Alacra has launched AlacraWiki, a guide to business information companies, publishers and databases. The Alacra Industry Spotlights in particular are extremely useful in providing reviews and commentary on industry specific web sites and the Types of Content section lists resources under headings such as mergers and acquisitions, news, people and corporate governance. There is also information on content aggregators, databases and the best business information blogs. Anyone can contribute and edit the pages, apart from the Industry Spotlights which are locked, but you have to create an account in order to do so. If you want to keep up with what’s new at Alacra, they also have a blog and news feed.
Exalead is the latest to join the desktop search club, with its preview launch of exalead one:desktop. This has been tested for several months by a selected group of users (I was one of them), but the non-disclosure agreement forbade us to mention that the software even existed! I can’t say that I have tested it exhaustively; I rarely need to use a desktop search program and Exalead’s does not yet index Thunderbird email or Star/Open Office documents. Support for these applications is promised for later in the year.
If your documents are mostly Microsoft, Adobe, html or Wordperfect then exalead one:desktop is worth considering for its unique advanced search options. As well as the standard phrase searching, OR and NOT commands there is a NEAR command which searches for words within 16 words of one another, a phonetic search, approximate spelling and pattern matching. You can also have word stemming switched on by default.
When you install the program, you can specify which directories and areas of your hard disk you want it to index and you can also control when it indexes. The results are displayed with preview thumbnails for some of the formats, but you can switch this off if you prefer to view the results as text only. On the left had side of the screen, there are options that enable you to narrow down your search by folder, author, date, size and document type. This will all be very familiar to users of the Exalead’s web search. For web search Exalead is the default but you can set up shortcuts to other tools.
Overall, definitely worth a try – especially for the advanced search features.
Google is the first of the major web search tools to launch a dedicated Blog Search – in beta of course. It does not search the full text of the postings, only the RSS and Atom feeds generated by the blog. Older posts that were generated before Blog Search started crawling or are not in a current feed are not included. Google says that it covers “every blog that publishes a site feed (either RSS or Atom).” When I ran my test searches, it picked up several pages that are not blogs but do have RSS or Atom feeds. For many of us this is not an issue. I am often looking for feeds on a topic or industry sector and do not care whether they are generated by a blog or by some other means. There may be times, though, when one does want to limit a search to blogs so one needs to bear this in mind.
The indexing is fast. Blog Search picked up one of my postings just 22 minutes after I had published it. Results can be sorted by date or relevance.
The Advanced Search has the usual ‘all the words’, phrase, ‘at least one of the words’, and ‘without the words’. Additional options include ‘words in the post title’, ‘words in the blog title’, ‘at this URL’, ‘blogs and posts written by’, limit by date and language.
You can also set up alerts. Go to the bottom of your results page and you can ask to have 10 or 100 results as an Atom or an RSS feed.
Business Week’s Best of the Web Poll has now entered its second round. There are now 8 search tools under the Work-Search category: Google, Yahoo, Snap, A9, DogPile, Technorati, Clusty and Exalead. All are excellent tools in their own way. I was thinking of voting for Yahoo but eventually went for Exalead, mainly because of the proximity search option and the Advanced Search features of phonetic, approximate spelling and pattern matching. The last is particularly useful for cheating at – ahem, I mean solving crossword puzzles!
A reminder that there is still time to register for Internet Librarian International at the discounted rate (up until September 23rd) and that CILIP members receive a 20% discount off the full two day conference fee.
The event is being held at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in London between October 10th and the 11th. Tracks and topics include Blogs, Wikis, E-Learning and Training, Global Best Practices, Digital Libraries & Resources, Web Research Skills and Resources, Technology for Libraries, Information Literacy, Practical Technology Tips and Tools, and Managing Corporate Libraries.
I have to admit that I have a vested interest in this event as I am co-presenting a session on search engines with Yahoo expert Ran Hock. We’ve already had to submit outlines of our presentations to the organisers, but we both suspect that what we finally present will be very different. With so many innovations and product launches happening every week we shall be working on our talks up to the last minute, as I am sure will the other speakers. It promises to be an interesting conference.
Enterprise Quest – Ideas and know-how for small business.
Although this site is new to me, it has been around for about two years. This is the home of a free weekly bulletin called EnterQuest, published by Cobweb Information and aimed at UK small businesses. As well as tips and ideas on running a small business EnterQuest also keeps you up to date with legal issues, offers IT tips (for example keyboard shortcuts for Windows and Word), and reviews web sites of interest to SMEs. You can read the bulletin on the web site or have it delivered to your email box. A pity there is no RSS feed at present but I’ll make do with the email.