Microsoft Offers Android Users a (Weak) Bing Incentive

May 4, 2017

It looks like Microsoft has stooped to buying traffic for Bing; that cannot bode well.  OnMSFT reports, “Set Bing as Your Search Engine on iPhone or Android, Get a Microsoft Rewards $5 Gift Card.”  Paradoxically, they don’t seem terribly anxious to spread the word. Reporter Kareem Anderson writes:

Sleuthers over in the Reddit forums have dug up a neat little nugget of savings for iPhone and Android users. According to a thread at the Xbox One subreddit, iPhone and Android users who set their default search engine to Bing can receive a Microsoft Rewards $5 gift card. The details were originally pulled from a Microsoft site instructing users on how to make the change from Google to Bing on smartphone devices. We should note that the redemption process hasn’t been without its issues as several Android users have mentioned that it has not worked or appears delayed in confirming the release of gift cards.

So, they’ve created an incentive, but are not promoting it or, apparently, fulfilling it effectively—talk about mixed messages! Still, if you use an Android device and are inclined toward Bing, but haven’t yet set it as your default browser, you may be able to profit a little by doing so.  Anderson shares a link to the Microsoft Rewards page for our convenience.

Cynthia Murrell, May 4, 2017

Bing Improvements

February 17, 2017

Online marketers are usually concerned with the latest Google algorithm, but Microsoft’s Bing is also a viable SEO target. Busines2Community shares recent upgrades to that Internet search engine in its write-up, “2016 New Bing Features.” The section on the mobile app seems to be the most relevant to those interested in Search developments. Writer Asaf Hartuv tells us:

For search, product and local results were improved significantly. Now when you search using the Bing app on an iPhone, you will get more local results with more information featured right on the page. You won’t have to click around to get what you want.

Similarly, when you search for a product you want to buy, you will get more options from more stores, such as eBay and Best Buy. You won’t have to go to as many websites to do the comparison shopping that is so important to making your purchase decision.

While these updates were made to the app, the image and video search results were also improved. You get far more options in a more user-friendly layout when you search for these visuals.

The Bing app also includes practical updates that go beyond search. For example, you can choose to follow a movie and get notified when it becomes available for streaming. Or you can find local bus routes or schedules based on the information you select on a map.

Hartuv also discusses upgrades to Bing Ads (a bargain compared to Google Ads, apparently), and the fact that Bing is now powering AOL’s search results (after being dropped by Yahoo). He also notes that, while not a new feature, Bing Trends is always presenting newly assembled, specialized content to enhance users’ understanding of current events. Hartuv concludes by prompting SEO pros to remember the value of Bing.

Cynthia Murrell, February 17, 2017

Bing Gets Nostalgic

January 25, 2017

In my entire life, I have never seen so many people who were happy to welcome in a New Year.  2016 will be remembered for violence, political uproar, and other stuff that people wish to forget.  Despite the negative associations with 2016, other stuff did happen and looking back might offer a bit of nostalgia for the news and search trends of the past year.  On MSFT runs down a list of what happened on Bing in 2016,“Check Out The Top Search Trends On Bing This Past Year.”

Rather than focusing on a list of just top searches, Bing’s top 2016 searches are divided into categories: video games, Olympians, viral moments, tech trends, and feel good stories.  More top searches are located over at Bing page.  However, on the top viral trends it is nice to see that cat videos have gone down in popularity:

Ryder Cup heckler

Villanova’s piccolo girl

Powerball

Aston Martin winner

Who’s the mom?

Evgenia Medvedeva

Harambe the gorilla

#DaysoftheWeek

Cats of the Internet

Pokemon Go

On a personal level, I am surprised that Harambe the gorilla outranked Pokemon Go.  Some of these trends I do not even remember making the Internet circuit and I was on YouTube and Reddit for all of 2016.  I have been around enough years to recognize that things come and go and 2016 might have come off as a bad year for many, in reality, it was another year.  It also did not forecast doomsday.  That was back in 2000, folks.  Get with the times!

Whitney Grace, January 25, 2017

Searchy Automates Your Search Parameters

January 25, 2017

The article on FileForum Beta News titled Searchy for Windows 0.5.1 promises users the ability to gain more control over their search parameters and prevent wasted time on redundant searches.  By using search scopes, categories, and search templates, Searchy claims to simplify and organize search. The service targets users who tend to search for similar items all day, and makes it easier for those users to find what they need without all that extra typing. The article goes into more detail,

Your daily routine consists of lots repetitive searches? With Searchy you can automate that. Just write a template for similar search queries and stop typing the same things over and over… Search using Google’s and Bing’s web, image, video and news search engines. Often performing searches on same websites? Spending much time on advanced search filters in Google or Bing? Searchy will simplify that too. Just add scopes for the websites and search filters, and use them like a boss.

Searchy was developed by freelance developer Alex Kaul, who found that entering the same phrase over and over in Google was annoying. By automating the search phrase, Searchy enables users to skip a step. It may be a small step, but as we all know, a small task when completed one hundred times a day becomes a very large and tiresome one.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 25, 2017

Microsofts Researcher Feature Offers Shortcut to Finding Sources

January 23, 2017

The article titled Microsoft Launches Researcher and Editor in Word, Zoom in PowerPoint on VentureBeat discusses the pros and cons of the new features coming to Office products. Editor is basically a new and improved version of spellcheck that goes beyond typos to report back on wordiness, passive voice, and cliché usage. This is an exciting tool that might put a few proofreaders out of work, but it is hard to see any issues beyond that. The more controversial introduction by Microsoft is Researcher, and the article explains why,

Researcher… will give users a way to find and incorporate additional information from outside sources. This makes it easy to add a quote and even generate proper academic citations for use in papers. Explicit content won’t appear in search results, so you won’t accidentally import it into your work. And you won’t find yourself in some random Wikipedia rabbit hole, because the search for additional information happens in a panel on the right side of your Word document.

Researcher pulls information from the Bing Knowledge Graph to provide writers with relevant connections to their topics. The question is, will users rely on Researcher to fact-check for them, or will they make sure that the suggested source material is appropriate and substantiated? In spite of the lessons of the Republic National Convention, plagiarism can get you into big trouble (in a college classroom, anyway.) It is easy to see student users failing to properly cite or quote the suggested information, unless Researcher also offers help in those activities as well. Is this a good thing, or is it another way to make our children dumber by enabling shortcuts?

Chelsea Kerwin, January 23, 2017

Ten Search Engines That Are Not Google

December 13, 2016

Business-design firm Vandelay Design shares their 10 favorite alternatives to Google Search in their blog post titled, “Alternative Search Engines for Designers and Developers.” Naturally, writer Jake Rocheleau views these resources from a designer’s point of view, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the list. The article states:

New intriguing search engines frequently pop up as a replacement to the juggernaut that is Google. But it’s tough to find alternative search engines that actually work and provide real value to your workflow. I’d like to cover a handful of alternatives that work well for designers and developers. These aren’t all web crawler search engines because I did throw in a few obscure choices for design resources too. But the sites in this list may be better replacements for Google no matter what you’re searching for. …

All 10 of these search engines are viable choices to add into your workflow, or even replace existing sites you already use. Designers are always looking for new tools and I think these sites fit the bill.

Rocheleau describes his selections and gives tips for getting the most out of each. He leads with DuckDuckGo—come for the privacy, stay for the easter eggs. StartPage also promises privacy as it pulls results from other search engines. Designers will like Instant Logo Search, for locating SVG vector logos, and Vecteezy for free vector designs. Similarly, Iconfinder and DryIcons both offer collections of free icons.

For something a little different, try The WayBack Machine at the Internet Archive, where you can comb the archives for any previously existing domain. Rocheleau suggests designers use it to research competitors and gain inspiration, but surely anyone can find interesting artifacts here.

We are reminded that one can get a lot from WolframAlpha if one bothers learning to use it. Then there is Ecosia, which uses ad revenue to plant trees across the globe. (They have planted over four million trees since the site launched in December of 2009.) The final entry is Qwant, another engine that promises privacy, but also offers individual search features for categories like news, social-media channels, and shopping. For anyone tired of Google and Bing, even non-designers, this list points the way to several good alternatives.

Cynthia Murrell, December 13, 2016

Hacking the Internet of Things

November 17, 2016

Readers may recall that October’s DoS attack against internet-performance-management firm Dyn, which disrupted web traffic at popular sites like Twitter, Netflix, Reddit, and Etsy. As it turns out, the growing “Internet of Things (IoT)” facilitated that attack; specifically, thousands of cameras and DVRs were hacked and used to bombard Dyn with page requests. CNet examines the issue of hacking through the IoT in, “Search Engine Shodan Knows Where Your Toaster Lives.”

Reporter Laura Hautala informs us that it is quite easy for those who know what they’re doing to access any and all internet-connected devices. Skilled hackers can do so using search engines like Google or Bing, she tells us, but tools created for white-hat researchers, like Shodan, make the task even easier. Hautala writes:

While it’s possible hackers used Shodan, Google or Bing to locate the cameras and DVRs they compromised for the attack, they also could have done it with tools available in shady hacker circles. But without these legit, legal search tools, white hat researchers would have a harder time finding vulnerable systems connected to the internet. That could keep cybersecurity workers in a company’s IT department from checking which of its devices are leaking sensitive data onto the internet, for example, or have a known vulnerability that could let hackers in.

Even though sites like Shodan might leave you feeling exposed, security experts say the good guys need to be able to see as much as the bad guys can in order to be effective.

Indeed. Like every tool ever invented, the impacts of Shodan depend on the intentions of the people using it.

Cynthia Murrell, November 17, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Bing Finally Turned a Profit

October 7, 2016

Bing is the redheaded stepchild of search engines, but according to the Motley Fool the Microsoft owned search engine started to earn a profit during its last fiscal year.  The Motley Fool shares the story in “Bing Became Profitable Last Year.  Can It Keep Up?” Bing’s search advertising generated $5.5 billion in estimated revenue, which is more than what Twitter and Tencent earned.  Into 2016, Bing continues to turn a profit.

Bing’s revenue grew in Microsoft’s last fiscal year quarter and in June 40% of the search revenue came from Windows 10 devices.  When the free Windows 10 upgrade ends soon and thus will end the growth, as Bing will no longer be see a high adoption rate.  Microsoft will continue to grow Bing and profit is predicted to continue to rise:

One important factor is that Microsoft outsourced its display advertising business at the beginning of fiscal 2016. That has allowed the company to focus its sales team on its search advertisements, which generally carry higher prices and margins than display ads. That makes the sales team more cost-efficient for Microsoft to run while it collects high-margin revenue from outsourcing its display ads.

This means Microsoft will raise its ad prices and will focus on selling more ads to appear with search results.  Bing will never compete with Google’s massive revenue, but it has proven that it is less of a copycat and a stable, profit generating search engine.

Whitney Grace, October 7, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Microsoft Looks Slightly Desperate Paying People to Use Edge and Bing

September 28, 2016

The article on Business Insider titled Microsoft Will Actually Pay You to Use Its Newest Web Browser shows the evolution of Microsoft’s program from using Bing Rewards to their own Microsoft Rewards. Originally, just using Bing could earn users points towards Starbucks, Amazon, and Hulu, to name a few. Microsoft is now rebranding and expanding the program to incentivize users to spend time on Microsoft Edge, the child of Internet Explorer. The article states,

So long as you’re actively using Microsoft Edge — defined as having the Edge window open and actually using it to browse the web…— you’ll accrue points that can be redeemed for prizes, up to 30 hours’ worth a month. While Windows 10 is on over 350 million active devices, the Edge browser hasn’t quite made the splash that Microsoft had hoped for. Current numbers place Edge usage at just over 4.2% of the overall browser market.

The article makes a point of mentioning that for this program to work for users, they can’t just have Microsoft Edge open. They also must use Microsoft Bing as their default search engine. Without that setup, no points for you. Some users might jump at the chance to get paid for doing practically nothing, but others might be less than willing to expose themselves to being tracked by Microsoft. Still others might wince at the idea of giving up their Google default. Microsoft Edge: the broke person’s Google Chrome.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 28, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Big Data Processing Is Relative to Paradigm of Today

September 7, 2016

The size and volume that characterizes an information set as big data — and the tools used to process — is relative to the current era. A story from NPR reminds us of this as they ask, Can Web Search Predict Cancer? Promise And Worry Of Big Data And Health. In 1600’s England, a statistician essentially founded demography by compiling details of death records into tables. Today, trends from big data are drawn through a combination of assistance from computer technology and people’s analytical skills. Microsoft scientists conducted a study showing that Bing search queries may hold clues to a future diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

The Microsoft scientists themselves acknowledge this [lack of comprehensive knowledge and predictive abilities] in the study. “Clinical trials are necessary to understand whether our learned model has practical utility, including in combination with other screening methods,” they write. Therein lies the crux of this big data future: It’s a logical progression for the modern hyper-connected world, but one that will continue to require the solid grounding of a traditional health professional, to steer data toward usefulness, to avoid unwarranted anxiety or even unnecessary testing, and to zero in on actual causes, not just correlations within particular health trends.”

As the producers of data points in many social-related data sets, and as the original analyzers of big data, it makes sense that people remain a key part of big data analytics. While this may be especially pertinent in matters related to health, it may be more intuitively understood in this sector in contrast to others. Whether health or another sector, can the human variable ever be taken out of the data equation? Perhaps such a world will give rise to whatever is beyond the current buzz around the phrase big data.

Megan Feil, September 7, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark Web meet up on September 27, 2016.
Information is at this link: https://www.meetup.com/Louisville-Hidden-Dark-Web-Meetup/events/233599645/

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