Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Search Engine Relevancy Challenge

This is interesting. RustySearch allows a "search engine blind test". You enter your keyword, and it queries - in random - one of Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask Jeeves. It then displays the results, and allows you to rate them (1 to 5) - without telling you which engine it came from. Results from all engines are using the same template.
There are also initial results (they are not displayed in real time), after 5,000 votes:
1. Yahoo (3.4287)
2. Google (3.3668)
3. Ask Jeeves (3.2602)
4. MSN Search (3.0855)


Saturday, May 07, 2005

Google Web Accelerator

So, Google wants to be the world's web proxy server? I don't think it's such a good idea. Why? Well, start with thinking on why they want it. They want to know more about web users. Much more. If you use GWA, all of your web traffic goes through their servers. They will know everything about you, maybe even more than yourself - because they will have the chance to analyse your behavior.

They say they do prefetching. Firefox does that, and only when appropriate (i.e. when the website uses a special html attribute). They say they compress the data sent. Well-configured web-servers already do that. And the mere functionality of a proxy server, in the past, was the responsibility of ISPs.

Plus, when yesterday I installed it - just to check it out - it killed my Firefox. I had to uninstall GWA, then restart Windows, to be able to use Firefox again. I have no idea why, but I saw another user complaining about it in slashdot (and another one in a blog comment).

I may try it again after, in a few version, Google fixes some bugs and clarify their intentions.

Nathan Weinberg puts it all together on his excellent Blog News Channel.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Is software engineering, math, science, or what?

There seems to be a debate going on in the Software Engineering world, about whether SE is really Engineering. I don't know who started it, but it's interesting.
First, Allen Holub writes "Is Software Engineering an Oxymoron?". Then, as a reply, Jack Ganssle writes that "Software engineering is NOT an oxymoron". I tend to agree with Holub, but not entirely. They both have valid points.

In Artima, there's a discussion on the above articles.

Finally, there's this apparently unrelated article written by B. Jacobs, titled "Computer Science" is Not Science and "Software Engineering" is Not Engineering . I'm about 90% with him. A fascinating read, about 10 pages.