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Posts Tagged ‘search engines’

But it’s not google – Bing goes Live!

June 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Another long wait between entries – I really must update more often. However recent events in the Search world and in the CI world mean I have no choice but to update. My thoughts on recent changes at SCIP will have to wait till my next post. This post will look at Microsoft‘s replacement for Live and MSN Search – with its new Bing search engine.

Searches at Live or MSN Search now redirect to Bing.com. I like the front-end – it’s clean and colourful. However I couldn’t find anywhere to change the front image – at least on the UK version that’s still in Beta.
The US version does allow you to scroll back to previous images – with a little arrow option at the bottom of the right side of the screen.

The US version also includes hot-spots describing aspects of the picture, plus a side-bar offering more search options.

At the bottom of both versions is a link for help – interestingly still pointing to Live.com. Obviously Microsoft still has more work to do on this. The help section gives the format for advanced commands and also allows you to remove the screen background.

So how does Bing perform. For the searches I tried, the results are good – and there isn’t that much to choose between Google and Bing. One difference i did notice is that URLs with the search terms used seem to come higher than other sites – so, for example, AWARE‘s web-site came to the top for a search on “marketing-intelligence“. Also relevant is that the algorithm is sufficiently intelligent to realise that “CompetitorAnalysis.com” is a likely candidate for searches on “Competitor Analysis“. I’m not sure the same precision exists in Google. Another odd feature is that some titles seem to be edited. For example some searches on my web-site content bring up the following title: “

This title doesn’t exist on our web-site so has been taken from somewhere else – most likely from a link on a UK government business support web-site.

Where Bing falls is in the advanced searching and also the preferences. I like that you can set Google to display 100 hits at a time. Bing only allows 50. Bing also lacks some of the field / advanced search options available to Google. There are no wild-card searches (using the * character) or synonym searches (the ~ character) for example. However there are options that are not currently available in Google – such as the feed:, hasfeed:, loc:, and contains: options. These allow for searching for RSS sites (feed: and hasfeed:), location searches (loc:), searches for sites containing links to types of content such as WMA, MPG files, etc. – contains:. These options are not available in the advanced search boxes.

All in all – i like Bing and prefer its interface to Live. I like colourful pages, and have customised my Google page with iGoogle themes, and Ask with it’s skins. Yet again, however, this is not a Google Killer – and perhaps it’s not trying to be. The key thing: Bing is not google!

A number of other reviews on Bing worth reading:

Mixed reviews of Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine
– the Daily Telegraph
Bing Don’t Bother
– Karen Blakeman’s review

Bing Launches – it’s awful
– Phil Bradley’s review

Bing Bing: Microsoft’s search engine unexpectedly live, but not Live
– the Guardian


Cuil – not going to cull Google!

July 29, 2008 Leave a comment
For a change I thought I’d give my opinions on a new search engine that’s being touted around.

Cuil is a new search engine that claims to have the biggest search index and give better results than Google owing to a methodology that looks at word context rather than page links.

There are already lots of comments on Cuil – for example, Webware’s “New Search Engine Cuil takes aim at Google” or Karen Blakemen’s “Cuil – not so cool

I too played with Cuil – for around 5 minutes before I realised that this is very much a “what you see is what you get” effort – and I didn’t see very much.

One of the first things I do when I use a search engine is change my preferences – to get 100 hits per page. I find a much more efficient way of looking through pages of results – and the time to look at 10 versus 100 on a single page isn’t that much more. So I headed to Cuil’s preferences page – and found that there was almost nothing to change. So you’re stuck with a page of descriptions – and if they aren’t right, you’re forced to try the next page or a new search. Not clever! Then what about modifying my search – for specific types of content – title search, filetype search. Nada!

My top test keywords (generally “competitive intelligence” and various permutations of this) came up with the expected sites – but nothing new and not even all I’d expect – plus irritating logos attached to each entry that seemed to be stolen from images that seemed relevant.

My main complaint supports a comment on the Webware blogDidn’t we stop the pissing contest over number of pages searched about 10 years ago?“. I concur totally. So what if Cuil has 120 billion pages. It’s not size that counts – it’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts. (I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before in a different context ūüėČ That’s why Exalead is so useful – as it’s so easy to customise, and refine searches. That’s why Google is top-dog – as its interface is so simple and the results tend to be accurate. That’s why Ask works – as it gives good results, with options to refine and it highlights news, images, encyclopaedia entries all together making search seem simple.

Finally their purported killer feature – relating search to the words on the page and their context. Isn’t that similar or the same as the method Ask (or it’s predecessor Teoma) uses, or have I missed something? (Or perhaps it only refers to the actual page rather than related pages which is what Ask does – if so, it’s also 10 years out-of-date as just relating content to the actual page rather than linked pages was killed off by Google’s linkage innovation).

So – not impressed. I still think that there’s scope for a Google Killer out there, but Cuil ain’t that Killer!

Know your information sources

December 8, 2005 Leave a comment

I’m not sure what the weather is like outside London. Summer here could have been better – but also a lot worse. I know that there are heatwaves in Southern Europe, and I’m sure that even though hurricanes hardly hever happen in Spain (where there currently is not much rain on the plain), this is not the case everywhere. And as Discovery found out, you can’t predict when bad weather can cause you to change your landing slot!

It is important to know information sources. When I do competitive intelligence training, one workshop exercise I take people through is to show how many different information sources there actually are. I do this by compiling an A to Z of information sources – with one rule, that they must all be different types. (So you can’t have Search Engine and then Yahoo! as options for S and Y as Yahoo! is a Search Engine and so is included in this category). Try it – it is not that difficult. I have 4 items for K and 2 for Q, X and Z. Most other letters get spoilt for choice.

However it is not just good enough to know your information sources. You should also know how accurate they are – and ideally how the source gathers the information. Only then can you guard against disinformation – or perhaps from using secondary information that you think is actually a primary source.

There is a story:

A film crew was on location deep in the desert. One day an
elderly native American went up to the director and said, “Tomorrow rain.”
The next day it rained. A week later, the native American went up to
the director and said, “Tomorrow storm.”

The next day there was a hailstorm. “This Indian is
incredible,” said the director. He told his secretary to
hire the man to predict the weather for the remaining of
the shoot. However, after several successful predictions,
the old native American didn’t show up for two weeks.

Finally the director sent for him. “I have to shoot a big
scene tomorrow,” said the director, “and I’m depending on
you. What will the weather be like?”

The native American shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know,” he said.
“My radio is broken.”

So before using a source, make sure you fully understand it – and any drawbacks or weaknesses associated with it.

The above story illustrates the need to know your source’s source. There is a variation on the story illustrating the same lesson, but also showing how important it is to be objective. Some sources are not totally objective, and so the information provided can actually be false or disinformation.

The Native Americans asked their Chief in autumn, if the winter was going to be cold or not. Not really knowing an answer, the chief replies that the winter was going to be cold and that the members of the village were to collect wood to be prepared.

Being a good leader, he then went to the next phone booth and called the National Weather Service and asked, “Is this winter to be cold?”

The man on the phone responded, “This winter was going to be quite cold indeed.”

So the Chief went back to speed up his people to collect even more wood to be prepared. A week later he called the National Weather Service again, “Is it going to be a very cold winter?”

“Yes,” the man replied, “it’s going to be a very cold winter.”

So the Chief goes back to his people and orders them to go and find every scrap of wood they can find. Two weeks later he calls the National Weather Service again: “Are you absolutely sure, that the winter is going to be very cold?”

“Absolutely,” the man replies, “the Native Americans are collecting wood like crazy!”

As real examples of disinformation, there is the well known Di-hydrogen Monoxide Research Division web-site.

Another interesting example is the satellite maps shown for 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014 on Google Maps compared to that on Microsoft’s Virtual Earth.

Of course it could be that Microsoft is using a satellite image from around 30 or so years ago (despite the 2004 copyright notice from NAVTEQ at the bottom). More likely is that Microsoft just wants to air-brush a major competitor – Apple Computers – out of history.

As somebody who has just received delivery of my brand new Apple iBook, I can fully understand why Microsoft would like to do this. However just renaming your future operating system from a breed of cow (Longhorn) to a long-term view (Vista) does not make it a Tiger! :-).

From a competitive intelligence information source point of view the above two maps show how easy it is to

a) misinform
b) blind yourself to the real picture
c) use a respected information source such as Microsoft’s mapping software that may not be totally accurate.

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