Information look-up tools usually appear on the Net as browser add-ons or extensions.

This week NetSpeak profiles more tools/services that facilitate web navigation and on-line research.

While going through a web document, we often stumble on unknown terms/words/phrases. Moving away from the page for culling more information on this term can distract the workflow.

To get around this issue, a variety of tools (generally called information look-up aids) meant for collecting additional information pertaining to a word (selected from a web page) are now available. These information look-up tools usually appear on the Net as browser add-ons or extensions.

In the past this column has featured several such add-ons (like KallOut- http://www. hindu.com/2008 /09/22/stories/2008092252 931700. htm ). Some more such tools are discussed here.

Hyperwords (http://www. hyperwords.net/) is a valuable Firefox look-up extension worth a test. Once integrated with Firefox, you can access a variety of on-line applications — different popular search services, reference sites (like Wikipedia and Britannica), translation services and more — with the term/phrase selected from a web page.

Another advantage of this tool is the ‘View’ feature that lets you read the current web page in multiple ways. For instance, you can select a word or phrase and instruct the tool to display only the sentences that contain the selected text.

Yet another extension worth a mention is Juice (http://juiceapp.com/), ‘the discovery engine’ that culls contextual information relevant to the selected phrase/word from a variety of sources. If you come across a word/name/phrase/image/video and wish to probe further, simply highlight and drag it a little bit. At this point, Juice, which is working in the background, immediately gets fired. It collects information pertaining to the selected term from services such as Wikipedia and Youtube and then displays it in the browser sidebar. The plug-in also provides a ‘Search’ option that displays search results from various Google services on separate tabs.

Saving as PDF

While on a fascinating web page, you may wish to share it with colleagues and friends. Such pages are usually sent as mail attachments. A better/elegant method could be to send it as a PDF file. Obviously, a solution that lets one convert the page into a PDF document, directly from the browser, would save lots of time/effort. The Firefox extension ‘Pdf It’ ( http://www.touchpdf.com/pdfit.jsf) does just such a job. Once the extension is installed, to convert a page simply right-click on it and select the ‘Pdf It’ option from the context menu that pops up.

In this regard, you may also check out PDFEscape ( http://www.pdfescape.com/), another PDF related tool.

To edit or modify a PDF document, you need a special PDF editor. If you are unwilling to spend money on this, the on-line PDF editor service, PDFEscape may come in handy.

This service allows you to upload and edit PDF documents — stored both on-line and off-line. The downside of this service is that the size of the PDF document to be edited should be less than 2 MB and it should not contain more than 50 pages.

WePapers

A plethora of resource sharing sites meant for the academic fraternity exist on the Web. The newest one to come to NetSpeak’s attention is wePaper ( http://www.wepapers.com/) that hosts class-notes, academic papers and theses on a wide array of subjects.

An advantage of this service is that one can access different types of academic materials from leading institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, University of California and so on.

On-line movie service

Until a few years ago watching classic and offbeat movies was a difficult proposition unless you had access to film festivals or a film library. The Net, with a variety of movie archives, is changing all that. Jaman ( http://www.jaman.com/), the on-line movie hosting service offers you access to a variety of films.

The advantage of this on-demand movie hosting service is the ease with which one can watch a variety of movies anytime, anywhere directly from your browser. If you wish to watch great classic movies (like ‘Third Man’ and ‘Charade’ ) for free, take a look at this wonderful service.

Though all the movies hosted here are not available for free viewing, a wide variety of movies can be viewed without any payment.

NetSpeak wishes its readers a Happy 2009.

J. MURALI

He can be contacted at : jmurali@gmail.com