Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Evil RSS is good

EvilRSS is a service that turns Google search results into an RSS feed. Just enter your search query, click submit, and it generates a feed you can subscribe to using your RSS reader or browser(although I don't know why people use rss readers, now that they are built into Firefox, Opera and the latest version of IE) Note that Google News has this service built in to it (just click on "RSS"on the left side of the page after you've performed the search to create your rss feed), but this is the first service I've seen that generates an RSS feed out of a general Google search.

Guerilla Mail

"Guerrilla Mail provides you with disposable e-mail addresses which expire after 15 minutes. You can read and reply to e-mails that are sent to the temporary e-mail address within the given time frame."

Find sounds

...if for some unimaginable reason you need to embellish your website with sounds, this is a good site for searching for soundfiles. You can also browse categories (animals, birds, holidays, household, mayhem, etc.) for the sounds you need.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Heritage Foundation on PD

This executive memo from the Heritage Foundation makes some recommendations for moving U.S. public diplomacy forward. Among them, "look beyond short-term needs, assign clear authorities and responsibilities, and establish sensible processes to aid PD research, planning, clearing, and assessment."


This is the neatest map utility I've seen yet. Choose a name (e.g. myshack)for your map, find your location, annotate the map, and save it to, and hey prest you've got a map at an easy to remember url that you can refer people to. And its free! (sponsoring an event at an offsite location? Take 2 minutes to create a map for invitees!)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

2 prong

Many services/tools on the internet require email confirmation to sign up, and leaving one's email all over the net can of course generate a lot of annoying spam. One solution is to have a separate email account for sign-ups, but another nifty solution comes from 2 prong When you visit the 2prong page, a disposable email address is automatically copied to your clipboard. Paste(ctrl V)that email address into any email confirmation form, and a few minutes later the email will pop up in a box in the "2prong" window. Then just click on the confirmation url you've been sent, and you're all signed up.

Page Bull

Sometimes its useful to preview thumbnails or images of pages before you click through to them. Page Bull
provides your search results in a grid of pages (3x4,2x6,or 4x3), so that you can see where you're headed. This is particularly useful if you're making stylistic comparisons or window-shopping for a new look. Try searching for "u.s. embassy", and you'll be overwhelmed, to put it gracefully, by a very familiar look and feel. Awesome!

American dialects

This overview of U.S. dialects was generated by a survey of pronunciation patterns in some 30,000 participants across the U.S. The results are broken down by survey word and state...if you click on the word "aunt," you'll be presented with a map of the U.S. showing the pronunciation distribution of "aunt," covering a range of sounds from "ah" to "ant" to "caught." Regrettably, small enclaves in Arizona and Tennessee also pronounce it as "ain't." If on the other hand you'd like to click to see how things are said in a certain state, you click on survey results/breakdown by state/Oklahoma, for example, and you'll see how all the survey words are pronounced in the Sooner state. Fascinating!

Poverty in the United States

(from BeSpacific) Two GAO reports on poverty:

  • Poverty In America: Consequences for Individuals and the Economy, Full text GAO-07-343T, and Highlights, January 24, 2007: "In 2005, 37 million people, approximately 13 percent of the total population, lived below the poverty line, as defined by the Census Bureau."

  • Poverty in America: Economic Research Shows Adverse Impacts on Health Status and Other Social Conditions as well as the Economic Growth Rate, Full text GAO-07-344, and Highlights, January 24, 2007: "Economic research suggests that individuals living in poverty face an increased risk of adverse outcomes, such as poor health and criminal activity, both of which may lead to reduced participation in the labor market."
  • Cultural diplomacy for armed forces

    Through the Lens of Cultural Awareness: A Primer for US Armed Forces Deploying to Arab and Middle Eastern CountriesThe statement "Cultural understanding is necessary both to defeat adversaries and to work successfully with allies" sounds a bit peculiar to a librarian, but I guess cultural awareness is always a good thing. This 150-page primer addresses the critical task of providing U.S. armed forces with a better cultural understanding of adversaries as well as allies.

    Report on the American Dream

    "The American Dream" a perennial favorite among topics for student papers, is the subject of this report by the MetLife insurance corporation. The report reveals that the American dream is still alive, despite the erosion of corporate benefit programs and social safety nets, and is being propped up by American optimism; while a majority (66%) of Americans feel they have yet to achieve the dream, they remain optimistic about the future and feel it’s still possible to achieve the American dream in their lifetime (67%).

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    World View of US Role Goes From Bad to Worse

    Time to put some more Public Affairs Officers in the dog house, they just can't seem to get it right...or perhaps we IRCs are to blame? According to this BBC World Service poll, released January 23, the view of the U.S. role in the world has deteriorated both internationally and domestically. What's a librarian to do?

    State of the Union policy agenda

    This White House 2007 SOTU policy overview is a handy 26 page pdf that gives a brief summary of the president's agenda on just about all the issues. For more SOTU materials, see beSpacific

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Military commissions

    Sabrina Pacifici has compiled some useful links regarding the hot issue of implementation of military commissions.

    Sunday, January 21, 2007


    Wikiseekis a custom search engine that searches articles in the wikipedia as well as sites that are referenced within Wikipedia articles. And, as described in previous post, if you have Google toobar ver3, you can add Wikiseek search to your browser toolbar and have it at hand wherever you browse!

    Search any site from anywhere

    A nice feature of Google Toolbar ver.3 for Firefox is that it allows you to focus your toolbar search window to specific websites. For example, I often have occasion to search just, or, or our own embassy website. Rather than going to each of those sites and entering my search in their respective search windows, I just enter the search word in the search window in my Google toolbar, then select the appropriate icon from my toolbar (I've got one for each of those sites) - or from the Google searchbar dropdown menu - to focus my search to one site. The built-in search window that comes with Firefox has had a comparable feature for quite some time, but there one is dependent on help from resourceful programmers to develop and share the plugin you need for the specific search (many are available - even local ones such as the Norwegian white pages - but they of course comprise only a tiny fraction of all the local searches that exist on the web). With the Google toolbar you can create the local search yourself simply by right-clicking in the search window of the site you want to search, and hey presto, you've created an icon and menu item that allows you to search that site from your browser toolbar, no matter where on the web you might be! Nifty!

    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    National Archives and Footnote digitize historic documents

    NARA and Footnote have embarked on a project to digitize historic documents. Many are already accessible at The project will digitize:

    ** Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 — Including Journals of the Congress, correspondence, drafts of treaties, and papers related to Indian Treaties.

    ** Mathew B Brady Collection of Civil War Photographs — 6,000 glass plate negatives acquired by the War Department from Brady in 1874-1876. This includes work from other photographers, and includes images of famous people as well as shots of battlefields, landscapes, camps, hospitals, etc.

    ** Name Index to Civil War and Later Pension Files — Pension applications for service in the US Army between 1861 and 1900. There are over 3 million index entries that cover applications for soldiers and sailors as well as their widows.

    As Researchbuzz points out in its review, there's some good news and bad news...

    "...the good news is that these materials will be digitized fairly soon. By February 6, the announcement said, the digitized materials will be available at no charge in National Archives research rooms in Washington DC and regional facilities around the country. The bad news is that the digitized documents will not be available at no charge through the National Archives Web site until five years have elapsed."

    Merger of State and DOD

    This piece, by former FSO, former colleague and mensch David Arnett, is a fable about something that could happen - but I suspect it's also a tale of something that has already happened...

    (Incidentally, here's an example of how useful "Deepquote" - which I described in an earlier post - can be. David's fable is located at the very bottom of this page, at the USC Public Diplomacy site. It's kind of hard to find, despite the well-intentioned notice at the top of the page (ie. For “The Merger of State and DOD: A Fable” by David L. Arnett, please scroll down to Section E.) This is when Deepquote, now renamed CiteBite, comes in handy. When you provide CiteBite with a chunk of text and the url of the page, it generates a new url that goes straight to the selected text. Neat!)

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    Peggy Garvin tests Thomas BETA

    Here's a brief walk-through of the new BETA version of revamped Thomas, for gov. info enthusiasts.

    Circling the Oval Office

    Nice overview of the candidates, courtesy of Wall Street Journal

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    State seeks private sector help on PD

    PR Week reported that the "US State Department and the Public Relations Coalition on January 9 to 10 are co-hosting a summit at the State Department that will look at how businesses and other private sector organizations can support and improve US public diplomacy. " According to a Fox News article, much of the advice from private sector PR experts focused on toning down confrontational policy messages and accentuating everyday good news stories, and doing less preaching and more listening. At the summit, 150 top public relations professionals and State Department leaders identified 11 action steps for greater private sector involvement and support for U.S. public diplomacy.

    Thurgood Marshall Law Library - United States Commission on Civil Rights Collection

    For Martin Luther King day...
    Thurgood Marshall Law Library - United States Commission on Civil Rights Collection
    "In conjunction with the Thurgood Marshall Law Library's strategic plan to enhance its civil rights collection in support of the School of Law's teaching and research mission, the Library has worked since 2001 to create a complete electronic record of United States Commission on Civil Rights publications held in the Library's collection and available on the USCCR Web site. The publications are made available over the Internet as page image presentations in PDF format. Each item is linked to the appropriate bibliographic record in the Catalog. Publications are also searchable by keyword and accessible by date and title."

    Sunday, January 14, 2007

    Google Patents

    Search seven million patents at Google Patents! When someone calls to share/sell an idea for an ingenious invention, its a good idea to have them check this database first. Even if you're not looking for something specific, searching/browsing this collection of human creativity and ingenuity provides endless hours of fascination. See for example the hydroelectric generator assembly for use in footwear. Includes a pair of fluid filled sacs contained in the sole of the footwear. The sacs are connected by conduits whereby, when the footwear is used for walking, fluid is transferred between the sacs via the conduits, generating hydroelectric power! Best of all, lots of great drawings!

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    Embassies as Command Posts in the Anti-Terror Campaign

    This report to members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations by its chairman, Richard Lugar, discusses the relationship between DOD and State at post, and the role that embassies and ambassadors play in furthering counterterrorism strategy, policy and activities.

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    2008 White House Derby

    Here's a useful overview of the field taking shape for the 2008 elections, and CQ promises
    the lists will be updated promptly as developments warrant.

    Wednesday, January 03, 2007

    Thomas revamp

    Here's something I lifted from beSpacific, who lifted it from SLA

    THOMAS Releases New Features in Beta

    Peggy Garvin posted this information on the SLA Government Information Division blog about the new features as follows: "The THOMAS legislative information system from the Library of Congress has posted beta versions of several new features. The direct link to the new features being tested is -- or you can click on the Explore new features link on the main page to check it out.

    New capabilities being tested include:

  • Search all THOMAS databases for all congresses with one search.

  • Sort search results by document type (bills, committee reports, etc), relevance, or date.

  • Navigate and refine searches with new options on the search results and document display screens.

  • THOMAS includes a link to offer comments on the new features. Before doing so, be sure to read the helpful section About the New THOMAS (Beta) and--in particular--the helpful FAQs."