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Monday, May 30, 2005

I'm going to be speaking at Information Today's WebSearch Paris on June 1st and 2nd, so things will be a little bit quiet on the weblog front.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

GoLexa is powered by: a Google API & Alexa Thumbnails. Works like a regular search engine, but gives you thumbnails, page rank from Google, Alexa and Yahoo, caches from Google, links to check link popularity, keywords, whois, traffic charts, Wayback machine, site report, speed, size, and a few others as well. Great if you want to research a particular page and not just search.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Yahoo! Mindset is a bit nifty - it allows you to search for something and, by the use of a slider bar, emphasis search/research pages or commercial pages. Useful if you want to know about a product rather than buying it, or vice versa.
DomainsBot is a nice little domain checker and it will suggest other available names that you can use.
Google Print now has it's own search page.

Friday, May 27, 2005

This one is doing the rounds at the moment, and it's quite amusing. Doug Hughes recounts how he tries to use a system provided by the Virgina State Corporation Commission to find information. It's very funny, complete with screen shots and a perfect example of how NOT to create a web application.
OK, this is an interesting oddity. is a meandering search engine. It attempts to find links between people, places, things, events and concepts. I tried it on Billericay (a town in Essex) and Christina Ricci (American Actress). The link went from Billericay to London commuter belt towns, to High Wycombe, where the film Sleepy Hollow was filmed to Christina Ricci, who starred in it. Very clever! I tried it with my name, but it wasn't interested in me at all, and tried to palm me off with someone else, which was a little less impressive. Fun? Yes. Useful? I have my doubts.
The Ask Jeeves Blog has details of a new feature called Zoom. Basically it allows users to type in a term and then narrow or expand the search (zoom in or zoom out). The example they give which shows it quite neatly is Beatles. I tried a few terms of my own; Arthrogryposis (a medical condition) and it gave lots of suggestions for narrowing the search, but none for widening, country search engines and it could only suggest narrowing to country music search engines, again with no widening. Confederate brought up options to expand/narrow and also gave me some 'Related names', which was quite neat. So I think it's got a way to go before it's an excellent tool, but it's already in the 'very good' category, and worth trying out.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I've written a short article on how to use the File Format option provided by a number of search engines to limit your results more closely. If you've never thought about how to use this option, this article may give you a few ideas.
Nice comments from Mary Ellen Bates about Exalead, which is a great search engine that I've been banging on about since I first discovered it in October of last year. I always refer course participants to it, and they've always been favourably impressed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Nice utility at Dynamic Drive that allows you to create a favicon, which is the little 16x16 image in the address bar. It'll take a picture that you provide (even good clear photographs!) and turn it into an icon you can download and use on your own site.
A nice reminder from SearchEngineWatch called Don't Disable Your Site for Handicapped Users, with useful information and good links. Every web author/designer should read it.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

OK, I admit to being slightly puzzled. Blaise Cronin has written a followup on his previous article about blogs at: SLIS IUB > News > Gresham’s Law and the Blogosphere, in which he complains about the way in which he is treated. While it's true that a lot of posts were critical of what he said, and were less than kind, others pointed out that he had some useful points to make. Once, of course, you could get over his references to blogs as 'Bathetically Ludicrous Online Gibberish', and described bloggers as narcissistic, banal, hapless, unremarkable, unedifying, egotistical and writing sententious drivel.

In his current piece he bemoans the response that he got, and ends by quoting Samuel Johnson 'When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency'. Which is a splendid statement, but I have to wonder (hence my puzzlement), why he didn't take that on board the first time around? It would appear that he feels that he is free to say exactly what he likes about bloggers, in as negative a manner as he chooses, but then complains when they respond in kind.

He goes on to ask 'why has the debate been dumbed down and discourse degraded to such a degree?'. Well of course it hasn't been - there are a great many interesting and useful debates going on about the value of weblogs, and in my day to day work I see just how many weblogs are useful and providing an extremely useful function. Of course, it's perfectly true that a lot of blogs are not a valuable information resource (why should they be? Not all web pages are either), but to emphasis that, over and above the value of them seems to be a little bit silly. My point however is that he's not involved in the interesting debates, he's not offered an opinion in either of these pieces on how they can be used positively, but has simply contented himself with an attack on them.

If he wants a good debate, then plenty of us are happy to have one. I would certainly be very interested to know how, and in what ways weblogs can be used effectively, and what ideas he has for making them even better. He's extremely intelligent and worth listening to (most of the time), and I would certainly value his opinion. On the other hand, if all that he wants to do is write negatively about both weblogs and the people that write them, he shouldn't expect a good debate, because he is not offering one himself.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The People's Network is now offering an online enquiry service called, strangely enough 'Enquire' where you can interact real time with librarians in the UK, US and Canada to answer your questions.
The visible web (that which can be considered for indexing by the major search engines) is 11.5 billion pages plus, according to the report: Indexable Web Size
PhotoSIG is a community of photographers, who share their work and critique each other. If you have an interest in photography, this is a good site to visit.
I discovered the Bitty Browser today. Basically it's a small browser window that can display any site in your own web page. You could use it to highlight things such as RSS feeds, or the BBC news page, my own weblog, another page from your own site - just about anything! You could even set up a search from a search engine and get that to run automatically every time as well. It's a really clever idea! (Slightly unfortunate name though, as those who watch 'Little Britain' will appreciate!)
I've been informed aboutAware Search which bills itself as "The World's First Teachable Search Tool". It's a commercial product for online research to help target search results. You can emphasis good/bad results to more closely focus, get targeted results based on your input, get keyword ideas and search multiple search engines at once. It's reasonably priced, and has a trial offer. I've not tried it myself, but it does look interesting!
How Do Search Engines Work? is a nice, simple and quick overview. Good for some basic background research.
Another new venture from Google, which allows you to personalise your start page at the engine. If you already have an account with Google (such as a Gmail account) you can sign in and add a little more functionality to their home page. You can add a preview for your Gmail account, (which is a little flakey if you have more than one account; it can show the wrong one), news from the NY Times, BBC etc, weather report (if you're in the US), quote/word of the day and several others. It's a nice first step, but in practical terms, as a searcher, it's still pretty limited. I'd like to see much more, such as the ability to add your own links to favourite sites, much more customisation of news, the ability to drag in other RSS feeds, a UK version, maybe the option to see if any pages you watch have recently been updated and so on. Hopefully all of these things will arrive in due course.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Short article on Search Engine Friendly Site Design. Nothing startling, but useful stuff.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A little bit of self indulgence here I'm afraid. Some of you may know that I'm a very keen supporter of Everton FC and I'm delighted to see that not only have we made it into Europe, but our Manager has won the 'Manager of the Year' award. C'mon the Blues! (End of self indulgence).
Interesting article here: Usability News - Accessibility Special: UK Council Sites found to make false Claims. Apparently some are saying that they have a higher level of accessibility than they actually do.
A really interesting article on the extent to which search engine results overlap. Or don't!Missing Pieces is the link to the .pdf
For those of you interested in desktop search MSN last night released the official version. The Office Weblog has the lowdown.
Gary has briefly gone into detail about the new Beta Release of A9 which has more intuitive search column selections, easy access to more search columns and a faster site.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Internet tools for effective information handling is a page that I've created for a course that I'm running, but which others might find useful as well. It covers weblogs, RSS, aggregators, gathering data, examples of what libraries are doing already, wikis and storage services.
Over at SearchEngineWatchChris Sherman has a good article on enhancements to Dogpile.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

FreePint Newsletter 182 concentrates this time on Job Hunting, and Competitive Intelligence.
Podscope Expands To Audio & Video Searching. More on this at SearchEnglineWatch

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Google Local UK is now available for mobile phones, which is a blessing.

Monday, May 09, 2005

An excellent listing of education weblogs from teachers and schools. If you're a school librarian, take a look at the list from Weblogg-ed - and gather some inspiration to start your own, perhaps!
Grokker is an interesting search engine, that provides you with visual results. This isn't new or course, since there are several others out there that do the same thing, but this one takes it to the next level. If you like viewing results visually (squares within circles in this case), it's worth having a look at. It uses Yahoo! to provide the results.
Nice list of things that you can do with RSS. Most of them are not very exciting, but it's a good overview of the flexibility of RSS. 15 things you can do with RSS (it was supposed to be 10, but I got carried away) - Tim Yang's Geek Blog Buzzworthy: Not so fast, Google says in its opening paragraph:

Is the Google Web Accelerator (GWA) beta the worst-designed, most ill-conceived piece of software ever unleashed on the Internet-using public? Ouch!
Usability News - UK Political Parties fail Accessibility Test, claims Agency Interesting article if you're interested in web design or usability.
Internet Search Engines for Kids is a great collection of resources for children. Search boxes for 9 search engines, links to 11 more, web guides for children, specialised searches, family friendly materials and so it. This is an extraordinarily good collection, for teachers, children and school librarians.
More bad news about the Google Accelerator from Yahoo! News. Apparently it's serving up pages from bulletin boards under other users names. It's all getting very messy indeed.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

An interesting comparison of Google's Search History vs. Yahoo's MyWeb (link goes to Pandia). Google comes out second best, just in case you're interested.
An article entitled Google speed bump draws scorn points out other issues with the Google accelerator software which are less than complimentary about the product.

Friday, May 06, 2005

I'll be speaking at the Information Today's WebSearch Academy Paris on 1&2 June. I'm running several sessions on such topics as Weblogs and RSS, Quality versus Quantity, a Query the Searchers session, Multimedia search, and Phil's Picks. If you're going to it, do stop by and say hallo!
I've been informed of another UK based search engine, Wowwwser, which uses the tagline Put wowwwser in your browser. It seems to define 'UK' as sites that have .uk in the top level domain, so that's a slight disadvantage, but you might want to try it out if you really want to cut your results down.
Did you know that Google has a Calculator? This cheat sheet shows you how to use it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Gary Price (where would we be without him?) has written a very good short how to on easy ways of searching inside some of the books that Google has in the Google Print program. Link goes direct to the article. Going Under Cover with Book Search Tools
There's mention of a new Google application called the Google Web Accelerator. (Link goes to Googleblog). It's a short mention, basically pointing it out. You can download the thing from However, before you do, it's worth reading a bit about it. The Google FAQ provides some useful stuff on it. However, it's also described as a "potential nightmare" from SEO Scoop and Fantomaster calls it "the most audacious and blatant piece of spyware ever visited upon the global Web"

Basically the product cuts down on browsing time by using their servers to act as a proxy, by storing web pages, caching material to their system and so on. Put simply this means that Google could , it is argued, see what everyone is looking at. All the surfing you do they'll see, supposedly without being able to view secure stuff like your banking data. I mentioned it to a friend of mine, who knows very little about the net and her reply was instant "There's no way that I'd install that!" I have to confess that I agree with her. I'm really not keen on what Google is trying to do here, and I think it's a step (or three) too far. I'm not going to install it myself, since people are already reporting problems with it, so I'll just sit and watch and keep you updated on its progress.
Nice little practical article on How to Submit Your Site to Directories such as Yahoo! and the Open Directory.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Nice jargon free very helpful little article from The New York Times on how to get onto a wi-fi connection.
For the Firefox users out there, a useful tip from Bernie Zimmermann. Position your cursor over a link, and click on it with the middle mouse button, and a new tab will automatically open for you. If you have a scroll wheel instead, that may work too! (At least mine does). No more Ctrl T to open new tabs! Also, when you want to close a tab, middle click on it. Excellent little tip!
I found an interesting resource called What is ..? Basically it's a search box and you just type in what you're interested in. For example, What is? Bamboo. The resource then hunts around the web and pulls back a lot of different definitions for you. Some of them are really useful, others are just gibberish. Unfortunately you don't know where the definitions come from, but you can always run a search on the phrase itself. It's something of an oddity, but may be worth a quick look.
The University of Wisconsin E-Business Institute has produced a study of desktop search tools. #1 as far as they are concerned was the Copernic Offering. Doesn't surprise me that much, since that's the one that I use, and I think it's pretty good. Interestingly the Google offering wasn't in the top three.
Internet resources Newsletter: Issue 128 is now available.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

EURid has been launched - it is currently the only .eu domain there is. It has been chosen by the EC to manage the .eu TLD (Top Level Domain). Don't get too excited yet though; they won't be accepting registrations yet - only towards the end of this year will they take registrations from organisations with prior rights, and free registration of .eu names won't start until sometime in 2006.
Gahoo!Yoogle is another duel search engine, only this one has the Google results on the right, and Yahoo! results on the left.
A pdf based report:UKCGOfinalReport which is a report on the findings and recommendations relating to children going online. If you're a teacher or parent it's definately worth reading.
Thanks to John Battelle's Searchblog. Google has added more channels to their video search - CNN, Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel and Discovery Health Channel.