I have a confession to make: When I first used the Internet, I considered it a waste of time. I know, I know, shortsighted. My husband loves to harass me about it, especially given the fact that I now spend upwards of 10 hours a day on the Internet researching stories, monitoring the industry, and generally gathering information, not to mention the fact that this is where most of my work sees the light of day.
The root of my early problems with the Internet was ineffective search engines. I used a very early version of Lycos, back when it was only a search engine. It had an annoying tendency to time out, as well as limited offerings when it came to search strings. As a result, when I performed a search on the single computer in our department that had web access, either my search ended prematurely or I wound up with 150,000 largely irrelevant results. Hence, my comment that beyond email, the Internet was a waste of time, the statement I will never live down.
In honor of that, I’m presenting a list of science and technology-based search engines that do an effective job of ferreting out information. Although general search engines do a fine job, sometimes these purpose-built sites can save time when it comes to finding the information you need. Circuit Scout No point in reinventing the wheel—this site allows you to prowl through more than 32,000 circuit diagrams and schematics.
Datasheets.com This page lets you choose among more than 250 million electronic parts.
Google Scholar Access a wide array of scholarly literature, including journals, books, theses, and more from professional societies, universities, academic publishers, etc.
Patent Law Links Working on the next great invention? Before you can patent it, you have to declare disclose prior work in the area. This website has a wide array of search engines that will allow you to review existing patents as part of your due diligence.
RefSeek This ad-free search engine delivers academic results from more than 1 billion indexed documents, web pages, books, journals, newspapers, and more.
Scirus This scientific research tool indexes over half 1 billion scientific items. Use it to seek out journal articles, technical books, researcher homepages, patents, and more.
Sweet Search Although it’s ostensibly for students, the search engine not only returns results but augments each entry with excerpts from the page so that you can take a closer look at where you’re going to get without taking time to load the link.
TechStreet Need to look up a standard? This site provides a comprehensive global listing that includes JEDEC, IEEE standards, IEC standards, and more. WWW Chemistry Guide A useful reference for chemical properties and data, curated by scientists and engineers.
These are some of the tools that I find useful. What about you? What are your must-have sites?
It's really mind-boggling to think of what my hourly rate would be if I were paid for the actual time that I spent troubleshooting a problem to get to a fix. The challenge is to avoid going down a rathole.