Tag Archives: Search Engines

And the next Google killer is….Google!

Many of us have been saying for a while that the search engine that will kill Google is Google itself. It has come so close in the past, two of the more recent incidents being the removal of the plus sign from general web search and stopping the ‘ANDing’ of search terms. Prefixing search terms with the plus sign enabled searchers to disable Google’s synonym and variation search so that it carried out an exact match search. It still works in Google Scholar but not in general web search; Google is now using the ‘+’ prefix within Google+ to help users find Google+ business pages, for example +BASF will quickly take you to the BASF business page.  Google redeemed itself to some extent by hastily bringing in the Verbatim option, which can be found in the left hand menu of your results page. This will run your search exactly as you specify it (Google: Verbatim for exact match search http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/11/18/google-verbatim-for-exact-match-search/). However, while it works with Google commands such as ‘filetype:’ and ‘site:’ it gives up as soon as you start using some of the options in the left hand menu on the results page, such as date.

And now enter Google+ and Search Plus Your World (SPYW). If you decided to add Google+ to your Google account Google has seriously messed up altered the way it handles your search if you are logged in. It now incorporates and gives priority to results from your Google+ network. (For more details from Google see Search, plus Your World – Inside Search http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/01/search-plus-your-world.html). At present it is only available if you are signed in on Google.com and searching in English. “Search Plus Your World” is now the default and personalizes your results based on both your own behaviour and social connections, and content that has been shared with you through Google+.  Phil Bradley has written an excellent posting on how this works (Why Google Search Plus is a disaster for search http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2012/01/why-google-search-plus-is-a-disaster-for-search.htmll).

Initially I was in two minds about SPYW. I thought I might find it useful if I wanted to check what people in my Google circles were saying about a particular issue but then realised that most of them prefer to post on Twitter rather than in Google+ and Google+ does not cover Twitter! The Search+ results include

  • listings from the web
  • pages from the web that have been given priority because of your search behavior
  • pages from the web given priority because of your social connections
  • both public and private (or limited) Google+ posts, photos and Google Picasa photos

When it comes to serious research Search+ includes far too much irrelevant information. So how easy is it to turn it off? If you are logged in when you run your search you will see a message above your results that tells you the number of personal results and “other results” that have been found. There is also a toggle that enables you to switch between personalised and unpersonalised results. You can also switch it off permanently within your search settings.

You can of course just log out of your Google account before you run a search, or never sign up for Google+ in the first place. But Google is making the latter increasingly difficult. Let’s look at the results that might be popping up on your screen and as an example I’ll use a search on Phil Bradley, search and social media expert and President of CILIP. First of all a search on Phil Bradley before Search+ arrived:

On my screen I see pages from his web site, his blog and a Wikipedia entry (which is not the Phil Bradley I am looking for!). When I sign in to a Google account that has Google+ associated with it I see something completely different:


Phil’s Google+ profile is given priority above everything else and takes up most of the screen regardless of whether or not it is the most relevant or most up to date (Real-Life Examples Of How Google’s “Search Plus” Pushes Google+ Over Relevancy http://searchengineland.com/examples-google-search-plus-drive-facebook-twitter-crazy-107554).  And don’t think you can escape with a Google account that does not include Google+. Google has ways of enticing you to “upgrade”:

Even worse, if you sign up now for a new Gmail, YouTube or Blogger account you are automatically joined to Google+ (http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2140440/New-Gmail-YouTube-Blogger-Users-Join-Google-by-Default).

Search+ has even tainted the suggestions that pop up as you type in your search:

Phil’s Google+ profile is given prominence and if you click on the link without having an account yourself your are invited to join:

To see what the suggestions should look like a group called Focus on the User (http://www.focusontheuser.org/) has produced a bookmarklet for Chrome, Firefox and Safari and extensions for Chrome and Firefox. This tries – and succeeds most of the time – to display your search results without the intrusion of Google+ results. For my search on Phil his Google+ profile is replaced with Twitter.

When I run a search on my own name my Google+ entry is supplanted by my LinkedIn profile.

“What Google should be” does not, though, remove the extra “content” that Search+ sometimes adds to the right of your results. Run a subject search and you may see “People and Pages on Google+” that are supposedly related to your search terms.

I have not yet found these entries to more relevant than standard search results and the link “Learn how you could appear here too” indicates that Google sees this as another way of persuading people and organisations to join Google+. Switching it off is not easy. It is still there if you are logged out of your Google account. It is still there if you add &pws=0 to the search URL (in fact &pws=0 does not seem to work any more at all for depersonalising results). It does disappear, though, if you use Incognito in Chrome. The intrusion of Google+ is most obvious when running searches with just one or two terms or more consumer biased searches. As soon as you start building more complex searches involving filetype: or site: for example, or research more scientific subjects then Google+ takes a back seat.

Search+ is not all that is affecting how Google presents results. Google is simplifying its privacy policies and combining user data from all of its services (Official Google Blog: Updating our privacy policies and terms of service http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/updating-our-privacy-policies-and-terms.html). It sounds innocent enough but I’ve already spotted major changes. Google knows I live in Reading because I have told it and I do find that useful when I am carrying out local searches for restaurants, builders etc. Google has now decided, though, to bombard my YouTube home page with videos about Reading.

The videos of the Reading railway station redevelopment are vaguely interesting but I see enough of that in real life on a daily basis when I pass through the centre of town. The football videos are of no interest to me whatsoever. So the crossover of content has already started and I am not looking forward to what Google decides to put in my web search results as a consequence of my YouTube activity!

It is becoming increasingly difficult to make Google behave. Using advanced search commands is one way but many searches do not require them. The best method I have found so far is to use Chrome as your browser and open an incognito window. This depersonalises your results, ignores your web history and existing cookies, and leaves no traces of your search activity. Alternatively, since Google has clearly lost the plot when it comes to search, try another service. The three that I would currently recommend are Bing (http://www.bing.com/), DuckDuckGo (http://duckduckgo.com/) and Blekko (http://blekko.com/).

Yahoo Site Explorer closes – try Blekko instead

A reminder that Yahoo Site Explorer is closing down tomorrow (November 21st ) and I assume that the link and linkdomain commands will go with it, although they are not specifically mentioned (http://www.ysearchblog.com/2011/11/18/site-explorer-reminder/). Webmasters are being told to use Bing Webmaster Tools. This enables you to analyse links to your own domains but is no use if you want to find who links to other web sites as part of research. Bing, or Live.com as it then was, removed its link and linkdomain commands in November/December 2007 and Yahoo was left as the only reliable alternative. The link command enabled you to find who linked to a specific page on the web and linkdomain found links to anywhere on a specified web site. Both were useful ways of finding other sites containing similar content and discovering what others were saying about a page. Google’s link command is useless as it picks up a minuscule number of results, which now leaves Blekko (http://blekko.com/) as the only realistic alternative.

Blekko enables you to track down linked pages in two ways but both lead to the same results. The first is to use their slashtags ‘/links’ and ‘/domainlinks’ with a URL or domain name. For example http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/registers.htm /links will find pages that link to my official company registers page whereas http://www.rba.co.uk/ /domainlinks finds all inbound links to my site rba.co.uk.

The second route is via your search results. Below each entry is a downwards pointing arrow. Click on this and select ‘links’ from the pop-up box.

Blekko Lonks


You will then see a list of sites that link to that page.

To view inbound links to the whole of the web site click on the seo option below the result and you will see some statistics together with the total number of inbound links.

Blekko SEO


Click on the inbound links number and Blekko presents you with a list of domains containing links to yours and how many.


Blekko Domain Links


To see exactly where the links are located and where they go to on your site just click on the number in the links column.


Blekko inbound links


I have only looked in detail at a couple of sites but Blekko seems to do a good job and is certainly far superior to Google. The Blekko data on my own site seems to correspond with that available from Bing Webmaster Tools but of course I cannot compare other sites in the same way. My initial thoughts are that for link searching Blekko is definitely worth adding to your research toolkit.

Google: Verbatim for exact match search

Well it looks as though the user feedback to Google on the discontinuation of the +/plus sign for enforcing an exact match search has paid off. Google removed the plus sign as a web search option a few weeks ago and told searchers to use double quotes around terms instead.The double quote marks option does not always force an exact match and increasingly Google is ignoring them and making  some of your search terms optional. (See my blog posting Dear Google, stop messing with my search, http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/11/08/dear-google-stop-messing-with-my-search/). The official reason for the change was that hardly anyone used it: the real reason has become clear with Google implementing its Google+ Direct Connect Service. This enables you to go direct to an individual’s or company’s Google+ page by prefixing their name with the plus sign, for example +BASF.


For those of us who really do NOT want Google to second guess what we are looking for there is now a Verbatim command. Google’s Inside Search blog (http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2011/11/search-using-your-terms-verbatim.html) says:


 With the verbatim tool on, we’ll use the literal words you entered without making normal improvements such as
  • making automatic spelling corrections
  • personalizing your search by using information such as sites you’ve visited before
  • including synonyms of your search terms (matching “car” when you search [automotive])
  • finding results that match similar terms to those in your query (finding results related to “floral delivery” when you search [flower shops])
  • searching for words with the same stem like “running” when you’ve typed [run]
  • making some of your terms optional, like “circa” in [the scarecrow circa 1963]
So be warned: when using Verbatim you are rejecting Google’s “improvements”!


Verbatim can be found in the options on the left hand side of your results page, which means that you have to run your search before you can implement it. Go to the menu to the left of your results and click on ‘More search tools’ at the bottom. This will open up a menu that includes the Verbatim option.
Google Verbatim
It works!. When I run a Verbatim search on St Laurence I get only St Laurence and not St Lawrence as well. And my Heron Island Caversham UK parrot search now finds only those pages that contain all of my terms. There is one drawback in that Verbatim is all or nothing. I often want to have an exact match search on just one or two of my terms but am happy to have Google mess around with the remainder. Verbatim works on your whole search strategy but I think that you can include advanced search commands in your strategy. Running searches such as ‘”Heron Island” Caversham UK ~parrot’ or ‘”Heron Island” Caversham UK parrot OR pigeon’ followed by Verbatim gives me what I would expect. However, more complex searches incorporating filetype: and site: gave me very bizarre results. I need to do more research on this part of the strategy.


Overall, I welcome Verbatim and thank Google for listening to its users. However, as Phil Bradley has said it is a tool that “Google should not need to have created” (Google Verbatim tool http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2011/11/google-verbatim-tool.html)

ILI 2011 web search presentations

The presentations I gave at International Librarian International this week in London are now available on my Advanced Search page at http://www.rba.co.uk/as/. They are also available on authorSTREAM and Slideshare.

Searching without Google

Presentation given as part of the main conference on Friday, 28th October 2011

It is also available on Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/KarenBlakeman/searching-without-google

Web Search Academy

This was a pre-conference workshop held on Wednesday26th October with myself, Marydee Ojala and Arthur Weiss presenting.

Alternative Search Tools 

Please note the content of this presentation is similar to that of my main conference presentation “Searching without Google”.

Also available on Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/KarenBlakeman/alternative-search-tools

Visual Search

Looks at image search tools, video search engines and visualisations.

The Slideshare version is available at http://www.slideshare.net/KarenBlakeman/visual-search-9892558

Google still thinks coots are possibly cats (or cows)

I have been dining out on the ‘Google thinks cats are lions’ story for several months but decided that its inclusion in my presentation at INFORUM 2011 in Prague should be its last outing. (See my blog postings at http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/02/12/google-decides-that-coots-are-really-lions/ and http://www.rba.co.uk/wordpress/2011/02/21/update-on-coots-vs-lions/ for the details on this story). Towards the end of my talk I pointed out that Google has now abandoned coots=lions and carries out what I consider to be a normal search for coots mating behaviour, or as normal as any Google search can be. I had checked in Google.co.uk, Google.com and Google.cz a couple of weeks before the INFORUM conference and coots were definitely black, medium sized water birds and not large furry mammals with huge fangs and claws. As I concluded my presentation, though, I saw a few people in the audience staring at their laptops and shaking their heads. One of them came up to me during the break and pointed out that Google Czech Republic was offering cats instead of coots for the first two results. This prompted a quick review of the Google coots/cats/lions situation.

The search: coots mating behaviour

Google.co.uk gives a reasonable set of results but having blogged and included details of the search in so many presentations and newsletters my own pages are taking over the top positions in the results.

Google UK coots search

Google.com gives similar results.

Google.cz however has different ideas. It offers me three articles from Google Scholar and then says “Did you mean cats mating behaviour” in Czech and gives me two results on that subject. The rest of the results are all about coots, so at least Google.cz is giving me my original search as an option rather than unilaterally deciding I really meant cats.

Google Czech Republic and Coots

Looking at other country versions of Google, Google.no and Google.se came up with similar results. Google Germany, however, thinks coots are cows and even throws in a Youtube video:

Google Germany Coots

I am not going to even begin to try and work out what is going on. Three of us nearly went mad attempting to get to the bottom of the original coots=lions oddity. But it does make one wonder even more whether Google can be trusted to come up with even a handful of useful results.

Anything but Google – URLs

I omitted to include the URLs of some of the specialist tools mentioned in the Anything but Google presentation. You could Bing or Yahoo the names of the services (we’re not going to Google them are we?) but to save time I’ve listed them below.

ChemSpider – Database of Chemical Structures and Property Predictions
Owned by the Royal Society of Chemistry Chemspider links together compound information across the web and provides free text and structure search of millions of chemical structures. Search by systematic name, synonym, trade name, registry number, SMILES or InChI.

Biznar http://biznar.com/
Live federated search from Deep Web Technologies and covering 60 business collections. As well as presenting you with a standard list of results, the pages are organised into folders on the left hand side of the screen covering topics, authors, publications, publishers and dates (years).

TechXtra http://www.techxtra.ac.uk/
This is an initiative of Heriot Watt Universit providing a free service for finding articles, books,industry news, job announcements, technical reports, technical data, full text eprints, thesis and dissertations in engineering, mathematics and computing.

Scirus http://www.scirus.com/
Owned by Elsevier, Scirus covers scientific information. (See the About Us section for the full details). Some of the information is from free web resources but it also includes many priced articles.

PhilPapers: Online Research in Philosophy http://philpapers.org/
Directory of online philosophical articles and books by academic philosophers. Its purpose is “to facilitate the exchange and development of philosophical research through the Internet. Our service gathers and organizes philosophical research on the Internet, and provides tools for philosophers to access, organize, and discuss this research.”

Microsoft Academic Search http://academic.research.microsoft.com/
Currently concentrates on chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics and physics. It has advanced search options that actually work (unlike Google Scholar!), lists citations and has a wonderful Visual Explorer.

Not mentioned in the slides but discussed briefly during the session was HealthMash http://healthmash.com/. A semantic metasearch health search engine with “clustering and advanced linguistic capabilities.” I’d be interested in people’s experiences and views of this one.

Oi! Google – you have seriously overstepped the mark

Yes, I am talking to you Google and  this time you really have gone too far.

All I wanted to do was check up on the background of a photo I had taken of the wall surrounding the graveyard of a church in Reading. The church in question is St Laurence. We have all become accustomed to the “Did you mean….?” option at the top of our search results. I found it invaluable early in the morning or late at night when typos were inevitable in my search strategy: yes, thank you, I really did mean ‘widget manufacturers’ and not ‘wigdet manufacturers’. Recently, though, Google has abandoned the optional corrected search and now runs instead the corrected strategy as the default with yours as the extra option. Google has taken this a stage further and runs your search as it thinks fit.

So Google decided that I really meant to search for Saint Lawrence and has included that in the search. There is no option to search on just Saint Laurence:

Google St Laurence search

On this occasion there were some relevant pages in my results. But yes, Google, I really did want to search for Saint Laurence! Now, it seems, I have to prefix all of my search terms with a plus sign or enclose them in double quote marks to stop Google’s dictatorial behaviour.  But why should I have to do that?

In one of my presentations last year on Google vs. Bing/Yahoo I commented that Google would have to do something really stupid before users would switch to another search engine. For me, Google has done that really stupid thing. I am now seriously contemplating switching search engines for basic web searching. My final decision will be based on relevance of results and how quickly they are delivered. I have to spend too much time and click too many times to get them on Google

UPDATE: It has just got worse. I tried a search on the phrase “Saint Laurence” thinking Google would carry out an exact match search, but Google will have no truck with such obvious ploys. (Ignore the Twitter search at the top of the results screen – that is a Greasemonkey script add-on for FireFox).

Google search changes

I now have to click on the option for “Saint Laurence” to get results for the search I had originally requested. Putting a plus sign before my phrase in the search box does not change Google’s mind. “Excuse me, Google, but I do know what I am doing and when I tell you to carry out an exact match search I WANT AN EXACT MATCH SEARCH! Got it?”

My Online Information 2010 presentations

If you have not already spotted the links on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc  to the various presentations I gave at “Online” in London earlier this month here they are all in one place. I gave two talks as part of the free seminar programme that was part of the exhibition, a conference presentation and a pre-conference workshop. They all have a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial license assigned to them  (see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ for further information on the license).

Google’s New Search Features: has it gone too far?
1st December 2010

This presentation was given in the exhibition area as part of the free seminar and masterclass programme. I have added comments to some of the screen shots so that they make a little more sense to those who were not there.

Google’s New Search Features: has it gone too far


Challenges of Finding Quality Business Information
1st December 2010

A second presentation I gave as part of the exhibition free seminar programme. Again, I have annotated some of the screen shots.


Search Engine Wars: let battle commence
30th November 2010

This is a presentation I gave as part of the Online Information conference. It is quite different from the one I gave  with the same title to INFORUM in Prague earlier this year. I wish I could say it was because so much has changed since then: unfortunately very little has changed.


Guide to Using Social Media to Promote Your Organisation and Services
29th November 2010

This was a one day workshop pre-conference workshop. The slides merely formed a framework for the day.  There were more services and issues discussed within the group than are shown in the presentation.  The link given below, which is a direct link to a ppt file on the RBA Information Services web site, will not be available indefinitely.  The presentations on my social media page are updated every time I run a workshop or give a seminar on the topic.

PowerPoint Presentation (9.5 MB)

Zuula – new interface and de-duplication

Zuula (http://www.zuula.com/) has a new interface and a new feature. Zuula provides an interface to many different search engines organised by type. Simply enter your search strategy, click on the type of information you want (web, image, news etc) and then click on the tabs of the search engines one by one to see their results. It is a quick and easy way to run a basic search through several tools in succession.

Zuula’s new interface is slicker and now automatically de-duplicates web search results. The first in the list is Google and you will notice that the results are numbered. Click on your next choice and you may notice that the numbered results do not start at number one.  At the top of the results list there is a plus sign and the text “Why minimized?” Zuula compares the results with your previous choice and “minimizes” duplicates under the plus sign. To see those results, click on the plus sign.

The other search types do not seem to support de-duplication but some are pulling in additional search features on the results page. For example images offers size, content (face, photo, illustration, line drawing) and colour. Some of the blog options offer restrictions by date (anytime, last day, last week, last month, last year).

You can change the order of the search engines under Preferences and also increase the number of results per page to a maximum of 60.

If you haven’t tried it out already give Zuula a go now.

Advanced search tips and tricks

An interesting list of search tips came from the participants of the search workshops I recently ran in-house for a well known academic institution. (My Twitter followers will be able to work out who it was). As well as being experienced, savvy searchers they are fortunate in that they can choose which browser to use for searching. Attempts to demonstrate Google Instant failed, however. I was not able to show Google’s latest “enhanced search experience” in action, even when using the latest versions of the browsers and being signed in to a Google account. This was probably due to their firewall. Personally, I think that is a plus for the institution. Some of you may disagree.

Here is their combined top search tips list.

1. Keep it Simple!

There is a plethora of advanced search options and Google alternatives but starting off with a simple search string is often the best approach. Looking for data on the UK rat population? You might be tempted to include a file format limitation in your search and/or a site:gov.uk command but simply typing in a search for uk rat population statistics was quicker and came up with the relevant information. Note: the simple approach worked at the time with this example because it was a “hot topic” in the UK news. It might not work now, which brings us to number 2…

2. Be aware of personalisation and hot topics

The major search engines monitor what you search for and the links you click on, and use this to “personalise” your results and sponsored links/ads accordingly. This information is stored in cookies on the computer you used for the search. They also try and work out your location from your IP address so that they can deliver local content (this sometimes goes horribly wrong!). What is currently hitting the headlines will also be a factor in determining the results that are displayed on the first page (increase your displayed results per page to more than the default 10 and ideally to at least 50). This means that you will see different results from one day to the next and if you use a computer other than your usual machine.

3. Google isn’t infallible

We covered a range of search techniques that you can try to bring Google to heel but if you are not getting anywhere try another search tool. Google does not cover everything and your best result may be number 1,200,675 in the results list. Try Yahoo or Bing as alternatives and also think about using specialist search tools for real time and social media, images, and subjects/industries.

4. Get to know the Google alternatives

There is no easy way to do this but visiting Zuula (http://www.zuula.com/) or Browsys Finder (http://www.browsys.com/finder/) once very couple of weeks will remind you of the alternatives and alert you to new kids on the block.

5. Google additional search options

Open up and explore the additional Google search options on the left hand side of your results page. You can restrict your search to news, videos, blogs, images etc and to a time period. There are also options for related searches, less or more shopping sites and….

8. The Wonderwheel

Use this to extract phrases and concepts from the top results and to change the direction of your search. Worth investigating if you are stuck in a rut and fed up with seeing the same results again and again.

9. Google Public Data Explorer

This is currently a Google Labs project at http://www.google.com/publicdata/home “..makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand.” There is a list of sources at http://www.google.com/publicdata/directory but the data available is more varied than the list suggests at first glance. The World Development Indicators and OECD Factbook are worth looking at in more detail to see if they have data that can help with frequently asked questions.

10. Creative Commons and public domain images

If you are looking for an image for a presentation or promotional literature, search for images that have the appropriate Creative Commons license. There are several licenses with varying degrees of restrictions. Details are on the Creative Commons web site at http://www.creative.commons.org/.  You can search Flickr photos that have a specific creative commons license at http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ or use Compfight (http://www.compfight.com/). There are several other sites you can use for Creative Commons images but Geograph (http://www.geograph.org.uk/) was mentioned several times by the workshop participants. Geograph “aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland” and all photos have a CC 2 license, which means that they can be used commercially with attribution.

11. TinEye Reverse Image Search

Type in the URL of an image or upload one of your own and TinEye will find similar images, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or if there is a higher resolution version. Provided by Idée Inc who also offer..

12. Multicolr Search Lab

Search 10 million Creative commons Flickr images by colour. You can specify more than one colour and click on a colour several times to increase its prominence within the image. You can easily click through to the original Flickr image to double check the license.

13 . Slidefinder


Ideal for locating individual presentation slides that contain your search terms. There is an Advanced Search that enables you to search specific areas of a slide for example title, text, notes. You can also limit your search to a university. There are browsable lists at the bottom of the page but they do not list every institution: there are only 47 for the UK. One workshop participant had been given a paper copy of a complex slide and it had taken her “ages” to find an electronic version. She had had to wade through hundreds of slides in presentations that had been identified by using the advanced filetype: ppt search. Slidefinder found it straight away.

14. Twitter search tools

Do not expect Google, Yahoo or Bing to carry out a reliable Twitter search. Use specialist search tools such as Twitter Search (http://search.twitter.com/), Twazzup (http://www.twazzup.com/), BackTweets (http://www.backtweets.com/) for tweets that refer to your content, Tweepz (http://www.tweepz.com/) for finding people and organisations on Twitter, and TwapperKeeper (http://www.twapperkeeper.com/) for archives of tweets on a conference hashtag or keyword.

15. Google custom search engine


Ideal for groups or collections of sites that you regularly search and use. Google CSE is very quick and easy to set up and can be hosted on Google. Two that had been set up by a workshop participant were a list of library associations worldwide and selected UK higher and further education web sites.

16. Watchthatpage

Tracking changes to web pages that do not themselves offer RSS or email alerts was not covered by the main part of the workshop but the question arose during one of the practical sessions. There is a list of some web based and downloadable programs and their features at Tracking Web Page Changes http://www.rba.co.uk/sources/monitor.htm . Watchthatpage (http://www.watchthatpage.com/) won the vote because it is free, web based and offers email alerts.

17. Evernote


“Capture anything… Type a text note. Clip a web page. Snap a photo. Grab a screenshot. Evernote will keep it all safe.”. I don’t use this myself but it had several fans in this organisation. ( I use Firefox add-on Scrapbook to do a similar thing).

18. Add-ons for Firefox

If you are a Firefox user explore the many add-ons that are available to make searching and managing information easier. For example Feedly (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/8538/) to organize your favourite sources into a magazine-like start page;  Scrapbook (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/427/) to save and organize web pages; and Optimize Google (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/52498/) for customizing your Google searches and results.

19. Don’t re-invent the wheel – re-use and share

As well as images, many presentations have Creative Commons licenses and their authors are often happy for you to re-use slides from them as long as you acknowledge the source and do not incorporate them into a product or service that you then sell. Slideshare.net is a good starting point but do check the license to confirm what you can and cannot do with the content – not all are CC. Also, consider assigning a CC license to your own photos and presentations. The Creative Commons web site (http://creativecommons.org/choose/) can help you decide which one to use.

20. Time to explore

There was time to explore new techniques and tools during the workshop but it is not so easy to try out, for example, a new option on Google when you are back in the office and an enquirer wants that result NOW! Try and incorporate some “play time” into your schedule so you can keep up with new developments, even if it is just 10 minutes a week.