Google Search Tips List

November 6, 2018

Another Google Search Tip List Fails

Listicles are popular articles, because they can be easily digest, curated, and take huge advantage of ad placement if you put the listed information on separate pages. One type of listicle that always pops up is how to get the best out of your Google search and the search results. The Teche Blog adds its own post to the Google tips archive with “Customize The Date Range Of Your Search And 10 More Use Google Tips.”

The article starts with a Google history tidbit:

“Most know that Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University, California, but did you know that the company has also experimented with becoming an Internet carrier? That’s right, in February 2010, Google Fiber was announced, a fiber-optic infrastructure that was installed in Kansas City; while in April 2015, it launched Project Fi in the United States, combining Wi-Fi and cellular networks from different providers; and in 2016, it announced the Google Station initiative to make public Wi-Fi available around the world, with initial deployment in India.”

The search tips in the post are either useless or already known. For instance, the wildcard asterisk * tip to replace words you don not know is as old as the Internet as is the next tip about putting a word in quotes for the exact phrase. It also tells readers about how Google can define words, convert measurements, track flights, flip a coin, and exclude specific keywords. UGH!

There are a few useful tips, such as how to search for a specific file type: [keywords] filetype:[filetype], search within a specific Web site: site:[Web site] [keywords], and related Web sites: related: [Web site].

These tips, however, are outdated, old fashioned, and most people already know them. Try something a little more robust next time.

Whitney Grace, November 6, 2018

Bing: Getting More Visual

October 27, 2018

Bing Gets Visual, But Stays Behind The Curve

Microsoft’s red-headed step child of the search world is slowly, and steadily attempting its next stab at greatness. While the little search engine that could has been trying valiantly to overtake Google for years, it is making concrete steps in the right direction with news we discovered in a recent Android Community story, “Bing Update Brings Text Transcription, Education Carousel, Visual Search.”

The update that has us most excited is its visual search:

“Bing also lets you copy and search the actual text that you see on your camera. For example, you take a pic of the menu in the restaurant, tap the text and search how to pronounce it and what it actually is. You can use it to take pictures of phone numbers, serial numbers, email addresses, navigate to an address, etc.”

As expected, Bing is a little behind the curve. While Bing is just beginning to blossom in the world of visual search, Google is already there and also adding greater visual cues aimed at retaining visitors. By incorporating more pictures and videos, and less text, the king of the mountain is looking to hold its grip on users. We would love to see Bing outduel Google someday, but we don’t see it on the horizon.

Patrick Roland, October 25, 2018

Google and Popular Searches

October 26, 2018

Why the intellectual bar for online information retrieval is getting lower is revealed in the article “Happy 20th Birthday, Google: What Are the Most Popular Searches?”

Online searching once was the realm of individuals who sought information via Texas Instruments Silent 700s. No more.

To illustrate the type of information that is important to Google and its users, here are the top searches from each of the last five years:

  • 2017 Hurricane Irma
  • 2016 Powerball
  • 2015 Lamar Odom
  • 2014 Robin Williams
  • 2013 Paul Walker

This list makes clear why Google suggests popular rock stars, pizza, and pizza (oh, did I mention pizza already?).

Google is a wonderful tool. Here in Harrod’s Creek we want weather, gambling, and celebrity or at least C list celebrity information.

I think Alexis de Tocqueville said:

In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own.

In search, that majority seems to be Google.

October 26, 2018

Omnity Search: Adjusting Fast and Slow

October 14, 2018

Beyond Search maintains a file about the Omnity search system. We noted that a new white paper became available in April 2018. If you want a copy of the 42 page document, you can download a free copy at this url.

The white paper is interesting because it suggests that the current methods of finding information are “inherently biased.” Omnity’s indexing is different; for example:

Omnity has developed a semantic signature technology that impartially and mathematically articulates the deep structure of a document, and self-assembles by inter-connecting to other documents with similar structure.

Omnity may be the first search and retrieval syst4em to embrace blockchain technology, but we are not 100 percent certain. Frankly we don’t pay much attention to distributed databases because the technology is another spin down database lane and the next big thing mall.

The document contains some interesting diagrams. Some of these remind us of sense making systems for law enforcement and intelligence professionals. The company positions itself against Palantir and Quid as well as Bloomberg and Lexis Nexis. Surprisingly Linguamatics is a “leader” like Omnity.

What is fascinating is that Omnity seems to be embracing the digital currency approach to raising funds. One of the firm’s advisors is the really famous Danny Kahneman.

My recollection is that Omnity was going to knock Google search off its mountain top. Then Omnity shifted to a commercial model like the old Dialog Information Services. Now it is blending findability with blockchain and crypto currency.

More information about the company is at Get the white papers. Check out the diagrams. One question is, “Should Palantir and Quid be looking over their individual and quite broad shoulders?”

Omnity’s approach is a good example of search vendors repositioning fast and slow.

Stephen E Arnold, October 15, 2018

Images Are Hot

October 8, 2018

Snapchat is reinventing itself or at least tweaking its high school science club management methods. That creates an opportunity to other picture sharing services.

Consider Pinterest.

We know that watching YouTube videos and fiddling with a mobile phone are the future of education. Enter Pinterest. This highly visual platform detailed some if its plans for advancement in a recent Social Media Today story, “Pinterest Adds Pinch to Zoom, Updated Visual Search.”

According to the story:

“We’ve made some improvements to the tool based on feedback we’ve heard from Pinners. We updated the button so it’s clearer, especially for people who are new to Pinterest, and moved it so it’s a little easier to reach. And it’s working too – in early tests of the improved button, nearly 70% more people used the visual search tool.”

While the possibilities of Pinterest becoming the leader of visual search, the information highway is not pothole free. Snapchat, Instagram, and other services beckon.

Will Snapchat convert the click to buy into revenue gold? And there is the often ignored image system at Amazon.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the trick is to shift the equation to making a picture worth a $1,000.

Patrick Roland, October 8, 2018

Elastic Bounces and Rolls Away from Other Search Vendors

October 6, 2018

Please, do not confuse what Bing and Google deliver as “search” with the type of information access system which is available from Elastic. The founder of Compass Search (remember that?) has emerged as the big dog in the information access world. At a time when direct competitors like Attivio, Coveo, and Funnelback are working overtime to become something other than information access providers, Elastic and its Elasticsearch ecosystem have pulled off a digital kudzu play.

The evidence is not the raucous Elastic developer conferences. The proof is not the fact that most policeware vendors use Elastic as the plumbing for their systems. The hard facts are dollars.

I learned that Elastic pulled off its IPO and closed up 94.4 percent. Talk about happy investors. Those believers in the Shay Bannon approach must be turning cartwheels. For more financial insights, navigate to “Search Company Elastic Nearly Doubles on First Trading Day.” The write up states:

The debut rally is all the more pronounced because it comes on a down day for the broader market, particularly the tech sector.

Elastic, it seems, represents a bright spot.

Congrats to Mr. Bannon and the Elastic team.

There are some outfits likely to take a hard look at their “search” business. Among them will be the vendors of proprietary search systems like the companies I mentioned above. Most of these outfits continue to find a way to make their investors happy. Attivio bounces between business intelligence and search. Coveo roves from search to customer support. Funnelback, well, Funnelback chugs along because one of their management team told me that the company is not open source. I wonder if that wizard wishes it were playing open source canasta.

The more interesting company to consider in the context of the Elastic solid triple in the search big leagues is LucidWorks. This company played its open source card. The company flipped CEOs, changed its focus, and emulated the polymorphic approach to search that the proprietary vendors followed. LucidWorks then found itself facing the Amazon search system staffed helpfully with a LucidWorks’ veteran or two. LucidWorks has consumed more than $100 million in investment capital, pushed founder Marc Krellenstein down the memory hole, and watched as the Elastic outfit blasted past LucidWorks and into the lushness of the IPO. Both companies had similar business models. Both companies leveraged the open source development community. Both companies followed similar marketing scripts.

But there was a difference.

Shay Bannon provided vision and he figured out that he needed a strong supporting cast. The result is that Elastic moved forward, added capabilities, made prudent decisions about supplemental modules, and offered reasonable for fee option to those who tried out the open source version of the search system and then moved to pay for service and other goodies available from Elastic.

The result?

The future for LucidWorks now looks a bit different. The company has to find a way to pay back its investors. The firm’s Elastic like business model may have to be reevaluated. Heck, the product line up may be require a refurbishing comparable to those performed on automobile programs which take an interesting vehicle and turn it into a winner.

Unfortunately fixing up search vendors is not as easy to do in real life. A TV show has the benefit of post production and maybe some color and sound experts to spiff up the automobile.

Image result for bitchin rides

Competitors like LucidWorks will have to spiff up their 1956 automobiles in order to catch customers’ eyes as Elastic rolls rapidly into the future.

Search doesn’t work that way.

The question becomes, “What will LucidWorks do?”

Even those of us in Harrod’s Creek know what Elastic will do. The company will chug along and become the go to way to provide utility search, log analysis, and other basic functions to outfits which appear to be independent high tech search wizards.

Stephen E Arnold, October 6, 2018

Is Bing Stuck Like a 45 RPM Recording?

October 1, 2018

At least twice a year, Microsoft releases a press statement explaining how it has made Bing smarter. The questions are always,”how and in what way?” Bing pales in comparison to rivals DuckDuckGo and Google, but it also has its staunch supporters. Thurott has shared one of the prerequisite Bing cheerleading pieces, “Bing Just Got A Whole Lot Smarter.”

Bing has added a brand new list of features to enhance user experience. One of the new features is a hotel booking option that shows higher-ranked hotels with the same nightly rate to save you money, historical price trends, hotel comparisons, and other neat tools.

If you are frugal and/or always searching for a deal, Bing will now share information about details, such as if it is in stores or expiring soon. This augments Bing’s discount feature that displays different deals in search results.

“The last area where Bing is getting improved is an interesting one: home services. Bing is partnering with Porch, a service that helps you find professionals for home services, to help surface better results within search. It will now show you things like cost ranges, which are meant to help find a “fair” or the average cost for a certain service based on your location. It will also now let you get a quote for supported home service providers from within search.”

Word about whether advertisers will get priority in search results, but they are already labeled in search results. When it comes to making Bing smarter, this is not bad. Good job, Microsoft!

Whitney Grace, October 1, 2018

Search Revisionism: Alive and Well

September 27, 2018

I read “The Google Graveyard: Remembering Three Dead Search Engines.” I find it interesting how the reality perceived today seems to differ from the reality that existed in the 1990s. The write up answers the question, “Yo, dudes, what happened to three search engines?”

The three dead search engines explained or sort of described in the article are AskJeeves, Dogpile, and AltaVista.

The write up states:

Google is so ingrained in online culture that it feels as if it’s always been there.

I like feelings. Although after working at Halliburton Nuclear, I am not sure I am quite so warm and cuddly. Definitely Google was not “always” there.

And for those unfamiliar with the commercial databases like Chemical Abstracts and other commercial research services, I find this statement a bit disconcerting:

Google holds humanity’s knowledge in its search bar, and it has the ability to shape conversations on a massive scale. Imagine the internet as a million-volume collection of books, each one densely packed with essential information (and cat pictures).

Quite a statement. But people who use “always” often look for point and click solutions which require little or no attention.

You can skim the explanations of each the three search engines. I would like to offer additional information.


This was a rule based system. Rules were written by humans. The AskJeeves’ system looked at a query, matched it to the rules, and offered an answer. Humans were and are expensive. Humans have to write and modify rules. AskJeeves’ death had little to do with Google and everything to do with the ineffectiveness of the system, its costs, and the resources required to come up with answers to those questions. A version of the service lives on and it is a “diller.” Sorry, dilly.


This services was a metasearch engine, and for a few years, a reasonable one. A user entered a query. Dogpile sent the query to other Web search engines and displayed results. The service ended up in the hands of InfoSpace, and the Dogpile engaged in some legal excitement and ended up the modern version of a one stop shop. In short, Dogpile is not yet dead.


Now that’s an interesting case. AltaVista was a demo of the DEC Alpha. Search was and is a complicated application. Compaq bought DEC. HP bought Compaq. HP, the management wizards, left AltaVista high and dry. Messrs. Brin and Page hired several interesting people from AltaVista; for example, Jeff Dean, Simon Tong, et al. AltaVista disappeared because HP was not exactly on the ball. Alums of AltaVista went on to set up Exalead, now a unit of Dassault Systèmes. The Exalead search system is still online at


AskJeeves was not a Web search engine. Dogpile was a metasearch engine and did little original crawling and indexing. AltaVista is embedded in certain technological ways in the Google system. And, by the way, Google is not the place to go if your child has been poisoned and your doctor needs an antidote.

Even those who do not understand information can figure out the limits of ad supported, free information. At least I hope so.

Stephen E Arnold, September 27, 2018

Rapprochement: Russia, a Copyright Defender

September 25, 2018

I know there are “exciting” search announcements from Bing and Google. Sigh. I don’t have the energy to tilt at the relevance windmill today. However, I noted an interesting search development regarding copyright protection in Russia. Yep, Russia, home of fancy bears and other digital creatures.

Google, Yandex Discuss Creation of Anti-Piracy Database” explains the “real” news, which I assume is the truth:

Google, Yandex and other prominent Internet companies in Russia are discussing the creation of a database of infringing content including movies, TV shows, games, and software. The idea is that the companies will automatically query this database every five minutes with a view to removing such content from search results within six hours, no court order required.\

I learned:

Takedowns like this are common in the West, with Google removing billions of links upon request. In Russia, however, search engine Yandex found itself in hot water recently after refusing to remove links on the basis that the law does not require it to do so. This prompted the authorities to suggest that a compromise agreement needs to be made, backed up by possible changes in the law. It now appears that this event, which could’ ve led to Yandex being blocked by ISPs, has prompted both Internet companies and copyright holders to consider a voluntary agreement. Discussions currently underway suggest a unique and potentially ground-breaking plan.

I particularly enjoyed this explanation of the downside related to a failure to cooperate:

Talks appear to be fairly advanced, with agreements on the framework for the database potentially being reached by the middle of this week. If that’s the case, a lawsuit recently filed by Gazprom Media against Yandex could be settled amicably. It’s understood that Yandex wants all major Internet players to become involved, including social networks. With the carrot comes the possibility of the stick, of course. Gazprom Media indicates that if a voluntary agreement cannot be reached, it will seek amendments to copyright law that will achieve the same end results.

From my vantage point in bourbon saturated Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky, I blurrily perceive several implications:

  • Copyright compliance leadership appears to be centered in Russia. Yep, Russia. You know, the bear place.
  • Yandex seems to be taking the lead, possibly because its management understands the downsides of Putin pushback.
  • American companies are participating, but after decades of copyright hassles, I think I see a certain reluctance because an outfit like Google doesn’t want a reprise of its diplomatic performance with China. Ad dollars, perhaps?

Worth watching. Some queries on Yandex return some interesting copy protected content. If you have a moment, try this query at

yandex crack

(Sorry, but I can only show the Russian word for crack via screenshot without the text being corrupted when we disseminate this write up.) You can get the Russian version of crack using a translation service.)

Stephen E Arnold,

Can Algorithms Be Designed to Perform Like Trained Dogs?

September 11, 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Trump thinks Google search results are rigged in the article, “Here’s What We Really Know About Google’s Mysterious Search Engine.” Trump claims that Google and other social media search results are rigged for their lack of conservative, right wing views on the networks. The president even warned Facebook, Google, and Twitter that they are treading on thin ice.

Mr. Trump, like some Web site operators receiving minimal traffic, has arrived at this conclusion because of the dominance these platforms have on people’s lives. However does it have any stock? Google claims that it does not pollute its search results, but the company has also shown it does not like the president. After a short explanation about how Google search works, the article moves into information about “Google News’ secret sauce.” Google News has an algorithm that personalizes news results for each user. People and companies can influence the search results with their content, but how much does Google intervene in the results?

We learned:

“Google’s algorithm, particularly for search, is a master algorithm that is applied in real time against each search query as it comes in, according to the company. Although the algorithm itself frequently changes as Google makes tweaks, it is applied identically to each search. If the results differ from person to person, that could be because they may be using a browser in incognito mode, which deletes the cookies and other third-party tracking software. Or they may be searching from a different location, triggering Google’s reflex to return local results. Or they may simply be performing a search slightly later in time than another, said Christo Wilson, a computer science professor at Northeastern University who has studied Google’s search practices for six years.”

We like the idea of a master algorithm? We also believe that filtering information can have interesting consequences.

How political are free systems which display answers to questions? Is it possible for a disgruntled person to tweak wrapper code to return certain results or to down check a certain concept?

Answers to these questions are difficult to evaluate. After two decades of providing ad supported information, why would anyone doubt the objectivity of mathematical recipes?

Woof, woof.

Stephen E Arnold, September 11, 2018

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