Google has started showing UK postcode area boundaries but not in Google maps as one would expect. Using the standard Google search box type in your postcode and at the top of your results Google shows you a map with the boundaries of the postcode area.
Although the boundaries are in roughly the right area, they are not accurate. In this example, the coverage of RG4 5BE extends north and south to the top and bottom of Star Road. Others have reported similar discrepancies in their areas. As a general indication of the location of a postcode area it is fine but do not rely on Google to identify which streets or parts of streets are covered by it. Google also gives information on the nearest bus stop, which in this case is correct but not the only option. If you click through to the full sized Google map the boundaries disappear and they do not appear at all if you do the search straight away within Google Maps. You do, though, see more information on the public transport options.
Alternative bus stops are given and the numbered routes listed. I was rather puzzled by the number 74 and 74 A, which have never seen, but a quick check revealed that it is the “football” bus that runs once a day and only when there is a match at the Madjeski Stadium. The scheduled times for the next buses are as accurate as the bus company timetables provided via Traveline and Transportdirect. I watched three buses arrive and compared it to Google’s schedule: the number 800 was 7 minutes late, the first number 23 was 6 minutes late and the second on time so Google is not using real time data.
Overall, it’s not bad. Just remember that the postcode boundaries are approximate so if you need something more precise use the Royal Mail web site. The bus timetable will not tell you if a bus is delayed or cancelled but if you are contemplating moving to the area it is a quick way of assessing how good (or bad) the local public transport is.
The Ukrainian official companies register can be found at http://irc.gov.ua/ua/Poshuk-v-YeDR.html. The interface and information is in Ukrainian only but Google’s translation option does a good enough job to help you through the site. If you use Google Chrome as your browser you can enable its automatic translation prompt by going to Options, Under the Bonnet, and ticking the Translate box. Many thanks to Ladymyr Bondar for alerting me to the site.
There is also an addendum to the presentation that summarises some of the questions and answers covered throughout the day together with “top tips” and sites that the participants themselves suggested. This is also available at http://www.rba.co.uk/as/.
Several people said they will investigate setting up a custom search engine for their preferred sources and frequently used web sites. Google’s custom search engine is at http://www.google.com/cse/ and Blekko.com lets you set up ‘slashtags’ to create lists of sites for searching. One person said that they are going to try both and compare ease of use and results.
What can one do when the link to the Google’s advanced search screen disappears altogether?
The link to Google’s advanced search screen has been moved to the drop down menu underneath the cogwheel in the upper right hand corner of your screen, but several reported that it had even vanished from there for a couple of days last week. Next time you use the screen bookmark its URL so that you can go directly to it (of course Google can always change that!). Also learn the advanced search commands e.g. filetype: site: etc. so that you can type them into the standard search box.
Are there still some directories alive and updated e.g. DMOZ? Or is the war of directories vs search engines over?
The Yahoo directory is still online although it is not easy to find and it has not been updated for several years. Similarly, some sections of DMOZ appear not to have been updated for at least a year and the entries under some headings look like advertising. The day of the mega-directory may be over but specialist and subject specific listings are still being developed. They do, though, require considerable time and effort to maintain and inevitably some are forced to close because of a lack of funding e.g. Intute.
Are there good tools for events search by subject, region, date?
The events databases that some of us accessed via services such as DataStar have long gone so it is not possible for example to search for events on nanotechnology taking place next year between June and September in Europe. Possible alternative search strategies include:
– identifying major events venues and their calendars
– locating relevant trade and industry newsletters, portals, magazines that may list events in their sectors
– relevant trade and professional bodies and associations
Are there tools that search the live web rather than using indexes of cached pages?
Biznar.com, Mednar.com and some social media search tools search the “live” web but they are limited to searching a small number of sites and are slower than Google and Bing in returning results. There are no free public search tools that search the entire web live – it would take far too long – and by the time the search engine would have finished the information would be out of date!
Searching for scientific publications that are not published in major English language journals
Google and Google Scholar are still a good starting point for this type of search, but it was suggested by several of the workshop participants that Open Access journals could also be investigated as well as national digitised collections and subject specific listing and portals.
Searching news in other languages (alternatives to Google News)
Country versions of Google News give priority to local content but you can identify news sources in individual countries at the Newspaper & News Media Guide http://www.abyznewslinks.com/. You cannot search the publications from this site but it will tell you what is available and the language of publication.
What will be the trend of the next 5 years? More competition? More takeovers of the smaller search engines? More specialist tools?
All of that! Many smaller specialist search tools continually emerge and many of them quickly disappear or are bought up by the competition. It is impossible to predict exactly what will happen, or even if Google will remain the dominant search tool on the web. If Google’s popularity starts to wane it probably will not be because a “Google-killer” arrives on the scene but because Google goes too far in trying to take control and automatically “improve” results for users. Many of us feel that it is already going in that direction.
Top tips and tools to try back at work
Custom Search Engines – use Google CSE (http://www.google.com/cse/) or set up a ‘slashtag’ on Blekko.com so that you can quickly and easily search those sites you regularly use. Note: they will not include password protected sites or sites where you need to conduct a database search
Biznar.com – real time federated search of selected key business resources
Chemspider.com – brings together chemical information from a wide range of resources. Maintained by the Royal Society of Chemistry