This page contains all my blogs from the whole semester. It is sorted in reverse order of the date that the blog entry was created.

Yahoo Talk

by tmuirtmuir (08 Dec 2008 12:34; last edited on 13 Dec 2008 21:49)

The Yahoo talk was… confusing. For me at least. It may be that I am just a lowly engineer and all this talk about integrated ad platforms is just over my head, but I don't think he gave a very cohesive idea of what the he was working on from the get go. I eventually got the picture, but it took me a lot longer to get there than it probably should have.

That being said, it seemed like the idea was a really good one. Because search ads are being dominated by someone so successfully (that being Google of course) why not do something else instead? By providing a platform for both big and small firms to compete for the same ad space it could be very interesting.

Other than that though, I really appreciated his candor and how open he was towards our questions. Getting the insider perspective on what is going on at a big company like Yahoo is always nice. You can't get the full picture from outside, and having someone answer your questions without sugar coating it or just towing the company line and feeding you BS is really refreshing. I appreciated that.

Meta Search Engines

by tmuirtmuir (08 Dec 2008 12:34; last edited on 13 Dec 2008 21:46)

I'm going to be totally honest here: I will probably never use a meta search engine again. At the start of the semester, I was probably using Google and only Google for ten out of every ten searches I did. Now that number is probably more like seven out of ten searches. But, the three searches that aren't one-and-done at Google are on more specialized sites: specific to news, or blogs, or images or whatever I am looking for - specifically. And specialized meta search engines are not.

Now, I have the Search Tool Data from our first assignment as well as the overlap data. But really, Google is usually 'good enough'. And maybe that is part of the problem. But I don't think that throwing 10 different search engines at me is the solution. I mean, I didn't even know that AltaVista was still around, I don't think I've used that since 1997. I guess maybe that just because I don't use it doesn't mean that it is bad, but it sure does feel that way. And then a site like Joongel puts 90 search engines on their main page. Ninety. That is ridiculous, and not necessary at all in my opinion.

I will say though, that as far as the meta seach engines go, the integrated search are headed in the right direction. Based on our Search tool data analysis an aggregate of a few search engines combined could be powerful. IxQuick does a very good job of aggregating different search engines and presenting them in a single list. It uses a star rating system that lets you know how often the site showed up on different search engines and then organizes them according to what showed up where the most. Pretty interesting, but I haven't used it in a meaningful way yet.

Also, Clusty just sounds like a dirty word to me and I don't like to say it.

Google Talk

by tmuirtmuir (08 Dec 2008 12:33; last edited on 13 Dec 2008 21:44)

Having had some time to think about our speaker on Google, the talk was as informative as it was scary - to be quite honest. He only touched on the very surface of wha tis going on at the company and I can't even fathom the amount of money that is going through that place.

Is there a number that can represent the amount of money that Google AdSense generates? I'm sure there is, but it has got to be astronomical. Every other porduct that he talked about somehow worked its way back to AdSense (or more accurately, more searches) and I thougth that was really interesting. What happens if someone comes along and is able to challenge them in this venue? Could be interesting.

The thing that bugged me about the whole presentation was how nonchalant he was about the gigantic numbers he was throwing around. I guess my tiny little brain just can't handle that if 1% of Google users download Google Earth then that could potentially mean something like 100 million downloads of Google Earth. That exact number is probably off, but it was just the way that he was talking about so many people so easily.

The other thing that bugged me a little bit was the way that they are releasing their 'cool' things like Google Earth really as just a vehicle for the toolbar. This could be colored by the fact that I hate the toolbar, but it just seems dastardly or underhanded or something like that to me. I mean, if the toolbar didn't exist, would we have Google Earth? I guess you've got to follow the money and there are a million other things that go along with that 'what if' but it is an interesting thing to consider.

blog:Other Search Engines

by tmuirtmuir (08 Dec 2008 12:32; last edited on 08 Dec 2008 12:32)

This blog is going to be dedicated entirely to Silo Breaker. The reason: Silo Breaker is a really incredible tool and everyone should know about it.

What is Silo Breaker?

Silo Breaker is not a Google replacement. It is an alternate search engine, that is true, but in my opinion it isn't there to compete with Google in the same way that a search engine like Yahoo is. Silo Breaker is to be used as a compliment to Google, when Google doesn't give you quite enough information, or the kind of information you are looking for specifically.

What does Silo Breaker give you?

A better question may be: What doesn't Silo Breaker give you? Primarily, I would probably classify Silo Breaker as a news search engine. Displayed prominently at the top of every search are the 'Top Stories' sorted by date. On the far right you are always provided with a useful (in my limited experience) YouTube video clip. Below the news stories is a list of the latest blogs so you can see what people have to say about your query. Below the video there is are graphs of how popular the topic has been over the last month or so, in terms of searches and new articles posted. At the bottom of the right hand column is a few related quotes that I have found to be really accurate and really nice. I think they will be able to add a lot to projects or presentations.

Beyond just the information that is given though, the whole presentation is just really slick. Two totally dynamic columns (split about 70/30) give the site a really nice flow whether you are on a wide screen monitor or traditional square monitor. They are also working some serious javascript black magic so that when you highlight any article / blog / sub topic in a small pop-up frame on your cursor you get the first few lines of the story and some summary tags and whatnot. Really great stuff.

The Best Part of Silo Breaker

All that stuff is great, but I didn't mention the best part of Silo Breaker - the Network feature:


The network feature shows you, in three dimensions, the way that your topic of choice connects to other topics that surround it. By double clicking on any other node, that node will become the new center and show you all the topics connected to that new one. Then it cross references the first topic and highlights anything the two have in common. It is a really good way to wrap your head around a potentially broad topic, and the representation is smooth and easy to understand.

This network shows you a visual layout of the topics surrounding the Mumbai terrorist attacks from around Thanksgiving. This is one that I explored myself shortly after it happened that really led to some nice information. My hat is off to the guys over at Silo Breaker.

blog:Image Search is Great

by tmuirtmuir (29 Oct 2008 22:21; last edited on 29 Oct 2008 22:21)

Like many others, I came in to the image search pretty skeptical. I’ve been using Google Image Search exclusively for the last few years, and I’ve been mostly satisfied with it. Like everything else before this class, when I just wanted a picture of something I would go to Google and type in a couple of words and it would return more or less (sometimes much less) what I was looking for.

When I took at the lecture notes I thought it was ridiculous. Look at all those different search engines! Absurd! There’s no way that they can all be useful or really any different from each other. That is true in some sense, most of the General Search engines are pretty much interchangeable in the way that regular search engines are. You’ll see some overlap, but it will all just be kind of what you are looking for.

But I have to tell you, the more specialized search engines are amazing. Even though I haven’t gotten to go all the way through to the end yet it is still just visually impressive. The Flickr searches are also a nice touch. It is really refreshing to be able to accurately search through the pictures that other real people have taken. There’s some really good stuff in there , too – both in terms of quality and subject matter.

The other thing that I didn’t necessarily realize (explicitly at least) is that every picture has a story. Usually, the picture is linked inside that story. So by doing an image search on a topic you are interested in, you can find story related to an image instead of how you would normally do it the other way around. Here’s a hint about why that is useful: Interesting pictures usually come with interesting stories. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a totally amazing picture and then the explanation behind it was totally mundane, boring or banal? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say never, and if not never then maybe once or twice.

For the above mentioned reason, image searching news sites can be incredibly helpful finding relevant news sources quickly. The same photo from the AP or other similar news outlet is often used and credited at many different sites who are writing a story on the same topic. This can help you easily and quickly manage a lot of information about the same topic from many different news sources.

blog: Rss Feeds

by tmuirtmuir (25 Sep 2008 02:07; last edited on 25 Sep 2008 02:07)

So today we talked about RSS feeds. They are something that have obviously been around for a while but I never took the time to learn them. Good thing I took this class!

Step one was to create a bloglines account. Simple enough, you can't really miss it. Step two was supposed to be playing around with the tools. What step two for me actually turned out to be was populating a feed with a couple of personal favorite sites. First to be added was Penny Arcade, a web comic I have been reading thrice weekly for, well I guess five or six years now. Next to be added were a couple of gaming sites that I've heard to have good RSS feeds. Giant Bomb is run by an old reviewer from Gamespot who lost his job there over some integrity matters, Jeff Gerstmann. He always wrote the best reviews and I followed him to his new site. A third site that I added Rock Paper Shotgun who do a pretty good job of keeping me up to date on PC gaming news. Now I can just watch my RSS feed, hurray!

Everything mentioned above I added by hand. These were sites that I follow, or at least follow when I remember to. By adding their RSS feeds to mine, now I've only got one site to remember to check, it works out perfectly.

More in a bit…

blog:That was easy

by tmuirtmuir (10 Sep 2008 16:33; last edited on 10 Sep 2008 16:33)

Especially when the professor does all the tricky work for you.

Just making sure everything looks good here.

blog:My first blog post

by tmuirtmuir (10 Sep 2008 16:31; last edited on 10 Sep 2008 16:31)

Testing, testing!

1… 2… 3?

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License