Archive for the 'search' Category

Boycott Experts Exchange

February 21st, 2009 | Category: programming,search,web

Have you ever done a search for a problem you’ve had only to see tantalizingly something that looks like exactly the answer you wanted before painfully realising that it’s on Experts Exchange and the page you have just clicked on says it has the answer but you don’t have an account. Sure you could sign up for their free trial for 30 days and you might even find the answer if you are lucky but what happens next time? It’s like a drug dealer: the first hit is free, but you pay for everything from then on.

Now the original design of Experts Exchange wasn’t too bad. You could ask questions if you had enough points. You could also assign points to different questions increasing in value for importance I guess. You acquired points by either paying or by successfully answering questions. The thing that annoyed me was that if you weren’t the person that was nominated as the one who answered it you got no tangible credit for your contribution even if it helps or even if the correct answer was actually wrong or perhaps not the best response.

But obviously at this point they feel that they have enough knowledge to justify not only spamming their pages with tonnes of ads but also starting to force people to pay for even more. And be aide they’ve been around for a while and have had a good reputation they’re using this plus close keyword matches on the question to continue to drive traffic.

So now with Google’s Search Wiki, we can fight back against Experts Exchange and it’s pointless entries in Google’s index. All you need to do is be logged in and when you see an Experts Exchange result in your Google search make sure you delete it from your results. My belief is that if we get enough people to blacklist and delete those entries, Google will take note and eventually lower the rank of the entries and we’ll stop seeing their results.


Indexing and Application Launching

June 11th, 2007 | Category: linux,mac,macosx,search,windows

Last night I was doing some work and I wanted to do some more research and knew that I had some files on the subject already on my hard drive, but I wanted to see what else was out there. As it happened Google didn’t really turn up much interesting beyond the obligatory Wikipedia article, but Google Desktop Search turned up a direct link to one of my local resources. Doing so saved me from using Spotlight to do the same thing. But that isn’t the only app indexing my hard drive, Quicksilver (my preferred app launcher) also runs in the background check the hard drive for new and interesting files that it can index and add to its database so that when I search for an application all I need to do is type its name and hit enter.

So my Mac has three different indexing tools: Google Desktop Search, Spotlight and Quicksilver. This is in contrast to my work PC (Windows XP) which has Google Desktop Search and Windows Indexing Service (which does poorly on large itemsets such as the contents of your hard drive…most of the useful items I find using this tool is not what I wanted originally but something else thrown up in the list for some reason, completely irrelevant, but interesting to read. There is another tool I use, RockIt Launcher, which is a Quicksilver equivalent for Windows except its catalog is limited in scope and usefulness, plus it has to be manually reindexed.

Linux by comparison seems quite poor, really only having Beagle desktop search, but that would discount the other options available. For example I do a few things differently on this platform: I launch terminals using my function keys (alt-f5 to f12 is bound to local and remote terminals (via ssh)) which means I get access to those applications. alt-f2 brings up the Linux equivalent of the ‘run’ dialog, except with completion. This is my equivalent for Quicksilver as I usually know the app name (as with quicksilver) to launch it. The last app launch/search is the deskbar I have on my lower panel, which has a list of commands run through it (could be desktop search, dictionary or app launch) so I can click that to quickly get to applications or type in the text box to get feature almost identical to Quicksilver. The last app launch point is my ‘drawers’. These are little panels that extend down with Quick Launch icons. They’re grouped so if I’m doing a particular task I know which drawer to go to so that I can launch multiple similar applictions. iIts also handy for eclipse, which has the same name but is three different installs.

So for me, my main use of search is application launching and occaisionally going to find the file I want. Mac has lead the way on the desktop, Google provides another awesome solution, Beagle is very nicely integrated into GNOME and now that Vista has (finally) shipped a few months ago it has search built in. So finally everything is getting indexed, making things easier to find for those of us who have too much information.