Google Alerts are a popular way of keeping up with favoured topics on the Web. However, they are not comprehensive or complete, so I’m also in the habit of doing daily searches for specific topics, and narrowing down by date. Unfortunately, it is very easy for website owners to manipulate things so that their pages reappear in search results day after day, even when the user restricts results to pages changed in the past 24 hours and the pages haven’t actually changed. It is possible to bypass this problem, to some extent, by using browser plugins or Google’s block feature; although the latter doesn’t always work.

Based on my experience, while most of the sites whose pages are “updated” every 24 hours appear to do this as a deliberate strategy to pull in more visitors, some seem to be legitimate sites that are just badly designed.

This past week or so, my daily searches have become unusable. From a fairly consistent set of 30 or so results every day, I’m now getting 150 or so results using the same search parameters. All due to one very legitimate site. I won’t mention the name of the site or the strategy it is using as I don’t want to provide information that may be used to trick users. (Although I’ll tell you if you email).

Anyway, I’ve blocked this site from my searches; shame, as it often contains very relevant information.

We are on a journey;
We walk it on our own.
People all around us,
Yet we remain alone.

Our journey is a long one;
It goes for years and years.
The road is hard and bumpy,
And we shed many tears.

Our journey is not over;
It never will be done;
Once you start this journey,
It never can be done.

No one thinks they’ll make this trek;
What person ever should?
But life is full of things that
You never thought you would.

Our journey is a sad one,
Yet with lots of laughs and smiles.
When you know that life is precious,
You make each inch last miles.

The simple things like cuddles;
The fiery, brotherly spat;
The normal grind of daily life;
We now so appreciate that.

Hands reach out to help us,
To make the way seem light.
But the road ahead is long
And continues day and night.

Just looking at your dear one,
And just knowing he is here.
If only there was something
That would take away that fear.

The fear that’s ever present
So you cannot sleep at night.
The fear that makes you tremble
So you have to hold him tight.

The cancer that invades him;
That cancer we so hate.
We pray to God to heal him,
To make cancer ‘vaporate.

This journey we are walking
On this long and lonely track
Is a lifetime journey
From which we can’t go back.

It was interesting to come across an old post from 3 years ago and realize how the social media environment has changed in such a short time.

Back then, the social media of choice for the Younger Techapillan was texting and instant messaging, with the occasional email; and for Techapilla, blogging, email and instant messaging. These days, the Younger Techapillan prefers to use texting, Skype and Facebook, including Facebook’s chat feature. Email has gone the way of the legendary dodo. Techapilla still clings desperately to email, messaging and blogging, but has added Facebook and Yammer into the mix. Twitter, I hear you ask? You gotta be dreaming!

There is still as great a reliance on social media as ever. It remains a lifesaver during long, long waits at appointments and the inevitable social isolation that comes with pediatric cancer.

Once more, a sudden hiatus.

… and will say it again. And again. Libraries don’t have to be all things to all people.

The latest library frivolity to raise the Techapillan eyebrow is … wait for it … recycling bins!

Not recycling of libraries’ waste. Not rebirthing or rebinding of books in disrepair. Not provision of bins for users to deposit their scrap paper. But provision of bins for users to bring along their own waste for recycling – plastics, mobile phones, corks, and even compact fluorescent bulb (surely rather dangerous, that last one, judging by their handling guidelines?).

Last time Techapilla looked, recycling was a municipal responsibility, at least in Oz, and libraries were experts in the provision and dissemination of information. Since when did libraries become tips, oops, sorry, recycling centres?

Strategies such as these, presumably implemented with the intention of making the library seem socially responsible, smack of overdone political correctness.

In the Younger Techapillan’s cancer journey this past while, Techapilla has been constantly amazed at the depths to which some people will sink to attract traffic to their websites. The latest scam to trigger the Techapillan ire is the existence of “content mills”, which provide free content that can be copied and pasted into websites without acknowledgement of the content mill. Frequently, such content carries the byline of the fraudulent website owner.

As a web-savvy academic librarian, Techapilla is well aware of the existence of content mills and similiar sites, such as those that sell essays for assignments. This time, having noticed that Google Alerts was throwing up the same content for “osteosarcoma”, with exactly the same misspelt word, on an almost daily basis, Techapilla was inspired to do some further investigation.

Techapilla is not going to promote content mills or fraudulent websites, so no links provided. But here are the Techapillan findings -

  • 2970 Google hits for the misspelt phrase (“when doctors access osteoarthritis and osteoporosis”). This gets whittled to 43 when similiar results are omitted. Examination of these 43 results reveal that all articles obviously come from a single source
  • 335 Google hits for the corrected phrase ( “when doctors * osteoarthritis and osteoporosis”). This gets whittled to 63 when similiar results are omitted. Once again, examination reveals that all 63 articles have a common source. Note that this search should have yielded more than 2970 results, since it is a broader search than the first – presumably the difference is due to Google using a different algorithm for wildcard searches. This search also highlighted slight wording differences among the articles – either from editing, or running through a translator. Techapilla strongly suspects the original article was written in a foreign language and run through a translator, given the awkward language of most of the articles
  • 4 obvious content mill sites in the first 40 Google hits for the misspelt phrase
  • The majority of sites which had used the farmed article were ostensibly health sites
  • Quite a lot of “This site may harm your computer” links in the hits
  • Searches on slight rewordings of the misspelt phrase yielded additional hits, including the same article that had been cleaned up a bit more or rejigged to “fit” another disease (e.g. osteomyelitis).
  • Visiting a sampling of the sites revealed that while a few obviously tried to be legitmate health sites (shame about their lack of medical knowledge), most sites were fraudulent, with links on the site all leading to commercial sites (“affordable weddings”, “hot winter vacations”)
  • Techapilla is not a medical professional, but has learnt enough about osteosarcoma in the past year or two to confidently state that the article/s examined as part of this task are complete and utter junk

It would be an interesting exercise to trace back the original article, and to run one of the offspring through Turnitin. An exercise for another day.

In the meantime, some guidelines to help Techapillan readers evaluate the quality of information resources.

Interesting article by Sinclair Davidson on imputed taxation. He points out the absurdity of this, using some admittedly ludicrous examples, including imputed taxation on conjugal rights. ThenĀ  -

If you use this logic, one of the biggest tax rorts is library books. Every time you borrow a book from the library you avoid paying GST on the book.

On second thoughts, perhaps Davidson’s improbable examples aren’t quite so improbable, given the fact that authors can already get royalties from their books held in libraries through the Public Lending Right program. Just a little extension of this …

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