LLRXBuzz - March 4, 2002

Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.



In This Issue:

Congressional Study Finds Government Web Site Misleading

Spyware List

Foreign Law Resources

NY State Pulls Info From Internet

AltaVista Makes Some Changes

Tracking Yahoo's Most Popular News

LLRXBu zz Tour of 50 State Web Sites

LLRXBu zz Archives: April 3, 2000 - Present

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Next week we'll be taking a look at the new FirstGov! Will I dislike it as much as I disliked the first version? Who knows! Stay tuned.

Congressional Study Finds Government Web Site Misleading

A Congressional study has found a government Web site comparing nursing homes to be misleading and flawed. The study reports that Nursing Home Compare, at http://www.medicare.gov/nhcompare/home.asp, only reported
violations found during annual inspections, and not violations found during specific complaint investigations. Without providing all of the facts, the Web site is reporting that some facilities have clean records and meet federal standards, while they have actually been cited for having over 1,000 potentially serious violations.

The study recommends that the site be updated within 30 days. In the meantime, the unreported violations have been posted at http://www.house.gov/reform/min.

The article is here. In the meantime, you may want to visit Nursing Home Compare yourself.

The site takes you through four steps to find a nursing home. First you'll be asked to specify your geographical area. Next, you'll be given the option to search by county, city, zip code, or name. (You'll also get the option to
search the entire state.) Next, you'll be given the list of nursing homes in that area and asked to pick one or more for comparison (there's also a "choose all" button.) Finally,  you'll be asked what kind of information you want - information on the home, about the residents in the home, about the inspection results, or about the nursing home staff. Once you've gone through these steps you'll get a page of information that'll vary depending on what kind of information you specified. The violations page, for example, shows the contact information for the nursing home as well as the number of violations. Violations were denoted by type, date of correction, severity of violation (one a scale of one to four) and the number of residents affected (some, few, or many.)

Spyware List

TomCat Internet Solutions features a spyware list at
http://www.tom-cat.com/spybase/spylist.html. Spyware is software
that - without the user's knowledge - tracks usage of the Internet and returns the information to a designated computer.

To date, TomCat has 883 names on its Spyware List, each listed with a status ranging from "Suspect" to "Full Disclosure" or "Cleared" after being re-tested. Names can be searched alphabetically, and additional search options include viewing by status or offender as well as keyword searching.

But TomCat doesn't stop there. The site's FAQ section explains more about the database information, where it is obtained and what to do if you find spyware on your system. It also discusses ad-embedded programs and why adware is different than spyware. I'd like to see more information provided with each entry, but this is interesting.

Foreign Law Resources


A list of foreign law Internet resources is online at
http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/~llou/foreignlaw.html. A Table of Contents tops the list with sections bookmarked further down on the page. The TofC starts with Foreign Law: Comparative Guides/Multiple Country Resources focusing on
children and continues to cover individual countries from Argentina to the United Kingdom.

Each Resource is briefly described and additional information is given should it be fee-based or not be available in English. It is also noted if the link provides information in another format, such as CD-ROM.

A few notes: this page is HUGE. I mean enormous. If you're on dialup expect to wait for it to load. Annotation does provide information on whether it's fee-based but not how much it costs. The text is spaced pretty close together -- you'll have to read this page carefully to find everything you're looking for. Worth a look, but look closely to get the most out of it.

NY State Pulls Info From Internet

New York government is withdrawing some of the information released on the Internet under the state's Freedom of Information law. The law's intent was to release details on public policy, but not to provide data that could aid
potential terrorists. Governor Pataki has requested the state agencies remove "information related to systems, structures, individuals and services essential to the security, government or economy of the state" in order to protect public safety. You can get the full story at http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/26/nyregion/26ALBA.html.    

AltaVista Makes Some Changes

AltaVista's made some snockdiddles to its search engine. They include:

News Thumbnails: Go to http://news.altavista.com. Search for China. The first result in your search (at this moment, anyway) has a tiny thumbnail of a relevant image next to it. Click on the image and you'll be taken to the article. You may also notice that news search results have more summary
information with them (a desperately-needed and welcome
improvement.)

Revamped Advanced Search: The advanced search has been changed to make it easier to enter basic queries. There are also fill-in-the-blank spots to specify date range, host, domain, language, etc. Interesting: "Domain/Country Code Index" pops up in a JavaScript window but AltaVista's own syntax helper doesn't. Why not?

Tracking Yahoo's Most Popular News

Yahoo has added a couple of options to the Yahoo Daily News. The URL
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/mt/us/dailynews/1.index.html shows the most popular mailed stories from the last hour. Look toward the top of the page for links to the most popular stories in the last 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 6 hours,
12 hours, 24 hours, and 7 days.