Health for Work Adviceline for Small Businesses

This new service is part of the UK government’s initiative to help people stay in work or return to work more quickly when they develop a health condition or impairment. The free Health for Work Adviceline for Small Business (  helps small businesses to quickly and effectively address the issue of employee health, minimise the impact of staff illness, and provide essential support to staff with physical or mental health issues.

The adviceline provides expert support to help:

  • get an employee back to work after long-term sickness
  • manage the impact on the business when an employee takes time off work through ill health
  • support an employee and benefit from their abilities if they are at work with health issues
  • encourage and support an employee who is off work, yet wants to return and contribute to the business
  • develop a working culture where work-related illness is less likely to occur

The adviceline is an 0800 number (0800 077 8844). If you are based in Scotland, you can obtain free advice at Healthy Working Lives ( or their adviceline on 0800 019 2211. For  businesses in Wales the Health at Work Adviceline Wales is on 0800 107 0900, web site

Your Google results are about to get weirder

Persuading Google to recreate the same list of results for a search is impossible. Google continually updates its database and index with new and updated pages. Even a few minutes between repeat searches can make a significant difference. Add into this mix the fact that your search will probably be diverted to a different server from the one that gave you your initial results (Google has thousands of servers) and that the second server may have been updated at a different time with different pages. Oh, and Google may have decided to play around with the ranking algorithms and display options on this particular server as an experiment. And are you sure you have entered your search terms in exactly the same order as before, because that can make a difference as well? And we haven’t even started to consider the difference of searching in vs. vs. etc.

Now we have Google personalized search, and by ‘we’ I mean all of us by default.

Search personalization is nothing new. In 2005 Google announced a new feature that was enabled if you were logged in with your Google account: web history and personal search (see Official Google Blog: Search gets personal If you were logged in to your Google account and had your web history enabled – a record of your searches and sites that you selected from your results – future search results would be adjusted, or personalized, accordingly. And then we had (have) Google Searchwiki (see Begone Searchwiki Searchwiki – you have to opt-in for it – enables you to delete results from your search results, or move a result up or down in the list depending on how relevant you think it is. Your actions are saved and remembered when you next run the search.

The new Google personalized search is different. You do not have to be signed in to a Google account and by default it is switched on.  The claim is that Google is “helping people get better search results”:

“For example, since I always search for [recipes] and often click on results from, Google might rank higher on the results page the next time I look for recipes. Other times, when I’m looking for news about Cornell University’s sports teams, I search for [big red]. Because I frequently click on, Google might show me this result first, instead of the Big Red soda company or others.”

The customization is based on 180 days of search activity linked to an anonymous cookie in your browser. See the “Official Google Blog: Personalized Search for everyone” for further details.

This might sound at first to be a useful additional feature, but think it through. Let us say that in the run-up to Christmas your boss has asked you to look up recipes for chocolate desserts, cakes or puddings for the office party. When your results list comes up you repeatedly click on links for recipes or videos of how to make that extra complicated chocolate soufflé. In your regular day job’s research, though, you are researching the pharmacological properties of the various compounds to be found in cocoa. Your results are now starting to come up with some very odd results, but at least they will be on the same topic. For those of us who research a wide range of subjects Google’s personalized search is going to lose the plot very quickly.

There is then the question of which computer are you using? Do you always use the same computer at work or at home (we have three here)?  What are you going to see when you go to an Internet cafe? And what results will Google present you with if you are a CILIP member and use the IT facilities in the members’ information centre?

Whatever PC you use for your Google search, look in the top right hand corner of the results page. You should see an option for Web History:

Click on Web History and then Disable Customisations based on search activity:

When this first went live, I found that disabling the customisation was not saved from one session to the next. Today, this now seems to have been saved from my previous search session but if you want to ensure that customisation has been disabled I would recommend that you check the setting at the start of every day.

Which country makes the best chocolate

Major headline news in UK is the hostile bid by Kraft for chocolate manufacturer Cadbury. Cadbury apparently called Kraft’s offer derisory but there are now stories circulating that Hershey is in the race to gain control of Dairy Milk and Bourneville chocolate, amongst others. This has started a debate over US vs UK chocolate (see BBC News -The great transatlantic chocolate divide This then spread over to  Twitter and other countries were mentioned as producers of the world’s best chocolate.

So choccy consumers of the world, here is a twtpoll to determine the truth! Poll ends Friday 18th December 2009.

Oxford Colleges Romp

Posted on behalf of CILIP in the Thames Valley (formerly BBOD):


Wednesday 16th December 2009

A visit to New College, Magdalen and St Hilda’s College Libraries. Seasonal refreshments included!

Meet at 1.55 pm outside New College in Holywell Street just past the Holywell Music Rooms on the opposite side of the road.

The tour is free but advance booking is required as places may be limited.  Bookings to: Norman Briggs

Online Information 2009 presentations

The three  presentations I gave at Online Information 2009 are now available on Slideshare: