PacerPro – Going Free-ly Into The New Year

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Remember PacerPro? That cool web service that helps you interface with PACER in a much more civilized manner than the actual PACER site? I introduced it here in the Studio a little over a year ago. At that time, it was an introductory release with an anticipated monthly cost and separate charge for  mobile app access. At the price, it was still a fantastic bargain for anyone who has to deal regularly with the federal PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) databases, with documents numbering in the billions. You may recall from my post here that it offered a great cross database searching and filtering, (which is sorely lacking from PACER), great document management and bookmarking features and mobile access and no additional Pacer charge for pulling documents out of the archive.

So, how do you make an already awesome service even awesomer? You offer it for free. That’s right. Free. You still are charged for your PACER access, as your PacerPro account is tied to your PACER account, but because of how PacerPro is set up, you can minimize those costs through better targeting and filtering of your results. In case you don’t remember what the PACER charges are, access to court documents costs $0.10 per page, with a cap in a single document at $3.00. The cap does not apply to name searches, reports that are not case-specific and transcripts of federal court proceedings. Because PACER is a transactional system, you can’t go back and access your prior research efforts without having to pay twice or more.  PacerPro, on the other hand, allows you to bookmark your cases and return to them in the My Cases tab.

Another small but useful feature of PacerPro is the data behind the documents – when you save a document out of PACER, the file naming convention makes no sense and you have to rename everything so that you can figure out what you have pulled down. PacerPro uses a smarter naming convention that defaults to a file name that makes sense, which saves you some time when saving and moving on to the next document.

Another thought to keep in mind – while the paid services offer some access to the materials in the PACER system, only PACER has everything in the PACER system. So, when you really need to be sure you have every federal filing, you should check your search in the PACER database, using PacerPro to get your results in real time.

There are lots of details in the information that PacerPro shows that really make the service useful – you can see when dockets have been updated, you can see more key information about the matter on the results page than you can in regular PACER, etc. All these features make PacerPro more efficient and user-friendly.

Why the change of price? PacerPro is adding paid features at some point in the future. Even at free, however, the PacerPro basic service is quite robust and useful, so I can only imagine how cool the paid features will be. Here is the list of current features from PacerPro’s FAQ:

  • Simultaneous searches. Search across one or more district courts in real time.
  • Aggregated results. Say goodbye to wading through multiple web pages to see complete results.
  • One-click download. Download the entire docket with a single click.
  • Freebies. Previously downloaded documents are free.
  • Automatic PDF labeling. PacerPro saves you time by sensibly labeling your documents.
  • Bookmarking. Once you’ve found a case on PacerPro, you’ll never need to search for it again.
  • One-click docket update. Dockets update at the push of a button.
  • Advanced docket search tools. Locate the right record with robust search options, including boolean and proximity searching.

Wait. You say this isn’t enough free goodness for you? Then check this out. PacerPro has taken on the task of monitoring the uptime status of the various district courts across the United States. You can check out the “health” of the courts’ online systems at this link here.  There is a scale that looks a lot like Weather.com’s storm rating graph – from green and healthy to red and acute or even black and down – across the various districts. At writing, the Federal District Court for the  District of Connecticut is looking quite red and acute, while the District Court for the District of New Hampshire is green and healthy. Hover over the districts to see the actual upload speeds. You can get speeds from the last hour up to the last minute – very useful real time information if you are down to the wire on a court filing. You can generally see the high performing and low performing courts, and can even compare court speeds to the speeds of other popular sites, like Healthcare.gov, and Google.com. The site promises that more courts will be coming soon. There’s a Twitter account right now that provides live updates when court sites go down (https://twitter.com/PacerPro). Very cool feature, indeed!

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One last add: Ellen Gilmore, a reference librarian at BOALT, is in the process of creating a series of short videos which demonstrate how to use PacerPro’s free services. You will be able to  check them out at the pacerpro.com site once available.

UPDATE: the tutorials are live at this link.

So, all good from the fine folks at PacerPro. Check out the service by signing up for free with your email and PACER credentials and let me know what you think. I think you will be impressed.

Cutting Edge Research Alternative Ravel Law

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Here’s another one for you: Ravel Law, a 2012 startup out of Stanford Law, promises radically easier, faster and more intuitive legal research option through its visual search engine. Apparently, Ravel (which promises to UNravel the law), is a collaboration between law, computer science and design. I can’t help but agree that the interfaces offered by the traditional legal database giants continue to fall WAY behind the curve on UI and ease of use.

Ravel uses a graphical visual interactive interface to display key information about cases. It is really something else entirely. I searched in the SCOTUS database the terms “insurance” and “mccarran ferguson” and got the result below:

insurance mccarran ferguson

 

When you hover over a circle, it takes you to a case in the results. You also can drop down in the list on the right to see the citing sources, click on them and get a new visual representation of how that case has been interacted with. You can quickly move along research trails using the visual interface, or scan in a more traditional model using the list on the right. I think it is a truly brilliant and novel approach to parsing out how court decisions interrelate – you can easily map out the history of cases and how and when search terms are cited in a manner completely different from traditional models.

Right now, the information being mined includes  cases and statutes from the federal circuits and SCOTUS back to about 1950. They are expanding as they can, but are somewhat limited to the extent that the underlying data is or is not presented in a machine-mineable format. The service is currently in beta and is free. Check it out and let me know what you think about it.

For Better Search, Get Creative With Your Search Engines

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In a world where the term “google” is verb synonymous with performing a web search, it is hard for the average person to think beyond the search giant. But, if you can interrupt that knee-jerk response to head to Google.com when you need to know something, you might find that you can get better information faster using a more specialized search tool. Here are some great options to expand you mind and your search capabilities.

 

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Chart created by Altered Insight Digital Marketing. Data from Comscore Dec 2012 Search Engine rankings.

 

USA.gov

Did you know that your favorite government web site is also a search engine? Well, in truth its a giant database, but coupled with a search front-end it is much like tapping into a government-specific search tool. On the site, the searcher has direct access to searchable information from the United States government, state governments, and local governments. When you need something government-related, then check out USA.gov.

Healthline

If medical information is more your target, check out Healthline. This resource is a search tool for medical information. It offers medically filtered results developed by trained medical personnel, so there is definitely a curated feel to the content.

National Geographic Map Search Engine

This resource is a very large collection of NatGeo maps in a searchable online database. Browse the categories and you can get a sense of what you can tap, including world maps, satellite maps of Mars, Globe Explorer aerial imagery, and other information.

Technorati

Technorati is a venerable blog search engine that offers real time results from over 22 million sites and a billion links. If you think your answer is out there in the blogosphere, check out Technorati’s tool.

CompletePlanet

For the deep web (remember that favorite Studio topic?) CompletePlanet offers a capable search tool. The deep web is essentially aspects of the vast universe of the internet that Google hasn’t yet or can’t tap. CompletePlanet offers specific, topical databases of information and the information can only be retrieved by a direct query, rather than from Google’s indirect route. According to the site, approximately 70,000+ of the estimated total 200,000 Deep Web sites and about 11,000 of the estimated total 45,000 “surface” Web search sites are  listed on CompletePlanet.

Quixey

How about a search engine for apps? I know you need one. Quixey offers just that – find apps based on what you want to do. It is a semantic search engine with backing from Eric Schmidt of Google fame – they know a little bit about search. It mines reviews, blogs, social media and other sources to retrieve hits.

FindTheBest

Are you looking for the very top option among options? I know I have started many a query in Google with “the best …” FindTheBest targets its search efforts at just that type of query. FindTheBest has collected retail data on a variety of  products and organized them under nine broad categories. Results are visual and you can filter them. Great way to hone right in on the best choice.

Attrakt

Want to collect and curate your own content? Attrakt will allow you to browse the web and collect links that you can then later search. It’s like Google’s custom search tool, but a bit easier to work with. At its core, its a  bookmarking tool with a far better search and organization interface. Great for topical research – save your projects in an Attrakt Box.

Metasearch Engines

There are search engines that search the search engines and these are called metasearch engines. Maybe you don’t want to search Google, then search Yahoo, then search Bing, or whathaveyou, and risk repetitive stress injury. Maybe you want to search all of them at once. If you do, then check out the likes of ZuulaIxquick and Dogpile Web Search, as well as my personal favorite and previous Studio-star DuckDuckGo.

That’s Just Not Enough Search Engines

If that’s the case, then check out the following list of alternatives I pulled off of DMOZ. I didn’t check all the links so I can’t guarantee that they all work, but this should still offer up some fun browsing opportunities. If you have some favorite alternatives, please feel free to drop them in the comments so others can enjoy the benefits.

Happy searching!

  • Alternative.to – A search engine for alternatives, meaning it can search for existing opposites on any given subject.
  • AlternativeTo – Alternatives to software applications are organized into categories and can also be searched according to platforms and tags.
  • Best Similar Sites – Finds similar, related, or alternative websites.
  • Clusterpat.com – Search engine for US and European patents. Results from several sources are merged in a single list or in clusters. Order by relevance or date.
  • ColorOf – A color search engine meant to find items in defined colors.
  • Creative Commons Search – Powered by Nutch, it searches for content which can be re-used (for some uses) without having to pay or ask permission.
  • Crwlr.net – Finds active web servers and receives whatever information those servers disclose. Some of the features require free registration.
  • Dooblet – Find the alternatives to a broad range of subjects.
  • Dukten – A product information database searchable by the UPC or EAN that appears in the barcode of a product. Pictures, details, specifications.
  • Ecofreek – Searches the web for free and ‘for swap/trade’ items people no longer need.
  • Eyje – The latest comments on any topic such as people, events, ideas, categorized by various criteria. Registered users can add topics and comments.
  • FindHow – A “how-to” search engine for finding answers to common questions.
  • GetMeSubs – Search for subtitles based on the file name or the release name.
  • Globalogiq HTML Code Search Engine – Searches within HTML source code and http headers. Free demo requires registration.
  • Google minus Google – Search with Google without getting results from Google sites such as Knol, Blogger and YouTube.
  • GrantVine – Searchable grants database and assistance programs for individuals.
  • Green Maven – Green Search Engine which provides environmentally aware results, includes news and products.
  • Harpish – Designed to find files of a wide range of formats.
  • IFAC net – Global accountancy search engine, provides industry articles, guidelines and management tools.
  • Jamespot – RSS feeds search engine indexing blogs posts, news sites stories, audio and video podcast in 33 languages.
  • Jumobi – Searches for mobile-friendly websites by keyword or category.
  • Kurrently – A real-time search engine for Facebook and Twitter.
  • Lionseek – A search engine that scans the ‘for sale’ sections of online forums and organizes the data to make the search experience more efficient.
  • Lullar – Searches for profiles on social networking sites by e-mail, first, last name and username.
  • NiSearch – Finds documents in .pdf, .doc, .ppt, .xls, .rtf and html format. Requires registration.
  • Online Webpage Image Downloader and ImageInfo Grabber – Grabs and lists image content and information from websites with filtering options. It also offers downloading of grabbed images and social network sharing of grabbed images.
  • Oolone – Provides images of result sites instead of text snippets.
  • OpenBDB – The Open Book Database provides help to find books published since 1966.
  • Panjoy – Searches for recipes by ingredients, title, celebrity chefs.
  • PeekYou – Searches for names and usernames across a variety of social networking sites and even among Wikipedia editors, registers users of SourceForge, Launchpad and My Opera. Searching can be refined by location and age.
  • QueryCAT – Searches the web for FAQs, automatically extracting questions and ranking the answers to facilitate finding the relevant piece of information.
  • Quicko – Presents a search results page from which relevant results can easily be selected then browsed sequentially without opening new tabs or windows.
  • RSSsearchhub – Search for RSS, Rdf and Atom feeds or search the feeds.
  • Roozzy – A search engine to find mobile friendly websites.
  • Roysearch – Provides access to the Roysearch Knowledge Base of over 10 million concepts and 25 million semantic relations. Demonstrates how the knowledge base can be used for search refinement.
  • SHODAN – Search for computers based on software, geography, operating system, IP address and more. For example, it can find servers running Apache 2.2.3 on Windows 2000 in Switzerland.
  • Search IM – Offers search for users of Skype, Yahoo, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk and MSN messenger by their hobbies, work/profession, interests and anything else they include in their ‘about me’ pages.
  • SearchIRC – Search Internet Relay Chat rooms and networks.
  • Search – A code specific search engine. API documentation, code snippets and open-source repositories are indexed and searchable.
  • SeeSources.com – A service to check papers for passages plagiarized from the web.
  • Similar Pages – A search engine for finding similar and alternatives websites. Works on a dataset of about 200 million sites.
  • Similar Site Search – Helps to find similar, related, or alternative websites. Based on user generated tags.
  • Similar Site Search – Helps to find similar, related, or alternative websites. Based on user generated tags.
  • SimilarSites – Finds alternatives to popular websites.
  • Similarkind – Helps users find new alternatives or similar content.
  • Simply Hired – Provides a sizeable database of jobs, collates material from several businesses.
  • Sites Like Search – Helps to find similar or alternative websites.
  • SkillPages – SkillPages is creating new opportunities for everyone everywhere.
  • SlideFinder – Search engine for finding PowerPoint presentations and slides. The results include previews. The interface is available in several languages.
  • Social Search – Search for someone’s status and shares on Facebook, Twitter & Google Buzz.
  • Social Searcher – Facebook search without logging in. Finds images, pages, posts by keywords.
  • Stinky Teddy – Combines results from several sources to present the latest user-generated content. Its “buzz-o-meter” measures the current level of activity concerning the topic on Twitter.
  • Stylig – Collaborative fashion content search engine, indexes selected fashion blogs and online magazines.
  • Sysoon – Dead people search engine. Search by name, year or social security number (reverse lookup).
  • Taggl – Searches various applications, including del.icio.us, flickr, Scribd, YouTube, for tags.
  • The Internet Spec List – Search engine for Request For Comments (RFC). Also organized according to topic.
  • TopicDash – Tracks the latest popular content on the web: Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • Topsy – Searches content published on Twitter and the web, sorted by relevance or date.
  • Twitority – Authority based Twitter search, find Twitter postings by number of followers.
  • Vertical Search – Vertical search engine with many categories and a directory of the searched sites.
  • VideoStep – Indexes video files that can be embedded and makes them available to publishers and website owners.
  • Wolfram|Alpha – Computational knowledge engine that draws on multiple sources to answer user queries directly.
  • Yummly – Search for recipes by ingredient, diet, allergy, nutrition, taste, calories, fat, price, cuisine, time, course and source.
  • Zanran – A search engine for finding data and statistics. The search results will be graphs, charts and tables.
  • ZoomInfo – A business information search engine, providing company search, people search and job search. It constructs profiles on people and companies, drawn from the Web, or created by individuals and companies for themselves.
  • sengine.info – Searches sites by domain name, title, keywords and IP address.

Finding Public Google Docs

If you take my Everything Google course at Solo Practice University, you may recall from the Google Docs class that you can set your visibility on your Google Docs from the share button to private, anyone with the link, or public on the web. Public docs are accessible and viewable by anyone on the web. But how, exactly, do you find such public Google Docs?

 

Google Operating System blog has some tips for you on searching for these elusive public documents. You can’t find them within Docs or Google Drive. But you can via Google search. The post offers these handy queries:

 

Here are some useful queries that let you find public Google Drive/Docs files (you can append some keywords to the queries):

* [site:docs.google.com/document/d] – find text documents

* [site:docs.google.com/presentation/d] – find presentations

* [site:docs.google.com/drawings/d] – find drawings

* [site:docs.google.com/file/d] – find files: images, videos, PDF files, Microsoft Office documents and more (you should click “repeat the search with the omitted results included” since there are many files with similar titles)

* [site:docs.google.com/folder/d] – find folders (collections of files and other folders)

* [site:docs.google.com/open] – find other documents, folders and files (the links redirect to other URLs)

Public spreadsheets and forms can’t be indexed by search engines.

 

There you have it. Happy searching!

Why DuckDuckGo?

I have featured DuckDuckGo here in the Studio before, but this article at MakeUseOf has prompted me to bring it up again. That, and the fact that I always run substantive searches in DuckDuckGo as well as that other search engine everyone “flocks” to. Seems redundant, sure, but there are plenty of good reasons to do so if you want to make certain you are really getting the goods.

 

DuckDuckGo has the ubiquitous search box on its main page and a results page full of links. But it also has zero click pages which permit you to instantly access sources by the type of term you enter in the search box. Type “define” and a word and you will get a Merriam Webster definition. Or a name, and access Crunchbase. Or a song lyric and access LyricBase. And numerous other databases of information. Zero click allows you to get an “answer” rather than links – you will see results to queries that give answers from Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia, and many other reputable sites, enabling you to collapse your search efforts and answer questions from the results page. If your term is more on the ambiguous side, DuckDuckGo will respond with variations on the theme, broken out by category, to help direct you to the right results. You can even enter emoticons into the search box and get back their meaning in the results.

 

Click the down arrow next to the search icon, and you can feel “ducky” instead of Google’s “I feel lucky” instant results. There are other prompts in the drop down as well.

 

Check out the Goodies page on DuckDuckGo for more search tools (there is also a Tech Goodies page, with more technologically specific data and tools).   You will boxes for entering searches for Calculations, Conversions, Dates, Entertainment, Facts, Finance, Food, Geography, IDs, Language, Random, Time Sensitive, and Transformations. There are some location aware searches that will pull relevant information from your locale in responding to your search request. For example, type in “Is it Raining?” and get a local weather report discussing the chances of rain in your area.

 

DuckDuckGo has built-in syntax for searching that will assist in formulating queries. Related to this, the search engine features a tool called !Bang – there are hundreds of sites that the engine will search directly when you precede the search term with an exclamation point. Such as typing in !Amazon portable basketball hoops and go straight to Amazon’s search results. This covers most major sites and most general terms. For a complete list, check out the !Bang page here.

 

If you are missing Google’s auto-complete, a DuckDuckGo user has created a browser add-on that combines the search engine with Google’s auto-complete – check out DDG + Google Suggest.

 

Private browsing is enabled by default, which is a nice change of pace. Furthermore, and this is the reason I like it for searching, it does not attempt to tailor results to your interests – you will get results based solely on your search terms. DuckDuckGo’s results are a compilation of many sources, including Yahoo! Search BOSS, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha and its own Web crawler, the DuckDuckBot. As I previously reported, the engine automatically deletes results from sites believed to be “content mills”, ostensibly improving the quality of the results. While Google recently has made attempts to cull out similar sites, DDG has been doing it all along. You can also employ voice search on DuckDuckGo with the Chrome browser, with another user submitted add on.

 

There are mobile apps as well:

Check out the add-ons page for more tools.

 

People tend to default to Google because it’s there. But there are so many other great search options out there – you may be missing some key information. Check out the browser comparison charts here to get an overview of some of the other choices you could make when searching your terms.

 

Broaden your search and broaden your horizons. DuckDuckGo is a great place to start. Load it into your browser using the instructions at the Tools page and you’re good to go.

Not ANOTHER Social Network? Microsoft's So.cl

Yup. You heard that right. Microsoft is getting into the act too with its own social network called So.cl (pronounced So-shull). Do we really need another social network? Well, maybe, if it can bring something new to the table. So.cl’s angle is the ability to share your searching, presumably via Bing, with others in order to elicit commentary and maybe help someone else who might be looking for the same thing. Hence the “Find what you need and Share what you know” tagline. The status update box is actually titled “what are you searching for?” You can toggle the box to a more traditional style update as well. When you enter text in the box, the text hits your feed with related search results, also presumably via Bing.

 

 

You can add tags to save the search terms to a list, much like a favorites or bookmark tool. Items in the news feed can also be commented on or tagged by others. Another slightly different twist is the Video Party function – you can watch YouTube (and only YouTube at this time) videos with friends and chat about what you are watching. It also has a question feature, not quite so robust as Quora, and the ability to find and follow people with similar interests or topics of interest.

 

 

The interface is clean and you can make rich posts with montages of images and links from Bing when you search. Very sharp looking. People can comment on your posts – very social indeed.

 

The idea of saving your search results in a visually-appealing way sure sounds a lot like Pinterest, but it isn’t quite the same as a visual bookmarking service. The idea appears to be the creation of micro-resource posts for your friends and for yourself.

 

So.cl is being designed with educational institutions in mind, but it is currently open to the public for testing – it’s a product of Microsoft’s Fusion Labs. Who knows how long it will last or whether it will hit the prime time. But, I think it might have a chance. The social search angle hasn’t been fully developed yet and it seems an easy way to share knowledge and expertise. Why not head on over and try it out. Then head back here and post your feedback and your best guess as to whether this newcomer can survive in the dog-eat-dog world that is social networking.

 

Knowledge Graph: Google's New Search +Your Mind

They say that knowledge is power, and rightly so, particularly in the Digital Information Age (my term, FWIW). Access to information is important, but being able to leverage via machines the extra step that links the pure data to contextual relevancy is the current Holy Grail of Search. Pioneers in the digital knowledge game like Wolfram Alpha and Siri have been making extraordinary inroads in pairing correct answers to natural language questions. Semantic search – the ability to parse contextual meaning from a search inquiry by making connections across data sets – is the key to the next step in the evolution of search.

So, where is Google, the de facto King of Keyword Search, in all of this? Well, as of yesterday, right in the thick of it apparently. Google has introduced a major new refinement of its venerable Search Product called Knowledge Graph. Knowledge Graph appears to be a matrix of contextual connection behind the pure search terms that assist Google in showing results that make sense, as well as direct answers to queries right on the search results page. Instant results will highlight the answer Google believes you intended to find, as well as other possible answers to your question that make sense based on context – the connections between data points. The example from Google’s blog post debuting Knowledge Graph is the phrase “Taj Mahal”, which could be a monument, a Grammy award winning singer, a casino or the Indian restaurant down the street. Before, Google’s search would simply turn to its vast store of crawled data to find sites where the words “Taj” and “Mahal” appeared near each other, putting the sites that had the most clicks for those keywords at the top of the list. With Knowledge Graph, Google takes the next logical step by “guessing” the meaning you intend when you type “Taj Mahal” and presumptively returning relevant results. Pretty freaking cool.

To make this happen, Google is leveraging content stored in trusted sites, such as Wikipedia, Freebase, the CIA World Fact Book and other locales. Not unlike Wolfram Alpha, which turns to its own internal knowledge base comprised of data from official public or private websites, and systematic primary sources.

There are three main features of the new Knowledge Graph.  First, searchers will see different collections of results accessible via one click – click over instantly and tell Google which segment you are interested in researching. New summary info provides information on people, places and things right on the search page, obviating the need to click through to Wikipedia – good for quick bits of information, leaving you free to click through to get more detail if you need. Finally, Knowledge Graph takes it all one step further by providing the second tier information that users tend to look for after making their initial search. Google apparently is able to map those secondary searches and make the information easier to tap into, collapsing first and second searches down and improving search efficiencies. Google also shows other searches that people commonly made when searching for the same information. Google has accomplished the corralling of data in such a way that it can parse likely intent and direct searchers along the search path in a reliable fashion.

Is this all good? Well, not quite and definitely not for power searchers. Yet. Google’s new toy will work best with people, places and things and mostly likely with well-known people, places and things. More arcane and obscure information likely hasn’t been properly mapped yet, particularly since it appears Google’s tool depends on what lots of other searchers tend to do. Which raises an additional question regarding what lots of other searchers tend to do – if you are not your average searcher looking for not your average information, you might find the Knowledge Graph more hindrance than help at this point. However, I wholeheartedly applaud Google’s efforts (as well as Bing’s similar effort released earlier). There is definitely a place for instant, contextually-relevant results in everyone’s search plan. My sense is that it will REALLY get interesting when contextual, semantic search can delve the deeper recesses of data and make finer connections. Like the connections our billions of neurons make when we cogitate on a problem or try to recall key information. I can hear Majel Barrett’s voice now. Is the age of Artificial Intelligence upon us? Maybe. Just maybe.

 

Digitizing Your Paper Manuals

Trying to go paperless here. While I can definitely see the prize to be won, I am finding the process quite cumbersome. It has been made more difficult by the unanticipated rupture of a main water line and unwanted intrusion of a great deal of water into my basement office where Scan Central previously was located. While I struggle with insurance adjusters (nothing like being on the other side of the fence), my scanning project has hit “hold” status.

So, I of course was attracted to an article over at Apartment Therapy about finding and saving product manuals into the iPad-friendly iBooks format. This is a very cool process that doesn’t require a scanner.

If you have ever lost a manual and needed to recover it, you probably are familiar with the process of searching for the manual online in your favorite search engine of choice. For the most part, I have been successful in finding the manuals I have needed. Expand that effort to include all manuals you may someday need (take a look at that bursting at the seams paper manual file for a decent start on your list). Search, find and download. Then toss the paper.

Open iTunes, hit the File Menu and select Add To Library. Find the documents you have downloaded and select them. Grab the iPad and connect it – make sure you have books selected to sync and check all those manuals you captured. After they hit the iPad, slot them all into a Collection / Category within iBooks on the iPad itself. After you organize within iBooks, sync again and that organization will transfer back into iTunes for easy filing and reference. Because they are already saved on the desktop, you need not keep them all in iBooks, but they are there and available if you want to shift them on or off the iPad for ease of use. And, because I am a search-head, digitizing this way makes it easy to jump right to the section you want with a keyword and a click.

Voila! Instant manual order. Thanks, Apartment Therapy.

Factbrowser Condenses Business & Market Research, Filter By Filter

Need to know the facts on business and technology but don’t have the time to sift? Factbrowser bills itself as a discovery engine for research and technology, and apparently is designed to streamline the trip between asked and answered. The site taps a database that is constantly being supplemented, with a great deal of filter-ability. The intent of the service is to provide researchers with solid facts and data to support decisions and analysis.

What I like about Factbrower’s results is that it attributes research to its original source, links to the source’s homepage and the piece of content it references. The list of topics is not large in number but definitely diverse in content. There is a format filter that targets attitudes, behaviors, business models, demographics, market structure, reach and strategy. Information filters include case studies, forecasts and infographics. The Industries filter is fairly broad, while the Companies filter is pretty much focused on the biggest players. The Sources list, however, is quite large and impressive, clearly including some familiar names as well as some well-respected niche repositories. Consumer filters are broken down by typical demographics, as are the listings under the regions tab. Simply click on the topic and then filter under the foregoing lists to refine the results. Then, collect the RSS feed of those results and stay up to date as relevant news / information breaks. The idea is just great and can only get greater as they add more content and filters to the mix. The site is mobile optimized, so it is pretty easy to view what’s cooking while on the go.

Check it out and see if you can’t tailor a search to your needs – Factbrowser de-fluff’s the news and stats  for you and delivers it to your virtual doorstep.

CloudMagic Offers Lightning Fast Search on Android

Finding the needle in your content haystack can be a troublesome affair. I have thousands of old messages in my Gmail, over 11,000 tweets, and lots of other stuff that I have collected over the past few years and have shoved into the virtual shoebox at the back of the closet. The difference between efficiency and wandering aimlessly often comes down to how fast you can retrieve that bit of information you need for a particular matter at a particular time. That is where CloudMagic comes in.

CloudMagic is an Android (and iOS) application that indexes your Google and Twitter content and can retrieve it for you instantaneously with predictive search suggestions as you type. It retains search history for when you may need to come back to your search. It works with  Gmail correspondence, calendar events, Google Docs documents, contacts, and tweets and sports some very effective filtering tools. It comes in an Android app and browser extensions for on-line, desktop use. And it’s free.

The application reminds me of Greplin on iOS, but falls short in terms of services it can access. However, it is more than a decent start, particularly if you are tied to an Android platform.

Check out the video below to learn more about this great, cross-platform mobile search tool.