Tuesday, November 21, 2006

customized search engines

Today I created my own customized searh engine using rollyo and google. I am searching for authorative medical information that geared toward patients and non-medical personnels.

Creating the tool itself is quick easy and the management is not hard. You may customize the look to some degree and intergrete the search tool into your own website -- cool! But I had such a hard time to put them on the sidebar of this blog. I think that my logger template was not setup correctly.( I really don't like blogger's templates, too little to choose, too different to understand, too hard to customize...). Now I list the two search engines here side by side, let me know which one you like better.

By the way, Rollyo is powered by yahoo search engine and google, of course, powered by Google.

Google CSE on Consumer Health:

Rollyo searchbox on Consumer Health:

Powered by Rollyo

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Two interesting search engine

Two interesting search engines:
- MsDewey.com: This is not a new search engine, rather a new searching interface with a bad taste avatar woman talking to you while the Microsoft Live search engine brought the answers to you.
An interesting concept, though she need more librarianship training, especially the customer services training. A good point is that I heard she asked "Do you want to refine the search?". Wish to hear more of such things when she does her "searching interview". I also would like to see a better display and navigation of the results.

- Google launched some customized search engines at CustomSearchGuide.com. It is the products of Google Co-Op. I tried the health search forms, the "patient's medical illness search" is just so-so. The results are from medicinenet.com, familydoctor.org, webmd.com, emedicinehealth.com, some associations and a whole bunch of UK websites. Surprisingly, the medlineplus.gov and some other government websites are not included here. The other one, the "health professional medical search" are much better, you can refine the search results, with lots of reputable government websites as the first sets of results. The "Vitamin Info" is a good focused search engine, I like it. I would like to see more focused search engines, maybe kids health search; geriatrics health search; nutrition search etc.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Library Tech Support

Just viewed Jessamyn West's updated presentation "On the Fly Tech Support: Hey, this isn't my job!", especially like the quote from salon:

Something funny happened on the road to the digital library of the future, though. Far from becoming keepers of the keys to the Grand Database of
Universal Knowledge, today's librarians are increasingly finding themselves in an unexpected, overloaded role: They have become the general public's last-resort providers of tech support.

I cannot agree with it any more. Not only the public library, but also the academic library, they somehow are playing the role of hardware and software help desk at some times. It kind of supports and gives credit to my role in this library. Now I can make the local hero meetings and MCDST more important to me and to others in the library.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I tried LibraryThing today. What a smart idea! Using the existing library catalogs to build our personal library catalog, and also links people with similar reading taste! The site also recommends books to read, gather similar topics, what a useful services for me as I stepping into American children's literature. I would love to find out what the other people read, what they have in their bookshelves so that I can find and read to my kids.

As a matter of fact, since I moved to American 6 years ago, I left all my Chinese book collections at home. There are so few Chinese books to read; I occasionally read American newspapers and magazines, but haven't really read any American literature, not till I start to read to my son. I first got to know American literature at the Nashville public library children's room. I was amazed to see so many board books and picture books that tailored to littler readers, wish we had that in China. Since he was two we borrowed 10 - 20 books every week to read before bedtime. From randomly picking books just by looking at covers, to picking books by his favorite characters, by topics, then by authors, by Caldecott Medal books, we explored the American children literature together and had so much fun. Now he is such a good reader, he reads in a much higher level than his age, he reads chapter books and enjoys reading more than anything else. One and half year ago, I finally changed my idea of borrowing books from the library to collecting books and build a personal library in my home, and we started to collect some of his favourite books. Recently I also found out several blogs reviewing children's literature, and several children's book websites. I guess my casual interest in American children's literature will grow to a more serious one. With this libraryThing, I will be able to get more on the Children's literature. Hopefully I will find out some type of literature that I like to read about later.

One more thing to be mentioned, LibraryThing just added language support, but they don't have Chinese yet. I wrote to them suggesting to add it and offered my help. Wish one day I can catalog all my Chinese books and share with my friends both in China and in America.

PS: I saw a library is using this service to promote their newly arrived books. We need to adapt it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Be a good blogger

I felt guilty for not posting things in the last couple days. This post "the first 7 days of blogging" gives some good advices to bloggers, I will try my best to do as he suggested. ( I rearranged the orders since I rank the importance differently from the author)
- Pick a blog topic and stick with it
- Be consistent on the post frequency (here I need improvements)
- Get to the point on the contents
- Add flavor and unique things to your post
- Set up your post properly (I need to work on this, but I think you can do it gradually)

Monday, October 09, 2006

web2.0 services

I've been introduced to so many web2.0 services in the past couple days, below are some of my comments on those websites:

NetVibes: A webpage based RSS reader. I may call it a portal page. Things I like:
- The modular design
- Pre-loaded feed suggestions
- Mouse over to show the bri contents
- Searching modules: include several search engines
Things I don't like that much: - Busy interface

Topix.net A news aggregator, sorts news by zip code first. Also collecting blogs, city government websites and alerts. Nice place to find localized information. It boasts has 360,000 subjects. I looked specially the medication, health(by disease), medicine (by subjects, such as endocrinology, surgery, pediatrics, etc). I might be able to use this site to search for some latest news or hot debates on specific drugs, disease treatment plans, et al.
I tried to run a search for "Eskind biomedical Library" or "Eskind" using the site search engine, found several art listings mentioned Eskind Art works, an education grant with Eskind's involovement, and a news about Nancy M. Lorenzi. Interesting.

Feedster: A blog search engine. you may subscribe to a customized feed. Two results on Eskind, one intern position, the other post on Evidence based practise tool.

NewsVine: A social news publishing site. The news are published by major news agents (the wire) as well as general users(the vine) ; news are pushed to the top by the use of the communities. Nothing was found on "Eskind" search.

Technorati: A blog/live web search engine. A search for "Eskind" found a post on Becky, the library intern job ads, library umbrella bag picture on flickr, several Eskind pictures by WangYun at flickr, two posts on Mark Hodges, a Chinese post mentioned about studying at Eskind, a post on Eskind book sale (will send to Mary, don't quite understand the post, but Mary should get some hints from the post). So far this engine provides the most complete coverage.

Del.icio.us: A social bookmarking site. A strange, hard to remember name, but the services is good. The difference between social bookmarking software and personal online bookmarking software (such as google bookmarks) is the social nature, that is you may shyour bookmarks and subscript other people's bookmarks.

Furl.net: Using this service, you can create a personal archived web. This service is different from Bookmarking software, it records the real page contents, not just the URLs, at the time of "furling". In the help file, they pointed out that you can export/archive your personal web to CD. Copyright, security issues are also addressed. More time and fooling around are needed for me to offer any thoughts on these topics.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


zoho has been mentioned several times in my catch up tech readings in the past couple days. I finally had time to give it a try. My first impression of the zoho products is pretty good. They offer most of the common Office product elements, such as table, list, font formats, etc. Here are couple nice features I liked:

Zoho Writer:

  • Publish directly to the blog. (Unfortunately I tried but not successful, saying wrong login info)
  • Create doc roll - kind of web 2.0 concept.
  • Export file to multiple formats, including PDF, HTML
  • I like the way special characters are being presented, make it easy to use. I also noticed the special buttons for subscript and superscript, crossthrough. Things are getting easier.
  • smily faces are included - online language

Zoho Creator:

  • automatically convert excel type of information to online form. Very nice and useful tool.
  • useful tools to give you ideas on how you can use this tool: helpdesk mini, inventory form, to do list form

Zoho Sheets: Looks better than Google spreadsheet; Has Multitab support, which is not available in Google

Zoho Show: automatically generate online presentation

There are other products: zoho planner, zoho chat, I will definitely give them a try.

Here is what I am thinking: Next time when a frustrated library patron comes to me and ask where to work on his paper/presentation on our library public workstations, I may ask them, do you have a zoho account?