Friday, June 05, 2009

Internet Search Strategies Workshop Links

I discussed these websites during my June 6, 2009 MacNexus workshop.

1. Help Pages from Popular Search Engines
a. Google
b. Yahoo

2. Evaluation Checklist
How To Evaluate information

3. Tutorials
a. Bare Bones 101: A Basic Tutorial on Searching the Web
b. Internet for Beginners
c. Finding People

4. Selected Specialized Databases
a. General Refdesk
b. Health Information Medlineplus
c. Mac Support Apple Support
d. Mac Software VersionTracker
e. Almanac Information Information Please
f. Movie information Internet Movie Database
g. TV Listings TitanTV
h. Book Price Search Addall

5. New Search Engines
a. Alt Search Engines
b. iSeek
c. WolframAlpha

6. Additional Topics
a. KB Keyboard covers
b. O'Reilly Missing Manuals
c. Take Control Ebooks
d. Instapaper
e. Share This

Monday, March 02, 2009

Even More Waycool Websites

This installment of way cool websites compiled for Interface, the monthly newsletter of MacNexus, the Sacramento Macintosh User Group. This list covers December 2008 through April 2009.


For those of you who are wondering about putting information on a Facebook page, this blog is a great resource. If you aren’t sure the best way to make information private, be sure to read the clear and informative February 2, 2009 entry on privacy settings.

Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and website) purchased this blog on January 1, 2009 saying it is “a perfect fit for advancing our mission of creating a fair, safe, and just marketplace.” You’ll find lots of helpful information about a wide variety of consumer problems.

Lee Hinde’s Right Here, Right Now
For those of you who miss the witticisms of former MacNexus President, Lee Hinde, you can get your fill at his blog. One tip you might find useful is the one Lee passed on from another blog, BackupBrain – drag (“b/w”) to your browser tool bar to view web pages written in white text on black to black on white.

World War I: American Soldier’s Letters Home
The son and granddaughter of Lt. Paul Hills have gone through his scrapbooks and transcribed these wonderful letters beginning in April 1917 when Hills wrote home from college to ask his mother’s permission to join the ambulance service in France. Each one has been added to the blog on the date they were written, ninety years ago!

Book Recommendations
When you are looking for a good book to read, you can look at many online sources for suggestions. Goodreads is a recent favorite of mine because it has a social networking friends element similar to the friends movie reviews used by Netflix. FYI, I am currently reading The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded American is Tearing Us Apart.

Charitable Giving

Six Degrees
At this website, you support charities by donating or creating fundraising badges. If you wish, you can contribute to the favorite causes of others (including celebrities you admire) or set up a badge of your own chosen charity. The title came from the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game i.e. any one person is connected to any other person through six or fewer relationships, because it’s a small world. Be sure to watch Kevin’s welcome video.

Consumer Research

Better Business Bureau
You probably know that consumers can file a complaint about a business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but are you using the database to check out the reliability of a business or charity before you buy something or donate money? You can search by name, type of business or charity or even just with a phone number, URL or email.


Earth Album
This site combines the power of Flickr and Google Maps to bring you a full map of the world with geotagged photos that appear in a strip on the top of the map. If you click on a photo to see it larger, a description from the photographer also appears. You can zoom in on the map to get more specific choices or search for photos at specific addresses.


Learn CPR
This website is a free public service supported by the University of Washington School of Medicine. You can study diagrams or watch videos that clearly show you the basics of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Mayo Clinic
I have mentioned the Mayo Clinic site before, but wanted to make sure you know it features lots of tips. If you have wondered whether or not to take an aspirin a day to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, check out this featured page.

Designed for adults and kids to learn about healthy eating, this fun online community includes games and animations for all ages. Each offering is conceptualized, designed and field-tested with the guidance and assistance of medical researchers at The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston and Baylor College of Medicine’s Children’s Nutrition Research Center.


Earth Calendar
This website provides information on holidays celebrated around the world. You can search for holidays by date, country or religion. Another nice feature is the listing of lunar phases, eclipses, seasonal changes and daylight savings time.

Internet Scams

Looks Too Good To Be
This website is maintained by a joint federal law enforcement and industry task force. Its purpose is to educate consumers, and help prevent Internet fraud schemes.

Internet Tools

Down For Everyone
If you have ever wondered if there is really something wrong with a website, or if it’s just a problem with your computer, check out this useful site. All you need to do is type in the website address (e.g. and you either get a message that the website is having a problem or “It’s just you.”


U.S. Supreme Court
Here is the official source for everything you always wanted to know about the U.S. Supreme Court. Besides a search feature to help you locate specific court files, you will find a wealth of information including biographies of the justices and the current docket.


Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie (AFDB)
The Zapato Productions Intradimensional website contains “wide selection of amazing discoveries, important theories, life-enriching tools, and other more frivolous diversions, an index of which appears below.” My favorite, the AFDB, provides detailed instructions–with wonderful diagrams–of how to make one of these beanies. I thank long time MacNexus member, Bob Seigel, now living in Graettinger, IA for introducing me to this wonderful site.

Bad Gift Emporium
This site was one of the nominees for a 2008 Webby award in the weird category. It is a showcase for giftrocities real people received. Some are available to be regifted and you can even upload a photo and details about yours.

Birthday Songs
If you have ever wondered what the number one song was on the day you were born, this site is for you. Provided by Josh Hosler of Seattle, WA, whose hobbies include listening to top pop hits from Billboard’s official Pop 100 current and past charts. You just click on the month, date and year you were born. Mine turned out to be It’s Been a Long, Long Time by Harry James. If there’s a link, you can even get to it on iTunes in one click!

Confusing Words
Do you find yourself confused when using certain words such as affect and effect? Early Mac user, Richard and Anne Wanderman began their collection of these words in 1990 as a HyperCard stack. I thank MacNexus member, Mary Mieth, for introducing me to the current website.

Kevin Kelly: My Other Stuff
This link takes you to presentations page compiled by Kevin Kelly, who describes himself as “the Senior Maverick at Wired magazine.” For those of you who really go way back with the Mac, you must click on Hypercard and see Bill Atkinson describe Apple’s breakthrough software in 1987. You can go directly to the Computer Chronicles archive at

The Sacramento Press
An eye-catching brochure about this new online local effort in citizen journalism was left on my doormat. Since both the brochure and the site were so lovely to look at, I couldn’t resist sending an email to Geoff Samek, the Editor in Chief, to find out if they used Macs. He told me that all employees and interns (11 in all) are using Macs! Do check out the site; it is informative, builds community and easy to search–don’t miss the tag cloud and storyline features.

This wonderful free service makes it fast and easy to share information you find out the Internet with friends and family. The demos will show you how to put ShareThis in your browser toolbar, store email addresses in an easy-to-access place and store items you have shared for future reference.


Forgetting the Pill
If you are overwhelmed trying to keep all your vitamins and prescriptions organized, check out this amazing array of pill organizers, crushers, and timers. Once you identify an item you might never find hidden away in a local store, you can search online to see if your local Walgreen’s or Target carries it. My new shopping slogan is let your mouse do the walking!


Billed as “a library of TV theme music and songs from yesterday and today” has an archive of over 9,000 songs. A fun feature you might enjoy is the Name that Theme Song game for 1 or 2 players.

TV Worth Watching
For recommendations on “each day’s very best television offerings - whether they’re weekly series, documentary specials, movies, children’s offerings, or bizarre but worthwhile cult items,” check out this online magazine from NPR’s Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli. If you find his picks in sync with your interests, be sure to check out his blog too.

If you are interested in what is being done to move us towards a smarter and more sustainable future, check out this site. You will find information about “the future of design, innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design.”

Year in Review Lists

Google’s 2008 Year-End Zeitgeist
At the end of each year, Google looks at big events, memorable moments and emerging trends that captivated searchers. The compilation provides “a glimpse into the zeitgeist — the spirit of the times.” You can look at the global aggregate, or choose only the U.S. or another country of interest.’s 2008: Year in Review
This wonderful website has been around since 1995. Its year in review feature includes an alphabetical array of top/best lists that include top stories from the Associated Press to most notable quotes from the Yale Book of Quotations.

Time’s Top 10 Everything of 2008
This compilation from includes topics that range in alphabetical order from albums (Tha Carter III by Lil Wayne) to worst business deals (Yahoo rejecting Microsoft’s offer). Their pick for the top FREE iPhone app was Pandora Internet Radio.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More Waycool Websites

Here's the next installment of way cool websites compiled for Interface, the monthly newsletter of MacNexus, the Sacramento Macintosh User Group. This list covers September through November 2008.
This site is the ONLY centralized service authorized by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. The three companies have set up one central website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free credit report.

Center for Environmental Oncology
Have you ever wondered if cell phones really can be pose health risks? Check out the latest advice from an international expert panel about cell and wireless phones electromagnetic radiation emission. A diagram dramatically shows how risk increases for young children who are more susceptible to electromagnetic fields.

Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC)
This service began in 1970 as the distribution outlet for free and low cost Federal consumer publications sent out from the Government Printing Office (GPO) facility in Pueblo, Colorado. Info is available by toll-free telephone as well as electronically.
The most popular publication is the free Consumer Action Handbook, an annual guide to making the best deals and protecting yourself. Order by phone at 1-800-333-4636 or download from the website.

Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft
I’ve mentioned this site in my articles on identity theft. It’s still a key source both to help you guard against the theft of your personal information or find help to deal with the loss.

Find out definitions for what’s hot in the geek world by using Wired Magazine’s Geekipedia, “people, places, ideas and trends you need to know now.” The only entry for J so far is Steve Jobs. Other items of interest at are articles from current issues of Wired Magazine and 12 blogs on topics such as new gadgets and gaming.

Government Information Online
If you need help finding something, you can even chat online with a government information librarian (the hours are Central Standard Time Monday through Thursday, 8am to 6pm, Friday 8am to 5pm) or fill out an online form to request an email response.

If you are into election collectibles, order plastic action figures, plush dolls and pez toppers of Barack Obama and John McCain at this site. There are also three Sarah Palin action figures. If you are looking for a gift for someone who has everything, why not buy a custom pez or action figure?

JibJab, a digital entertainment studio based in Los Angeles, became well known during the 2004 US presidential election when their video of George W. Bush and John Kerry singing This Land is Your Land became a viral video hit. The site offers humorous sendable eCards and videos. If you like Mr. Bill humor, check out this video.

Money Magazine Best Places to Live 2008
If you are thinking about relocating or just want to know how your city or town rates, check out this site from Money Magazine. Under quality of life, you can look at categories including fast commutes, most singles and clean air.

Museum of the Moving Image
The Museum of the Moving Image offers wonderful exhibitions online in addition to those in its Astoria, NY facility. My favorite exhibition is The Living Room Candidate; it features more than 300 commercials, from every presidential election since 1952. You will also find articles by leading critics and scholars, an international Calendar, and a Research Guide to online resources.

National Geographic Videos
This site provides incredible videos of all types of natural disasters. You can watch videos that show wildfires in hot, dry regions and avalanches in cold, moist ones. Also featured are earthquakes, lightning, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and volcanoes.

New York Times Movie Reviews
Browse or search 28,000 New York Times movie reviews. Included in the FREE review archive are all films reviewed since 1960, reviews of all Best Picture Academy Award winners, as well as The New York Times guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. You can browse by title, year, genre, critic and country of origin.

Office of Women’s Health
You will find a wealth of downloadable fact sheets and brochures at this site, a service provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. One item I thought would be helpful for all of us to use is the “gender neutral” My Medicines brochure.

Urban Dictionary
There are lots of reasons to bookmark this online dictionary of contemporary American slang. Of course it will help you to stay on top of new words and new meanings for old words, but also provides a wonderful way to see the effect of cultural happenings on the American language. However, personally I think the most fun reason, especially for MacNexus members, is to celebrate the success of Urban Dictionary’s founder, Aaron Peckham. Aaron was an active member of MacNexus throughout his high school years before leaving Sacramento to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is the son of long-time MacNexus member, Doug Peckham.

U.S. Social Security Administration
Check out your full retirement age based on the year you were born, use any of the variety of benefit calculators or read the FAQs (frequently asked questions) to give you a good overview of the information you need to know to prepare for your future.
If you are not sure where to find specific topics, start here. There is an alphabetical listing of broad topics ranging from benefits and grants to voting and elections. In addition, there are links to an A-Z agency index and information aimed at specific audiences (e.g. kids, teens, parents, seniors, military/veterans and Americans abroad.

This interactive, online museum “challenges visitors to think and explore scientific and cultural phenomena in new ways.” My favorites are Daylight Savings, Causes of Color and Calendars through the Ages. In addition, you can compare the regular page layout and the SpicyNodes view that uses sophisticated radial mapping technology.

Since I’m playing online Scrabble frequently, I’m even more interested in learning unusual words. This site lets you make lists of words and phrases and easily share them. Your lists are visible to everyone but can be added to by just you, a group of friends, etc. You can add citations and comments to words and lists, or make private notes for yourself.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Great Tips from AARP online

These three articles from AARP provide really useful and easy-to-understand information.

Cash Flow Control: Ten Easy Tips to Help You Make the Most of Your Money includes info about the unique risks of debit cards, and how they differ from credit cards.

Watch Your Documents Overseas includes a variety of info, e.g. guarding against theft and how to avoid excessive cell phone charges.

Can’t Afford to Travel? How to Keep Your Family in High-Tech Touch includes info about videochatting using iChat or Skype, uploading photos to Flickr and blogging.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Way Cool Websites

I write a monthly column of way cool websites for the MacNexus, the Sacramento Macintosh User Group. I have decided to post them here instead of emailing them to a select group. Here is a compilation of those I have included in July and August 2008 lists.

Bad Fads
This site “was created to take a fun and nostalgic look at fashions, collectibles, activities and events which are cherished by some and ridiculed by others.” Feed your thirst for nostalgia with fashion entries such as bellbottoms, Farrah Fawcett hair and Nehru jackets. Another favorite category of mine is events where you will see photos of flagpole sitting in 1924 and telephone booth stuffing in 1959.

BenefitsCheckUp, developed and maintained by The National Council on Aging (NCOA), is “the nation's most comprehensive Web-based service to screen for benefits programs for seniors with limited income and resources.” Examples of topics covered are tax relief, prescription drugs, social security, in-home services and transportation.

If you've ever wanted to add way cool signatures to your email message, check out Coolsig and choose your favorites from over 4,000. Examples of categories you will find are: Battle of the Sexes, Life's Questions and Pick-up Lines. If you have never added a signature in Apple's Mail software, just open the preferences and click on Signatures, then add away - I have 10 currently).

This site is “a geek blog dedicated to the scientific study of gadgets, gizmos, and awesome.” The day I visited two items caught my eye: the 3G iPhone and the Mask of Emotion. My interest in the new iPhone needs no explanation; the mask, “a project from the Digital Media Design Dept at Hongik University in Korea, trades facial expressions for LED emoticons. The default setting is no expression, but if people shake hands with the wearer, the mask smiles.”

Google Zeitgeist
This Google website pulls together interesting search trends and patterns. The search statistics are automatically generated based on the billions of searches conducted on Google and provide “a cumulative snapshot of interesting queries people are asking – over time, within country domains, and some on – that perhaps reveal a bit of the human condition.” For 2007, iphone topped the list of fastest rising.

How Stuff Works
I included this award-winning site in 2004 because I had found its information on gas pricing really helpful. I felt it was worth another mention because besides its compendium of easy-to-read and understand articles on how things work, there is a wide variety of videos as well as. You can search by keyword or in categories from animals to travel.

Morse Code Translator
This fun site lets you type letters, numbers and punctuation into the top box and press the Translate button. You will see the Morse code in the bottom box or if you want to hear how your entry sounds, you just press play.

Web hacker Phil Crosby created this very fast online dictionary ninjawords because ninjas are smart, fast and accurate. You can even compare definitions by looking up many words on the same page. If you wish, you can see your word lookup history too.

Our Documents
This website is a cooperative effort among National History Day, The National Archives and Records Administration, and USA Freedom Corps. A special feature is “a list of 100 milestone documents, compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, and drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings. The documents chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965.”

You will find lists of heads of state and heads of government (and, in certain cases, de facto leaders not occupying either of those formal positions) of all countries and territories, going back to about 1700 in most cases. Also included are the subdivisions of various countries (the links are at the bottom of the respective country entries), as well as a selection of international organizations. The screen shot shows an excerpt from the May 2008 listing.

Named as the top 2007 travel website by, this site is lets you compare top aggregators. “A handy matrix at the top of the results page gives an overview of the lowest prices pulled from 600 airlines across 200 sites. And refining the search by departure time or airport is a breeze.”

Snopes, also known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is the most widely known site for validating or debunking urban legends, Internet rumors, email forwards, and other such stories of uncertain or questionable origin. Whenever you get an email offer that seems too good to be true, check Snopes.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Where Has the Time Gone

Since my last entry, my life has been a whirlwind of activity. Looking at the life map I did for my Infopeople online course, Effective Time Management for Library Staff gives a quick overview of my commitments. I made this life map using Inspiration mindmapping software (available for both Macintosh and Windows). Check it out by downloading a free 30 day trial.