Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

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Finding accurate bibliographic details for a References list

February 19, 2015

References. The bane of anyone writing a document that cites information from others. Gathering all the required bibliographic data for a reference can be painful, as well as formatting it according to the ‘house’ style.

However, one way to shortcut the process is to use a (free) internet service that searches out the information for you AND formats it to your house style, or close to your house style. All you need are a few words of the title, perhaps an author name, and the name of such a service.

The instructions below show how to use the WorldCat service to grab the complete bibliographic details of items in your References list. You won’t find everything in WorldCat, although with more than 2 billion catalog records from libraries around the world, you should find many. What you won’t find on WorldCat are your internal corporate documents and perhaps some of the more specialized documents from government departments etc. But if you’re looking to confirm the bibliographic details of published books, articles etc., then WorldCat is a good starting point.

  1. Go to http://www.worldcat.org/.
  2. Optional: Click the tab of the type of item you’re searching for (e.g. Articles); the default is Everything, but narrowing your search to a type of material will give you more targeted results.
  3. Type the title, or part of the title (try to include enough keywords so that you don’t get hundreds of results to skim). If it’s an article, you can add part of the journal’s name too, if you know it.
    worldcat01
  1. Press the Enter key.
  2. Optional: On the results page, you can further refine your search by selecting options from the left sidebar or adding words to the search field (e.g. an author’s name).
  3. When you find your reference, click its title.
    worldcat02
  4. Confirm that it’s the item you want, then click the Cite/Export link near the top of the page.
    worldcat03
  1. A popup window opens allowing you to select the referencing format.
  2. Click the + sign for the formatting style you want to use. Check them all to find the one that most closely matches your house style.
    worldcat04
  3. Select the details, then copy them (Ctrl+C) to the clipboard and paste them (Ctrl+V) into your References list in your document.

Note: You can view some articles etc. listed in WorldCat in their entirety if you need to check the reference further — these are indicated by a small orange circle with a white ‘e’ inside it.

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There are other (free and paid) services available that also provide this sort of information (I’m aware of http://www.citationmachine.net/ but feel that it has more limitations in its reference formats than WorldCat). If you use any other free services, let me know and I’ll add them to this post.

[Links last checked February 2015]

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Proofread before publishing

September 22, 2014

I stayed at the lovely Sydney Hilton when I spoke at a conference held there last month. When I was checking the hotel’s website prior to my trip, I clicked a link to a spa business on (or very close to) the premises. The link is so tied into the Sydney Hilton’s website that I initially assumed it was part of the hotel’s services.

This spa business promotes itself as high-end and their prices reflect that. Their alliance with the Sydney Hilton also attests to that.

However, I didn’t try any of their spa treatments. Why? Well, cost was one reason, but the main reason was the lack of care taken with their website and its content. While there may be no correlation with the quality of their website and the quality of their services, in my mind lack of care in one equates to potential lack of care in the other.

So what was so wrong with their website? Here are a few examples (screen shots below):

  • spelling errors, typos, and duplicated words
  • sentences that didn’t make sense
  • placeholder text instead of real content
  • photos that showed dirty fingernails.

How could they have fixed this before their website went ‘live’? Well, having someone proofread every page, every heading, every caption, and check every photo would have been a good start. And if there’s no-one in-house who felt comfortable doing this, then they could have hired an editor for a couple of hours to do it for them. A small price to pay to NOT turn potential customers away.

A sample of screen shots from this website — there were many more examples I could have used as the site was littered with them.

spa01

Typo in heading, and use of irrelevant placeholder text

spa03

Repeated words (‘for for’), one word split in two (‘I deal’ versus ‘Ideal’), and a sentence that just doesn’t make sense

 

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Spelling errors and typos (‘form’ instead of ‘from’)

spa04

And you promote facial treatments by people with dirty fingernails? Ewww! If this was a stock photo, get another one. Better yet, get your own photos taken by a professional photographer.

 

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Another cute 404 error message

August 22, 2014

This time from the Smithsonian:

Page not found; picture of panda wiping its eye

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Member of the Commonwealth? Not according to the BBC

August 4, 2014

Australia is a member of the Commonwealth, but you wouldn’t know it from the BBC website.

During the 2014 Commonwealth Games, a colleague in the UK posted a link to a BBC web page to view a video from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Unfortunately, geoblocking meant that Australians couldn’t view this video.

So much for being a member of the Commonwealth…

I HATE geoblocking!

commonwealth_geoblocking

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The frustration of trying to buy something legally

December 21, 2012

I have spent many hours in the past 24 hours trying to figure out a way to buy some stuff from the Amazon MP3 store. But I can’t. And I’m angry and frustrated and I now have a much better understanding of why people download music etc. illegally — there are just SO many barriers to doing it legally.

So why can’t I purchase MP3s from the 20 million songs in the Amazon MP3 store? Because I don’t live in the US, because my IP address is not from the US, because I don’t have a US debit or credit card, because Amazon doesn’t take PayPal, because even if I go through a (legal) US VPN Amazon still knows that I’m Australian when I log in (even though one of my registered addresses with Amazon is in the US), and because PayPal doesn’t offer their own branded credit or debit cards to non-US residents. Oh yes, I’ve been through it all trying to figure out how I can buy music (and please don’t tell me to use iTunes…).

amazon_mp3_02

I’ve searched online forums who tell me to get a PayPal debit/credit MasterCard and then I can buy from Amazon with that as it’s registered in the US. But non-US/Canadian residents CAN’T get one of these cards.

I’ve looked at those sites that offer to buy on your behalf with their US credit card and address and ship to Australia — but they don’t deal with digital goods, only ‘real’ products like shoes and electronics.

I searched for how to get a US credit or debit card and address, and there are ways to do it by paying a big fee and setting up as a business entity (‘cos obviously I don’t have a Social Security number), or by going to the US with huge amounts of documentation and hoping and praying that some bank will give me a credit card — no guarantees on that. I have relatives and friends in the US so getting a US address shouldn’t be a problem. And I’m heading back to the US for a very short and very packed trip in March, but I want to buy this thing NOW, not in six months time when I *might* have a US debit/credit card, assuming I even try to get one when I’m there.

But the reality is that all I want to do is buy a specific thing from the Amazon MP3 store. It’s a digital download, so shipping isn’t an issue. But where I live and where I bank is an issue.

And with Amazon not accepting PayPal payments, I’m stymied, even if I set up a new account with Amazon that only has a US address attached and if I access it via the US VPN I have access to. I still can’t pay without a US-based debit/credit card, and if I try to access the MP3 store from that account on my own computer, I get a message that it’s only available to US customers.

I’m very frustrated. And angry that I’m trying to buy something legally, but I can’t — all based on where I live. I don’t think that this is all Amazon’s or PayPal’s fault — it is likely they are just the frontline of the faceless people behind the US banking laws and the massive media conglomerates who want to control who buys what and from where. It’s a global world, people — get over it, otherwise honest schmucks like me will be forced to get what we want illegally (no, I don’t want it that much… what I wanted to do was see how hard it was to get, and it’s BLOODY hard. Impossible, in fact.)

BTW, Amazon let me set up a Cloud Player storage place for the MP3s it won’t let me buy! Thanks guys — really appreciate it…

amazon_mp3

Update: iinet (my ISP) has walked out of piracy talks, stating:

“The rights holders are still insisting ISP’s should perform work on their behalf instead of addressing what we have always said is the root cause of the infringements – the limited accessibility to desirable content and the discriminatory and high cost of content in Australia. Infringements are a symptom – access is the problem.”

I couldn’t agree more! Limited access, discrimination based on geography, and high cost result in ordinary people downloading illegally who would likely pay for content if it was available to all and at a fair price.

Update 16 January 2013: I don’t know who ‘Scott’ is but he sent me a $5 Amazon gift card in the hope that it would solve my problem. In his note to me he said:

I heard you had some problems with Amazon mp3s. … next time this comes up, you’ll have a few bucks in your account. Consider it a newsletter donation. BTW- If this works, it may be a solution to your problem. You can contact your U.S. friends, send them some PayPal money, and then they can send you an Amazon gift card.

Thank you, Scott! However, the gift card approach didn’t work either. When I tried to apply it to an MP3 purchase, I got as far as the ‘Review’ page, clicked ‘Continue’ then got this message:

We could not process your order. The sale of MP3 Downloads is currently only available to US customers. Please refer to the terms of use of the MP3 store to determine the geographical restrictions.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

I tried again via the US VPN access I have, but got the same message. There is just no legal way I can purchase something from the Amazon MP3 store if I live outside the US.

Thanks again, Scott. At least I’ll have $5 to apply to my next book purchase from Amazon.

Next, I went back to Amazon to check out their MP3 terms and conditions and geographic restrictions, as stated in their message. Well, finding the terms and conditions was hard enough, but finding anything about geographic restrictions was even harder — it was tucked away at the end of section 2.2. From Amazon’s MP3 Store Terms of Use (http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_cn?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200154280):

Section 2.2: …. As required by our Music Content providers, Music Content is available only to customers located in the United States.

So, as I suspected, this restriction is imposed by Amazon on behalf of the traditional music recording industry who are so desperately trying to protect themselves from going under.They’d have a better chance of stopping piracy if they didn’t impose such ridiculous geographic restrictions on people who legitimately want to buy music!

Interestingly, the Terms don’t specify what they mean by ‘located in the United States’. As I mentioned earlier, I have a physical US address of a family member attached to my Amazon account as well as my Australian one. That US address is listed as my primary address with Amazon. However, the two credit cards linked to my Amazon account are both Australian, with my Australian address attached to them. Amazon isn’t going on IP address either to determine my location as I have the same issue when I go through the US VPN. So even though I was trying to purchase with a gift card that originated from someone in the US, and even though my primary address on Amazon is a US address, and even though I was going through a US VPN, Amazon still didn’t consider me as ‘located in the US’. Therefore, it must be using my credit card information to determine that I’m in Australia.

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What’s going on in India?

November 19, 2012

I haven’t applied for a Visa for another country in years (Australians typically go into the US under the Visa Waiver scheme, and my recent trip to Bali involved purchasing a 30-day Indonesian Visa at Denpasar Airport after I landed in Bali), so maybe the Sex option on the form below is now common for all countries, not just India.

One of my clients sent the link to the online application form to me — he travels a lot and to lots of out-of-the-way countries in deepest darkest Africa etc., but even he said that he’s never seen an option like this on a Visa application form.

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Awww… Cute 404 message

November 16, 2012

Our State’s Department of Environment and Conservation has recently updated its website, so all it’s arcane URLs (you know, the ones with heaps of numbers and gobbledygook in them that made no sense at all — see under the Search box n the image below for the original URL) have gone and been replaced with readable and understandable URLs (yay!). So when I went in via a bookmarked URL, I got a 404 message.

It was too cute not to share ;-) (though it would’ve been better had they done some sort of redirect instead of me having to hunt out the page again — it’s not the page had been revamped so dramatically that it was radically different; it just had a readable URL now).

It’s still a cute 404 message.