The latest issue of Tales from the Terminal Room is now available. This month we look at whether the Yahoo database really is larger than Google’s, try out Google Desktop 2 and there is a review of the new Alacra Store. I’m afraid that Google gets yet another bashing in “These things are sent to try us”; this time it is over the My Search History.
Google Desktop 2 has been launched with a new sidebar. I am not a great fan of Google Desktop – I actually use Yahoo Desktop – but decided to give this latest version a try. The good news is that indexing of secure web pages such as bank statements and of password protected documents is switched off by default. You can even encrypt the cache that Google creates on your PC. The sidebar also looked promising with news, options for RSS feeds, a scratchpad, share price monitor, weather, and a panel where you can have a sort of slide show of your favourite photos.
Now for the bad news. My enthusiasm quickly waned as I discovered that the share prices and weather are US only, and that the news is from Google.com. I would have preferred news.google.co.uk but there seems to be no way to change this. You can ‘train’ it by telling it not to show any more articles “like this”, and if you have the advanced features switched on it is supposed to be able to work out the type of content you prefer to read. After three days, I gave up and removed that panel, as well as the Web Clips/RSS one; I find it much easier to use a proper RSS reader. I also found the Quick View of recently viewed files and doucments irritating.
It did, though, list new emails that appeared in my Thunderbird inbox but I wanted it to alert me to just new Gmail messages. The only way to do that is to create filters to stop the Thunderbird mail being listed. Far too time consuming and tedious to do, so that panel went as well. Which just left me with the scratchpad (actually, quite useful) and my photo slide show. I then occupied the empty spaces with an Adsense plug-in to display how much my web pages are earning and a to-do list. There is a list of plug-ins at http://desktop.google.com/plugins/.
As far as searching my hard drive, it still lags way behind Yahoo Desktop in terms of accuracy, number of documents found, and indexing procedure. Google Desktop works continually in the background. I found it to be a serious resource hog, even when I forced it to pause indexing, and it significantly slowed down the performance of my computer.
I have now uninstalled it ?? A pity, because I rather like the sidebar. It has real potential, and I am sure that there will be plenty more useful panel plug-ins along soon.
I picked this one up from Phil Bradley’s blog. Think of it as Turbscout with lots more search engines and lots more types of search. The search tools are organised under tabs such as Web, Images, Reference, News, Blogs etc. Click on a tab, enter your terms and click on each tool in turn to run your search. I particulalry like the URL tab which, amongst other things, finds pages that link to your known URL (backlinks), runs a Whois on the domain name, and finds archived copies of the page. And there is a custom tab where you can build your own collection of search tools.
Alacra have launched a pay-per-view version of their priced service. Still in beta, it covers just 30 of the 100 or more databases available via the subscription service. Any half competent researcher should be able to find much of the company information in Alacra free on the net (certainly for publicly traded companies) and the news articles from Business and Industry are a bit pricey compared with the per article pricing of LexisNexis. But there are some good market research sources here and – Oh Joy! – they have Tablebase, one of my favourite databases. It is the quickest way I know of tracking down rankings and market shares in a particular industry/country. I’ve tried accessing it via Dialog’s Open Access and Skyminder but have always had mixed and sometimes rather odd results. Dialog, in particular, I find clunky and slow. In contrast, the Alacra Store interface is much ‘smoother’ and faster, and I seem to get far more sensible results.
I shall be doing a more detailed review in the next Tales from the Terminal Room.
Our Property repackages Land Registry data and data from the Registrars of Scotland. It enables you to search for properties that have been sold since 2000 by street, town and postcode and displays the price that the property or properties were sold for.
They now offer free sales alerts. You can monitor new sales at up to 10 different locations around the UK. Enter the postcodes that you are interested in, and if a new sale is registered in the database within 500 metres of that postcode you receive an email alert. Very useful if you are buying or selling a house and want to compare prices, or if you are just plain nosey and want to know how much your neighbour paid for their property!
Gigablast is the latest search engine to launch a toolbar for your browser. At first glance it seems rather Spartan when compared with other toolbars such as Yahoo’s and Google’s but it does have two unique and very useful features: search the sites linked from the current page and search the sites in your bookmarks. Unfortunately it is only available for IE at present. There is a plugin for Firefox users at http://mycroft.mozdev.org/download.html?name=gigablast&submitform=Find+search+plugins but this only adds Gigablast as an option to the built in search box.
Meta search tool Dogpile had added MSN to its collection of search engine. It now searches Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and MSN all at the same time. You can compare three search tools at a time using Dogpile’s new Search Comparison and see how much overlap there is between them in the first 20 results.
When you run a web search, as well as combining and removing the duplicates from the results Dogpile automatically shows you the Top 12 from Google and Yahoo side by side on the right hand side of the screen. Unique results are highlighted. You can close these boxes or add columns for MSN and Ask Jeeves by clicking on the relevant icons.
In addition to web meta search Dogpile has an images search (Yahoo and Ditto), audio (Yahoo and Singingfish), video (Yahoo and Singingfish) and a News option (Yahoo, Topix News, Fox News, ABCNews). Interestingly, Google and MSN are omitted from the images and news meta search.
The Yellow and White Pages search covers the US only.
This is a gateway to Aroq’s four industry specific sites: just-drinks.com, just-food.com, just- auto.com and just-style.com. All four pull together news and market research in their particular sector. The market research comes from a wide range of suppliers and can be purchased online. The news is free and each of the sites have excellent blogs commenting on events in their sector. RSS feeds of the news headlines and the blogs are available.