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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Were you looking for the FirstGov review? Well, unfortunately the implementation of the new search engine has been delayed, so of necessity my review has been delayed as well. As soon as the new engine becomes available, so will my review.
Most of us reference-types recognize the National Technical Information Service as a primary source of government documents. Now, according to its new site (http://newweb.ntis.gov/index.asp) NTIS will be offering some of those documents electronically. The site has been redesigned to both link to documents in full text on other government sites and offer downloadable documents in search results.
Additional new features on the site include a new products list, new products e-mail announcements (they promise to send alerts about new products at least twice a month) and an alert subscription service for topic specific
information. Topic-specific information includes 37 different topics — from Administration and Management to Urban Development — and provides weekly e-mails. The topics I looked at cost $125 a year. Look at the topic order forms
to see the average number of summaries a week each topic alert provides.
More than 2.5 million documents are offered on the site in various formats, including printed book, electronic, and CD-ROM. Recently added Specialty Collections include National Transportation Safety Reports and Toxic Substances Control Act Unpublished Reports. This new site is definitely worth
New Titles by Topic, a service from the Government Printing Office, offers free e-mail alerts about publications being released from the Superintendent of Documents. It’s available at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/alertservice.html.
The alerts are offered in separate topics, set up as several different mailing lists. Topics available include Business, Elementary and Secondary Education, Health Care, and Military History. A list of titles for each topic is
available at this site as well as subscription instructions for each topic. Subscription options allow you to specify format (plain text, HTML in attached file, or HTML). You can also temporarily go to Nomail if you don’t want the alerts.
Topics may be added in the future, so if you’re interested in these alerts keep an eye on this page.
The Official Commonwealth of Virginia Home Page is offering her citizens a legislative tracking service at http://www.vipnet.org/liab/citizen.htm.
With search parameters such as keyword, committee or code section, Virginians can create a profiles of up to five bills to follow. In addition to receiving email notices of the bills status, users can individualize profiles with a
variety of reporting format options. Lobbyist-In-A-Box is a free service that requires registration. Registration isn’t too bad, though — all that’s required is name, e-mail address, login name and keyword.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has launched a campaign to educate the public of the value of impartial judiciary at http://www.fairjudges.org/. The site is designed to provide a clearinghouse of information about judicial nominations and coalition efforts across the
A clearinghouse of information, but not an impartial clearinghouse, and this site makes no bones about it. The current mission of the site is opposition to the nomination of Charles W. Pickering Sr to the US Circuit Court of
Appeals for the Fifth District. It builds its case in the center of the page with documentation from various sources with the same stance. Additional arguments come from headlines in the left column while the right column list
various ways that readers can take action if they concur.
Other information on the front page includes headlines on the top left, upcoming events on the lower left, and a link to a page of judicial nominations (Pickering is currently the only nominee on the page.)
What You Say? — Emoticons and Online Slang
The Internet has spawned its own culture along with its own language. If you can barely keep up with online conversations these days, check out the PC World article at
This eight-page article includes information on acronyms (afk, kiss, etc.), emoticons, and links to other such sources of information online. There were a bunch of acronyms here I’d never heard of. Fun; worth a read.
iTools for Ready Reference
If you liked Research-It! you might want to check out its replacement, iTools, at http://www.itools.com/. iTools is a ready-reference site with several search forms.
The front page has several general Web forms, including Web search, dictionary search, and encyclopedia. Hold your mouse pointer over the blue >> to see the sources of the search.
Over on the left side of the page you’ll see links to more in-depth searching pages. The Search Tools page offers search on several different search engines/ topic guides, including Google, AltaVista, Yahoo, Oingo, and About. There are other in-depth search pages too, including language tools, ready reference (encyclopedias, biographies, law tools), and map tools. Neatly-designed, fast-loading, tasty. Worth a look.
Yahoo Indexing PDF Files
Yahoo has started adding PDF files to its index, though at the moment they seem mostly to be in the educational section. You can find them by searching for:
(the u: is a Yahoo special syntax that means, “search in the URL for”.)
You will get some non-PDF documents with this search, but the PDF documents you’ll find will have a red (PDF) notation next to them.
Yahoo intends to keep adding PDF files to its index. “As long as it adds more value for our customers, we will include it,” said a Yahoo spokesman. “We are definitely going to expand on what we have now, but only when it makes