Friday, December 31, 2004

Searching the Web without Google

This may come as a shock to many people, but pay attention: Google is not the only search engine. I repeat: Google is not the only search engine.
Yes people, there are other search engines (there are even others, but these are the top 3 - after Google). When I started using the Web, back in '97, AltaVista was the "standard" search engine. Everybody I knew was using it. Yahoo's search was powered by AltaVista, until they invested in Google and started using its search. MSN? I don't remember what it was, if at all.

Now, it's not that I don't like Google. And it's not that this 8-minute video-flash movie had such a great effect on me. There are two good reasons to use other search engines:
  • Having only one search engine is bad. I don't like a single company to control all information. Alternative engines will not exist if we don't use them.
  • Sometimes, the other engines have better results. For example, when I searched for a PDF of an academic paper, I couldn't find it with Google. But AV did find it. People (me included) sometimes think that if Google can't find something, it does not exist. This is not true.
I'm not saying we should abandon Google. Not at all. I like Google, as I said, and I like Blogger and Gmail. But it's good to know and use the alternatives as well.

Monday, December 27, 2004

More Gmail Invites

I just got 6 new Gmail invitations. Since all of my friends (and their friends) already have accounts, I have no use for the invitations. If you want to be invited, add a comment to this post. Don't forget to specify your email, in a spam-protected format.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Dilbert's TTP Project

The Wikipedia articles for recursive acronym and RAS syndrome mention a Dilbert strip "in which Dilbert states that the TTP project refers to The TTP Project".
I wonder where I can find the actual strip. I added notes to the discussion pages of those articles, but no one has answered so far.

The Google Grid, EPIC 2014

This Flash video, which I found out about via InsideGoogle, is creepy. It talks about what will happen to the media in the next ten years. You have to see it, it's about 8 minutes.

Friday, December 17, 2004 free SMS?

Recently I got a few invitation-messages on behalf of people I know, to join the community. It's supposed to be a site that lets you send free SMS messages.
I ignored the invitations at first, because they looked phishy. But after about 5 invitations, all from different people I know, I got curious, and decided to check it out. After all, I thought, the site already has my email address (it was a Yahoo! Mail address, but I also got one invitation to my Gmail account) - people I know gave it to them.

So I clicked the invitation link. After filling-in the standard details (as well as my mobile phone number), I was surprised to be asked for my Yahoo(!) password. Why would want my password?
They want it, because they want to read my address book, and send invitations on my behalf to all my contacts. Then it hit me - all the people that "sent" me invitations actually gave away their mail account passwords!
Does this count as a virus? I'm not sure. The users who did it, gave their password. The site didn't steal it from them. In fact, it said it will invite their friends.
It seems like a clever way to collect confirmed email addresses. Every user that gives his/her password, gives his friends' mail addresses. What does the site do with the information? According their privacy policy, they probably sell it to "affiliates".

I am not a lawyer, but this service is probably legal, becuase they have the users' consent to do what they do. Yet, it's really annoying.

By the way - the main reason people sign up to the site is the promise to send free SMS messages. Well... I tried sending a message after signing up (I signed up without giving my password, it was not mandatory), but it didn't work. It said they don't support my cellular network - but my network is in the list of supported networks.

Beware of phishermen!

Gmail Live Bookmark

I'm not sure it's new, but I just noticed that Firefox now displays the Live Bookmarks icon when I view my Gmail inbox. The feature itself is not new - Gmail has had an Atom for a few months - but the link is new (Live Bookmarks are "discovered" through a <link> tag in the html header).
The feed has the list of unread messages in the inbox. Firefox displays only the subjects, but proper feed readers (or feed reader extensions in Firefox) can show the sender's information, as well as a snippet.

UPDATE: If you look for Gmail invites, see my other post.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

XML Tools

Since my project involves XML, I'll need some XML tools. Mainly, a free Windows/Java IDE. Something with XSL and Schema support. Any recommendations?
I've downloaded the Home Edition of XMLSpy, which looks pretty nice, but I was hoping for an open-source tool.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

More Google Suggest

Apparently (and as expected), Google Suggest does not update in real-time. When, for example, you want to see what's the most searched-for Google service (and so you type "google " into the box) - not only the much-hyped Suggest is not in the top 10; when you add "suggest" to your query, you find that people search for "google suggest a site" more than "google suggest"...

I guess the "most wanted" list only gets updated when the index does, because "google suggest" has no matches. In fact, there is no information for that URL.

Site-Flavored Google Search


This search was costumized to my interests.

Google Suggest

Google has released (as a beta, under Google Labs) Google Suggest, which is really cool. You start typing a query, and you get the most popular matching queries in a pseudo-combobox. This is cool, because it allows you to see the most popular searches starting with the letters you typed. So, for example, you know that Firefox is more popular a search than, say, free.

You can also get the most popular RFC documents. The most searched for, as it turns out, is RFC 1918 - Address Allocation for Private Internets. I know that, because I typed "RFC " (without quotes, with the extra space), and it came first.