Search engines that have access to information Google doesn’t have

Source: Ten search engines for researchers that go beyond Google – StumbleUpon

If you are a researcher, involved in academics or just a motivated and curious person these are great resources. I didn’t know about the existence of some of these databases. It is really amazing how many great resources there are in the world isn’t it?

One of the things that I miss about being in college is the great access to databases that are expensive and not available to non academic users. It is really amazing all of the information available with a quick search. When I was in college, this kind of electronic access was just starting, but even then it was overwhelming. What used to take hours to find the perfect reference could be found in seconds. It surprised me that with the fast access to information that so many people choose to be ignorant. When it is easy to learn, why would you want to be stupid?

I discovered to answer to this years later. People seem to want to be stupid to absolve themselves of responsibility. When I have worked in places people have on purpose not learned things so that they didn’t have to do the work associated with it. Even when learning things would make their job easier, they refused to learn. I would sometimes ask why they didn’t want to learn something that would make their life easier. You would hear all kinds of excuses. It dawned on me that for many people, learning is just a way to get a job, and not valuable in itself. How limited their life must seem to them.

What is really sad is that for some people their learning really stops when they graduate. They might pick up a few skills or tricks, but for the most part who they are then, is who they are the rest of their life. One of the best parts of the Internet I think is to challenge people with limited information and experience and to encourage them to consider more things. It seems to me that life is a great opportunity to discover the best version of yourself. There is nothing wrong with loving who you are, but perhaps you can be even more useful to those you love and who love you. Perhaps our life can mean more than just survival and we help reduce the suffering of others. It is humbling to think of the 1 billion people who are food insecure. Food, something we take for granted for most of my readers. The world needs everyone’s effort, skill, intelligence and caring. Does it have yours?

The difficulty and rewards of email

For as long as email has been around it has presented everyone with a headache. How can you manage a database when people are the administrators of it?

It may not seem like it, but any email program is a rich database of details. As they get larger and more used, they slow down and eventually crash. I have worked with people who have incredible Outlook databases in which they may manage six different people’s information. This is a recipe for disaster.

I was asked to help someone who said that her Outlook wasn’t opening. I took at look at her data file for Outlook and it said it was 35 GB. A normal outlook data file is 3GB so this was more than 10 times the normal and Microsoft recommended size. Microsoft says that Outlook can go up to 100GB which is ridiculous because people start having problems with performance and reliability after 25GB. I had several customers who choose to have Outlook databases of 30GB and larger and they always had issues. Even with top of the line mac computers or top of the line PC computers, they would crash, have slowness and other issues.

Whenever I see problems like this I ask people to delete emails. The answer I always get is “I have to save it because it might be important.” Sounds reasonable right? Well it is not reasonable when the result of that policy means that email is not stable. Everything has a limit, and systems are not capable of infinity managing data of huge sizes. Yes, I hear the lawyers speak out “There are legal reasons to keep email.” Fine yes, there are, but there have to be limits on that as well, and no one needs 15 years of email correspondence at their fingertips in Outlook.

There are systems both provided by Microsoft and 3rd party that allow you to archive email and search for it by going to a specially designed webpage. These are fantastic solutions. The simple fact is that when you attempt on a computer to maintain a huge index of information you are simply asking for trouble. It isn’t worth the pain, the time, the expense lost when it is a simple matter to use an archiving system for this.

I see over and over in business and consumers that they do what is easy, rather than what is secure and best long-term. The best solution is to not put yourself in a situation where there is one point of failure. Listen, even if you could make email reliable on your computer, do you really want that much data only at one place? If your computer was lost or stolen, how would you recover? Would you really be able to copy a 30 GB file in any reasonable period of time to restore what you had? You have to think of computers as a menu of things that you might reasonably use, not as an oracle that has every answer instantly available. Yes, the email archive might require logging into a separate webpage and doing a search, but isn’t that a reasonable trade-off? I think it is.