Tag Archives: Wikipedia

How to access Wikipedia during the SOPA/PIPA blackout

If you are a college student, like me, and you have an assignment due tomorrow, like I do, you may have noticed that Wikipedia has taken itself down (sort of) in protest of SOPA and PIPA legislative acts. While I agree with the protest going on and commend Wikipedia for doing what they have to raise awareness, (seriously people, take some time to voice your concerns to your representatives, see Techerator’s side bar for help) some of us have more important things to do than our required reading assignments.

While Wikipedia will be “dark” for the next 24 hours, the pages that Google has cached are not. So while the information on them may not be the newest available (the info I looked up was last updated Jan 14), I’m willing to bet for almost everyone out there it will work just as well.

How to use Wikipedia via Google Cache

First, enter the search term into Google, then find the Wikipedia listing and hover your mouser cursor over it. Click the gray box with the arrow inside it.

Search the term in Google, find and hover your pointer over the search result. Click on the arrowed box that appears.

Next, go up to the top right of the preview and click the small “cached” link

This should bring you to a blackout-free Wiki Page.

Oh Wikipedia, how I missed you.

Update

It has also come to my attention that disabling JavaScript in your browser will also remove the Wikipedia blackout.

How to download a full backup copy of Wikipedia

I’ve spent plenty of time making jokes about what would happen if Wikipedia went offline in our modern, internet-dependent world – planes dropping out of the sky, no knowledge of any events before 2007, dogs walking their owners – but in all seriousness, any Wikipedia outage will affect millions of students, educators, scientists, and everyday people looking for answers to both simple and complex questions.

You’re not totally out of luck though; in this article, I’ll show you how to maintain access to Wikipedia’s information even after the site goes offline. Not only will this be useful during deliberate blackouts (like in the January 2012 protest of SOPA and PIPA), but it could come in handy in the future when presented with network difficulties, power outages, or even new internet legislation.

How to download a backup copy of Wikipedia

Before you get started, please note that the standard English backup of Wikipedia is about 7.5 gigabytes. Even on a fast connection, this database can take several hours to download depending on the amount of traffic on Wikipedia’s servers. It is safe to assume that Wikipedia’s servers will be hit with record amounts of traffic if a known blackout is approaching, so if you want to download a copy, start downloading as early as possible.

First off, don’t worry – it is both legal and free to download a backup of all content available on Wikipedia for personal use, mirroring, informal backups, offline use, or database queries. All text content in Wikipedia is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License and the GNU Free Documentation License. Images fall under different terms, but in this guide we’re just going to be downloading the text.

While the downloadable version of Wikipedia’s database is massive, there are a few limitations: Only current revisions of articles will be downloaded, and no discussion or user pages are included.

Step 1

Download the English language Wikipedia dump. You can download the latest version of this file directly from Wikipedia or via BitTorrent (unofficial).

You can also download the Simple English Wikipedia, which is much smaller than the full Wikipedia (about 75 megabytes).

Step 2

The Wikipedia database dump is not very useful on its own, so next you’ll need to download the free application WikiTaxi (Windows only) to view Wikipeda on your computer.

(Mac users can check out Wiki Offline for about $10, but in this guide I will only be covering WikiTaxi for Windows.)

WikiTaxi is a “portable” application so you don’t have to install anything. All you need to do is extract the downloaded .zip file and you’re finished.

Step 3

After extracting WikiTaxi and your Wikipedia database download has finished, open the WikiTaxi Importer (WikiTaxi_Importer.exe). Browse to the location of the Wikipedia database you downloaded in Step 1, and then select a location to save the new WikiTaxi-formatted database file. Click Import Now! when finished.

Step 4

Close the WikiTaxi Importer and open the main WikiTaxi application (WikiTaxi.exe). Click the Options button and select Open a *.taxi Database. Locate the database you created in Step 3 and select Open.

That’s it! You now have full, offline access to Wikipedia.

 

Britannica Encyclopedia kicks back, brings information from print to mobile

We all know how reliable Wikipedia can be for information, especially for term papers. And who goes to the library anymore to use encyclopedias? With technology and the way information flies faster than the speed of fiber optic, encyclopedias or any type of printed information is becoming increasingly obsolete. So what should you use for a secure, reputable information source?

Britannica Encyclopedia.

Now, hear me out here. Britannica, in its hay day, was THE most trusted source to get information from. As the years went on, Britannica became outdated and was too expensive to produce a completely new edition, not to mention its editors delayed the content for 25 years for fiscal sensibility. To stay competitive in today’s market, Britannica is using its power house of information and bringing it to the mobile market.

Britannica paired up with Paragon Software Group to create Britannica Concise Encyclopedia 2011 (available in English and Spanish). Included is the latest content of the encyclopedia (no more holding content just to pinch pennies) with more than 10,000 additional entries, nearly 2,700 full-color maps and images, hyperlinked articles and easy to use search functions. Previously available for iOS devices, the new 2011 welcomes Android and BlackBerry devices to its compatibility family.

Stay tuned for our review of this app for the various devices soon. But if you’re curious to see what it’s all about now, you can download it now and get a special 33% discount, available through February 17 by using the promo code we’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy researching!

A Personal Appeal from Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales to Read This Blog Post

If you’ve checked out Wikipedia lately, you’ll notice that there’s a large, dramatic picture of a man named Jimmy Wales at the top of each page.  This guy is the founder of Wikipedia, and he wants you to give the Wikimedia Foundation some money to keep the lights on at Wikipedia.

So why does this squinty, temple-veined, bearded man want your money?  Wikipedia is completely free, with no advertisements or sponsorships.  Wikipedia needs donations to keep running, and since almost a third of the Internet-connected world uses Wikipedia every month, it needs a decent amount of cash to stay free.

Aside from what is, in my opinion, a very genuine and valid call to action for donations, Jimmy Wales really offered himself up for the internet’s endless humor with this latest marketing move.  But you know what’s crazy?  Wikipedia has seen 15 times as many donations with the Jimmy Wales “personal appeal” message compared to their next most effective fundraiser!

Wikipedia provides data from their fundraising campaigns publicly, and David McCandless of informationisbeautiful.com created this fantastic infographic to show the difference in effectiveness.

And in case you were wondering, Wikipedia’s least successful fundraising campaign in the last year was their “Thanks for the brain massage.” campaign which resulted in only 19 donations.

Wikipedia’s Fundraising Committee puts a lot of thought into each campaign, and they’ve documented the details of their many campaigns on their What we’ve learned so far page. They’ve conducted focus groups, surveys, and have continued to improve their results by making data driven conclusions (very cool for us data nerds).

But of course, the best part about Wikipedia’s newest fundraising campaign is what the internet has done with it.  You can add Jimmy Wales’ terrifying visage to any website with the Jimmy Wales Google Chrome extension (with some great pictures at TechCrunch).  Dustin already did the honors of christening Techerator with Mr. Wales.

And finally, I’ll leave you with what I found floating around Twitter:

(Image courtesy @yesthatkarim)

I'm convinced Jimmy Wales spends money he raises on more headshots.
@joeyellis
Joey Ellis
heard the wikipedia ads do better with jimmy wales' face on them... so i'm adding jimmy wales to my business cards.
@joshu
joshua schachter
Still no Beatles songs in the iTunes top 10. If the current promo isn't working, maybe they should put Jimmy Wales' face on top? #WalesFace
@anildash
Anil Dash
If you look up "hubris" in Wikipedia, you get a picture of Jimmy Wales. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris
@doncruse
Don Cruse
personal appeal to jimmy wales: stop staring into my soul
@r3volve
R3volve
CEILING WALES IS WATCHING YOU NOT DONATE
@joshmillard
Josh Millard