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.
In This Issue:
The Latest on Legal Research
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Arizona has announced the release of a searchable Court Case database available from the state’s Judicial Branch site at http://www.supreme.state.az.us/. To reach the new resource, click on ‘Public Access-Case Lookup’ under Public Information & Assistance. Actually I had trouble with that link — it didn’t like Opera, so you can try this URL if you have
problems with that one: http://www.supreme.state.az.us/publicaccess/default.htm.
Currently, 137 of the court’s 180 courts are included, providing detailed information such as party name, charges and disposition dates. (Lists of both courts included and courts not included are available on the site’s front page.)
Names of victims and witnesses are not included. Search by person or business name and court or case number. If your search includes more than 1000 results (a search for “smith”) you’ll not be given any results and will be asked to refine your search.
Records provide the name, address and birth date of parties involved with the court and case number, which links to case details. Click on the case number and you’ll get additional information, including case filing and disposition date, the charges, timeline of court filings, and case outcome. At the bottom of the details screen is a place to click for court contact information. Sites excluded from access include sealed cases, probate cases, mental health cases, juvenile cases and domestic violence cases not yet served.
The British Library has a collection of patent databases links at
http://www.bl.uk/services/information/patents.html. (In, I might add, the most amazing lime green I’ve ever seen.) While the front page features three columns, the one on the left sorts the links into categories such as trade marks, registered designs and patent offices. Link annotation includes searching tips and browser requirements, if any.
The center column details the library’s own facilities, including a digital archive and assisting reading rooms. It also addresses patron services such as how document delivery and patent searching clinics.
Other resources are listed in the right column. “What is in a patent?” explains the patent’s components. In addition to FAQs, there is advice on searching for patents and more as well as an explanation of how the patent procedure works.
Here is another one you may want to check out. It contains official reports and more from the Office of the Surgeon General at http://sgreports.nlm.nih.gov/NN/. You can view the available reports in several different ways — alphabetically or chronologically. Options with each document title include a metadata record, listing of document segments and a link to the full document with a posting of its size as a PDF file.
Search options start with a query within the documents and/or metadata databases. My keyword search netted one hit somewhere within a 494 page report, so I clicked document segments, opened the index to determine where I needed to look within the document. The entire process was quicker than finding the book in the collection and searching for the reference. (Not to mention hauling it to a copy area to photocopy a few pages.)
All of the search options offer a variety of items to appear in the results such as rank, score, size and URL. The Fielded Search option lists all the fields for targeting a query. Be sure you have Acrobat Reader before using the site.
One of my complaints about Google for the last several whatevers is how limited the special syntaxes are. In the past you could not “mix” special syntaxes — you couldn’t use more than one at a time. Apparently Google’s fixed that, or I’ve just figured it out.
Let’s go to the examples. Say I want .edu pages about Mae Jemison. Google now allows the following search:
allintitle:”mae jemison” site:edu
Once you’ve gone past two syntaxes you have to be careful
what syntaxes you use to do the searching. allintitle: and allinurl: can cause search errors. Instead, use intitle: and inurl: instead. I’ve found in my experimenting that they work much better. This query actually works now:
intitle:mae intitle:jemison inurl:mae site:edu nasa
This also answers Richard Seltzer’s complaint (see Slashdot
article at http://slashdot.org/features/02/03/12/1735224.shtml?tid=95)
about not being able to get a listing of all the pages in his domain. This query works:
Note that not all syntaxes seem to like mixing. link: doesn’t appear to mix with anything else. I’ll be running some more experiments on this and I’ll update you if I learn anything else.
Merriam-Webster Launches Reference Service
Merriam-Webster has announced a paid reference service at
http://www.merriam-websterunabridged.com/. The centerpiece of this service, as you might expect, is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary with over 470,000 entries. Also available on the site are reference works, including
Merriam- Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and Collegiate Thesaurus, and The Merriam-Webster Atlas. Subscribers also get access to word games, a monthly newsletter, and lots of search options.
Merriam-Webster is offering a free 14-day trial (sorta; it looks like one of those deals where you give them your credit card number and they don’t charge it for 14 days.) Subscriptions are $4.95 a month or $29.95 a year.
Institutional pricing is available, but it’s not listed on the site — instead there’s a contact form. You can read Merriam-Webster’s press release at