Cynthia Heimel (plum) Wed 7 Oct 98 17:36
Reva Basch (reva) Wed 7 Oct 98 17:57
Peoples, you can use Lynx, which is a text-only browser. Unfortunately, the way the Web is going, it's becoming less and less friendly to Lynx. But it's still do-able. If you're serious about research and can spend some bucks on it, you might consider a dialup account with a service like Dialog, where you can search and retrieve text-only to your heart's content, if not your budget's. Sharon, for your "six jillion" question, I refer you to my 80-trillion answer, above. And as for porno pages, y'know, I very seldom run into that. Maybe it's because I search more esoteric subjects or use more specific keywords than the average (y'know, "sports," "music," "travel"...). Maybe it's because the search engines I use can detect and screen out that kind of spam. I'm sure you can deal with the occasional porno page when it, um, pops up. And Libbi: <smooch>
Cynthia Heimel (plum) Wed 7 Oct 98 21:46
what was altavista's web address until recently? can't remember. but I checked it out after it changed and it was such a big Porn site.
Erik Van Thienen (levant) Thu 8 Oct 98 00:33
The new URL is <http://www.altavista.com/> , but the old URL <http://www.altavista.digital.com/> still points to the same site. Still better is to go directly to the "Advanced" part of AltaVista : <http://www.altavista.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=aq&what=web> I know that by typing a similar address you get into a porn site, but I forgot the URL.
Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Thu 8 Oct 98 06:16
If you want to be spared the graphics, the text interface to AltaVista is really nice: http://www.altavista.com/cgi-bin/query?text There's also a text version of the advanced query form: http://www.altavista.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=aq&what=web&text=yes
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 8 Oct 98 07:43
I'm constantly surprised by how much stuff the standard search engines *don't* find. For example, I frequently search for computer related things, but search engines don't typically turn up articles in the trade press -- for that, I need to go to the magazine or publisher individually, or to some pay site that looks through magazines.
Reva Basch (reva) Thu 8 Oct 98 08:58
Yes indeed. Search engines often don't penetrate down to the individual article level. And if a site requires registration, let alone payment, most search engines just won't touch it. That's why aggregated sites like Dialog, Dow Jones Interactive, and Lexis- Nexis are so powerful, and so worth paying money for. You can enter a very targeted query -- say, look for everything that Sharon Fisher has published on, I dunno, routers or something, since 1992 -- and pull up articles from any publications that match all your criteria. It's a very fast, and very powerful, way to search, and there's nothing on the web at large -- at least not yet -- that compares to it.
Cynthia Heimel (plum) Thu 8 Oct 98 09:27
I love Lexis-Nexis. Had it while married. You can find out about everyone including how much they paid for their houses.
Cynthia Heimel (plum) Thu 8 Oct 98 09:32
excuse me, Reva? Do you have other books in or out of print? This question just weirdly sprung to mind. also, what do you believe to be the effects of cheesesteaks with extra sauce on your writing.
Reva Basch (reva) Thu 8 Oct 98 09:45
Hee hee. I've been cheesesteak-deprived -- I mean, =real= cheesesteak- deprived -- since I left Philly, and my writing career didn't take off til I was established in the SF Bay Area, so draw your own grim conclusions about that. Other books, oh yes. I did a real-page turner for Gower in the UK called Electronic Information Delivery: Ensuring Quality and Value. As far as I know, it's still in print; they maintain an eternal backlist, which is actually nice. My other two books prior to Researching Online For Dummies were Secrets of the Super Searchers and Secrets of the Super Net Searchers. Both are still in print and distributed by Information Today (www.infotoday.com). Both are interview books; I talked to people who are real experts at finding information online. The first Super Searcher book focused on those high- power database services like Lexis-Nexis; the second one incorporates the Web and other Net-based resources. Both are kinda cool in that they give you the perspective of a lot of different people; you can get into their heads and see how they tackle a research project. Oh yeah, while I think of it; plans are underway for a series of Super Searcher books focusing on different subjects -- business, law, science and technology, and so on -- and different kinds of research. I'm the executive editor for that, and I'm really excited about it.
David Gans (tnf) Thu 8 Oct 98 10:09
>I've been cheesesteak-deprived -- I mean, =real= cheesesteakdeprived -- >since I left Philly, and my writing career didn't take off til I was estab- >lished in the SF Bay Area, so draw your own grim conclusions about that. Clearly, seared ahi and arugula are more stimulating to the creative cortex.
Steve Kaye (skaye) Thu 8 Oct 98 11:54
Reva, what are your favorite web sites for when you're not getting paid to do research?
Reva Basch (reva) Thu 8 Oct 98 15:34
I could just copy over my bookmark file. Um, no, that's not a good idea. Never mind. Okay, a few of my favorites: In the media department, I like Salon Magazine (www.salonmagazine.com) and The Onion (www.theonion.com), because they're smart and, in the latter case, excruciatingly funny. Also SFGate (www.sfgate.com), so I can read my favorite Chronicle and Examiner writers(you know who you are) when I'm on the road or the newspaper truck doesn't make it up Highway 1. Entertainment-wise, I love IMDb, the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), not just for basic fact-checking, but to find out who that guy is who looks so familiar, where you saw him before. For music, The International Lyrics Server (www.lyrics.ch/) is great for settling those mondegreen arguments. And I sometimes go to The Bluegrass MIDI Page (www.banjo.com) - gotta love that URL -- just to annoy <jcs>. I have the Internet Backbone Status report (www.cde.com/netstatus.shtml) bookmarked, so I can convince myself that I'm not the only one in the world that's stuck in telnet hell. I've got a couple of entries in a folder labeled "Traffic and Weather Together": Paul's SF Bay Area Weather Page (http://www.wco.com/~paulg/weather.html), because of its excellent links to local weather sites, and Bay Area Transit Information (http://www.transitinfo.org/) because ditto, except substitute "transportation" for "weather." SOAR, The Searchable Online Archive of Recipes (http://soar.Berkeley.edu/recipes/), for reasons that should be obvious. And speaking of cooking, The Iron Chef (http://www.ironchef.com/), which is dedicated to one of the most profoundly silly programs on TV. Hope I don't start an international incident. I mean "silly" in the most admiring way possible. Let's see Astronomy Picture of the Day (http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html), because it's simply mind- blowing. I just checked; today's pic is of the far side of the moon. A couple of reference-type sites that I use a lot: www.555-1212.com, to get the area code for a city, or to find out what city those weird new area codes apply to. And, amazingly, I really like the U.S. Postal Service site (www.usps.gov/) for looking up zip codes and postal rates and that sort of thing. I also like Statistics Every Writer Should Know (http://nilesonline.com/stats/), because I can never be sure I remember the difference between median and mean. There's lots of other plain-English help for the numerically impaired, of which I am one. Oh yeah; periodically I get into those bird cams that utility companies sometimes put up when they discover nesting birds on their poles or whatever. I think they're charming. Please don't tell me they're horribly invasive or something; I don't want to hear it. Those are just some of the ones that made it to my bookmark file since the last time I blew it away.
Bruce R Koball (bkoball) Thu 8 Oct 98 16:20
hey <reva>! I've gotta question... is there any type or class of information that *cannot* be found on the net... now I don't mean private or proprietary info, but stuff that one might be able to find with a traditional, paper-based search..? or has the net really become the universal set, informationally speaking...?
Steve Kaye (skaye) Thu 8 Oct 98 16:27
Great question! And thanks for the site info, Reva. I'll check out several of them right away.
Reva Basch (reva) Thu 8 Oct 98 17:04
FABULOUS question, Bruce. The answer is: Yes -- depending on how you define "the net." If you mean to include the commercial online services like Dialog et al that began as dialup services, and that are slowly and somewhat imperfectly migrating to the Web, I'd expand by saying that there are vast, vast categories of information -- manuscripts, non-English language materials, historical information, specialized academic and other scholarly, esoteric stuff that will never (probably) be digitized. If you're talking about the Web -- what I call the "open Web" in general, versus Dialog, Dow Jones, Lexis-Nexis, and other password-and-fee-based services, I'd still say "yes," but qualify it a little differently. You're not gonna find megabucks, multi-client market studies floating around on the Web -- not legitimate copies, anyway. But you can get to them through the online services I've mentioned, and through specialized sites like Investext's ResearchWeb, or Profound. You're not going to find a continuous run of an academic or technical journal like, say, the Czechoslovakian Journal of Electrochemistry going back to volume 1, issue 1, 1962, in a general Web search. At least I'd be very surprised if you did. But you'll find it -- or the equivalent; I just made up that publication -- in professional database services like Dialog that cover the appropriate discipline. In general, the Web has a very short memory. Even popular magazines and newspapers, with very few exceptions, don't go back more than a few years, if that, on the Web. But you'll find long, long backfiles in the professional-type databases. And you'll have to pay to get at them, of course.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 8 Oct 98 17:44
What's an example of some of the sorts of research people hire you to do?
Cynthia Heimel (plum) Thu 8 Oct 98 21:46
I love those websites Ms Reva. Here's one thing not on the web -- results of obedience trials for dogs. After you finish answering sharon's question, I am going to ask something weird -- am I the only one who hates reading online? It seems to reach a different part of my brain when on a computer screen. I love research and shopping on ebay, but hardly ever go to salon, which I believe is good.
Eggplant is the Chicken of The Vegitable Kingdom (goodston) Thu 8 Oct 98 22:00
You asked Reva, not me, but my biggest objection is all the places I can ready hard copy that I can't carry the computer!
Reva Basch (reva) Fri 9 Oct 98 11:13
I'm on my way to the Online World conference in DC, via a stopover in Berkeley. I'll get back to Sharon's question, and Cynthia's, and whoever's, as soon as I can....
Steve Kaye (skaye) Fri 9 Oct 98 12:31
Safe journey, Reva.
this bag is not a toy (vard) Fri 9 Oct 98 13:14
reva! safe trip!
Reva Basch (reva) Sat 10 Oct 98 20:07
It was! I'm here. I mean, there. Whatever. Sharon asked about things people have asked me to research. It's incredibly varied, from getting a bibliography of everything so-and-so has ever published, to researching current treatments for Crohn's Disease, to determining the market for upscale fountain pens, or identifying possible new applications for a particular technology or type of component. I've been asked to prepare reports on how people's taste in bread varies from region to region, on the psychological aspects of road rage or of risk-taking behavior, on heads-up displays in avionics... I mean, the list goes on and on. What's particularly cool about doing research for a living -- aside from the thrill of the hunt itself -- is when you find out that your effort contributed in some direct way to a company's success.
Reva Basch (reva) Sat 10 Oct 98 20:17
Reading online, Cynthia asked about. I know what you mean; I used to print out articles from Salon and wherever so I could read them the "normal" way -- y'know, like gopod (WELL meme alert) intended. I still do that a lot. But lately I find that I'm a lot more comfortable reading stuff on my laptop, especially when I'm on a plane, or propped up on pillows on my window seat with a cat snuggled next to me. So I'm beginning to think that it's not about eyestrain or some deep-rooted psychological resistance to reading on the screen, so much as it is about set and setting. I can't really =relax= in my office chair, but the laptop almost -- almost -- makes it possible to curl up with a good text file, if you know what I mean. Several years ago -- way before the Web, maybe '91 or '92 -- I wrote an article for ONLINE magazine about what people were then calling "e-texts." The hot new thing was a Sony product called, I think, Bookman, or Data Discman, or perhaps the two were variations on a theme. They never really went anywhere. And now we've got, what?, at least three companies all introducing their versions of an electronic text reader this year. I think we're =more= receptive to the idea than we were 6 or 7 years ago, but I have a feeling the American public is not gonna snap these things up.
Cynthia (peoples) Sun 11 Oct 98 10:47
I don't know what you mean by "electronic text reader," reva. Can you elaborate? Is that software? Hardware?
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