Archive for the 'Research Resources' Category

Encyclopedia Britannica articles full text

Sunday, July 1st, 2007


Encyclopedia Britannica has put much of their content onto the web – but usually only the first hundred or so words of each article are displayed. You must subscribe to read the rest, or you can register for a free trial subscription.

But there’s another way! When the URL of the article has been clicked from a link on a webpage, the full text is displayed. Any links that you include in your website or blog will automatically take your readers to the full text version.

Britannica endorses this technique, by the way, but warns that it won’t work for links from HTML files on your PC. Instead, you must host the HTML file on a webserver.

I guess it won’t be long until we see a website offering links to every Britannica article, or a Firefox extension to streamline this process.

Research Redux

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

A while back, I posted a list of my Top Ten Favorite Research Tools on the internet, and thought it would be a good idea to mention them at Web Owls as well, since there’s such a good collection of research advice here. The top ten sites are:

1. Wikipedia
Internet Archive
Making of America/University of Michigan Digital Collection
Melissa Data

6. Google News Archive
8. ConsumerSearch
9. Your Library
10. Dun and Bradstreet Small Business

And Honorable Mention to:

Project Gutenberg
Gary Price’s List of Lists
Yahoo Finance Search
Bureau van Dijk

For more detailed descriptions of the sites, visit the original list of Top Ten Favorite Research Tools


David in beta test

Friday, March 2nd, 2007


A group of former GA Researchers have gathered together at to offer a paid answers service of their own, and it’s now open for a public beta test.

This is a beta test in the original meaning of the term – opening the site to flush out problems prior to the official launch – but if you’re a patient and understanding type of person you may find the site worthwhile and enjoyable.

The first question has already been asked – it was a request for the inimitable pinkfreud to compose a celebratory poem – and what a wonderful piece of doggerel she has concocted!

What’s that tune?

Monday, January 29th, 2007

In August last year, matttpotter1-ga asked Google Answers for help identifying a song used in epic movie trailers. He was even brave enough to post a movie and sound file of himself trying to sing the tune.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to help him with that particular tune, but there are some resources that can help in many cases.

Music search site midomi lets you search for music by singing or humming part of a song into your microphone. SongTapper lets you search for music by hitting the spacebar in time with the notes.

MusiPedia, which bills itself as the Open Music Encyclopedia, lets you search by keyboard, note contour, singing, whistling or rhythm. The singing search is a Java application for which my browser didn’t recognise the security certificate, so I didn’t try it, but I was able to get it to find Frere Jacques using keyboard search, and Amarillo using contour search.

Then there’s Themefinder, the one to use if you understand musical notation. You can search by pitch, interval, scale degree (“do re mi”), note contour, key and meter. I got good results with this one, except that its repetoire is limited to a few well-known classical composers and a sprinkling of folk music.

Tunespotting lets you search by creating a rough musical score on the screen, or by playing your keyboard as if it were a piano.

[Thanks to Google Blogoscoped and Bobbie7 for these tips]

What’s that book?

Saturday, January 27th, 2007


Are you trying to identify a book?

Perhaps it’s an almost-forgotten book from your childhood, which you enjoyed greatly but about which you remember only the vaguest details. Perhaps it’s a book you browsed in a bookshop and intended to buy later, but you can’t remember the crucial details. Perhaps it’s a book you glimpsed somewhere, or that someone recommended to you, and you thought you’d like to check it out some time.

A service at aims to identify your book for you. The service is free, funded by advertising and bookstore affiliate links. It’s run by former Google Answers researcher juggler-ga, who answered over 2000 questions for the now-defunct service, including many questions about books.

At, anyone can browse existing questions and answers, but you need to register if you want to ask a question or post a comment on someone else’s question.

Meanwhile, work is continuing apace by other former GARs on a paid question-and-answer style research service. Stay tuned!

One Link Answer – Former Google Answers Researcher Offers Free Answers Service

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

At the end of 2006, Google retired its Google Answers feature, yet some of its more prolific researchers are continuing to make information easy to locate on the Internet.

One such researcher is Henry Marcos. Known to Google Answers clients as “easterangel-ga” Marcos continues to be known as Easterangel at One Link Answer, a website where he has launched a free Internet research service.

One Link Answer offers a unique spin on Internet research. While free answer sites have proliferated on the internet (EX: Yahoo Answers and Amazon’s Askville), One Link Answer has a slightly different angle as a free service; Marcos provides solid research in the form of a single link.

“I’m offering a professional, free service at One Link Answer based on the best, single source possible on the Internet.” said Marcos. “Too many answer sites may boast that they are free, but the quality of their researchers’ responses are not up to par with solid research.”

Marcos added that he believes there is room for professionalism even in a free service, and that utilizing the skills of a professional researcher is the best choice.

“The Internet is still a difficult place to navigate because of its complexity,” he said, “and the ever-growing number of spam directories will distort search results for most people.”

During his four years of service to Google Answers, Marcos answered more than 1,300 questions on a range of topics including business, history, health, and entertainment.

“I just love the thrill of hunting for information,” Marcos said, “and this is the reason I created One Link Answer.”

For further information, visit

EarthTrends Environmental Information

Friday, November 17th, 2006

EarthTrends Environmental Information is a comprehensive database maintained by the World Resources Institute. There’s a massive amount of information available, including environmental data, economic data, population data, governance data, health data etc.


The information is grouped into ten categories:

  • Coastal and Marine Ecosystems
  • Water Resources and Freshwater Ecosystems
  • Climate and Atmosphere
  • Population, Health and Human Well-being
  • Economics, Business and the Environment
  • Energy and Resources
  • Biodiversity and Protected Areas
  • Agriculture and Food
  • Forests, Grasslands and Drylands
  • Environmental Governance and Institutions

For each of these categories, you can:

  • search the database to produce reports of the data that you need
  • see the data represented visually on maps
  • view pre-formatted summary data on a country-by-country basis
  • follow links to related feature articles
  • view or download tabular data

You can only perform three searches per day without registering, but registration allows unlimited free access.

Wikipedia Reference Desk

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Did you know that Wikipedia also offers an “Answers” service? Who would have thought it?

Whilst reading Wikipedia's entry for Google Answers I was surprised to see Wikipedia Reference Desk listed as an alternative to Google Answers.

Wikipedia Reference Desk has six subsections: Humanities, Science, Mathematics, Computing/IT, Language and Miscellaneous. In true wiki style, answers are provided by editing the question and answer page.


Almost a hundred questions a day are being asked. The tone is predominantly civilised, and many of the questions get good answers. You might say it's like Yahoo Answers without the yahoos.

Today's Miscellaneous questions include:

  • How do we stop our dog digging and chewing on the fence?
  • Who is this guy Crazy Lenny?
  • Did Maxwell Taylor have any injuries to his left hand prior to 1963?
  • What's this pattern called: CLAP (pause) CLAP (pause) CLAP CLAP CLAP
  • Conditions for a product to be numismatic
  • Furniture counterfeiting
  • What does “OK” stand for in “OK Corral”?
  • Looking for pictures or information on a relative who was born in 1893
  • Trying to find a word that describes a kind of fetish for words
  • Caffeine in cigarettes
  • Complexity of antlers
  • What is minute rice?
  • Naturally occurring monthly cycles
  • Difference between “random” and “>0” at
  • Translate English articles into Turkish
  • What does jjtc stand for?

Not very different from Google Answers, in other words!

World eBook Fair

Monday, October 9th, 2006

More than 500,000 eBooks can be downloaded free of charge from the World eBook Fair during October (membership is normally $8.95 per year).

The collection is a real mixed bag. It includes many titles readily available elsewhere (such as the Project Gutenberg collection), and it includes many long, dry government documents (such as WMD reports).

But there are some real gems too. My favourite section is Renascence Editions – an online repository of works printed in English between the years 1477 and 1799. For example, you can read Queen Elizabeth the First’s “A Proclamation agaynst the maintenaunce of Pirates” from 1569.


Probably the best place to start is with the World eBook Fair’s list of collections.

Put me through to Sir Winston

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

For UK genealogists a gap in the records have been filled with the availability of telephone directories between 1880 and 1984. The 100 year rule on census returns means that there is little genealogical information available online for the 20th century. British Telecom through are now making available some of the telephone directories. Initially they are for London, Surrey, Herts, Essex, Kent and Middlesex, with the rest of the country following next year.

Apparently there are listed numbers and adddresses for some famous people including Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, Sir Winston Churchill, Harry Houdini, Laurence Olivier and Ian Fleming. The mind boggles that in those days you could pick up the phone and dial Sir Winston’s home.
Background article on 24 hour museum website’s page to search telephone directories