Tales from the Terminal Room
September 2012, Issue No. 103
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 an electronic newsletter that includes reviews and comparisons of information sources; useful tools for managing information; technical and access problems on the Net; and news of RBA's training courses and publications. Many of the articles will have already appeared on Karen Blakeman's Blog at http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/
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In this issue:
My publication “Search Strategies for the Internet” is changing and going electronic. There will be shorter articles covering specific search techniques and search engine features. In addition there will be screencasts and presentations. The new structure means that updates to the content will be easier and more frequent. Initially there will be no “book” but I may eventually combine some of the articles into a single publication.
As before, some information such as the fact sheets and Top Tips are available free of charge but the detailed information and screencasts will be available to subscribers only. See http://www.rba.co.uk/search/ for further details.
Annual individual subscription rates are £48/year (£40 + £8 VAT). Multi-user and corporate rates are available on request. If you don't want to commit to an annual subscription some of the articles will be available separately for purchase.
“How to make Google run the search you want” is already available in the subscribers' area and covers Verbatim, daterange, using the tilde and intext. Several topics are in preparation and to help me get an idea of what people are interested in I have set up a quick poll at http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2012/10/14/search-strategies-goes-electronic. It would be great if you could rank the seven topics with '1' being the one you would like to see most. If there is a search topic or feature that you would like to see covered and it is not in the list use the comment box at the bottom of this posting. The topic with the most votes will be made available in the free content area.
Fed up with seeing the same results from Google again and again? Wondering if that elusive document is buried somewhere at the bottom of Google's 2,000,000 hits? Then get thee hence to Million Short (http://millionshort.com/).
Million Short runs your search and then removes the most popular web sites from the results. Originally it removed the top 1 million, as its name suggests, but the default has changed to the top 10,000. The principle remains the same, though: exclude the more popular sites and you could uncover a real gem. The page that best answers your question might not be well optimised for search engines or might cover a topic that is so “niche” that it never makes it into the top results. Million Short does not say what it uses for search results or how it determines what are the most popular web sites. According to Webmonkey “ Sanjay Arora, founder of Exponential Labs, tells Webmonkey that Million Short is using “the Bing API… augmented with some of our own data” for search results. What constitutes a “top site” in Million Short is determined by Alexa and Million Short's own crawl data. ” (http://www.webmonkey.com/2012/05/million-short-a-search-engine-for-the-very-long-tail/).
Using Million Short is straightforward. Type in your search and select how many sites you want to exclude (top 10K, top million, top 100). The results page includes a list of the sites that have been removed and you can opt to add one or more back in. You can also block a site using a link next to it in the results or click on “Boost!” so that pages from the site go to the top.
Million Short automatically tries to detect which country you are in but you can change it under “Manage Settings and Country”. I didn't notice much difference when I changed countries but then most of the queries I pass through Million Short tend to be scientific or technical. On the same page you can manage sites that you have blocked, added or boosted.
Does it work? I would not use it instead of the existing major search engines such as Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo but as an additional tool to surface material that is not easily found in the likes of Google. As well as web search there are image and news searches, but I'm not convinced that I'd find those all that useful.
If you are interested in comparing Million Short with Google try Million Short It On at http://www.millionshortiton.com/index.html . I had several goes at this and most of the results were a draw. That is no surprise as the searches I ran were very specific and I wanted to see if Million Short would pull up additional information, which it did. Million Short won outright on a couple and Google on one. The Google win was by default because Million Short did not come up with anything for comparison (the search in question was biofuels public transport carbon emissions).
There are a number of techniques that you can use to improve Google results for example changing the order of the words in your search, Verbatim, filetype or Reading Level but I would also recommend trying Million Short. The results should at least be different and may reveal vital information for your research.
I think it must have been seeing Phil Bradley the other night that made me think of revisiting BananaSlug.com (http://bananaslug.com/). I don't mean that Phil reminds me of a banana slug but he did introduce me to the search tool via his blog way back in 2005. I have been looking at ways of getting out of what I call “search ruts”. You keep seeing the same results again and again but suspect that there may be something more relevant if only you could get to it. Million Short (see above) is one way to tackle the problem. BananaSlug takes a different approach to what is known as long tail search. It adds a random term to your search and pulls up pages buried way down in the results list that you would probably never see. Just type in your search and then select a category, for example Animals, Great Ideas, Random Number, Themes from Shakespeare. BananaSlug then adds a random word from that category to your terms.
At first glance this approach to search may seem appropriate for frivolous, fun stuff only but I find that it works really well with serious research topics. Running one of my test searches on zeolites in environmental remediation through the categories pulled up information that could have taken me hours or even days to find otherwise.
Bear in mind that BananaSlug uses Google so synonyms and variations of the random word will be included in the search. When I selected Colors as my category red was added to my search and Google included reddish and reds.
Most of the categories came up with something useful although Random Number, inevitably for this type of search, came up with page numbers of journal articles. I didn't think Themes from Shakespeare would work but the random word it suggested was storm and there were several interesting papers on storm water management and treatment.
This may seem a bizarre way to explore search alternatives but if you are stuck for ideas give it a go.
Note: for more information on the banana slug Ariolimax see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_slug. The Pacific banana slug is the second-largest species of terrestrial slug in the world, growing up to 25 centimetres (9.8in) long.
August is usually a quiet month for me with respect to work. Time for a holiday away and then a couple of weeks ambling along the Thames Path or pottering around the garden. This year, though, as soon as I was I back from my travels I was knuckling down and updating my notes for two search workshops in North Wales. Both were for the North Wales Library Partnership (NWLP), the first taking place at Coleg Menai in Bangor and the second at Deeside College. Both venues had excellent training facilities and IT, which meant we could concentrate on getting to grips with what Google is doing with search and experiment with different approaches to making Google do what we want it to do.
At the end of the workshops both groups were asked to come up with a list of Top 10 Tips. I've combined the two lists and removed the duplicates to generate the list of 16 tips below.
Compiled and published by Bryan Cave LLP, Doing Business in the UK (http://www.bryancave.com/files/Uploads/Documents/DoingBusiness-UK2012.pdf) is an excellent summary of what is involved in setting up a business in the UK and the associated legislation. As well as describing the various types of company it also covers director's duties, UK taxation, employment law, business immigration, intellectual property, data protection and competition law. There is a similar publication on Doing Business in France (http://www.bryancave.com/files/Uploads/Documents/DoingBusiness-France2012.pdf). Both are free of charge.
I am updating the official registries section of my business sources listings (http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/registers.htm) and there are changes to the entries for Luxembourg and Belgium.
The Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés – Accueil (http://www.rcsl.lu/) is the official register of companies and associations in Luxembourg. The search options are limited to company name or number and the interface is in German and French. Searching and company name, address and contact details are free of charge. Documents are priced.
Legilux Sociétés et Associations has more search options at http://www.legilux.public.lu/entr/search/index.php and it provides a history of the documents filed by a company. This is a free service but for the documents themselves you have to go back to the Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés where there is a charge per document.
In Belgium the KBO Public Search (http://economie.fgov.be/nl/ondernemingen/KBO/Pubd/PuS/)
The CBSO (Central Balance Sheet Office) section of the National Bank of Belgium (http://www.bnb.be/) has the accounts of companies, associations and foundations active in Belgium. The search interface is available in Dutch, French, German and English.
Many thanks to Inez de Bois for the information and updates.
The following are some of my recent tweets and retweets. They are selected because they contain links to resources or announcements that may be of general interest. I have unshortened the shortened URLs.
Karenblakeman: Market research just asked me when my household first got Internet access. It was 1992. Earliest option in researcher's script is 1997 #fail
Karenblakeman: “HootSuite acquires Seesmic, Seesmic customers to be transitioned to HootSuite” VentureBeat http://venturebeat.com/2012/09/05/hootsuite-acquires-seesmic-seesmic-customers-to-be-transitioned-to-hootsuite/
MT @AlisonMcNab: RT @dmuleicester: Digital detective will save thousands of research hrs by tracking historic photos http://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2012/september/digital-detective-will-save-thousands-of-research-hours-by-tracking-down-historic-photos.aspx
Karenblakeman: Google Testing Search Options Listed Above Results, Rather Than To Side : http://searchengineland.com/google-testing-search-options-listed-above-results-rather-than-to-side-132531 via @sengineland
karenblakeman It was rubbish anyway RT @LocusCommunis: As of September 30th, Google Reader will be turning off track changes http://www.confidentialresource.com/2012/09/10/where-there-is-no-rss/
Karenblakeman: Google to stop supporting IE8 in November. Google Apps update alerts – Explorer 8 support discontinued http://googleappsupdates.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/supporting-modern-browsers-internet.html
Karenblakeman: RT @stephendale: Useful for Twitter newbies: The Guide to Twitter's Language http://thenextweb.com/twitter/2012/09/15/a-list-twitters-language/
Karenblakeman: MT @librarygirlknit RT @DrSustainable Can librarians trust resources found on Google Scholar? Yes …and no. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/09/17/can-science-students-and-researchers-trust-resources-found-on-google-scholar-yes-and-no/
Karenblakeman: Thanks to @awareci for this. “Close your Facebook account” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sThcwmx3rs&feature=youtu.be Spoof alert: note the onion news network logo. [Love the comment about Twitter:“400 billion tweets and not one useful bit of data was transmitted”]
Karenblakeman: Power Searching with Google video tutorials available again at http://www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com/
Karenblakeman: RT @JamesFirth: Murdoch backs down in war with ‘parasite' Google, Times will be indexed. (last laugh: Google refuses to index??) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/9566353/Rupert-Murdoch-backs-down-in-war-with-parasite-Google.html
karenblakeman: RT @FocusOnInfo: Happy Birthday, DuckDuckGo: Homegrown Search Engine Turns 4 http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2208454/Happy-Birthday-DuckDuckGo-Homegrown-Search-Engine-Turns-4
karenblakeman: RT @awareci: Google Carousel - a roundabout of images but not for all searches http://awareci.com/2012/09/28/google-carousel-a-roundabout-of-images-but-not-for-all-searches/
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|This page was last updated on 14 October 2012||Copyright
© 2012 Karen