Top tips from the latest business information workshop

Delegates at yesterday’s business information workshop in London came up with an interesting combination of websites and search commands for their end of day top tips.

  1. OFFSTATS – Official Statistics on the Web ?http://www.offstats.auckland.ac.nz?Excellent starting point for official statistical sources by country, region subject or a combination of categories.?All of the content in the database is in the public domain and available through the Internet.

    OFFSTATS

  2. GMacker?http://gmacker.com/web/content/gDateRange/gdr.htm?Google’s Verbatim in the search options menu on the results page is great. Google’s date option from the same menu is great. But you cannot use both together. You can use the daterange: command, though, with Verbatim but it’s complicated. GMacker?is a much easier way to do it. Type in your search on the GMacker page, select your dates from the calendars and click on ‘Google Search’. When the results appear on Google simply apply Verbatim in the usual way.
  3. Domain Tools?http://www.domaintools.com/?A useful tool for identifying who owns the domain name of a website.
  4. 7 side?http://www.7side.co.uk/?was recommended for its International company information services.
  5. Zanran?http://zanran.com/This is a search tool for searching information contained in charts, graphs and tables of data and within formatted documents such as PDFs, Excel spreadsheets and images. Enter your search terms and optionally limit your search by date and/or format type.
  6. News alerts, news curation services and automated newsletter generation.?Use Google alerts, RSS feeds and newsletter generation sites such as Paper.li (http://paper.li/)?and Scoop.it (http://www.scoop.it/)?to keep up to date and share news with colleagues.
  7. site: command?Use?the?site:?command to focus your search on particular types of site, for example?site:ac.uk, or to search inside a large rambling site. You can also use -site: to exclude sites from your search.
  8. Numeric range?This command is unique to Google. Use it for anything to do with numbers – years, temperatures, weights, distances, prices etc. Simply type in your two numbers separated by two full stops as part of your search. A good way of limiting your search to pages or news covering a company’s activities over two or three years in the past.
  9. OpenCorporates?“The Open Database Of The Corporate World”?http://opencorporates.com/?Provides access to open corporate data on 55 million companies in 75 jurisdictions. You can search all jurisdictions at the same time or select just one. Results can be filtered by type of data held, current status, company type, SIC. A link to the original registry page for a company is always included with the displayed information.
  10. DataMarket?http://datamarket.com/?A?portal to thousands of free and priced datasets. Free to search, and create charts and visualisations of the free data.

August Tales from the Terminal Room now available

The August ?issue of Tales from the Terminal Room is now available at?http://www.shugle.com/tfttr/archives/2013/aug2013.html

This month’s issue includes:

  • Search tools
    • Google adds in-depth articles to results
    • Google expands define but drops dictionary
  • Updates to Search Strategies
  • Does price guarantee quality of information?
  • How the UK’s electricity is generated
  • Dunkirk little ships and the Reading Festival
  • Twitter notes
  • Forthcoming workshops and meetings
    • Discover Sourcing 2013 afternoon pre-conference workshop on search skills, 17th September 2013, London
    • Business Information: Key Web Resources, 19th September 2013, London
    • How to Make Google behave: techniques for better results, Wednesday, 30th October 2013
    • Free resources and search techniques for EU and UK legislation, Wednesday, 13th November 2013, London
    • Anything but Google, Tuesday, 19th November 2013, London

The newsletter is a compilation of recent articles from this blog plus some extra goodies such as Twitter Notes.

Google expands define but drops dictionary

Google has added extra information to its web definitions. When using the ‘define’ command, an expandable box now appears containing additional synonyms, how the word is used in a sentence, the origins of the word, the use of the word over time and translations. At the moment it is only available in Google.com and you no longer need the colon immediately after define. So, for definitions of dialectic simply type in?define dialectic.

Google Define

The box gives definitions and synonyms of the word and the ‘More’ link gives you an example of its use in a sentence.

Click on the grey, downward pointing chevron to open the box and see information on the origin of the word, translations (beware – some are rather bizarre!), and use of the word over time.?The last is powered by the Google Books Ngram Viewer, which shows the frequency of words in Google Books. Click on the graph, and you are taken to the Ngram Viewer where you can drill deeper into the data and see the use of the word in context.

Google Define extra options

Compare this with the old version of define results that are still displayed in Google.co.uk:

Google Define UK

The new ‘define’ box in Google.com certainly gives you much more varied information, but the Dictionary search option that provided extra definitions has been dropped. It used to be under ‘Search tools’, ‘All results’. It can still be seen in Google.co.uk.

Google Dictionary UK

The new define only works on English words or words that have been absorbed into the English language. It can cope with schadenfreude and correctly defines tikka as “an Indian dish of small pieces of meat or vegetables marinated in a spice mixture”. When I asked it to define balti, though, it came up with a simple web definition of it being a city in Moldova. The standard Google web search results came up with the common UK usage of it as a type of curry served in a steel balti bowl. Our (UK) use of the word is probably too local for it to be have been picked up by Google. Similarly, phrases such as “chicken tikka” generally pull up a single web definition although some do trigger the translation options, for example “climate change”, “global warming”.

Overall, I like the new ‘define’ but I regret the loss of the extra definitions that the Dictionary search option offered. Sometimes, the definitions that ‘define’ offers are somewhat impenetrable. The Dictionary option provided a list of alternatives that were more understandable.