1-21-12 Hodgepodge

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New (as in Coke) Google

Farhad Manjoo hits the nail on the head when he discusses Google's tampering with search results in the name of turning everything into a social network.

For more than a decade, Google search wasn't "social" in any way. When I searched for a new car or a European hotel or the best way to plunge a toilet, Google would give me results that reflected the collected view of all Web users. That worked really well!

Not once during those years did I get to a Google results page and lament that I couldn’t see my friends' ideas about the car I should buy or the hotel I ought to book. While my friends are thoughtful and knowledgeable people, their views on the tens of thousands of large and small inquiries that I bring to Google every year are almost always irrelevant...
And, much later:
Google just broke its search engine. It did so under the guise of an improvement, an effort to mesh traditional search results with stuff from your social network. Within hours of announcing the change, Google took fire from tech pundits and competitors. Most of the criticism focused on implementation: Instead of drawing content from many different social networks, Google’s new results will lean heavily on its own network, Google+. [link removed]
Years ago, before Google became popular, I randomly discovered it when I noticed how bad most search engines were. (One kept changing what "AND" meant between narrowing its results to having BOTH terms and expanding its results to include EITHER term.) What caused me to adopt it as my search engine -- and tell other people about it -- were its simplicity and the fact that I knew what I would be getting out of it would be based on (a) my actual query and (b) relevance to most people, and not just a possibly biased group of people.

Maybe it's time to start looking around for a search engine again.

Weekend Reading

"Charles Dow's original stock index wasn't the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but the Transportation Index, first calculated in 1884 as a leading harbinger of the economy." -- Jonathan Hoenig, in "Playing the Rally in Transport Stocks", at SmartMoney

"... I frequently suggest that couples start with separate sessions, rather than meeting me as a couple." -- Michael Hurd, in "Does Couples Therapy Work?", at DrHurd.com

"If we wish to continue enjoying the benefits of capitalistic innovation, we should regard 'making a profit' as praiseworthy as 'creating value,' and give those who earn honest profits the respect and gratitude they deserve." -- Paul Hsieh, in "Why Is Creating Value Good, Profits Bad?" at RealClear Markets

"[T]he fact that bad people can misuse a technology does not justify restricting the freedoms of honest users." -- Paul Hsieh, in "SOPA, Guns, and Freedom" at PJ Media

My Two Cents

Michael Hurd's column has several choice quotes about how the question for which he names his column often arises for the wrong reasons. I also found his discussion of what he calls "triangulation" interesting.

Call triangulation, "the bane of the second-hander", since the very problem someone who does this needs to solve is getting in the way of him solving it.

And the winner is ...

[Update: Actually, the winner is TinyMCE.]

KompoZer. A couple of weeks ago, I blegged for ideas on HTML editors. I was leaning towards the first suggestion I got, which was a Chrome plug-in, but saw lots of complaints about its latest version on its web site, so I dug a little more and found something that works well for me.

Note to Google: Using Chrome as the browser sped things up very nicely, and the new Blogger editor would be okay -- except that it drives me crazy that when I'm done with a paragraph and want to skip down a line, I have to hit a down arrow after hitting ENTER. Also annoying: When I type something in bold, like the title of this section of the post and then skip down a line to start writing, why does your editor (a) assume I want the paragraph in bold even after I toggle bold off, and (b) make me switch to the HTML view to fix it.

With KompoZer, I have restored order to the computer-aided editing experience: I tell my computer to do something, and the computer does it.

-- CAV


3-9-12: Edited portion of post regarding WYSIWYG blogging editors to point to later post.


RussK said...

The URL for KompoZer isn't working right now. I'm guessing from the name that it is somehow related to Netscape Composer?

Gus Van Horn said...

It seems to go out once in a while. It's working as of now.

But no, it's not related to Netscape Composer, but to the KDE Window Manager, which I don't use, although I like many of the applications (e.g., k3b, okular)

Gus Van Horn said...

A correction to the above, learned while fooling around with KompoZer:

"KompoZer is a GTK application, it has nothing to do with KDE..."

Kevin McAllister said...

If you start auditioning search engines may I recommend you give duckduckgo.com a try.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I'm favorably impressed on a trial search enough to want to put it through its paces.