Evil Genius

Today’s Dilbert really made me smile, and reminded me of one of those e-mails that did the rounds years back, “If I were an evil overlord…”.
So I went looking online and found a whole site devoted to “If I were …” lists – EvilRulers.com. The original one I was thinking of is more like what’s at EvilOverlord.com. There’s even a Squidoo page on A quick guide to becoming an Evil Genius. Should we be worried so many people want to be evil and/or rule the world?

Environment

Today is Blog Action Day, and so I thought I’d write something about the environment. Turns out, that’s harder than it sounds. I couldn’t think of anything to say that hasn’t been said so many times before (and by people more learned and eloquent than I am). Except about light-bulbs – but that’s a whole other rant, and probably not quite in the spirit of the day.

So I thought I’d just think about what I do:
At home I recycle all the stuff the council folks come and collect – glass bottles/jars, plastic bottles (but no other plastic of any kind), newspapers, and tins. I also recycle cardboard and foil – but they have to be taken in the car to one of the recycling places in town, so the good is probably reduced by all those fuel emissions. At work, we recycle paper (which is a good thing considering the reams of it we get through each day – so many things printed out for no good reason), laminated paper (I had to check we could do this – the information on what we can and cannot recycle is not brilliant), old CDs, plastic, cans and cardboard.
Other than recycling, I don’t do a lot. At home, I try to remember to turn lights off when I leave a room, turn taps off etc. I tend to leave my computer on, leave the tv on standby (because, you know, getting up to turn it on and off wastes my own personal energy – I’m so lazy), and of course I use those old-fashioned supposedly “non-energy efficient” light-bulbs. At work, there is air conditioning (not something I can control – or I’d turn the darned thing off – freezing to death in the middle of summer is not my idea of fun), and various other wastes of energy going on. There are good things. Apparently the kitchen waste is composted. The toilets have strange flushes which I think are supposed to be water saving. These work really well – a whole lot of people seem to not know how to work them, so just don’t flush at all *eww*. I tend to leave my computer on at work – mainly because when I started, IT told me to, and I just got into the habit. It’s one I plan to break soon though.
Anyway, after reading Annoyed Librarian – Save the Environment the Annoyed Librarian Way, and Enquiring Minds Want to Know – The environment and the library I feel like I should be doing more. Obviously drinking wine sounds like an ideal way to start – but then I think of all those food miles… So I’m going to go and look at these links, and see what else I can do:
Recycle Now
Recycling Guide
Need2Know Environment Tips
Get Recycling
Saving Planet Earth

Lexis? Nexis?

Received a couple of emails last week to tell me that “In direct response to your feedback regarding our product names and how similar they are, we are re-branding our flagship News & Business service to Nexis UK.”

I am not too sure how this is meant to help. How is Nexis UK not similar to the other product names? I didn’t have too many problems with News & Business, other than people occasionally confusing it with LNB (the legal platform). But now I am going to get confused with Nexis UK and Nexis.com (and what is the difference anyway?). Just like the confusion between Lexis.com and Lexis Professional (both of which get referred to as Lexis) (and again – what is the difference in content?). Why do Lexis insist on adding Lexis or Nexis or both to all of their products? It is so confusing that even they don’t know which is which – I have resorted (following problems with people being assigned access to the wrong service) to referring to the different products by our different subscription codes.

Pause for Potter

Been too busy being on holiday, and then reading a certain book, to have managed to keep up with anything, or write a post. Have finished it now though, so will write something nice and exciting (maybe) next week!

Laziness

Ok, so I’ve been feeling rather lazy recently, and haven’t done much in the way of posting. I’ve been really busy at work, so have slacked off in other areas I guess. But I have been keeping up with my reading (just about, there’s so much to keep up with!), and here’s what has caught my eye:

Column Two‘s How to write good FAQ’s (hey that rhymes!)
WikiWrit, a wiki ‘holy book’, found via Monkey Bites which makes me feel a bit better about the world after my horror of seeing the abomination that is Conservapedia (which I am so not linking to).

Lots of articles about how annoying Snap is:
Snap makes me crazyLibrarian in Black
Does Snap Make You Snap?lo fi Librarian
Is Snap Preview the most hated Web 2.0 function ever?Guardian Technology

So many things about Yahoo Pipes that I’m not sure I can take any more! I will have to look into this more, but just not now!

Lis-Bloggers mailing list – looks like being a great resource.

I’ve also been reading with interest the debate over Bloglines vs Google Reader (both on blogs, and the Lis-Bloggers list), and I have to say, I’m sticking with Bloglines. I tried both for a while, but I do prefer Bloglines, possibly because I am used to it, and all its problems (better the devil you know and all).

Ask X

Ask X is a “double-secret sandbox for testing Ask experiences of the future“. It is quite a nice looking search engine, with a nice, clean, google-esque search page.

The results page is split into three panels:
  • The central panel is the usual results, which is defaulted to web search. You get the usual sponsored links, Smart Answers and search results, plus the Ask binoculars for previewing results. When you hover the mouse over a result, you get a little page icon with a green cross, which is an ‘Add to My Stuff’ link. Click on it, and the icon changes to a little page with a red tick, this then links you to your ‘My Stuff’ page.
  • On the left is a static search panel, which contains options for selecting web, image, video etc searches, a search box, and options to Narrow, or Expand your search, Related Search items, and Search suggestions as you type.
  • The right hand side panel gives a preview of other types of search results,for example, thumbnails of the first three image results, blogs, videos, encyclopedia (Wikipedia), shopping, etc.
I searched for mango smoothie (as I was drinking one at the time!), and the results were interesting. On the left I had Narrow options: A recipe for Mango Smoothie, Banana and Mango Smoothie, How to Make a Mango Smoothie and Strawberry Smoothie. On the right, I had Shopping results for smoothie makers. And in the middle, I had two sponsored results, and then lots of web results for smoothie recipes.
Then I did a search on The Number 23. The results were the expected mix of items about the new film, about the “number 23 enigma”, the wikipedia and imdb entries. The Narrowing options looked relatively useful – to do with numerology, and other numbers. The Expand options looked less related – Psalm 23, Jordan 23 and ‘Human Body has 23 what’. On the right I got three images of the number 23, a couple of news stores, some blog posts, and the Wikipedia entry for 23 (not “the number 23”).
I like the way the results page is split into sections. It all looks very nice, and the layout is clear and easy to read.
I also like the way that it gives you the options on the left for narrowing etc. and the right hand panel, gives examples of other types of resource results, which might point you to things you wouldn’t otherwise have bothered looking for/at. It is very easy to use.
The only real complaint I have is the lack of options on the main search page. You can’t select to search anything other than the default (web). You can swap the focus once you have the search results using the options in the left or right hand columns, but that means you have to mess around running the default web search first. Also if you want anything other than Video or Images, then you have to click on the More link in the left hand column. And you are limited by the results displayed in the right hand column (just because it doesn’t display a source type, doesn’t mean there were no results). It is nice to have the options to begin with.