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Treebeard's Reference Desk    


First Choice:


If you find this page useful, you can make it your home page or install a copy on your home computer. Use File|Save As in your Browser to save the page to a directory and create a bookmark to it. Let me know if I left out your favorite research site, so I can add it to the list. Don't mention broken links yet. I know this page needs updating, but I still use it every day!

Search Forms

Alta Vista - From DEC with millions of Web pages. First on my list, though Google is usually my first choice. Alta Vista's web page has gotten busy trying to be a "web portal", but this form slips under all the distractions. Raging Search is another Alta Vista entry that gets to the point. This is the Advanced Text Search. Combine search words with AND, OR, NOT, NEAR, and parentheses, and use quotes for an exact phrase.
Search Format
Alta Vista Multimedia - Something new, you can search by subject for images, audio, and video. Are these public?? is another search engine for sound files (not music), including a "sounds like" search with their own audio player..

       Photos     Graphics     Buttons/Banners     Color     Black And White    

       MP3     WAV     Streaming     Other

       AVI     MPEG     Quicktime     Streaming     Other

Ask Jeeves! - Type your question in natural language, like "why is there something rather than nothing?" Easy and intuitive for kids, but not deep.
Ask Jeeves for Kids - Kids version of the above, with a spell check option.
Check my spelling
DejaNews aka Google Groups - Now hosted by Google. Search the Usenet for interesting discussions on every topic under the sun, but take it all with a grain of salt! Usenet Replayer has binaries.
Dogpile - A meta-search engine that calls the others

Electric Library - Searchable database of full-text articles from 150 newspapers and 800 magazines and more. Great resource if you have a password.
Search Type

Encyclopedia Britannica - Search or browse the complete encyclopedia on-line and selected web sites, magazines, and books. You used to need a password for this, but now it's a free service. This is a great resource!

Excite - Supports advanced syntax. Read their help.
Fast Search - Ambitious new search engine with 300 million pages in its database
Google - Simple search ranks by popularity, "I'm feeling lucky" button goes right to its best site. This search engine is getting better!
HotBot - Major search engine from Wired/Inktomi.
Search  for 
Ixquick - A meta-search engine that rates results and understands AND, OR, NOT, and wildcards. There seem to be some junk MP3s.

       Web  News  MP3  Pictures 
Lycos - Their Advanced Search page has some interesting ranking options.
Search    for 
MetaCrawler - Another meta-search engine that calls the others
Search    for 
Northern Light - This new search engine is a contender. I like the way it organizes results in folders.
Scirus - This beta version of Scirus is an Internet search tool developed just for finding scientific information. It's still in development, but it seems to work great. They have advanced searches and a cookie-based customize feature.

Yahoo! - Sites organized by category by real people. Very popular, but I rarely use it.

Other Useful Reference links

Academic Press Dictionary of Science and Technology
Handy dictionary of 130,000 terms defined in 130 fields of science.
Searchable standard reference works, now up to date.

Bartlett's Quotations (1901)
Old edition, but you can search it for keywords.

The Bible Gateway, The Qur'an Database, DharmaNet
Search the world's sacred texts for words and topics.

Look up California native and naturalized plants in the CalFlora database of 8,000+ vascular plants. The USDA PLANTS national database is useful for the rest of the US, though not so informative. I'm still waiting for the Flora of North America (FNA) to get online. Neoflora looks like a useful site for gardeners with info on 38,000+ plants.

CIA World Factbook (2000)
Almanac data for countries of the world. Consider the source.

Dictionary Search
It's easier to go to the bookshelf, but wildcard characters are useful: Try ? for one unknown letter and * for many unknown letters.

Merriam-Webster Collegiate 10th Edition

Random House 2nd Edition

Webster's Revised Unabridged 1913 edition

Substring match

OneLook Dictionaries Metasearch

The Exploding Dictionary
This is fun. You get a definition with every word cross-linked to its own definition. This suggests a game. Start with two wildly different words and see how many steps it takes to get from one to the other just by clicking. There's a separate technojargon dictionary.

Encarta Concise Encyclopedia
Small (but free) version of Encarta from Microsoft, with some maps. You can subscribe for the full version.

New site offers access to all online U.S. Federal Government resources from one simple form.

Gnutella Search
Handy Gnutella front end (but no sharing) from, which also has info on Morpheus, Napster, and the in-progress FreeNet. These sites feel like the old free internet. Give for what you take.

Information Please Almanac and Information Please Kids' Almanac
Searchable almanac data.


The Internet Movie Database (IMDB)
Info and reviews on 120,000 movies. You can add your own reviews and ratings.

Library of Congress Home Page
Not the usual public library!
Be sure to check out Today in History and the remarkable American Memory collection of sounds and pictures and even cartoons.

The Online Books Page and Project Gutenberg
Access to 10,000+ full text books that you can download or browse on the Web. This is a handy way to search for quotes and topics.
    Author: and/or

Online Conversion
Unit conversion calculator, "Convert just about Anything to Anything else."

Opinion Pages
Indexed op-ed pages from around the world. Excellent!

Remarkable collection of reference links all on one busy page.

Roget's Internet Thesaurus Search
Find the right word.

Santa Barbara Public Library Catalog
Access the Tri-County Black and Gold Library catalog on the Web. This is the same catalog that you use at the public library. You can search by author, title, or topic, and you can learn which books are on the shelf at each branch library. You can still access the catalog using telnet.

Santa Barbara Surf Report
Current surf report for the South Coast, with tide and weather info and links.
Find free software to download, from c|net. Also check out: Freeware Home,,, tucows, Stroud's CWS (Consummate Winsock Apps),, ZDNet Softseek, and Winsite. There are many more.

Treebeard's Santa Barbara Weather (etc.)
Complete Santa Barbara County weather info, and lots more, all on one handy page.

UCSD Library Reference Shelf
Links to many other reference materials on the Web.

US Naval Observitory Time Service
Sun and moon info, and the exact time.

Search 50+ full reference works including the complete New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. This service is getting better as they add new works.

Interesting search engine with graphical display of results organized by concept. You have to go there to use it.

World News and Current Events

Al Jazeera and Arab News - news in English from the Arab side (unless hacked again)
BBC News (low-graphics).
Boston Globe
Christian Science Monitor
Google News
Independent Media Center and Common Dreams - alternative news
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Reuters News Service
Santa Barbara News Press - Hey, it's ours!
Today's Front pages - images of 100s of papers from around the world
Washington Post - I like their free daily News Headlines email.

Other News

Arts & Letters Daily
A handy portal with short briefs and links on the news of the day in literature, philosophy, psychology, and humanity in general.

Environmental News Network and Environmental Health News
Daily updates.

Local radio from UCSB, the best there is! Now they have a live Webcast! (A bit flacky, of course!)

The Onion
Funny stuff, "not for kids". (Hah!)

Science News, New Scientist, and UniSci
Good science news.

SlashDot: News for Nerds
Daily computer news and gossip from within the industry.

last modified .

Copyright © 2003 by Marc Kummel /