also managed to find William Shatner's version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
In order to play the videos, you have to download and install Google's Video Viewer. It is supposed to be compatible with IE and Firefox but problems have been reported with both. I cannot get it to do anything at all in IE. In Firefox (version 1.0.6) it is very temperamental. One minute it plays and the next it goes into a sulk, even with the same video. I have yet to see and hear Captain Kirk's rendition of the Beatles classic, but perhaps that is just as well!
Google has at last launched a version of its toolbar for Firefox (http://toolbar.google.com/firefox/). It seems to have all the features of the IE version but appears to be missing several of the "special" searches that are incorporated into the separately developed Googlebar (http://googlebar.mozdev.org/), such as Scholar, Print, Video, Dictionary and Glossary Search. Googlebar is also experimenting with adding Google Labs' "Google Suggests" into the toolbar, although the version I tried froze on occasion. I shall stay with Googlebar for the time being.
Yahoo! has updated its own toolbar for Firefox (http://toolbar.yahoo.com/). There is no point in trying to compare it directly with Google's toolbar as they integrate into two quite different sets of search tools and features. If you are a Yahoo! fan, though, it is a must.
Yahoo! has updated its Desktop Search and now supports Thunderbird email. Although previous versions of YDS did index and search Thunderbird files you had to search them under the "All files" category. Now you can chose just "Email". The number of file types supported in the main program has been considerably reduced, though. If you want the full range of 300+ file types you have to install the expansion pack. For me, Yahoo! Desktop is still by far the best desktop search program with Copernic's offering coming second.
Author: Randolph Hock
Yahoo to the Max is a new book from Ran Hock that tells you all there is to know about Yahoo! together with recommended strategies for getting the best out of the service. I sometimes suspect that Ran knows more about Yahoo! than Yahoo themselves!
Gigablast has added a blog search to its home page and claims to cover nearly 16.5 million pages. I have not had time to test it thoroughly and compare results with tools such as Feedster and Technorati, but it seems worth adding to my blog search toolkit. There are the same advanced search features as in the web search and the usual Giga Bits that suggest related terms and searches to add to your strategy. For example, I typed in 'climate change peak oil' and it came up with quite a lengthy list including 'oil production peak', 'oil depletion', 'action on climate change'. Click on a suggestion and it adds it to your existing search string.
If you are VAT registered and trading with companies based in the EU, this site enables you to verify the validity of a company's VAT number. Select the Member State from the drop-down menu and enter the number to be validated.
MarketResearch.com, a market research reports and services aggregator, has acquired its major competitor MindBranch. The acquisition will increase Marketresearch.com's coverage by 40%. The two services are still available separately on their own web sites.
The section on pharmaceutical information sources on the RBA web site has been extensively updated. It lists a selection of resources that provide data and information on the sector. It is not intended to be comprehensive and is not a directory of companies operating in the sector. Several of the sites mentioned in the list already do that and I do not see any point in reinventing the wheel! There are also numerous cross-sector directories such as Kompass and Europages that are not mentioned in the list (they can be found at http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/directs.htm) and which allow you to search for companies by product or services and country. Kompass, in particular, has a detailed product classification that enables you to carry out a very precise search and also has a brand/trade name search option. Searching is free in Kompass and there is a limited amount of free information, but access to the full service is priced.
Pharmaceutical Information Sources is part of a relatively new section on the RBA web site covering industry sectors (http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/industry.shtml). Other areas in the list at present are Beverages, Food and Telecoms. Many thanks to Paul Pedley who has encouraged me to set up the pages and who very kindly provided a list of sites as a starting point.
This is a really neat site from UK based SPG Media. RSS news feeds, compiled from news sources world-wide, are organised by sector for example energy, telecoms, transportation. The emphasis is on technologies and the companies that supply them. Feeds are available as both ATOM and RSS. In addition to the news feeds, there are 28 sector specific technology web sites. Each site provides information on industry projects in production or under development, an A-Z company index of contractors and suppliers, a catalogue of companies by product or service, a diary of relevant exhibitions and conferences, and a list of industry organisations.
You enter the URLs of your source feeds and it generates a link to your merged feeds, which you can put into your feed reader. Alternatively you can register with FeedJumbler to get a personalized page where you can keep track of your merged feeds. It is similar to RSSMix but there does not seem to be any limit to the number of headlines in your merged feed - with RSSMix it is 20 - and no limit to the number of feeds that you can combine. Any more than 4 or 5, though, and I think the resulting mega-feed would become rather unwieldy to scan.
Acronyma claims to be the largest database of acronyms and abbreviations on the web with over 471,000 acronyms. Acronymfinder.com appears to have more definitions (it claims to have 2,020,000) and sorts the definitions into categories, for example Science and Medicine, Slang and Chat. Acronyma returned fewer results with my test searches but as well as English, it also offers definitions of Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian and Portuguese acronyms.
RSS feeds for company news
Is there a quick and easy way to set up RSS feeds for news on individual companies?
This is relatively easy to do but not necessarily quick. It depends on the number of companies you are monitoring and how comprehensive you want to be. There are several free news search tools that you can use:
1. Yahoo! News http://www.yahoo.com/
2. MSN News http://www.msn.com/
3. Google News does not do RSS alerts yet but you could try using the ScrappyGoo interface at http://timyang.com/scrappygoo/ which generates RSS feeds from Google News searches
With the three tools above, you can use the OR Boolean operator to have more than one company in an alert for example 'Shell OR Lukoil OR BP'
5. If the company you are interested in is a major International company, you may find a predefined feed in the companies list at Newstrove (http://www.newstrove.com/)
You could go a stage further and combine RSS feeds on a particular company from each of the tools. Feedjumbler (http://feedjumbler.com/) is the best I have found so far.
That darn Google Desktop cache
So you've downloaded and installed Google Desktop Search (GDS). It seemed a 'Good Idea' at the time: search your own computer for documents, cached web pages, emails at the same as the web. But do you know how it works and exactly what information it is storing and indexing?
GDS takes a plain text copy of the content of the files on your PC and stores them in a separate cache. It is this cache that Google indexes. Other desktop search tools just generate an index, much like the index at the back of a text book. "So what?" you ask. The problem is that a copy of the file remains in the cache even when you have deleted the original. Sometimes that is a useful feature, for example if you have accidentally deleted a vital document or email, but there may be occasions when you really do want to remove documents for reasons of confidentiality, or because of document management policies, Freedom of Information etc.
Don't think that because a file is password protected it is safe from GDS. As soon as you view a document on screen GDS adds it to the cache, which means that a plain text version of your confidential material is accessible to any one who cares to mosey around your hard disk. The latest version of GDS does allow you to switch this 'feature' off. Similarly, GDS caches and indexes all the web pages that you view including secure pages such as bank statements. Again you can switch this option off.
At a recent UKeiG meeting, I mentioned this behaviour and noticed that there were a couple of worried faces in the audience. One delegate later emailed me explaining that whilst at the meeting he used Google Desktop to search his laptop for a character string that he knew would be in his online bank statement. Sure enough, the cached page was retrieved, whilst offline, and with his bank balance and transactions clearly displayed. So what do you do if you realise that GDS has been caching and indexing stuff you don't want it to?
There is now a remove function, but it is far from straightforward to use and not 100% reliable. You first have to search for the document and then select it for removal. The difficulty, I found, was that there may be several different versions of a document lurking in the cache and you cannot be sure that you have zapped them all. The only way to be sure is to completely uninstall GDS and start again from scratch. The later versions do delete the cache when you uninstall but I would double check by looking in C:\Documents & Settings\Your user name\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop Search\ . And if you are really paranoid, try a utility such as Eraser (see this month's Gizmo of the Month) to remove all traces of the files.
Eraser is a security tool that allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times.
When you 'delete' a file from your computer the data has not actually gone. The operating system does not remove the file from the disk; it only removes the reference of the file from the file system table. The file stays on your machine until it is overwritten by another file. Before the file is overwritten it is possible to retrieve it with an undelete utility. Eraser can be used to overwrite individual files, folders and unused disc space and it adds an Erase option to the right click menu of the recycle bin.
The default method is based on Peter Gutmann's paper "Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory" and overwrites data 35 times. This can be very slow when erasing unused space on a hard disk so a faster method - US DoD 5220-22.M - is recommended.
Eraser 5.7 runs on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP. It requires version 4.72 of the Windows Common Control Library (COMCTL32.DLL). If you are using Windows 95 or NT and have not installed Internet Explorer 4.01 or later, you can download an update at: http://www.heidi.ie/common/ .
Untangling your web: effective web site management
Workshop: Developing and managing
Business Information on the Internet: Free vs. Fee
Workshop: Searching the Internet:
Google and Beyond
Topics to be covered include:
TFTTR Contact Information
Karen Blakeman, RBA Information Services
TFTTR archives: http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/archives/
Subscribe and Unsubscribe
To subscribe to the newsletter fill in the online registration form at http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/
To unsubscribe, use the registration form at http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/ and check the unsubscribe radio button.
Subscribers' details are used only to enable distribution of the newsletter Tales from the Terminal Room. The subscriber list is not used for any other purpose, nor will it be disclosed by RBA or made available in any form to any other individual, organisation or company.
This publication may be copied and distributed in its entirety. Individual sections may NOT be copied or distributed in any form without the prior written agreement of the publisher.
Copyright (c) 2005 Karen Blakeman. All rights reserved
|This page was last updated on 20th July 2005||Copyright
All rights reserved