Yammer offers collaboration to broader communities

Yammer (http://yammer.com/) has announced that it is opening up its microblogging service. It will allow people from different organisations and even families to use the service for collaboration. At the moment only people with email addresses on the same company domain can connect within Yammer using the free account, but you can already add “external members” using one of the priced plans. The new Communities will enable less formal organisations to use Yammer and I can see this being a useful way for diverse groups of people working on projects or events to connect.

The pricing plans for Yammer Communities will be the same as the “corporate” version: it will be free to use with priced plans for more advanced features. The service will launch on March 1st.

Exalead changes filetype commands

If you are a user of Exalead (http://www.exalead.com/search/) and use the filetype command you will need to make note of some changes to the file extensions. If you are looking for Excel spreadsheets you will now have to include ‘filetype:excel’ in your search strategy, for PowerPoint it is ‘filetype:powerpoint’ and for Word documents type in ‘filetype:word’. I assume that the changes are to ensure that the ‘new’ Microsoft Office 2007 extensions pptx, docx and xlsx are picked up. Alternatively, you could run just a keyword search and select the filetype from the menu down the right hand side of the results page.

In Google you have to run separate command line searches if you want to pick up both ppt and pptx files. The advanced search screen file format drop-down menu options only search for pre Microsoft Office 2007 file extensions. Bing does not seem to recognise the newer file extensions at all but you can search for them in Yahoo using the ‘originurlextension:’ command. Like Google, Yahoo’s advanced search screen file format box does not pick up the 2007 extensions.

Most people who use Microsoft Office 2007 generally convert files to 97-2003 format before uploading them to the web, but Office 2010 is well into beta testing and the new extensions will start to become more commonplace. It will be interesting to see if and how Google, Yahoo and Bing manage search for these new filetypes.

Presentation: Citizens Advice – what we really do

A free evening event organised by CILIP in the Thames Valley

Date: Tuesday, 2nd March 2010
Time: 18.00 for 18.30
Venue: Great Expectations, 33 London Street, Reading, Berkshire  RG1 4PS
Speaker: Chris O’Hare

Chris O’Hare is manager at Henley & District CAB. Chris will consider the transferable skills from the information industry, the challenges and joys of working in a small local charity? If you are interested in volunteering, moving into the charity sector or the work of CAB come along and find out more.

Chris has worked in the information industry for more that 20 years, most recently on a freelance basis at Yell. Previous roles include Information Manager for Business Gateway in Aberdeen, Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University and Information manager for the Consumer’s Association. Chris is trainer for TFPL. Her book Business Information Sources: A Beginner’s Guide was published in 2007 by Facet.

These meetings are free and open to all.

Refreshments provided afterwards.

Please advise Norman Briggs,  Events Co-Ordinator Tel: 0118 987 1115 or nwbriggs@pcintell.co.uk, or Chrissy Allott, Chairperson Chrissy.Allott@berkshire.nhs.uk if you plan to attend


Slidefinder  (http://www.slidefinder.net/) was recommended to me way back in August 2009 and I have been using it ever since to track down information inside presentations. PowerPoint presentations can hold a wealth of information: corporate structures, strategic plans, research activity, statistics, industry information etc. Using the advanced file format search options in the general search engines is one way of locating relevant presentations and there are also searchable presentation sharing sites such as Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/) and Authorstream (http://www.authorstream.com/). Slidefinder (http://www.slidefinder.net/) is a similar service but locates and presents you with individual slides that contain your search terms. This means that you do not have to wade through the whole file to find the information you want.

It covers publicly available PowerPoint presentations that are on the web but does not include services such as Slideshare or Authorstream. The default simple search is straightforward. Type in your search terms and relevant slides are displayed as thumbnails. The advanced search enables you to search by slide title, text, notes, presentation name, keywords, language and site. To see a larger version of a slide and any notes associated with it move the cursor over a slide, or you can download the entire presentation if you wish.

There are also options to restrict your search to university sites. These are listed by country in regions (Europe, North America, Oceania and Asia) but it is not comprehensive. Once you have identified the university you want you can either browse the title slides or keyword search the available presentations. Phil Bradley has already reviewed the service and he commented that no UK universities were listed. This is obviously a part of the service that is under continual development and I note today that  two universities have been added to the UK list since I last looked. It is not clear how the universities are selected for inclusion (there are only 47 for the UK) and many major institutions such as Reading University are missing from the list.

Slidefinder is powered by Slide Executive (http://www.slideexecutive.com/) and is a showcase for Swedish company Novatrox’s desktop and enterprise presentation management tools. They are essentially search tools for presentations stored on your own computer or networks but they also enable you to build new presentations from existing slides and manage “libraries”. There are a range of products depending on the number of users and how you wish to create and organise your files. They are all priced but you can download free trials. I am currently looking at the single user desktop edition and although I know my own presentations inside out and their location I am finding Slide Executive very useful for presentations given to me by co-workers and colleagues. The question for me now is whether or not it is worth 249 Euros. Possibly not, but the free Slidefinder is definitely worth adding to your search toolkit.

Google testing new options interface?

Twitter followers of @daveyp and myself may have spotted a brief exchange of tweets between us and Phil Bradley (http://philbradlel.typepad.com/ Twitter name @philbradley) about additional icons appearing on Google results pages when ‘Show  options’ was selected. An example of what @daveyp was seeing is at http://www.daveyp.com/blog/stuff/google.jpg . He was using Google.com, the “search provider” box in IE and running IE8.0.6001 on WinXP SP3. It did not matter whether or not he was signed in to a Google account.

Phil Bradley and I attempted to replicate this on our various machines, operating systems, browsers etc but could not and neither could anyone else in @daveyp’s twitterstream. Phil Bradley wondered if @daveyp had stumbled upon some unique, bizarre experiment. In the mean time I had turned to the email discussion list of the AIIP (Association of Independent Information Providers), one of my professional networks. One hour and fifteen minutes later, fellow member Donna Fryer responded with a link to http://blogoscoped.com/forum/163640.html, which suggests that Google are testing a change to the format and layout. The posting also refers to http://searchengineland.com/google-streamlines-search-options-30143 . By this time @daveyp had reported that the icons had disappeared and the layout returned to normal!

I subscribe to the Blogscoped RSS feed but had completely forgotten about the posting. In a follow up tweet Phil Bradley echoed my own thoughts when he pointed out that the Blogscoped article was written in November 2009 and asked why they had started testing again now. The answer may be in the Search Engine Land post: “the cleaner display may be launched across Google after the New Year.” So keep your eyes peeled for a new layout in Show Options.

As well as alerting me to a potential change in the Google results layout, this whole exchange reinforced to me the power of networks and social media when one is faced with a problem – and I include the good old-fashioned, traditional email discussion lists. One person reports an oddity on their preferred social network (in this case Twitter). Members of that person’s network pick it up, investigate and pass it on to members in their preferred networks  (in my case the AIIP discussion list). Suggestions, advice and information are passed back to the original enquirer and problem solved!