Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.
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From Natural Language to Dialogue Search Engines
Subjex.com ( http://www.subjex.com/ ) is a new search engine in beta. You’ve heard of natural language engines like Ask Jeeves, which look up pages for you based on a question? Subjex.com looks up pages for you based on a dialogue you have with it.
I went to Subjex wanting to know about growing roses. The first page is pretty straightforward; Subjex.com asks you what you want to know. I told it I wanted to know about growing roses. Subjex thought about it and came back with three possible candidates. Two things: 1) only three??, 2) the list was missing several things that would have given me clues as to the pages’ fitness, like a longer summary or an URL. Subjex.com asked me if I wanted more information. I did, on fertilizer. So I asked, “what kind of fertilizer should I use?” Subjex.com seemed to get a little distracted, providing me with three pages that were all about fertilizer and (as far as I could tell) very little about roses. So I paged back and revised my question: “what kind of fertilizer should I use on roses?” Ah. Two of the results were about fertilizing hardy shrub roses. This is a good idea — how better to refine a search than to have a dialogue-based interface to do it? — so it’s worth a look. But it would be aided greatly by more results per dialogue, and a larger summary so the usefulness of the results can be judged at least somewhat by the user.
WorldSkip.com has announced an online personal research feature called “AskKipi!” Users can submit questions on any country or region of the world and “Kipi” will respond via e-mail. Initially, this service will be available free of charge. Currently, WorldSkip.com provides real-time, multilingual daily news, radio webcasts, cultural, business, and history information from 220 countries around the world. Kipi is very new so there are no archives yet, but this could be a good source of international information if the questions and answers are archived over time. http://www.worldskip.com/ask
WRIT, The First Online Magazine For The Legal Community
FindLaw has launched WRIT, an online legal magazine. WRIT contains commentary on the legal world, including the Supreme Court, important criminal trials, key court battles across the country, the state of the legal profession, and the portrayal of law and lawyers in modern culture. WRIT’s creators include Rodger Citron, Brandt Goldstein, Julie Hilden, and Dahlia Lithwick. Check out the press release at: http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/000530/ca_findlaw_2.html
Free Corporate Name Search
Business Filings has introduced a free corporate name search tool available at its web site www.bizfilings.com . this service allows users to search numerous databases to see if the corporate name they desire is already in use. Before business owners can incorporate their businesses, a name check must be done in the state of incorporation to ensure the availability of that name. typically, this is done after a company files for incorporation. However, now business owners can perform a quick internet search on their own and find out if their name is in use before they file for incorporation.
You can get to the tool here: http://www.bizfilings.com/cgi-bin/infousa/search.cgi . No registration of any sort is required. Just enter the state in which you’re interested and the name of the business you want to check. Be careful with using punctuation; wal-mart got different results from walmart, and mcdonald’s found results while mcdonalds didn’t. You’ll get a list of results with bare information — just a company name. Click on one of the results and you’ll get a popup window with the name, address, and relevant SIC codes. Easy to use but it’d be nice if there were a little more detail.
Corrosion Resource Tells You How It All Breaks Down
Corrosion Resource, at http://www.corrosionsource.com/ , bills itself as a one-stop shop for a variety of information related to materials corrosion. The sitemap is the best place to start out. The learning center will take you through several different forms of corrosion with in-depth information on each. (I was able to learn more about the possible causes of the walkway collapse at the racetrack in Charlotte, North Carolina.) There are “hot topics” on corrosion, a variety of research on corrosion (for which free registration is required) and even an events calendar.
There is a database of note. A Materials and Corrosion Database allows you to specify an environment and a material and then get information on how those two will interact. For example, you can learn that jet fuel has a moderate affect on nylon. (Try out that little fact at your next cocktail party.) There are only a few categories of effect so you won’t get much detail, but if you’re doing some preliminary investigation on materials interaction this might give you some clues on where to investigate further. There’s a corrosion calculator, too, but it looks like it requires Internet Explorer. There are LOTS of pages of information here, so you may want to look at the search engine — http://www.corrosionsource.com/search.htm Unfortunately even the advanced search is pretty basic, but I had decent luck searching for phrases, but spotty luck using + to specify “must be included” search terms.
LookSmart to Offer Premium Content from Gale
Searchable subject index LookSmart (http://www.looksmart.com) has announced that they’re teaming up with Gale Group to offer free premium periodical content to folks to search the LookSmart directory. Gale will provide LookSmart with access to current and archived articles from “hundreds of magazines and journal publications.” The material is expected to be integrated with LookSmart early this summer, but the press release also says that “the offering will be enhanced with the addition of more titles, data sources and proprietary reference materials,” so it’s not clear how much will be available initially.