links for 2008-07-30


A Day of New Search Engines


Yesterday, I happened to find three new search engines.  I think that most people struggle to find the best search engine for their needs.  What we want is the ultimate mind reader that can precisely find what we’re looking for without too much work.  More than that, we also appreciate a search engine that will provide inspiration and perhaps take us to results that we didn’t intend when we got started.  Not too much to ask, is it?

Craigslist.org is a great place to find things people are advertising if you like to do your own drilling and you feel comfortable working in an environment where capital letters are banned!  It’s huge, but you really need to know what you’re looking for in order to efficiently find what you’re looking for.  Based on the concept of your community, you drill through location and concepts to see what’s posted near your world.

Until now.

Craigsfindr.com is a front end to let you search through craigslist.org.  Whack the TAB key (yesterday, it was F1…) to locate the community in which to search.  Then, locate the general area of your search, enter a keyword and you’re there.  If you’re a user of craigslist.org, you’ll love it.

ChunkIt! works on the premise that just getting to the page of a search result is only a start.  The real value is being able to find the important content on that page.

Many casual browsers will scroll through a webpage, speed reading all the way, and hopefully find what you’re looking for.

Sophisticated users know that CTRL-F or COMMAND-F will let you search for a key word in the page on display.

For serious searchers, though, ChunkIt! takes it that much further.  At this point, it’s a limited Beta, so go ahead and apply for a key.  Select your browser and download the ChunkIt! utility.  When you install it, you’ll be asked what browser you want to Chunk by default.  From a choice of Google, Yahoo!, Live, AOL, or Ask, give it your browser and let it do its thing.   In your browser, you will now how a new menu bar that takes you far, far into the web than you may have imagined.  In a split screen, view the results from the Search Engine in the right panel and a look ahead analysis on the left.

Cuil generated a lot of interest and comment on the web yesterday.

There was a great deal of interest in Cuil.  Created by some former Google employees, the claim was that this startup indexed more of the web than Google does.  This, of course, is a claim that is difficult to verifiy.  Using the same minimalist approach that Google does you’re presented with just a simple box where you enter your search terms.  The results page is what leaps to mind after your first search.  After years of results in a list format, you’re instead presented with a three column newspaper-like result with a quick summary of each page.  A very interesting approach to results.

In its first days, there isn’t a great deal more that you can do other than search and follow but I suspect that there will be more in the offing.  The results are presented interestingly.  If you’re a regular Google or Yahoo! searcher, you can almost predict exactly what type of results you’ll get in advance.  Not so with Cuil.  How it searches is intriguing and worth of some followup.  You’ve got to at least go there and search for yourself and see what it finds about you.  Is it an objective search when Cuil doesn’t find itself on its first page of results?

All three of these are worth checking out if you have some time.  If nothing else, it will perhaps break the rut and familiarity that sticking with one search engine provides and may make you a better researcher in the process.

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Blogged with the Flock Browser

links for 2008-07-29


Browser Memory Requirements


Have you ever wondered why your computer gets slower and slower over time?

One of the reasons is that your RAM (Random Access Memory) fills and your computer starts to use your computer’s hard drive’s cache as a way to extend the memory so that you can continue to work.  This can result in memory contents swapping forth and back from the hard drive to primary memory so that the program continues to function.

Periodically, you should reboot your computer to get a fresh start.

As more and more of what we do turns to web based applications, it makes sense to take a look at web browsers to make sure that they are efficiently using your computer’s memory.  After all, what’s the point of having a great web application if you have to wait forever for the simplest of things to be done.  If your computer’s hard drive is thrashing away whenever you hit the web, you might find the following post of interest.

http://dotnetperls.com/Content/Browser-Memory.aspx

Here, you’ll see the results from one researcher as he puts several popular browsers through their paces and monitors memory use.  As promised with the release of Firefox 3, it excels in managing memory.  If you’re in for a technical read, here’s why.

If you’ve been wavering about switching browsers, this might serve to convince you.

Does this mean that I’ll be using only one browser?  Well, not just yet.  There are times when I need to work with Active-X stuff and you can’t beat the ease of Internet Explorer for this.  There are times when I want to snag an object on a web page.  You can’t beat Safari’s Activity option for that.

But, for the application that I leave open all day long, this confirms the decision that I made a long time ago that there are other options.  As noted in the article, Firefox and Flock handle memory nicely and are good for the long browsing haul.

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links for 2008-07-28


A Sign of the Times


But undoubtedly only a drop in the bucket.

http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/home/News.asp?id=49299

The “Spam King” is sentenced to four years in prison for activities involving spam or, politely, unsolicited email.  As you read through the article, you’ll see that there was more than just the sending of email involved.

Will this serve as a message to others who do the same thing?

You’d like to think so but it’s big business.  As you read the story, I’m sure that you’ll be surprised at just how much money was made from spamming activities.  That represents considerable incentive to try to evade detection.  Then, this story hits:  http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9110487

in addition to giving us more things to worry about in daily email, spam and the spreading of virus/spyware has spawned huge industries in companies that sell protection for your home PC and also for the corporate enterprise.

Even bloggers and Twitterers get spammed.  Thank goodness for the spam protection that WordPress provides.  (Akismet)

If nothing else, this should serve as a reminder to ensure that your antivirus and antispyware is up to date and functional.

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links for 2008-07-27


When doing the right thing bites you


It was announced this week that Yahoo! will be shutting down its DRM servers on September 30.

What does this mean?  (I sound like Dick the Bruiser (George Baier version)…)

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and may represent one of many schema designed to protect against piracy of materials.  In this case, it is some music from parts of the Yahoo! Music Store.  In a nutshell, DRM protected music checks a signature against a DRM server to make sure that you have the legal rights to play the music.  On the surface, it sounds like the the right thing to do and people who have purchased DRM protected music just assume that there will be no issues.

As long as you continue to play the music on the original configuration that it was originally purchased and installed on, there should be no problem.  But, what if you reinstall the operating system or upgrade to a new computer?  When you migrate to the new configuration, your music needs to be re-validated.

Herein lies the problem.  If the server isn’t there to do this, you’re left with music that you can’t play.

Now, there are ways to circumvent DRM and the Yahoo! website has an FAQ page that suggests some ways to preserve the music including the details about the movement of Yahoo! accounts to Rhapsody.  There are also rumours that Yahoo! will be looking at ways to compensate those who purchased the music.  No details yet though.  This is all fine and dandy, but should it be necessary?  After all, people bought the original music in good faith.  Perhaps “bought” is just an assumption.

Personally, I’ve always felt that DRM was the price that we pay for the ability to download music from music stores at a reasonable price.  I’m happy to pay the price; talented artists deserve to be compensated for their talents.  Without these talents, we don’t have the enjoyment from their skills and abilities.

Microsoft made a similar announcement earlier but ended up backing away from it.  Will Yahoo! do the same?  I’m not sure that it will happen.  It sounds like Yahoo! has a more comprehensive plan.

This announcement should give every music loving person pause to think.  Yes, we all know that we should be doing backups all the time, but do we?  Personally, I figure that my music player is a perfect backup for my music.  But is it truly?

I like the concept of the online music store – it lets me only purchase the tracks that I really want from an album.  However, buying the original CD-ROM instead of going online does provide you a natural backup source where tracks can be restored.  It just seems like such a big step backward.

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links for 2008-07-26