Friday, 2 February 2007

Module Four - Boolean searching

I learnt Boolean searching over 20 years ago. It has been a long time since I have used it properly or in any depth.

Boolean searching
A precise method of searching online indexes and databases, the Library catalogue and the WWW using 'Boolean Operators' (the words 'and', 'or', 'not', 'with', 'near') to link search words and combine them in various ways to narrow or broaden a search as required.University of Melbourne, Library Basics

Simple, non boolean logic:
  • one concept, can be expressed by a single term.
    • I want to find some information on Alzheimer's disease.
      • alzheimers
    • I want some information on aluminum (American spelling only).
      • aluminum
Simple boolean logic:
  • more than one concept, but each term can be expressed by a single term.
    • I want to find information on the role of aluminum (American spelling only) in Alzheimer's disease.
      • aluminum AND alzheimers
  • only one concept, but can be expressed by more than one term.
    • I want to find information on aluminum (American spelling) OR aluminium (British spelling).
      • aluminum OR aluminium
    • I want to find information about Alzheimers disease, but I do NOT want anything which mentions aluminum.
      • alzheimers NOT aluminum
Complex Boolean or nested logic
  • more than one concept, and at least one concept can be expressed by more than one term.
    • I want to find information on the role of aluminum (American and British spellings) in Alzheimer's disease.
      • alzheimers AND (aluminum OR aluminium)
    • The use of parenthses in boolean searching is the same as in the basic mathematics we learnt as primary students. Process what is in the brackets FIRST. This is required for proper processing of the boolean operators AND's and OR's. If the parenthses are left out many search engines read the query left to right. This would result in it finding pages with alzheimers and aluminum on the same page and all pages with aluminium.
Taken from: Colgate University Libraries.

  • AND is used to narrow a search
    • can be written as "AND" or "and"
    • synonyms: &, +
  • OR is used to broaden a search
    • can be written as "OR" or "or"
    • synonyms: |, ||, comma, ;
  • NOT is used to narrow a search
    • can be written as "NOT" or "not"
    • synonyms: -
  • "" double quotes turn search terms into exact phrases
  • * an asterisk is a wildcard operator, it can replace one or more characters
  • ? a question mark can replace a single character

Module Four - Woe is me

On Wednesday I installed Copernicdesktopsearch v.2.02 and Pagesucker. By the evening I had lost all my bookmarks! The last backup of bookmarks was in early December.

While studying each module, I have been recording bookmarks in folders such as:
  • NET11 Module 1
  • NET11 Module 2 etc...
  • NET11 Referred sites
  • NET11 Blogs
I've lost nearly all of these. In this log I've often recorded a decision I've made to not install a particular program or piece of software etc... due to this very type of thing.

I used the opportunity to update my Firefox browser to version I will update the Clusty add-on, which I don't mind using for searching. Clusty is the web search version of Vivisimo.

It was a bad evening made worse by the fact I managed to slam my thumb into the door. This before I realised I had lost my bookmarks.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Module Four - Searching the web: search engine task cont...

I've gone back to the WebCT NET11 discussion board to check a problem. I have installed Copernic Meta. This only works in IE. I normally try to use Firefox only, unless checking how a web site I'm creating works in IE. Anyway after reading the board posts regarding 'search engine task' I've decided maybe I should have installed Copernic Agent Basic. I was sure I had read Copernic Meta. So I'm about to install more software.

2. Using copernicus or similar, set it up to search at least three search engines (including one that will search the 'deep web') and repeat eactly the same search

  • record the number of hits in your learning log, and compare to your first search. What differences did you notice? Why? Which search, on first glance gave you the most promising results?
Well I've been searching for the last nearly three hours using Copernic Meta & Copernicus Agent Basic and I can say if I did this at work (I'm a Library Technician who specialises in creating sites within Intranets for secondary students) my boss would string me up for not getting the job done. What a dratted waste of time. All I've found, mainly, is previous NET11 students' blogs.

I will be uninstalling what I've installed today and breathing a sigh of relief. I won't be changing my searching style overly much, that's for sure.

Rather than aimlessly putting in a query into a search engine, I would find the relevant authorities, education institutions, specific organisations & libraries and search within their sites, ensuring authoritive information.

Module Four - Searching the web: search engine task

1. Choose your most commonly used internet search engine and do a search for the words: advanced internet users.
  • record the first hit and number of hits in your learning log
Results 1 - 10 of about 118,000,000 for advanced internet users. (0.30 seconds)

Well like many, I commonly use Google. The results are as follows:

Advanced Internet Users Tutorial - CIESE
Information about using your internet browser's Help Menu is available and linked ... Choose what web page will be shown when you start Internet Explorer. ... - 16k - Cached - Similar pages

The tutorials may well be useful to some but I wouldn't consider them 'advanced'. Nor could I find a date on the page or in the code.
However, I will explore the main site later.

- Advanced User's Internet Training Resources
VICNET Internet Training - More Advanced Users. Been connected to the Internet for a while? Want to get more out of the services it offers? ... - 15k - 28 Jan 2007 - Cached - Similar pages

This was a list on VICNET. While some links were dead, others were quite good.

Advanced Internet Users, School of Continuing Education ...
Advanced Internet Users. Nearly everyone knows how to use the Internet, but are you an expert? Can you find the number of people currently living in the ... - 13k - Cached - Similar pages

After a quick peruse, I didn't find much to excite me.

News @ Cisco: China Supports Advanced Applications for Internet ...
Professor Li Xing, deputy director, of the CERNET Network Center said, "With the increase in the number of Internet users and the development of advanced ... - 48k - Cached - Similar pages

This was a link to a news page on the CISCO site.

China Supports Advanced Applications for Internet Users and Educational Centers

Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Routing System Chosen to Power China's CERNET

BEIJING, September 21, 2005 - Cisco Systems® today announced that the China Education and Research Network (CERNET), the world's largest education network, will deploy the Cisco® CRS-1 Carrier Routing System to upgrade its national backbone network and enhance overall network performance. CERNET is a nationwide education and research computer network funded by the Chinese government and directly managed by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

StatCounter Free invisible Web tracker, Hit counter and Web stats
Detailed visitor stats and a choice of graphical counters. An invisible counter is also available. - 20k - Cached - Similar pages

Totally irrelevant. Nor could I find the word "advanced" on the page.
I have put the first five results of this search rather than just the first as this was the better result, of this task and the next.