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Smarter Surfing: Better Use of Your Web Time
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Last updated: Aug. 16, 2008 • No. of sites: 89

* Be wary when you surf. Watch for giant waves of misinformation and the jagged rocks of hidden agendas. * But there's plenty of useful stuff; you just need to know where to look.

On this page:
Just the Facts | Search Engines | Useful Sites | Phone, E-mail & Web Info | Grammar & Style | Business Stuff | Journalism Stuff I: Finding Sources | Journalism Stuff II: Reporting Guides | Journalism Stuff III: Reporting Tips | Journalism Stuff IV: Writing | Journalism Stuff V: Tracking News | Journalism Stuff VI: Misc | Consumer Info | Just for Fun | Further Reading | Others

Site of the moment: Felines & bearded men + similar sites

= detailed info/review available - check 'em out (most from rotating column by Sree & Jon Dube)

Just the Facts
sources of facts and data

  •  
    ONLINE ENCYCLOPEDIAS: finding facts fast
    Encyclopedia Britannica: new pay version for full archive (first two paras free); free access for journalists)
    http://www.britannica.com
    Encarta.com
    : many entries free, rest you pay
    Encyclopedia.com: concise, free articles
    Reference.Yahoo.com: search across several titles
    Xrefer: one-stop search of 35 reference titles
    http://www.xrefer.com
  • FACT PORTALS: links to sources of information
    Refdesk: Colin Powell's favorite site, says NYT

    http://www.refdesk.com

    Martindale's Reference Desk: resources galore
    http://www-sci.lib.uci.edu/HSG/Ref.html

    BJPinchbeck's Homework Helper: a school kid's best friend
    http://www.bjpinchbeck.com
  • RESEARCH HELP: get your answers here
    GoogleAnswers: pay a researcher to find answers (starting at $2.50)
    http://answers.google.com

    IPL Pathfinders: Internet Public Library research assistance
    http://www.ipl.org/ref/QUE/PF/
    Ask.yahoo.com: answers for every day questions
  • STATISTICAL & MATH HELP: numbers, numbers, numbers
    Niles Guide to Data on the Internet: access stats
    of all kinds
    http://www.robertniles.com/data

    Statistics.com
    : more stats
    http://www.statistics.com
    Stats.org: deeper look at statistics
    ; how journos use stats
    http://www.stats.org
    Online Conversion: 8,000+ calculators
    http://www.onlineconversion.com
  • POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS: who's giving
    Fundrace.org
    http://www.fundrace.org
    OpenSecrets.org
    http://www.opensecrets.org
    FECinfo.com
    http://www.fecinfo.com
  • PUBLIC RECORDS HELP: accessing court records & databases
    Search Systems' Public Records: 40,000+ public record databases; now charges $50 a year or $5 a month
    http://www.searchsystems.net

    Pretrieve.com: Instead of searching state by state, just put in a name
    http://www.pretrieve.com
  • ONLINE MAPS: changing atlases forever
    NG's Map Machine: dynamic maps tied to govt. data
    http://plasma.nationalgeographic.com/mapmachine/
    Maps.com Explorer: interactive satellite/aerial maps
    http://www.maps.com/explore/viewer.html
    SpaceImaging.com: what you see on TV
    http://www.spaceimaging.com
    DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Mapquest.com & MapBlast.com & Yahoo Maps & Google Maps
  • FACTS ABOUT COUNTRIES: basic data
    WorldInformation.com
    : http://www.worldinformation.com
    Economist's Country Briefings: http://www.economist.com/countries
    CIA World Factbook: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook
    COMPARING COUNTRIES: get data on various nations
    NationMaster.com: compare stats about different countries

    Your-Nation.com: compare stats about different countries:
    http://www.your-nation.com
    UN CyberSchoolBus InfoNation: http://www.cyberschoolbus.un.org/infonation/index.asp
  • MEDICAL INFO: medical/drug lookup
    WebMD: http://www.webmd.com
    MayoClinic.com: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Merck Manual: http://www.merckhomeedition.com/home.html
    PDR: http://www.healthsquare.com/medcare4.htm
    RxList: http://www.rxlist.com
  • LEGAL INFO: US law
    FindLaw: useful legal links
    http://www.findlaw.com
    FreeAdvice.com: answers to legal questions; approach carefully
    http://www.freeadvice.com
  • BOOKS: confirming authors/titles, new and old
    Amazon: author/title lookup
    & purchase circles
    http://www.amazon.com/purchasecircles
    BookFinder.com: used and out of print books
    http://www.bookfinder.com
  • MOVIES: Hollywood and beyond
    IMDb: Internet Movie Database
    http://www.imdb.com
    Ain't It Cool News: inside buzz from an outsider
    http://www.aint-it-cool.com
  • Govt site suggestions: various U.S. govt. sites
    http://www.sree.net/tips/government.html

    For NYC government Web info, see NYC.gov

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Search Engines
different kinds of search engines

  • MY DEFAULT SEARCH ENGINE: where I start all my searches
    Google
    : try the Toolbar
    http://www.google.com

    SreeTip: Better Googling: Things you didn't know Google does
    http://www.sreetips.com/google.html
  • GUIDE TO SEARCH ENGINES: InfoPeople: search tools chart
    http://infopeople.org/search/chart.html

    SearchEngineWatch: newsletter and rankings
    http://www.searchenginewatch.com
  • REFERENCE SEARCHES: not just search engines
    Hotbot Quick Search Deskbar: http://www.hotbot.com/tools/
    GuruNet.com: http://www.gurunet.com
  • OTHER SEARCH ENGINES: Beyond Google
    AllTheWeb: fresher results - index refreshes every 10 days instead of Google's 28
    http://www.alltheweb.com
    Kartoo: visual display of links
    http://www.kartoo.com

    Yahoo: human indexers at work
    http://www.yahoo.com
    Ask Jeeves: ask questions; multiple engines in one place
    http://www.askjeeves.com
  • GROUPED LISTINGS, instead of long lists
    Teoma: see experts' links
    http://www.teoma.com
    Vivisimo: automatic grouping of documents
    http://www.vivisimo.com
    ILOR: keep track of search results
    http://www.ilor.com
  • MULTIPLE SEARCHES: several search boxes in one place
    Fagan Finder: http://www.faganfinder.com

    Cyberjournalist SuperSearch: http://www.cyberjournalist.net/supersearch/index.htm
  • Copernic: downloadable metasearch engine
    http://www.copernic.com
  • PLAGIARISM FINDER: see if passages are stolen from elsewhere on the Web
    Try putting long sentences into Google, within quote marks

    FindSame: Died dot-com death in August 2001
  • TRACKING SEARCH TRENDS: What are people searching for?
    The Lycos 50: http://50.lycos.com
    Yahoo Buzz Index: http://buzz.yahoo.com
    Google Zeitgeist: http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
    Altavista Search Trends: http://www.altavista.com/sites/about/trends
    AskJeeves most popular: http://www.jeevesiq.com/docs/about/jeevesiq.html
    Metaspy.com: live search watch

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Useful Sites
sites that help with various tasks

  •  
    TRANSLATING WEB SITES: get the gist
    FreeTranslation.com
    instant translation for several languages
    http://www.freetranslation.com; also see world.altavista.com; systransoft.com
    Arabic-English translation: Ajeeb.com
  • WHEN YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT A TOPIC:
    About.com: personal guides on hundreds of topics
    http://www.about.com
  • TRACKING SITES & DOCUMENTS:
    Internet Archive: historical archive of millions of sites
    http://archive.org

    DocuTicker: keep track of new reports and documents
    http://www.docuticker.com
  • ONLINE TUTORIALS: learn almost anything about almost anything
    How Stuff Works: http://www.howstuffworks.com
    eHow: http://www.ehow.com
    So You Wanna: http://www.soyouwanna.com
  • TECH TUTORIALS: computer help
    Webopedia.com: http://www.webopedia.com
    WhatIs: http://www.whatis.com
  • FINDING PHOTOS ONLINE: image searches keep getting better
    images.google.com: http://images.google.com
    Sree's Tips on finding & using photos: http://www.sree.net/tips/graphics.html
  • SHORTER URLS: Easier sharing of Web addresses
    SnipUrl.com / Snurl.com: http://www.snurl.com
  • TRACKING RUMORS: never spread lies again
    About.com Urban Legends: http://urbanlegends.about.com/
    Snopes.com: http://www.snopes.com/
    VMyths.com: http://www.vmyths.com - all about viruses
  • TVEyes.com: keep track of keywords mentioned on TV
    http://www.tveyes.com (coming soon: RadioEars)
  • Footnote.TV: keep up with pop culture & the news
    http://www.footnote.tv

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Phone, E-mail, Web Info
find people and businesses

  • PHONE NUMBERS: use these before you dial directory assistance
    Switchboard: U.S. business and personal phone numbers
    http://www.switchboard.com
    PhoneNumbers.net: international numbers
    http://www.phonenumbers.net
    International Lookup: more international numbers
    http://www.whowhere.lycos.com/wwphone/world.html
  • REVERSE DIRECTORIES: lookup by number
    WhitePages.com: http://www.whitepages.com
    Infospace
    : http://www.infospace.com
  • AnyWho: search for phone numbers by address & distance
    http://www.anywho.com/resq.html
  • Freeality: various search tools in one place
    http://www.freeality.com
  • MESA: worldwide e-mail search
    http://mesa.rrzn.uni-hannover.de/
  • LinkPopularity: Check how many sites link to a particular site
    http://www.linkpopularity.com
  • Sam Spade Tools: investigate someone
    http://www.samspade.org/t/
  • WHO OWNS A SITE: tracking domain names
    Network Solutions Enhanced Whois Directory

    http://www.networksolutions.com/en_US/whois/

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Grammar & Style
words, words, words

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Business Stuff

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Journalism Stuff Part I: Finding Sources
sources on deadline

  • Profnet's Experts Database: searchable academics list
    http://www.profnet.com
  • Megasources: compilation by Dean Tudor, Ryerson journalism prof
    http://www.ryerson.ca/~journal/megasources.html
  • ExpertClick: searchable experts/groups list
    http://www.expertclick.com
  • MediaMap: send your query to PR pros
    http://www.mediamap.com/media
  • ExpertSource: send query to experts in various fields
    http://www.businesswire.com/ifmd/
  • Media Link: directory of sources
    http://www.medialin.com/
  • GuestFinder: just as the name says
    http://www.guestfinder.com
  • SPJ Rainbow Sourcebook: finding minority experts
    http://spj.org/diversity_search.asp
  • SLA's One-stop Shop: combined list of academics lists
    http://www.ibiblio.org/slanews/internet/experts.html
  • Facsnet: news backgrounders and sources
    http://www.fascnet.org
  • FINDING "REAL PEOPLE" - as opposed to officials or academics
    Usenet Archives: 35,000 newsgroup archives and searches

    http://groups.google.com/
    NetNewsTracker.com: searched newsgroups
  • MAILING LISTS, connecting with people through mailing lists
    Yahoo Groups: http://www.yahoogroups.com

    Topica: http://www.topica.com
  • Who is John Doe? - and where to get the paper on him:
    http://www.reporter.org/desktop/tips/johndoe.htm

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Journalism Stuff Part II: Reporting Guides
guides on various topics, written by journalists

  • PowerReporting.com: Pulitzer-winner Bill Dedman's suggestions
    http://www.powerreporting.com
  • JournalistsToolBox: 12,000 links from Mike Reilly
    http://www.journaliststoolbox.com
  • Reporter's Desktop: suggestions from Duff Wilson of the Seattle Times
    http://www.reporter.org/desktop
  • JournalismNet: reference guide from Julian Sher
    http://www.journalismnet.com
  • A Journalists' Guide to the Internet: links from Christopher Callahan's definitive guidebook
    http://reporter.umd.edu
  • JournalistExpress: a "desktop" for journalists
    http://www.journalistexpress.com; also see CEOExpress
  • DeadlineOnline: links and more from Alan Schlein. author of "Find It Online"
    http://www.deadlineonline.com
  • Cyberjournalist SuperSearch: access different search boxes in one place, from Jon Dube
    http://www.cyberjournalist.net/supersearch/index.htm
  • AssignmentEditor: run by Jim Lichtenstein, a TV news veteran; now charging for major sections
    http://www.assignmenteditor.com

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Journalism Stuff Part III: Reporting Tips
tips on doing your reporting, by topic

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Journalism Stuff Part IV: Writing Help
improve your writing

Journalism Stuff Part V: Tracking News Stories
Keeping up with what's a-goin' on

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Journalism Stuff Part VI: Misc.

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Consumer Info
the more you know...

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Just for Fun
test these out

  • AOL IM: get free instant messenger without AOL (my handle: sreenyc)
    http://www.aim.com
  • Dialectizer: translate sites into "redneck," "Elmer Fuddese" - sample
    http://www.rinkworks.com/dialect
  • TouristofDeath.com: he's real bad luck
    http://www.touristofdeath.com
  • Star Links -- connect actors with each other
    http://oracleofbacon.org/oracle/star_links.html
  • Asciimation: "Star Wars" as you've never seen it
    http://www.asciimation.co.nz

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Further Reading

Others' Suggestions

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On this page:
Just the Facts | Search Engines | Useful Sites | Phone, E-mail & Web Info | Grammar & Style | Business Stuff | Journalism Stuff I: Finding Sources | Journalism Stuff II: Reporting Guides | Journalism Stuff III: Reporting Tips | Journalism Stuff IV: Writing | Journalism Stuff V: Tracking News | Journalism Stuff V: Misc | Consumer Info | Just for Fun | Further Reading | Others

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