Tag Archives: MSE360

Internet and Business Information Search Tips – Manchester, 26th March 2009

Here are the Top 10 tips from the Business and Internet Search workshop I ran for a group at Manchester Public Library on 26th March. They are the tips that the participants themselves suggested at the end of the day.

1. Site search

This one crops up again and again, but so many people have not yet discovered how powerful this command can be. Use the advanced site and domain search to limit your search to just one web site or a type of organisation (e.g. UK government, US academic). It is ideal for searching individual web sites which have diabolical navigation or appalling site search engines, and for searching for types of information, for example site:ac.uk for UK academic research papers on a particular topic. Use the advanced search screen in Google and Yahoo, or the ‘site:’ command as part of your search strategy in the standard search box on Google, Yahoo, Live.com and MSE360.com. For example:

carbon emissions trading site:ac.uk

If you are searching for PowerPoints or PDFs, use both Google and Yahoo. Google indexes the first 101 K of a document whereas Yahoo indexes the first 500 K so the results can be significantly different when it comes to larger files.

2. Filetype search
There are lots of goodies to be found on the advanced search screens of Google and Yahoo. Think about the type of information you are looking for and focus your search by file format. For example statistics and research data are often left in spreadsheet format (xls). If you are looking for an expert on a subject limit your search to PowerPoint (ppt, and also pdf as many presentations are converted into this format before being loaded onto the web).  Industry, market and government reports are often in PDF format.  Yahoo and Google have the more common file formats in a drop menu on their advanced search screens.  If  the one you want is not listed use the filetype: command followed by the file extension as part of your strategy in Google, Live.com and MSE360.com. In Yahoo, use ‘originurlextension: ”

3. TripleMe
Enter your search and TripleMe displays results from Google, Yahoo and Live side by side. The fourth column contains the inevitable ads.

4. Google Finance
http://www.google.co.uk/finance , http://www.google.com/finance
A worthy competitor to Yahoo Finance although it does not have the wide range of stock exchange coverage of Yahoo. It does, though, beat Yahoo when it comes to the share price graphs. The graphs are ‘annotated’ with labels at the appropriate time point and these link to news articles that are listed to the right of the graph. Both offer free, daily historical share prices in figures.

5. PIPL.com and 123 people.com for people search
http://www.pipl.com/ , http://www.123people.com/
As well as web sites, blogs, images and directories PIPL and 123People search social media and networking sites for a person by name.

6. Slideshare
A service that allows presenters to upload PowerPoint presentations  and make them available in various formats. Ideal if you are looking for information or an expert on a topic, a speaker for an event, or just some ideas for your own presentation.

7. Videos
Use services such as YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) to track down  “how to” videos and news. Also, why not create your own videos to promote your services or business and put them on YouTube?

8. Google CSE
Google Custom Search Engines (Google CSE) at http://www.google.com/coop/cse/
Ideal for building collections of sites that you regularly search, to create a searchable subject list, or to offer your users a more focused search option.

9. SCoRe Search Company Reports
A catalogue of current and historic printed company reports held in UK libraries. The catalogue does not provide links to digitised documents but 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 http://www.score.ac.uk/collections.asp.

10. Bureau van Dijk’s (BvD) “A Taste of Mint”
A free directory from BvD giving basic information on companies world-wide. One experienced researcher at an earlier workshop commented: “It found the company I have been looking for when every other directory failed!”

Update on MSE360

Soon after I had published yesterday’s posting on MSE360,  I sent feedback to them on a couple of issues  including the lack of a ‘NOT’ command. They replied within a couple of hours and overnight have corrected a bug that had caused the problem.  So the Boolean NOT does work in MSE360.

I raised another question about a green icon that appeared to the left of some entries in the results list.  This was most obvious in my ego-surfing and I had hoped that that the icons next to my web pages and blog postings meant that they were highly recommended. Unfortunately it is not so.  The little green icon represents a site that you have visited before, but it is  a feature that only Firefox supports.  It is a really neat feature, though, especially for those of us who do a lot of desk research.  It is useful to be able to ignore those sites we already know about and have visited and, perhaps more importantly, to quickly track down the perfect site that we found yesterday but cannot easily spot in the results list.

MSE360 Search

One search engine bites the dust (Accoona) and another one is launched. I picked up details of Search (MSE360) via Phil Bradley’s blog posting and so far am very impressed with it. The home page is minimalist as is the norm these days and apart from the search box the only other obvious search option is a pull down list of countries. Hidden at the bottom of the page is an Options link that allows you to set safe search for images, change the default country, enable/disable WOT, and choose a different style sheet for your results. WOT is short for “Web of Trust” and is a community whose members exchange knowledge of websites.  If a site has a bad reputation, WOT will warn you by inserting an icon next to the results. The colour of the icon ranges through shades of green, amber and red, red indicating sites about which you might want to exercise some caution. Hover over the icon and you can view the WOT ‘scorecard’.

The results page is ‘three tiered’. The centre panel contains the usual web listings, and the default style has images on the left, and  wikipedia and blog postings on the right. The layout can be changed by selecting a different stylesheet. I eventually decided to have both sidebars on the right hand side of the screen. There are the inevitable ads (Google) but these are in the sidebar and clearly labelled as Paid Results.

The quality of the results for my standard, basic test searches was excellent and compared favourably with Google.  What did concern me initially was that there is no advanced search screen: I include site/domain and filetype commands in many of my searches and, for me, a search engine without them is a non-starter. After some experimentation, though, I discovered that that you can use the commands as part of your search strategy, for example

“car ownership” UK site:gov.uk filetype:pdf

I also found that you can use Boolean AND, OR and parentheses but not NOT (reminiscent of Yahoo!) . The minus sign can be used in a simple search if you want to exclude pages containing term but it does not seem to work when combined with Boolean operators.

Moving on to general issues, MSE30 stores no private data The only stored data are customization cookies on your own computer.  Your IP is not kept, nor is any other identifiable information. To help combat spyware, they  use an internal spyware alert program to provide warnings next to sites that may host spyware.

MSE360 say that they are still a test site so there are bound to be bugs,  and no doubt some changes will be made to the interface. They say ” We’re not at a stage in which we can say we’re ready, but you still love hearing your feedback, good or bad”. My first impression is that they are very close to being ready and light years ahead of some of the appalling, over-hyped  search engines that have been launched recently.  I definitely recommend that you pay them a visit.