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Magazines > Online > Nov/Dec 2004
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Online Magazine
Vol. 28 No. 6 — Nov/Dec 2004
Hardcopy
Recommended Reading on the Library Field
By Deborah Lynne Wiley
Next Wave Consulting, Inc.

****
EXCELLENT 
***
WELL DONE 
**
MOSTLY GOOD 
*
SOMETIMES ADEQUATE 
No Logo 
POOR 

This month I learned a lot about search engines, having read three different books devoted to the topic. And now—after too much surfing—it is time to do some housecleaning on the computer.

 

Google: The Missing Manual
by Sarah Milsteiin and Rael Dornfest

ISBN: 0-596-00613-6
Published: 2004
Pages: 299 pp.; softcover
Price: $19.95

Score:
****

Available from: Pogue Press, O'Reilly Media, Inc.,
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472; 800/998-9938; www.oreilly.com

This book provides more information on Google than you will ever want to know. Written by O'Reilly's Missing Manual series editor, Sarah Milstein, and O'Reilly researcher Rael Dornfest, who is also the co-author of O'Reilly's Google Hacks with Tara Calishain, the book is divided into four major sections. The first one focuses on searching Google, providing tips for both basic and advanced searches. Part Two looks at specialized resources from Google, including news, images, the Google directory, Google Answers, and shopping though Google Catalog and Froogle. Part Three provides details of installing and using the Google Toolbar, and the last section is for Webmasters, providing a bit of insight on how to get a better ranking in Google search results and how to use and manage Google ads.

The book seems to be aimed at those with a little bit of searching experience. It is not a basic guide. If you are already using Google's advanced search, then you probably won't learn much. However, if you are interested in Google ads, it offers a very helpful section.

The easy style and plentiful screenshots make the book a pleasure to read, and the organization and index make it simple to find a particular search hint. I only question how many people will ever go beyond typing in a word or two and will bother to read this book.


Web Search Garage:
The Definitive Guide on How Best to Search the Internet

by Tara Calishain

ISBN: 0-13-147148-1
Published: 2004
Pages: 264 pp.; softcover
Price: $19.99

Score:
****

Available from: Prentice Hall
Professional Technical Reference,
Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458;
800/382-3419; www.phptr.com

This fun book puts you in the head of experienced researcher Calishain, who runs the Research Buzz Web site and e-newsletter, co-authored Google Hacks with Rael Dornfest, and speaks at WebSearch University. She makes you think about how and where you search for particular kinds of information by presenting a variety of general principles in a new way. For instance, the "Principle of Unique Language" encourages the searcher to focus on the most unique words in their query. The "Principle of Onions" encourages the user to start with the most specific search first and then to progressively become more general.

Each of the brief 26 chapters focuses on a different type of resource, covering everything a searcher might want, from full-text search engines to plug-ins and downloads. Descriptions of key resources tell you why you would choose that resource in the first place and are interspersed with insights as to how to get the best results.

This book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to find answers on the Web and who is willing to try more than one search engine or Web resource. Give it to those one-word searchers that think they know it all. Maybe after reading this book, they'll think differently.


Google and Other Search Engines
by Diane Poremsky

ISBN: 0-321-24614-4
Published: 2004
Pages: 364 pp.; softcover
Price: $19.99

Score:
***

Available from:
Peachpit Press,
1249 Eight St., Berkeley, CA 94710; 800/283-9444; www.peachpitpress.com

This is one of the Visual QuickStart Guide series of books aimed at getting people up and running quickly. Poremsky is an expert on Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Windows operating systems, and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). The book targets the novice user and spends the first four chapters explaining how search engines work and discussing search techniques. Then there are separate chapters describing Google, Yahoo!, AOL Search, MSN Search, Ask Jeeves, AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, and HotBot. These chapters provide background information on each service as well as tips on how to search them. A nice one page summary of the search engine is included in each chapter, and these are gathered into an appendix for easy reference.

The last section of the book focuses on specialized searching, covering newsgroups, and finding businesses and people information. The last chapter lists specialized search services such as encyclopedias, government information, almanacs, etc., with just a paragraph or two of description for each.

The text, which is written in a "sound bite" style, is kept to a minimum in this book, so it is easy to skim information about the different search engines. Lots of screenshots fill the pages. You won't become an expert, but you can quickly familiarize yourself with several different search engines. It is a good source for a novice to learn about some different search tools, but Web Search Garage does a better job of teaching search technique.


Degunking Windows
by Joli Ballew and Jeff Duntemann

ISBN: 1-932111-84-0
Published: 2004
Pages: 310 pp.; softcover
Price: $24.99

Score:
**

Available from:
Paraglyph Press,
4015 N. 78th St. #115, Scottsdale, AZ 85251;
602/749-8787; www.paraglyphpress.com

It's a fact of life—the longer you live someplace, the more junk you collect. The same is true for your computer, and eventually you start tripping over the excess stuff. This book will help you get your computer and files under control. The authors are Joli Ballew, a technology trainer, and Jeff Duntemann, a self-proclaimed "writer, editor, tinkerer, contrarian," according to his Web site [www.duntemann.com]. Degunking Windows is written for Windows XP, but much of the information applies to other versions of Windows as well.

The writing is very clear and includes step-by-step instructions for the different de-gunking tasks described. These include such things as organizing your files and deleting unused ones, cleaning out the Start-up menu,
organizing and deleting old e-mail, getting rid of spam, searching for spyware and other malicious files, editing the registry file, improving security, and backing-up files. Some of the tasks are things we know we should do, but are forever putting off, while others may be new. Having a book like this gives you the structure to go through your computer and do the cleanup once and for all and may possibly inspire you to keep it in order.

You have to be a bit comfortable with the workings of your computer, but even fairly novice users should be able to follow the tips in this book. I know we're moving into winter—this is the November/December issue—but it's still an ideal time for some pre-spring cleaning!

 


Deborah Lynne Wiley [deb@consultnw.com] is principal of Next Wave Consulting, Inc.

Comments? E-mail letters to the editor to marydee@xmission.com.

 

 


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