Mohammad Al-Ubaydli’s blog

Tips on searching the internet

Posted in Articles, My publications, Technology by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on January 8, 2005
A website that helps you find other useful websites is called a search engine. A “query” is the text that you must type into a search engine (your question) and a “results page” is the list that the engine produces (its answer). Here are some tips on getting the most from your internet searches.
Teoma or not Teoma. By far the most popular search engine is Google ( A more recent engine is Teoma (, which provides even better results but is not as well known. Every tip below works in both Teoma and Google
How to ask. The more specific your query, the more helpful the results page. For example, if you’re searching for the success rates of hip replacements in the UK, your query should not be “hip replacements”. Try “hip replacements success” instead
Who to ask. For a website to be included in the results page, the site must contain words that were part of your query. If you’re looking for a site written by doctors, use medical words. Try “hip replacements efficacy”
Where to ask. You can also restrict the search engine’s answers to a certain set of pages by adding “site:” at the end of your query. For NHS sites, try “hip replacements efficacy“. For a paper on a Cambridge University professor’s website, try “hip replacements efficacy
10 words. Most search engines accept only the first 10 words of your query. Choose carefully
Images. The results page includes a link labelled “images”. Try “hip prosthesis” then click “images” to see pictures of hip prostheses. This is extremely useful for presentations
Peer review. A search engine uses the internet for “peer review.” The more websites link to a particular website, the higher its rank on a results page
Read a book. Carry the excellent Google Pocket Guide (O’Reilly, 2003, ISBN 0596005504) in one of your coat pockets.
published in the January 8th 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal’s Career Focus

Tips on Microsoft Excel

Posted in Articles, My publications, Technology by Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli on January 1, 2005

Be prepared

In a busy hospital environment, getting access to the notes for your audit data can be a haphazard and temporary affair. Always carry a handheld computer. Most Palm compatible machines come with ExcelToGo while Pocket PCs come with Pocket Excel. Data you enter there will easily transfer to your desktop computer’s Microsoft Excel.


To add up all the cells in a column, click inside the cell that you want the sum to appear in. Type in =SUM(. Keep the shift key pressed and click inside the first cell in the column. Then type a colon. With the shift key still pressed, click at the bottom of the column. Finally type in a closed parenthesis and press the return key.


When you scroll down the page, you still want to see the row of your column headings. Click on the number of the row underneath the row of your column headings. Then, from the Windows menu, click on freeze panes.


To create a graph, click in the top left corner of your table. With the shift key pressed, click in the bottom right corner. Press the F11 key, and Excel creates a chart for you. To over-ride its choices, click twice. For example to change the font of the x axis: click twice on the axis, click “Font” and choose your font.

Think big

Excel is great for analysing and charting data – but for serious data collection and storage, Microsoft Access is king. If you have two or more tables, or your table is rather long, consider Access. The program can import your Excel data. Create a new database in Access. From the “File” menu, click “Get External Data”, then “Import”. At the bottom of the dialogue that appears, you will see the label “Files of type”: click to its right, and scroll down to Microsoft Excel (*.xls) .Click there, and find your files. Access will guide you through the rest of the process.

published in the January 1st 2005 issue of the British Medical Journal’s Career Focus