July 16, 2009
Whatever you might think of Microsoft, you have to give them credit for the ad campaign they come up with to show what search overload can do to us. To promote their new search engine Bing, the PC powerhouse began airing a series of TV spots, including this one, in which a simple query on tickets to Hawaii returns hits on Hawaii Five-O, surf lingo, how to beat a traffic ticket, ten proven methods traffic courts don’t want you to know, and other items you’re better off not knowing about.
Perhaps you too have come quite close to pulling your hair out when your search for computable values of plastic’s stress and strain leads you to a Wikipedia entry on the history of plastic, American society of plastic surgeons, and music that relieves stress. But if you’re a subscriber of Knovel, a searchable library of technical documents and references titles, you just might find what you want—an entry in the 7th edition of Roark’s Formulas for Stress and Strain—with fewer mouse-clicks (and less stress).
With Knovel, you can use the search box or browse through its categories and subcategories till you find what you need. Whereas a topic search at an online bookstore like Amazon.com yields a list of titles, the same search on Knovel returns a list of titles along with specific sections where the item is mentioned.
Take, for instance, the search for “helicopter aerodynamics” on Knovel. It returns a few titles, including Basic Helicopter Aerodynamics by John Seddon and Simon Newman. But if you select this title, the expanded results tell you that “Section 4.1: The Edgewise Rotor” has a 67% match, “Section 6.2: Blade Section Design” has a 50% match, and so on. The results also show that, while some titles are only available as text (presented in PDF), other titles include interactive tables, graphs, and equations.
Most recently, Knovel began allowing subscribers to directly export equations into PTC’s Mathcad, an engineering calculation software. As a result, your search results now show a Mathcad icon when a title contains exportable equations. Therefore, with a single click, you can transfer the mathematical formula for a trickling filter or column footings into Mathcad’s interactive environment. The outcome is a dynamic equation, which recomputes when you edit its input parameters.
For more on Knovel’s Mathcad integration, watch the video clip below:
For one of Microsoft’s TV ads for Bing, watch the video clip below: