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  1. #1
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    Searching for information across digital sources (web, email, documents)

    I've become aware that my job involves working with information that is stored in all sorts of different ways. I'm looking for tools that will help me locate information whose form is unknown.

    Here's a hypothetical but typical question: I get a cryptic error message from an obscure application I use. I remember getting a similar message some years ago, finding the cause after much pain, and taking care to save what I learned... but where?

    Depending on how I found the information and what was happening at the time, it could be:

    • In a file that I saved in my directory on one of the corporate servers.
    • In a piece of hard copy (magazine article, etc.) that I scanned and saved in a file with a meaningful name but non-searchable content.
    • In an email that someone sent to me, or that I sent to myself.
    • In an email attachment that never got saved to the file system.
    • On a web page that I bookmarked.
    • On a web site that doesn't have bookmarkable pages but offers its own unique way of "bookmarking" content.
    • In a document in the corporate SharePoint repository.
    • In a document, page, comment, or other object on one of several content management systems which the company maintains on different platforms for different purposes.
    • In source code on a source control system (of which there are at least two, reflecting different project managers' convictions about The Right Way to store code).

    That's nine or more possibilities that seem to require different search tools and even different strategies. And I've probably forgotten a few.

    Does anyone know of tools, or even classes of tools, that address this problem?

  2. #2
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    Pay a visit to Copernic and give Copernic Agent and Copernic Desktop Search a try.

    If it's on your computer, Copernic Desktop Search will find it, and if it's on the internet, Copernic Agent stands a good chance. There are freeware versions of both of these (advertising-based), as well as the Pro versions (which may be a bit expensive), and they have many competitors, both paid and free. Above all, Windows has its own built-in search software, both local and online (Bing and Bong?). I like the Copernic software because it's highly configurable, but I have the competition as well. If you are looking for local software components, such as a virus or malware, you can round up the usual suspects, and for rummaging in the Registry, I find that jv16 is useful.

    If it's in your head and you simply can't remember it, let us all know if you find a solution. I signed up for an online course that was supposed to improve memory, and it was worse than a disaster - I got taken on that one, and it cost money.

    Edited to add:
    Monster Crawler and Search Engine Showdown may be worth a look.

    Metasearch engines in general are helpful, but the best source for the best search sources are web sites for public libraries and even more so university libraries, where you may find accessible sources (not all are accessible to outsiders) of the most remarkable things. I was just looking at a set of libraries’ source descriptions with hyperlinks, and gave up on recommending anything specific other than to tell you where to browse. Chances are you’ll find stuff so interesting you’ll forget what you originally went for.
    Last edited by dogberry; 2013-09-07 at 08:46.

  3. #3
    4 Star Lounger
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    HEY, NO FAIR - that was a planted question. Or was it?

    One answer is to be sure to check the Research tool in (for example) Word.

    Factiva news data base is one (normally paid) valuable source that I think is part of the Research tool in Word.

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