In Other Words
By Lauree Padgett
"Try to remember the kind of September when grass
was green and grain was yellow.... Try to remember
and if you remember, then follow." Even when I was
little, these lyrics from The Fantasticks put
a lump in my throat. Decades later, the song still
gets to me, as does September itself. It's a month
of changes, of uneasy anticipation. Something in the
air makes me melancholy and restless. And you can be
sure that at least once during these 30 days, I'll
dream about being in school, arriving late to class,
not having my assignment done, and forgetting my locker
Maybe you don't have anxious dreams ofbeing a schoolkid
again. Maybe yours are about teaching. In "Training
Technology Trainers: Lessons from the River" (Computers
in Libraries, September 2003, p. 14), Stephanie
Rawlins Gerding sharestips about how to train the trainers.
First, don't overlook their fear factors, such as being
in front of a group, having to handle an unexpected
situation, or planning a course. Recognizing trainees'
experience and listening to their concerns will help
alleviate their stress. Encouraging them to speak in
front of groups is a great confidence-builder.
Another trainee worry is time managementrunning
out of time or ending with too much left over. This
is why it's important to show new trainers how to set
classroom goals and objectives, such as how to break
class time into workable 20- to 30-minute segments.
Flexibility is also vital, for as Gerding notes, "something
almost always goes wrong in the classroom." Providing
samples of common training obstacles will help trainers
come up with viable alternatives.
Boredom is another roadblock that canthrow a session
off course. Trainers who incorporate fun learning activities
will create enthusiasm. Showing a bunch of co-workers
how to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively
will raise their interest level as well. Most importantly,
Gerding says, trainers must be guides who let students
learn for themselves.
Do You Yahoo! Search?
Try to remember the last time you fired up the Yahoo!
Search engine. If it's been a while, you'll want to
check out Donna Fryer's article "The Renaissance ofYahoo!
Search" (ONLINE, September/October 2003, p.
28) to learn why a revamped interfacead-free
and unclutteredmight have you proclaiming "Yahoo!" again.
According to Fryer, Yahoo! spent a lot of time and
money to find out exactly what searchers wantfor
example, algorithmic capabilities as well as "related
words" suggestions and categories that link to other
locations. Another new feature is "Open in a New Window," which
allows the user to open an additional browser window
while access to the original results page is still
in view. Truncation, which very few search engines
or portals allow, is offered (even if in a limited
way) in the News section via an asterisk. As Fryer
points out, "A search for 'automobile' will retrieve
both 'automobile' and 'automobiles.'"
Yahoo! shortcuts are provided within five specific
areas: news, weather, maps, yellow pages, and word
definitions. For instance, by typing in the word "plumber" and
a ZIP code, you can retrieve Yellow Page listings for,
yep, plumbers in a certain city. (A complete list of
additional Yahoo! shortcuts is available at http://search.yahoo.com/shortcuts_tutorial/yahoolist.html.)
Fryer concludes, "As search engines and portals move
to a simpler, dynamic, content-driven form, Yahoo!
appears to be back on track to be the search powerhouse
it was several years ago."
Speaking about anxiety nightmares like being on a
sinking raft or blanking out during a midterm, imagine
doing a pharmaceutical search for a client and getting
horribly conflicting results. That's the scenario Tara
Breton sets up in "Working the Pharmaceutical Pipeline
Databases" (Searcher, September 2003, p. 32).
In that article, a client needs to know how many rheumatoid
arthritis drugs are in the "pipeline." (A pipeline
is anything a company potentially has to offer for
a product. Within the pharmaceutical industry, that
can include drugs in preclinical through phase IV trials.)
Breton selects her database and in no time is able
to cull the numbers she needs. But wait. A new pharmaceutical
info pro posts a note on a listserv asking why her
search has left out vital information. Breton decides
to run the search again in another pipeline database.
The numbers are totally out of sync. The more databases
she tries, the more perplexing her results become.And
nothing is adding up. Breton's initial suspicionthat
different inclusion criteria could alter the time when
tracking for a drug begins and ends, thus skewing the
numbersdoesn't pan out. All the databases were
created on or before 1994, and all had retained their
content. And the largest chemical-contributing countries
are covered in each database.
Just as Breton's pipeline predicament seems hopeless,
the answer bubbles up. She had been too specific.
Preclinical drugs are too new to be given targeted
indications, and she had searched on "rheumatoid arthritis," a
term that wasn't general enough. A drug approved for
one indication in the U.S. could still be in phase
III trials for another indication somewhere else.
Breton got her answer and picked up a few crucial
tidbits for future pharmaceutical searching. For example,
search results are influenced more by search method
than by the contents of the system. In addition, no one pharmaceutical
database is superior to the others. It all depends
on what the client needs to know: preclinical status,
incidence and prevalence numbers, accessible clinical
literature, etc. Breton can feel confident with the
numbers she gives to the client, who's happy to learn
about the range of items found within the pipeline.
As your schedule starts to get crowded with meetings
and activities, I hope you can recall plenty of summer
fun to give you a peaceful, easy feeling when stress
levels shoot into the danger zone. And speaking of
peaceful, easy feelings, one of my best memories from
the summer of '03 was seeing the still awesome Eagles
(the band, that is) in concert. Talk about mellow fellows!
Now excuse me while I go hit the books. Next time,
I'm going to be ready for that midterm-exam dream!
Lauree Padgett is Information
Today, Inc.'s manager of editorial services. Her e-mail
address is firstname.lastname@example.org.