ILI – Out-Googling Google presentation

My Internet Librarian International presentation on Out-Googling Google is now available at I have not written any notes to accompany the Powerpoint so you may not be able to make much sense of some (or even all) of it. If you are interested in seeing photos of the event, go to Flickr and use the tag ili2006.

A fantastic event with lots of good practical tips and case studies. If you have never been, watch the web and feeds for news of next year’s event. This year there must have been at least 350 people there and the key note sessions were packed solid with standing room only for late arrivals! The rest of the program was split into parrallel tracks so you could almost guarantee a seat. At the rate this conference is expanding, ILI will have to take over the entire hotel for the event next year :-)

In addition to the main programme, there are plenty of networking opportunities including receptions, “group”dinners, and lunch tables hosted by the speakers. A great way to met new people and exchange experiences and success/disaster stories.

Internet Librarian Inernational starts today

Internet Librarian International starts today in London at the Copthorne Tara hotel, but many of us were here yesterday for the preconference workshops. I attended Greg Notess’ Advanced Search Techniques seminar and, as usual with Greg’s sessions, I came away with lots of useful tips. Two that have particularly stuck in my mind are:

Windows Live images search – note the scroll bar on the right hand side of the browser. Live lets you view a lot more than the usual 10 or 20 displayed in the other search engines.

Undocumented Yahoo commands – use the region command to restrict your search by continent or region, for example region:europe or region:southamerica.

One day in history

Take part in the biggest blog in history!

Found in Peter Scott’s Library blog:

“The heritage organisations involved in the “History Matters – pass it on” campaign are asking every UK resident to take part in a mass blog event, which will record how we lived on one single day: Tuesday, 17th October 2006. The aim is to create a massive electronic treasure chest of diaries showing everyday life at the beginning of the 21st century, to be kept as a social history archive by the British Library. The date is chosen deliberately as an ordinary Tuesday, with no national importance. But with your help, it will become truly “One Day in History”: by logging on to and taking part in this mass blog everyone will be contributing something valuable to the historic record a fascinating resource for future generations to explore. Uploading can be done until 31 October 2006″

Passport launched for OurProperty and

Fubra, who run and maintain the and web sites, have launched the Fubra Passport. This is a single login system that will be valid for all existing and future Fubra web sites and consists of your email address and just one password. You no longer need your user name.

Fubra say that the benefits will become obvious as they launch more sites over the next few months, but no clues from them yet as to what those sites are likely to be. So far, I have been very impressed with Fubra’s sites. I use regularly use OurProperty, which repackages Land Registry data, and friends and colleagues reckon that PetrolPrices, which gives details of local petrol prices, is excellent. (We gave up our car 15 years ago as an experiment and are still managing to survive and travel with out it!). Fubra also run Compare Airport Parking.

MSN Search becomes Windows Live

There I was, standing in front of a workshop full of seriously proficient Internet searchers, and running through my list of Google alternatives. I get to MSN Search, hit the bookmark and stand there in bemused silence for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only about 10 seconds. In the couple of hours since I had checked the site, MSN Search had become Windows Live (

The screen may look very different but the search features and commands, some of them well hidden, are the same. The home page is the most obvious difference but the Search Builder, now renamed Advanced Search, has disappeared. It reappears once you display your results list. Why? I can only assume that Microsoft thinks that all searchers only resort to advanced search options when their initial basic search has failed. Not that it really matters, since some of the really good advanced options are not listed in the menu anyway and you have to use them by going into ‘command line’ mode.

For example:

car ownership UK filetype:xls

The home page now has links for Web, Images, News and Local search but the free access to Encarta has been dropped. I have, though, seen various reports saying that you can still get to it by searching on encarta plus your search terms or plus the terms.

It would also be helpful to have the More option on the home page rather than having to generate a results page to see it! At present More gives you access to a Feeds search and Academic Live, both of which are still in beta. I first reviewed Academic Live in April 2006 ( Not much seems to have changed in functionality but I note they have added many more journals to the database, including biomedical and healthcare titles. I subscribe to just about every official Microsoft alerting service but the enhancements do not seem to have made it to any of them. This is an ongoing problem with MSN Search/Windows Live; if you want to keep up with developments you have to regularly hunt around the site for changes and review the help files for the new and really useful commands*.

The Local search works pretty well, but I need to look at it in more detail and compare it with other similar services before I pass final judgement. One problem that struck me straight away was that although it started off with a UK map it transported me over to the US when I searched for churches in Caversham. I had to include UK in the location to force it back to the UK. The satellite images are slightly higher resolution and crisper than Google’s for my location, and they seem to be more up to date.

Apart from Academic Live, I am not yet convinced that I should be using as my regular search engine. The web search results still seem to be more consumer and retail orientated than Google and Yahoo, and I am usually looking for research or statistics on a subject. A search on ‘gin vodka sales uk’ in Google and Yahoo will bring up market research reports and industry stats galore: on, the first is a statistical overview but the remainder on my first result page are online stores where one can buy gin and vodka! This is not actually a problem, and there are times when you may want to bias the search in this way, but it is as well to be aware of it.

Overall, a nice clean interface but very little has changed under the bonnet and some useful search features have disappeared from view.

*One useful command that you might have missed is the feed command. The scenario: you are, like me, a news and RSS feed junkie. You have found a really good news site covering your subject or industry sector but surely it cannot be true that they do not have RSS feeds? Check by using the feed command combined with the site command. For example:

Try it on the BBC web site and you’ll discover that they have 1,956 feeds!

Business Information: Top 10 Sites and Tips

Another day another workshop. This time it was Business Information on the Internet organised by TFPL on September 27th, and attended by information professionals from the private, academic and banking sector. As usual I asked them to come up with a group Top 10 Sites and Tips. If you are loosing track of the top 10s that have been popping up on this blog, I shall be compiling two combined lists in December: one for business and market research, and the second for search tips.

This is the order in which the participants nominated the sites:

  1. Resource Shelf – – “where dedicated librarians and researchers share the results of their directed (and occasionally quirky) web searches for resources and information. The editorial team is headed by Gary Price and Shirl Kennedy. Use the search option to hunt through the archives for recommended sites on a topic, and subscribe to the RSS feed to keep up with the latest additions to the ‘shelf’.
  2. Google –, . It can be temperamental and it doesn’t always do what it says on the tin, but for much of the time Google still comes up with the goods. Make sure that you are using the advanced search features for example file formats searches, limit by domain, numeric range search, synonym search etc. and that you are using the right ‘bit’, for example News, Blogsearch, Google Books.
  3. Yahoo Finance – . Good starting point for companies listed on the UK stock exchange and a selection of other countries stock exchanges. For some markets there are free, daily historical share prices for 10 – 15 years (varies depending on the country and exchange) and free intraday charts. If you are into share price data and analysis click on the Technical Charts and you can play around with wonders such as Bollinger Bands.
  4. Google and Yahoo News for the last thirty days of news stories. Go to Google or Yahoo and click on the News options. Both have good international, national and local coverage, and offer alerting services. Google recently launched a Google News Archive service going back 200 years for some story lines and publications. (Many of the articles are priced). Also try Ask ( or and Accoona (
  5. Alacrawiki Spotlights – . Click on the Alacra Spotlights link in the top left hand corner of the screen for access to overviews of key resources on industry sectors. Great for bringing yourself up to speed on industry specific sites and as introduction to sectors that are new to you. Although this is a wiki, the Spotlights area is locked so that only Alacra editors can change the content of the pages in this section.
  6. Intute – The Resource Discovery Network is dead – long live Intute. Do not be put off by the academic address. This is an excellent starting point for evaluated, quality sites on a wide range of subjects and industries. If you are looking specifically for business information, these can now be found under
  7. – . What can one say? “No FT – no comment according to the advert strapline. To get the most out of this site you will need to subscribe, that is pay money. Level 1 costs £98.99 a year and gives you access to subscriber-only FT content and tools including personalised news alerts, FT analysis and the 5-year archive. Level 2 costs £200 a year and gives you Level 1 access plus access to 500 global press sources and financial data on about 18,000 companies worldwide.
  8. PWC EdgarScan – (click on the EdgarScan link). Repackages the US official SEC filings data and makes it easier to search and identify relevant official documents from US listed companies. There is a wide range of search, display, export and analysis options, all of which are free of charge.
  9. Freepint Newsletter + Bar – . Fortnightly newsletter available on the web and by email covering a range of information related issues and subjects. The “bar is a web based discussion area where you can ask for help with tricky questions. But “Where’s the free beer? asked one workshop participant.
  10. – A good starting point for pay as you go market research reports. Also try Mindbranch ( and Research and Markets ( . You may find that publishers do not always supply the whole of their catalogue to these content aggregators or that the reports are embargoed for varying periods of time. If you find an interesting report via one of these aggregators, double check with the original publisher to see if there is a more relevant or up to date report available direct from them.