Pageflakes introduces obtrusive and inappropriate adverts

Today and without advance warning Pageflakes installed advertisements on all of its members’ pages. There had been reports of ads appearing on new users’ pages but it was not until today that they were imposed on all existing users.

The ads are garish, often irrelevant to the content of the page, sometimes ‘inappropriate’ and always fixed. They appear in the top right hand corner of the page. As Phil Bradley has pointed out in the Pageflakes Forum, the positioning of the advert is excellent from their point of view but a disaster from ours. If it is an image it completely dominates the content.  Until I had removed most of my content I saw bright orange,  red and yellow ads being served up on my page.

I am sure that most of Pageflakes’ users appreciate that the company has to generate revenue but Pageflakes has not offered any alternative subscription options for those of us who are willing to pay for an ad free environment.

So what are the alternatives? I do not use Pageflakes other than to demonstrate it in workshops but I do maintain pages for other organisations. I have moved them all to Netvibes, which I recommend you investigate as an alternative. (For a very ordinary and straightforward example see the UKeiG  Netvibes page)

LARIA/ALGIS Presentation: Web 2.0 in the Public Sector

The presentation I gave at ‘Managing Information in the Public Sector – The Future – Relaunching ALGIS’ is now available on Slideshare at and on Authorstream at .

The slides are based on earlier Web 2.0 presentations but I have included examples from local government authorities and public libraries. Apologies to those of you I have used as examples: you may be deluged with enquiries from the seminar participants! There was a lot of interest in what is being done especially by local authorities.

The event was a joint LARIA/ALGIS seminar and held in London at Baden Powell House, London, Tuesday 18th November 2008. All the presentations will be available on the LARIA web site.

TriMark Publications – Biotechnology, Healthcare and Life Sciences Market Research

TriMark Publications focuses on market research in biotechnology, health care and the life sciences. You can browse reports or search by keyword. The market reports vary in price but there are detailed table of contents and the first three or four pages available free of charge as a sample. However, any figures or data on the pages are blacked out.  It is refreshing, though, to see a detailed listing of what is contained in the reports before you part with significant amounts of money.

Sector Snapshots cost just USD 500 and provide a high-level overview of a particular market sector, including key players, sales data and emerging trends.

Database Tables, costing USD 100 each, are a one-page table of hard-to-find numerical information. They are derived from “a proprietary source” and provide a high-level overview of specific data points in a table format. Database Tables are not reports or comprehensive analyses.

African Financials

African Financials is a free Annual Reports portal focusing on investment in Africa. If you need an annual report on an African listed company this is a good place to start. There are 1100 reports and you can browse by sector, year or country. There are also links to CEO blogs and recently added documents. The IPO section lists rumoured, expected, recent, current, archived, cancelled, and postponed IPOs. Some of the IPO documents are available via the Download section.

Ten science search engines

Ten science search engines is actually a list of nine – you are invited to submit suggestions for the tenth via the comments section. The nine are:Scirus,,,, Scitation,, Science Accelerator, TechXtra, and They all have different coverage and emphasis and none are comprehensive. Which one will work for you depends very much on the subject area. The three I regularly use in this list are Elsevier’s  Scirus, TechXtra for engineering (ICBL and Heriot-Watt University) and Conspicuous by its absence is Google Scholar!

RefSeek for “academic information”

RefSeek is a a new search engine that “aims to make academic information easily accessible to everyone”.  There is very little information on how it works other than it  searches more than one billion documents, including web pages, books, encyclopaedias, journals, and newspapers.  A few test searches suggest that it searches just .edu.,  .org web and .gov web sites but not or  Straightaway, those of us in the UK are missing out on a large chunk of scientific information and data as are other countries whose academic web domains do not include an organisation type such as. edu or ac. My searches on zeolites, for example,  failed to pick up papers on Zurich University’s web site (  Also, .org and domains can be bought by anyone and are not guaranteed to carry quality, peer reviewed articles. A search on my husband (Rhodes) and zeolites came up with some of his papers on the Royal Society of Chemistry web site ( and his own home page that is normally advertised as, but RefSeek picked up on the alternative domain.

Search options are the standard double quotes around phrases, minus sign to exclude documents containing a term, plus sign to include stop words and the Boolean OR. Next to each entry in the results list is an option to “Search this Site” which does work well. Although searching is free, you may find that you have to pay for articles on some sites.

Overall, RefSeek does a reasonable job of limiting your search to more serious scientific and academic information but there are far too many omissions for it to be reliably used on its own.  There are several other science search engines that I would recommend you investigate and use along side of RefSeek: see Ten Science Search Engines at

SCoRe: national UK catalogue of printed company reports

SCoRe (Search Company Reports) is a catalogue of printed company reports, both current and historic,  held in UK libraries. The catalogue does not provide links to digitised documents but it is a very quick and easy way of  identifying libraries that hold hard copy reports.  The participating libraries include London Business School, the British Library, Manchester Business School, City Business Library, Guildhall Library, Strathclyde University and the University of Warwick. A full list is available at .

Searching is straightforward: simply type in the company name and select a collection, or leave it as the default ‘All’. Non UK companies are also covered and you can restrict your search to a specific country by using the Advanced Search. The results give you name of the company and any variations, for example searching on Cadbury will find results on Cadbury Schweppes, Fry Cadbury, Cadbury Brothers etc. The libraries that hold copies of the reports are listed together with the earliest and latest years of a collection’s holdings.

An added bonus of this service is that it suggests you look at related companies. For example, clicking on Cadbury Brothers Ltd in my results lists came up with British Cocoa and Chocolate Co Ltd, of which Cadbury Brothers was a subsidiary, and Cadbury Schweppes. Cadbury Brothers, it tells me,  later to become Cadbury Group merged with  Schweppes to form Cadbury Schweppes in 1969).  In addition to locating historical annual reports, this service is a good place to pick up clues on past corporate relationships.

British Services UK

Owned and operated by Infoactive Media Ltd, British Services UK lists major governing bodies, government departments, associations and resources of over 100 industries in the UK along with non-profit organisations, charities, groups, clubs and businesses. My particular interest in this site was the list of trade associations and regulatory bodies at Trade associations are often an excellent starting point for general information and key resources on industry sectors.

You can browse by service type, for example Trade Associations or Chambers of Commerce,  and narrow down your results by location.  There is no option to browse by industry sector and the absence of a proper site search engine makes it even more difficult to find information. Overall, the coverage of trade associations and regulatory bodies is good but not as comprehensive as the Trade Association Forum.

The search box at the top of the screen fails to pick up any results from the listings and at best only displays advertisements.  You could, of course, use Google Advanced Search to carry out a site search, but this was when I began to suspect the quality of some of the data. A search on my own professional body CILIP, which is also a registered charity, did indeed find the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals but it is listed under Bloomsbury Newspapers along with Benjamin Dent & Co, Northcliffe Newspapers, The Friend Publications and The Spectator.

This site has potential, but the navigation needs to be improved and a working search engine ought to be added. Some of the services are incorrectly listed and there are more comprehensive listings elsewhere. British Services UK has an advantage in that everything is in one place, but use with caution.

Tapping into expert networks: email discussion lists

With all the hype and fuss surrounding the newer Web 2.0 stuff one ‘old’ technology seems to have been forgotten, or has not even been noticed, by many people as a valuable collaborative tool. Email discussion lists have been around for years and are still one of the best ways of tapping into expert knowledge. (I refuse to use the Web 2.0 phrase “wisdom of crowds” as crowds – or should that be mobs? – are rarely wise).

Email discussion lists can be subject specific e.g. BUSLIB-L for business information,  profession specific e.g. LIS-LAW for information professionals working in the legal sector,  or activity related e.g. UKeiG Intranets for anyone involved in … er… Intranets.

My own interest is business information and the two lists that I read religiously every day are AIIP (The Association of Independent Information Professionals) and BUSLIB-L -the Business Librarians list. The former is only available to members of AIIP but the latter is open to all. For those of you unfamiliar with email discussion lists this is how they work:

1. You sign up to a list with your email address. The procedure used to involve arcane commands that had to be sent via email to a long winded address. Woe betide the person who inserted an extra space, missed a comma, or added extraneous text to the end of the message such as a signature. Nowadays, nearly all lists offer simple web based sign-ups.

2. You should then receive an email back form the list asking you to confirm. This is to stop people signing up on your behalf and an attempt to block spammers.  Click on the link provided or reply to the message and you are in!

3. All correspondence is conducted via email. When you post a query or a comment it goes to everyone else on the list, and you receive everything that everyone else sends to the list. If you feel overwhelmed by the number of individual messages hitting your mailbox, some lists have a daily or weekly digest to which you can subscribe.

Most lists have searchable archives so, before posting your query, investigate those first  to see if your question has already been raised and answered.

JISCmail hosts a wide range of lists and although it has an academic and research bias, it is open to commercial subscribers and worth investigating if you are new to email lists. Usually, though, good discussion lists are discovered by chance or recommendation.

For those of you who. like me, are interested in business information BUSLIB-L is a must-have. It is a US based list with a North American bias but there are  plenty of European researchers as well. Many well known business information specialists are members and willingly share their expertise. Post a problem and within an hour or two someone will have posted a response. It might be along the lines of  “I don’t think this can be easily answered – you will probably have to pay significant dosh for bespoke market research” or “Have you tried these free resources……”.

Even if you do not have a question yourself, it is worth following the list just to keep up to date with new search techniques, resources, and alternative approaches to locating information. Towards the end of a recent thread on ethics Barabara Quint, editor of Searcher Magazine, reminded us that she used to write editorials on the role of information professionals using the acronym R-A-T-S, Rigorously Aggressive Trained Searchers. “We get the cheese without getting caught in the traps”. Perhaps that should be BUSLIB-L’s motto? Or maybe the start of new professional body – only RODENTS need apply.  (Suggestions as to what R-O-D-E-N-T-S could stand for in the comments section please).

Free Official Swedish Company Information – Gratis företagsinformation på Internet is a quick and easy way to access basic official information on Swedish companies free of charge. That is the good news. The bad news is that it is only available in Swedish but it easy enough to navigate. On the home page there are two boxes: in the first you can enter a company or a person’s name, whereas the second is for entering components of the address. You can view contact details, key financials and executives free of charge and there is an option to order various reports. If you have the Google toolbar installed in your browser, the ‘Translate into English’ option works well enough to enable you to understand most of the headings and financial items.

Many thanks to Britta Nordström for the information.

Google translation of company information page
Google translation of company information page