Need to find a postcode from somewhere around the world? I was asked this question the other day and so I thought I'd share a nice resource that I've found. It's called - surprise surprise, Postal Codes. Very simple to use - just find the country you're interested in and type in the location that you need a code for. You then get a really nice long and comprehensive listing of post codes and their areas. It also works the other way around - you can type in a code that you know, and it will show you where it comes from, plus link you into the Google map page for the area.
StartPage and Ixquick are working together to provide an alternative, private search option for Google. The two search engines have always been fairly closely intertwined but this is only going to get closer in the future. Ixquick is no longer going to marketed, and results will in future come from StartPage, which in turn gets them from Google. However, they have not given up on it entirely, because the European version Ixquick.eu is still available. The latter version will continue to provide results drawn from a combination of various different engines such as Yahoo and Yandex. It will also continue to use specialised search engines to deliver the best possible results. However, if you're not bothered by any of that, simply move across to using StartPage instead.
StartPage does not collect IP addresses, use tracking cookies, or collect any personal information. Since they are based in Europe, they offer the crucial protection of being outside U.S. jurisdiction, where they are not subject to the Patriot Act and other U.S. data collection mandates.
Results from the engines does differ. A search for 'fox red labrador' gives me the same results on StartPage and Ixquick (which given what they've just done doesn't surprise me), but in comparison to the .eu version only 2 results were the same, and differed markedly in their positions on the first page of results. In comparison with Google UK there were 3 common results, and with Google.com there were 4 common results.
In summary therefore we don't seem to be that much better off. We're swapping StartPage AND Ixquick for StartPage. Except that we've still got Ixquick as an .eu resource. The results that we get from StartPage and Ixquick are the same, but they differ to the Ixquick .eu version and they all differ to Google.uk and Google.com
If you're into medical information, take a look at MedNexus, which claims to be the Google for Medicine. I can't pretend to any great medical knowledge, so please take that into account when reading this post. Their 'about us' page says: "Through our search engine, you can find the most relevant content from a variety of sources: medical journals, patient forums, government health sites, etc. We want to empower patients to educate themselves and cut through the noise and pseudo-science of typical online health information. No more WebMD scares, no more endless Googling"
MedNexus is designed for patients to use, and it provides information in a clear, concise and non threatening manner. This will doubtless be helpful to those people who have Googled their symptoms and believe that they're 5 minutes away from death. When typing in a condition such as migraine, the engine provides instant suggestions such as 'What is Migraine' 'How do you treat it?' and lifestyle tips, treatments and so on. Clicking on results will give you a very wide range of information, such as common treatments, articles, explanations, published research, and forum discussions. Information is pulled from a variety of different sources such as Healing Well, MedHelp, American Journal of Medicine, JAMA and so on.
This engine won't be of much use to medical professionals, since they have their own resources to hand of course, but it's certainly a tool that I think is worth pointing out to members of the public, who simply want to explore a medical condition in more detail, and from a reliable resource.
I've been using an image in my presentations for some time now, which is a collection of search engine logos. The idea is to show a variety of different ones, to give people a visual insight into the fact that there's more to life than Google. However, it's a bit out of date now, so I'm going to show you the old one (below) and then under that, all of the engines that have died a death are greyed out. Under that - the new version, with 100 search engine logos.
Remember some of these? If you don't, there's a fair chance that they are the ones that have into the great bit bucket in the sky:
But that's all in the past, because now you have access to the brand new, 100 search engine logos image. The images are obviously not mine, but I've put them together, and made it available under Creative Commons, so you are welcome to take it and use it.
Want to ensure privacy when you search? Take a look at Oscobo, which is a new British based search engine. It's another of the 'we don't track you' crew, such as Ixquick, Startpage and DuckDuckgo. It's a fairly straightforward engine, nothing particularly advanced about it, though it does do a nice line in providing tweets that relate to your subject of your search. As well as web search, Oscobo will search video, images and news for you. If you're wondering about the name, let them explain: "Like all the best companies, we’ve taken some creative license with the name. “Scobo” in Latin means “to look into”, “to probe” or “to discover”. The letter “O” in Swedish, means “not” or “non”. So, Oscobo, to us, means “not to probe, not to track”."
I tried a few searches and they all seemed to work perfectly well. There did appear to be some 'adult' filtering going on, but there weren't any details in their 'about us' which told me anything else.
Interesting engine - worth a look, especially because it's a .uk engine for once!
I was updating a presentation today and checking the links still worked from the last time I did this, back in October last year, so only a couple of months. In that time we've lost access to such tools as
Alternative.to. This was a nice little search engine that found alternatives to things that you searched for. So if you input an iPad for example, it would find different tablet devices for you. Never fantastically useful, except when you really wanted to know if there was something else out there that you could consider buying instead of the article that you were looking at.
10x10 This was a news search engine, which had a total of 100 images in a 10x10 grid (hence the name) with a bunch of words down the side. You could click on a particular word, which would take you to the picture or vice versa, and you could then move to the news story about the subject. Was never one of my particular favourites, but it was worth having if you wanted a visual overview of the world news.
Sulia was a news collation site, and quite an attractive one. You could tell it what your subject interests were and it would go off and find good content and display it for you.
Eye.in was a nice social media engine that you could use with images.
Swayy was a nice little app that notified you about new social media stories.
Redz, which is a visual search engine hasn't actually gone, but it has changed its name to Dothop (for those who read quickly it's dot space hop, rather than do thop! which is how I read it). Seems to still do the same job, and it has lost the irritating little red zebra.
It's a shame that they've gone, but it's a dog eat dog world, and you probably didn't use many of these, so this is by way of a quick reference if anyone ever thinks 'oh, I wonder what happened to...?' So now you know!
I had high hopes when I first saw news of the CharacTour database. They say of themselves "We want to be your virtual tour guide to the world of characters so you can find a new favorite movie, TV show, book, video game, or webcomic." Perhaps it's unfair, but I was hoping for rather more on the side of books, but the emphasis is very much on movies. However, having got that out of the way, it's not a bad search tool at all. You can search for people by name, by profession (librarian is not listed however!), location, time period, ethnicity and so on. Once you have located the character that interests you the site provides a good profile, which is spoiler free, suggestions of other similar characters, where you can find the character (books and movies for example), related characters and user generated comments.
It gets interesting when you search for real people, who shouldn't in theory be in the database, but they are. So Jane Austen gets her own mention, since she's a character in a movie but there's also a list of other key characters created by her.
The database is still very small, some 45,000 characters. Consequently there are lots of gaps; Elizabeth Bennet is only to be found in one movie and one book for example. However, this is balanced by the great deal of amusing stuff that is to be found - you can match yourself against different characters by taking a quiz. (Unfortunately I have no idea who the top half dozen matches I got, since I'm not really into modern teenage culture!) You can get quotes, rankings for funny things such as 'characters who we would trust to avenge our death' and so on.
This tool is going to appeal to librarians who get asked about movies, characters, 'oh, can't remember their name but they were in so and so film' etc. Hopefully as more data gets added the resource will become ever more useful, and once it's got a lot of fictional characters in it, hopefully it will really take off.
I wrote about Wonder, the people based search engine, where you could just write in your question and get an answer back from an expert (aka librarian) has started to charge for its service, I learned in an email yesterday. They have 3 plans apparently, Silver, which allows 5 questions a month for the cost of $39.99 a month, Gold for 15 requests a month for $99.99 a month, and Platinum for 50 requests a month at a cost of $299.99 per month.
They are also looking to provide ''scholarships' for students as well, which is a nice idea.
Well, I did wonder (sorry!) how they were going to make their money without advertising, and this is what they have come up with. It won't work. It hasn't worked with any other paid services in the past, and it won't work this time. It will be dead before the year is out I suspect.
We’ve seen in recent months – in fact in recent years – that Google really isn’t interested in the search process. Rather than developing and improving their offering they have in fact been reducing it. We lost the tilde symbol (~) to search for synonyms and more recently the opportunity to filter by pages that you have or have not visited has gone, as has the reading level option. That’s just a small sample, there are many more. It’s clear that Google doesn’t want us to search, it wants to know best, and give us exactly what IT thinks we need, irrespective of our own search criteria. The result is that Google has brought itself back in line with other search engines, and there are fewer reasons to consider using it above and beyond the other engines out there. It’s true that it does have a large database of pages, but since most searchers are not going to look further than the first 20 or so results, I have to wonder just how important that is.
So I decided to take a more indepth look at Yandex; it's very impressive, with advanced search features that outstrip anything that Google can offer. If you're a serious searcher, it's worth considering. You can read my review (warts and all) on my website: Yandex, an alternative to Google.