Tales from the Terminal Room
January 2006, Issue No. 67
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
Tales from the Terminal Room (TFTTR) is a monthly newsletter, with the exception of July and August, and November and December, which are published as single issues. 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.
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In this issue:
This article is based on a free Information Masterclass given by Karen Blakeman at Online Information 2005, Thursday 1st December 2005.
Do your web searches strike oil on your first attempt or do you plumb the depths only to find murk and mire? Google is a fantastic search engine but it does not search all of the web, and you may be using the wrong “bit” of Google. The problem is that the web is huge, massive, ginormous! Yahoo now claims to have over 20 billion documents in its index, but it is not just the common or garden html web page that holds key information: blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, ebooks, databases, peer reviewed articles, videos, maps are all important resources. This article looks at some of the specialist tools that have emerged over the last year, both Google's and its competitor's, how they can help you mine the massive web and improve your search results.
First of all, we look at a few of the specialist Google tools and then some of the Google alternatives.
Google Books http://books.google.com/
Google Local http://local.google.co.uk/
Google Blogsearch http://www.google.com/blogsearch/
Google Base http://www.google.com/base/
Google Video http://video.google.com/
Personalized Home Page http://labs.google.com/
Search History http://labs.google.com/
Alternatives to Google
Yahoo Search http://search.yahoo.co.uk/ or http://search.yahoo.com/
Yahoo Mindset http://mindset.research.yahoo.com/
MSN Search http://search.msn.com/ or http://search.msn.co.uk/
Ask Jeeves http://www.ask.com/ or http://www.ask.co.uk/
Internet Archive, Wayback Machine
Morgue File http://www.morguefile.com/
Blinkx TV http://www.blinkx.tv/
Bringing it all together
It can be daunting trying to remember which tool to use for which type of enquiry. This is where meta search tools (tools that run your search across several tools at once) and sites that enable you to compare and quickly switch between different services come into their own.
Firefox Customise Google Extension
Keeping up to date
I report on new resources and search features in my own blog at http://www.rba.co.uk/rss/blog.htm and in my free newsletter Tales from the Terminal Room (http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/index.shtml). For my own current awareness I use a mix of newsletters and RSS feeds, but the top three for me are:
Internet Resources Newsletter
I want to .... http://www.philb.com/iwantto.htm
Phil Bradley's Blog http://philbradley.typepad.com/
Information Today invites proposals for presentations at Internet Librarian International 2006, to be held at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in London, UK, 16-17 October 2006. The emphasis is on the practical rather than theoretical, and on case studies and proposals about initiatives in your library, not product pitches or overviews. If you would like to be considered as a speaker, please go to https://secure.infotoday.com/ILI/submit.asp to submit your ideas (deadline: 30 March 2006).
Possible topics (but don't let this limit your imagination!) include:
If your proposal is selected, the primary speaker will receive a complimentary registration to the full conference, which includes lunches and a reception.
The 12th Inforum conference will take place in Prague, Czech Republic, May 23-25 2006.
The three-day conference focuses on a variety of issues concerning the use of electronic information resources in research, development, education and business. It is attended by information specialists from public and special libraries, corporate sector and government agencies. I attended last year as a speaker and workshop presenter and was so impressed by the quality, variety and enthusiasm of the conference that I shall be attending this year as a delegate. One of the great things about this event is that you do not see the same faces giving the same talks every year: it is always fresh and vibrant and takes place in a wonderful city that should be on your must-visit list.
If you are interested in taking part at the conference, either as a speaker or as a participant, you can find detailed information at the Inforum 2006 website http://www.inforum.cz/inforum2006/english/ (which includes main conference topics, paper submission form, etc.). The delegate registration forms will be available along with the preliminary conference programme by the beginning of March 2006.
If you are counting the cost of overindulgence and overspending at Christmas, spare a thought for True Love and his (or her) overstretched credit cards. The 21st annual PNC Christmas Price Index (http://www.pncchristmaspriceindex.com/pressrelease.htm) shows that the cost of Christmas for True Love - made famous by the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' - has gone up by 6 per cent. Avian flu and energy prices are major contributory factors the report claims.
Every year, PNC Advisors calculate the cost of goods and services gifted by True Love in the song and this year it totalled USD 18,348. That figure represents the cost of the individual items, not the total cost of presents gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song's verses. That comes to a whopping USD 72,608 for all 364 items, up 9.5 per cent from USD 66,334 in 2004.
Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Advisors said "Not only are avian flu fears and fuel costs driving prices higher, but gold prices are also on the rise. Meanwhile, wages for skilled laborers are struggling to keep up with rising expenses." The biggest hurdle for True Loves will be obtaining imported birds. The threat of avian flu has restricted the international shipment of birds, thus preventing the purchase of three French hens from France. However, there are US domestic breeders of French hens, as well as the other feathered friends mentioned in the song. Since the large birds are bought from national suppliers, total costs are higher due to the shipping and related increases in fuel prices. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens reports the cost of geese almost doubled this year while the cost of swans increased by 20 percent.
For online shoppers, PNC tabulates the cost of The Twelve Days gifts purchased on the web and the figures show that it can be considerably more expensive to go Internet shopping. The true cost of Christmas via the web this year is USD 123,846.62. The greatest differential was for Ten Lords a Leaping: USD 10,947 online compared with USD 4039.02 paid for their services using more traditional means of recruitment.
Marketscan offer direct mail services to businesses and individuals. The lists appear on first glance to be heavily UK biased but there are also International and European lists. You can browse and build lists via a number of different routes: business, consumer, company directors, market sectors, SIC codes, geographical planner. The business lists, for example, include New Connections, Job Function, Medical Data Set, IT Data Set and email lists. I found the market sectors approach far more flexible than SIC codes, which is the usual option offered by most other services. Building a list is straightforward and prices start at GBP 115 per 1000 records.
There is also a guide to direct mail marketing (http://www.marketscan.co.uk/direct_marketing_guide.asp) that can be viewed on site or downloaded as a PDF. The points and issues raised should be common sense to anyone experienced in direct marketing but it is all too easy to lose track of where you are in a campaign. For newcomers to direct marketing, this is an essential primer: for seasoned veterans it is a useful checklist and reminder.
Alacra Store, who provide pay as you go access to company and industry data, have added EIU content. You can now find all types of EIU Country Data in the store including Country Profiles, Country Reports, Country Forecasts, ViewsWire articles, and Risk Briefings. They have also included all of the content from recent issues of The Economist magazine.
A new feature currently being tested on the EIU files is "Search This Document". It enables you to see the keyword in context for each place it appears in a given report. I find that this is the only way to confirm that the information you want is in a document. Tables of contents can not always do this. I note, though, that any figures in the text surrounding the keywords are replaced by ###. Drat, drat and triple drat! But not surprising as it would be a sneaky way to get free market share information :-). But the reports are reasonably priced and in dollars, which at the moment is good news for those of us in the UK.
Dohop is a relatively new search engine from Icelandic company Dohop Ltd. At launch, it concentrated on low cost airlines but now includes "standard" airlines and fares, and suggests flight combinations where needed. It does not sell flights or take bookings but the search results include links to airlines and travel agent web sites where you can book tickets directly. To search, you start typing in the location of your departure point and dohop will come up with a list of suggested airports as it does with your destination. Click on the date fields and a calendar pops up to help you enter them in a valid format.
When the results list is displayed, you can narrow down your search by airport, transits and airline. Prices are automatically displayed when there is only one price for an airline/airport. For the other results, click on the Get Price link and the range of options is displayed together with the source. For my London/Inverness test search it came up with four prices for a flight that it had found on the BMI web site, Expedia, ebookers and Opodo. Prices are in shown by default in Euros but you can change the currency via a pull down menu. So far, I am impressed and I have not yet been able to better the results by going to my usual sources one by one.
I spotted this list via Peter Scott's RSS Compendium Blog (http://ast.antville.org/). As the title says, this is a list of RSS feeds provided by the major UK national newspapers: The Guardian, Times Online, Independent, FT, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Mirror.co.uk and the Scotsman. The BBC feeds are also included.
I was alerted to this site by my friend and colleague Dot Walker. It claims to give "information for door-to-door travel for both public transport and car journeys around Britain. Our aim is to provide you with comprehensive, easy-to-use travel information to help you plan your journeys effectively and efficiently." They work with both public and private travel operators and local/national government. It is operated by a consortium led by Atos Origin. The non-profit service is funded by the UK Department for Transport, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Scottish Executive.
I have seen many of these types of services before and most of them have been dire. They are usually OK as far as trains and flights are concerned but when you get down to the really local level where you need to take buses or trams they generally fail. I decided to test it out on some real stinkers. My husband and I have been walking the "Thames Path". This is a route of foot and tow paths that follow the River Thames from its source near Kemble to the Thames Barrier at Woolwich. We use public transport to get to and from the various staging posts, and we sometimes need to use some weird and wonderful combinations of services to do it. Until now we have had to work out the transport routes ourselves, so I thought this would be a good test of the door-to-door option.
Transport Direct came up trumps every time: Ashton Keynes, Cricklade, Wallingford - even Castle Eaton. And it sometimes came up with better, alternative routes that we had never considered. The Maps section shows each stage of the journey and form of transport.
On tickets/cost it was not so comprehensive. It was able to give fare options for trains but not always for the buses. That is a minor quibble, though. We just need to know that if we break off early on our walk, or decide to go a bit further, that there is a way home other than phoning for a taxi to rescue us. And you can access the service from your PDA or mobile. Brilliant!
Mozdev Googlebar for Firefox updated
Googlebar has been updated to make it compatible with Firefox 1.5. It was possible to fool Firefox into allowing the earlier Googlebar extension to be installed by using the Nightly Tester Tools but one could not guarantee that all the buttons would work. Note that this is not the Toolbar provided by Google (http://toolbar.google.com/) but a completely separate project. I much prefer the Mozdev Googlebar as it offers far more search options from the toolbar including video, book, Scholar, Maps, Local and Glossary search.
RSS, Blogs and Wikis
Assessing the Quality of Information
Searching the Internet: Google and Beyond
TFTTR Contact Information
Karen Blakeman, RBA Information Services
TFTTR archives: http://www.rba.co.uk/tfttr/archives/index.shtml
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|This page was last updated on 25th January 2006||Copyright © 2006 Karen Blakeman.
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