Monday, August 2, 2010

Evaluating Websites

Developing the ability to evaluating web pages has become an essential skill today because of the overwhelming amount of information available on the web, and the fact that it is easy for anyone to publish information on the web so we all need skills to establish how credible different authors /sites are. We need to be able to evaluate websites and guide patrons to do this so that the most reliable and accurate information resources are selected.

Briefly criteria to evaluate a web page include:
Audience – who is the site for?
Purpose - why was it established?
Authority – what is the expertise or reputation of the creator / author?
Content and scope
Currency and timeliness
Accuracy –can the facts / information be verified?

In module 6 topic 1 two websites I used were What should I read next, and The Book Sear.

The site ‘What should I read next’ (WSIRN).
Purpose and audience: WSIRN produces recommendations of what to read next based purely on users taste so is aimed at a general audience. It represents the mass opinion of its users about books. The expectation is that recommendations should get better as the database grows.
WSIRN is the brainchild of Andrew Chapman and Paul Lenz at Thoughtplay Ltd. - They create interesting online projects that get the average person involved.
There are email contact details available via the Thoughtplay site through a security coded link.
This site was relaunched February 2010 with the major new feature being the ability to look up books by ISBN.
I believe that this site achieves it objective to provide a quick recommendation, you only need to enter one book; confirm that WSIRN have got the right one on the page, and then you can click the WSIRN button to get some recommendations. It would be okay to suggest this as one of several sites that patrons could visit for a next read suggestion.

The Book Sear
I had no success using this site to look for a next read recommendation in Module 6 topic 1, but today I searched Harry Potter and for results received 2 lists of suggestions one from Amazon and one from LibraryThing.
This site was developed by Apt which is a design, technology and marketing consultancy, with specific expertise in planning and producing web, film, mobile and new media projects for clients in publishing, business, and the arts.
There is information about APT including blog, portfolio, clients, expertise, products, reading, information about Apt and contacts, but it was not easy to find information on dates etc.
I would be cautious about using this site because of the limited success I had in using it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

File Converters

This was a very interesting exercise and I think the Google Docs tool was straight forward to use, however there were noticeable changes from the original to the converted document.
The heading on the original was monotype corsiva 36 pt, blue, centred and italic. The converted file was normal text verdana 36 pt, blue, centred but with no italics.
So fonts did change during this exercise.
I found that the wonderful smiling face, waving hand and Hello in the original document did not appear in the converted file version. Therefore graphics could be an issue.
The bullet points lost the original formating both with regard to the symbol used and the colours. The converted document only used the standard basic black bullet point dot.
The table in the original document was slightly wider than the one in the converted file. The original document had 2 words (Meouw and oink) underlined in red so spell checker was on but this did not appear on the converted file.
I think that having knowledge of file converters is useful and that our patrons will have occasions when they will need to use these. It is important to remember however that when converting files some of the formatting will be lost; and that images and graphics might also cause some problems.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Authors Perspective

I was able to view a few podcasts of interviews with some of the authors I like to read. These interviews were both enjoyable and informative. I liked that they included information on the authors themselves and a glimpse into their writing motivations.

I think our library clientele will enjoy many of these interviews too.

I was impressed by Reading Rockets for younger readers and thought it was a useful resource. I note that young readers are able to search for information on both authors and illustrators and I imagine that younger readers would find this particuarly useful.

Readers and booklovers

Module 6 topic 1

As I do not want to register for an online book resource I have selected those that are available without registering. This means that I checked out a few resources but did not search for suggested next reads.

I used the online book suggestion resource ‘What should I read next' and searched the title Mr.Perfect by Linda Howard; this was a contemporary mystery about four female colleagues at a Michigan corporation who compile a list of qualities that would make up the perfect man, they unwittingly unleash a murderer who targets them for the perfect murder--one at a time. My search returned a long list and I had read at least 5 of the titles recommended but there were several historical and harlequin romance titles that I believe would not be a similar type of read to Mr. Perfect.

Next I selected The Book Seer and again searched Mr. Perfect but I am still waiting for it to load results although I could as it suggested ‘ask your local bookshop or your local library.’!

I also checked out Biblio Travel and searched Michigan which returned 38 results of titles both fiction and nonfiction adult and children’s. Interesting when you do a search simply for mystery the results listed were 399, listed 20 results to a page, and not just recently published titles either.

If I ever get to the stage that I do not have several books on my request list then I will be exploring these resouces to find my next read. I think that there definitely will be patrons who would find online book resources extremely useful.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Specialist Search Engines

Module 4 Topic 2

Using blinkx Advanced Search which was reached by clicking on browse blinkx on right hand side, I limited the search to one content provider The Boston Globe, for Videos only searching the topic lunar eclipse. This search returned 3 results a 30 second video from 21/8/2008, a 1 minute video from 4/3/2007 and the third video was for 2 minutes and 44 seconds also on 4/3/2007.
Next I repeated the search in Youtube and the original search for lunar eclipse returned about 5070 results. I then went to Search options and limited the search to Videos only, anytime, from the category science & technology and of short duration (under 4 minutes). This time the results were about 1200. This certainly confirmed that Youtube has an immense database of videos.

Google book search
This part of the exercise was not totally successful –I did get results for a Google Book Search for Time magazine with the subject Hillary Clinton but not all results were limited to articles in Time Magazine. I got a large number of results that had time, and Hillary Clinton in the article but were not from Time Magazine.
Whereas when I clicked into an actual magazine issue from the display of titles I could zoom in and out, display single or double pages, select thumbnails or full screen, view the contents page and successfully read the magazine on line. I was looking at Billboard 29 November 2008 issue.
It has the potential to be a very useful tool especially as more titles are included. Patrons will be able to investigate and determine whether particular books are relevant prior to requesting or suggesting to purchase.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Module 4 Search Engines; Topic 1

Google Web Searches

This was a useful exercise focusing on developments in web searches that have provided more options to refine a search and increased options for displaying search results.

The search I used was the 'oil spill gulf of Mexico 2010.'
Particularly liked the timeline which I found a really useful tool that allowed me to focus on what had happened and when it happened. The wonder wheel provides spokes to drill down but until I changed the actual search I ran I was disappointed with the results (I got a wheel with no spokes off.) I tried ‘oil spill 2010’ but Wonder wheel results were not that wonderful either. However when I searched oil spill gulf of Mexico there were several spokes with links to articles on water pollution in the Pacific Ocean and plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean.

Great results from the initial search with further expansion from the 'also try' searches, but I noted that there was considerable repetition of results in the associated searches definitely not all new and different results.
I liked the search pad feature and believe it is very useful to be able to make relevant notes and save them to refer back to later.

I liked the use of thumb nails and also found the list of related searches under the search box, as well as the related terms on the side, useful features to assist efficient searching.

Dogpile is meta-search engine which means that it will return search results from several search engines. I found the feature on the right hand side –‘Are you looking for? provided relevant additional searches which helped focus search criteria. Other than the web search your can also search images, videos and news.

Google was my preferred search engine, but I can and do use yahoo quite often.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Google Alert

I have monitored the 3 google alerts I set up.
The news report for High blood pressure alert did not need to be refined and after reviewing a weeks results there was no problems with articles being repeated. The results were limited to 10 per day but I only received the full 10 on 2 days and for the rest of the week the results ranged from as low as 3 and up to 8.
The news report Earthquake alert did not need to be refined; results were limited to 10 per day and for 5 out of the 7 days I received 10 results and 9 each on the other 2 days.
The other alert for GST exemption bill New Zealand did need to be refined as no results were received. I have refined the alert to GST New Zealand and will monitor this alert to see what results I receive with the modified alert.
I would recommend this service to patrons who had a special interest topic that they wanted to keep up to date with.
It is possible that I will use this again in the future, particularly as alerts are easy to set up, refine and delete.