Posts tagged ‘Duck Duck Go’


Another false accusation from Google

02.12.2010

For around a year, I’ve been at Google for its misbehaviours. And one thing I dislike about these tech companies—whether it’s Facebook or Google or any of their ilk—is how they are slaves to technology, rather than masters of it. Somewhere along the line, they have allowed algorithms to determine guilt, thereby offending that old-fashioned idea of the presumption of innocence. From Blogger blocks to false copyright-infringement accusations to, now, this:

Blocked from searching on Google

   While Duck Duck Go is my default now, occasionally I’ll still put a search through Google. There is no malware on this system, or on this network, and I certainly haven’t put through a single automated request (how could human typing be mistaken for this?!)—reasons Google gives for this message. It’s just another case of guilty till proved innocent that this northern California company, and others, are so good at creating.
   Funny, isn’t it, that it has relied on an automated process to accuse a human process of being automated? It’s the Blogger fight all over again.

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Posted in business, internet, USA | No Comments »


Testing the search engines

30.11.2010

Blekko

I hadn’t heard of Blekko, a search engine, till last week, so armed with a new entrant, I wanted to see how they all compared.
   Blekko’s very pretty, and I’ve told Gabriel Weinberg, the man behind Duck Duck Go, just what it is that makes it attractive. Most of it is the modernist design approach it takes. But is it more functional?
   I have a couple of tests. You may have heard me dis Google’s supplemental index, where pages it deems to be less important wind up. But who makes that determination? And what if there is a page in there that is actually relevant but Google fails to dig it up?
   Google says the supplemental index doesn’t exist any more, but the fact remains that it fails to dig up some pages, especially older ones. So much for its comprehensive index.
   The first test, therefore, is one I have subjected every search engine I encounter to: will it find a 2000 article on Lucire about Elle Macpherson Intimates’ 10th anniversary? It is probably the only article on the subject, and because of this test, I’ve even linked it this year so it can be spidered by the search engines. Last month, Google could not find it, though in 2000–1, it was very easily found.
   If the search engines are as intelligent as their makers claim, it should be able to figure out these concepts and deliver the pages accordingly. The page itself is very basic with no trick HTML—just plain old meta data, as you would imagine for a ten-year-old file.
   Will the search engines find it now, with a few more inward links?

Duck Duck Go: 1st
Blekko: not found, though it locates a reference made on this blog and two others in Lucire, one going back to 2001, at positions 1, 2 and 12
Google: 73rd, with blog entries from here referring to it at 5 and 42, and another link in Lucire at 6
Bing: 1st with old frameset at 2nd
Ask: 7th

   Here’s the second test. In Wired, Google bragged about how its index could find a page about a certain lawyer in Michigan (mike siwek lawyer mi). Unfortunately for Mr Siwek, most of the top entries quickly became those about the Wired article and he was lost again in the index.
   Mr Don Wearing, a friend of mine, is a partner in a shoe retail chain. If I typed “Don Wearing” shoes, which of the search engines will deliver me an entry referring to Don Wearing specifically and not some guy called Don who happens to be wearing shoes? (Not long ago, the best the search engines could do was around 12th.)

Duck Duck Go: 2nd
Blekko: says ‘No results found for: “Don Wearing” shoes’ but actually finds the article at 5th
Google: 3rd
Bing: 2nd
Ask: 5th

Not bad: an improvement all round.
   OK, how about speed of addition? Let’s see if the search engines will find the last entry in this blog, added a few hours ago. I’ll use the search term “Jack Yan” TPPA.

Duck Duck Go: not found
Blekko: not found
Google: found the main blog page
Bing: found a link to it at MyBlogLog
Ask: not found, but came up with seven irrelevant results

   This is just a quick test based on three examples that might not reflect everyday use. However, the first two frustrated me earlier when I went to hunt for them on Google (and before I had heard of Duck Duck Go), which is why I remembered them, so admittedly Google was at a slight disadvantage in this test as a result. I never went to Bing or Ask regularly.
   Therefore, I’m not going to draw any conclusions about who is best, but I will say that Google is quicker at finding new material. I would, however, encourage others to give these other search engines a go and see how effective they are. I’m very happy with Duck Duck Go, especially as it does not second-guess my queries with Google’s annoying ‘Showing results for [what Google thinks I typed]. Search instead for [what I actually typed]’. No, Google, I did not type my query wrong—so give me the results already!
   I prefer Duck Duck Go’s approach, which is to treat the web more as a research medium. There is no hiding pages: it just delivers the most relevant result to what I typed, which is why I originally moved to Google at the end of the 1990s.
   Judging by the above, I’m not convinced Blekko is ready for prime-time (which is why it still has a beta tag).
   Of the five tested, it looks like it’s still the Duck for me, complemented with Google News. I’m way more impressed with Duck Duck Go’s privacy policy: no search leakage, no search history, and no collecting of personal information to hand over to law enforcement or, for that matter, the Chinese Politburo.
   And in a year where people have shown that they care about privacy, Duck Duck Go seems to make more sense.

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Posted in business, design, internet, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


If you are on Chrome, it won’t let you see this

11.10.2010

Ever since I began blogging a bit more regularly here (upping it to my usual frequency?) Twitter friends have been telling me that they cannot read these entries because there is a malware warning.
   What they have in common: they are all using Chrome.
   I wanted to try Chrome out again (I had it installed on my old desktop machine) but I’m turned off again. It’s part of the Google empire, and going on it would mean reversing my reasonably successful de-Googling of my life that I started earlier this year.
   Chrome is accusing me of having malware on this site, which is total cobblers. It is a bit like Google accusing Vincent Wright of having a splog last year—that matter that I had to fight Google on his behalf over for six months.
   I have used Blogrolling to host the blogroll on this site since 2006. It appears, if I read the Chrome complaint properly, that someone else had used Blogrolling (probably one of many millions of users) and put in a couple of malware links. Maybe they had put in legit links that have since become malware sites. Whatever the case, Chrome appears now to accuse anyone who even uses Blogrolling of hosting malware.
   It’s maybe a good thing that Chrome is being vigilant: extra vigilance is better than being lax. But to me, it’s a reminder of how Google has been cavalier with false accusations—Vincent was by no means alone—which tarnishes its brand.

I have to report things Google is doing right, out of fairness. In August I wrote a letter to the company to point out that there were things in my Google account that should not be there. There were services where I no longer agreed with its terms and conditions, and would the chaps kindly take them out of my account?
   They haven’t complied fully, but a few things have been fixed. Adsense now shows ‘0 products’ (it incorrectly showed two at the time of the letter), although ideally I would prefer not to have an Adsense entry at all. The Blogger count of the number of blogs I have was on four for many months when it was, in fact, zero. It now shows ‘1 total’: still wrong, but closer to zero than four was. (Again, I had requested complete removal of my Blogger account.) Last week, Docs showed I had one document, but that has now corrected itself to zero again. (The correct number was, and is, zero.)
   And, the most major of all, I no longer have Social Search: Google had been insisting that I had over 800 connections, which was impossible considering I deleted my profile. (The number of connections grew from the 700s after deletion.) Having connections suggested that Google retained a record of all the links I once had in my Google profile, regardless of the fact that it was using private information that it no longer had permission to use. After all, it got me a Buzz follower despite my unchecking a box that implied that that would not happen—and that wasn’t the only time I got signed up to Buzz without my permission (or a myriad of other Google services, including Google Talk and Google Notebook).
   The lesson seems to be: if you want Google to be more careful with how it uses your private information, write a letter. And I mean the sort that takes ink, paper, stamps, a jet plane and carbon emissions. Things are still not done to my satisfaction, but they are gradually improving.

Elle MacphersonGoogle will find the newer stuff, but not always the most relevant stuff—a search for an old Elle Macpherson story is a case in point.

There is one thing Google does not seem to do very well any more: search.
   That’s an exaggeration, but I have been really surprised at things that it has failed to find of late. For example: stuff on this blog. It is not to do with age: Google finds the older entries from this blog without any problems (despite the Blogrolling issue noted above). Those older entries were compiled using Google-owned Blogger, when it still offered FTP publishing. The entries, like this one, which have been put together with WordPress, cannot be found readily (if at all). Could it be because so many of my WordPress entries here have been anti-Google? Duck Duck Go and Bing do not seem to discriminate between Blogger- and WordPress-compiled content on this site.
   And just plain stuff at Lucire doesn’t get found very easily. A 2000 story we did on the 10th anniversary of Elle Macpherson Intimates is a good example. The other search engines find it: it’s the only online story on the subject. Google does not: it kicks up some really irrelevant links where Elle Macpherson Intimates and 10th anniversary are mentioned, but as unrelated concepts. Duck Duck Go has it as its second entry, as does Bing.
   This is not about how highly Google has placed the story nor is it about where Google has put Lucire. (A Lucire entry is found by Google, on the second page, which has a link to our 2000 article, but the article itself is non-existent on Google, despite inward links.)
   There was another few recently. One was when I tried to locate a Typepad post about Vox locking me out. Granted, my Typepad blog is pretty new (started when Six Apart closed Vox), but Duck Duck Go had no problems locating the entry. I forget the exact queries, otherwise I would link them now for you to check. Whatever the case, Google failed to find the links.
   Even if it were not for my problems with Google, I would have shifted to Duck Duck Go on the frustration that I could not find things on the ’net that I know for sure exist. I still use both—there are still queries which Google handles better than Duck Duck Go—but I can no longer consider Google a complete research tool.

There is some good news out there in Tech-land USA (read the Bay Area). Six Apart seemed to care a lot more about Typepad than Vox. After the first import of my Vox data to Typepad failed, its boffins came in and helped out, and got the site up and running. I am pleasantly surprised that many of these entries still contain the images I uploaded to them. The only loss has been the videos, but they warned us about that and gave us the option to shift them to Flickr. I opted not to, so I can’t blame anyone but myself.

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Posted in branding, business, internet, publishing, technology, USA | 12 Comments »