Blog Archives

19th Century Medical Books, Bing, Archives, More: Thursday Morning Buzz, March 27, 2014

Bing has launched product ads.

Twitter is going to let you tag people in photos. You’ll also be able to share multiple photos in one tweet, which is nice.

Library and Archives Canada has launched an initial set of Alberta Residential School photos. More are coming. “Some 150,000 Aboriginal children attended over 130 residential schools located across the country.”

The Wellcome Library has undertaken a huge project to digitize 25,000 19th century medical books. “As with the Wellcome Library’s own collections we are interpreting ‘medicine’ quite broadly, to include related sciences, consumer health, sport and fitness and food and nutrition, as well as kinds of medical practice – mesmerism, phrenology and hydrotherapy, for example – that have since fallen out of favour, but which were important in their time.”

OOoooh, Lifehacker! How to stream your movie collection anywhere with Google Drive. This article also goes into other media like music.

Fun from Mashable: 10 Amazing Google Earth & Maps Discoveries.

More Google: A new Web tool lets you search Google without being tracked: “Disconnect routes your searches through a proxy before the major search engines receive your request. This way, it looks to Google or Bing like the search request is coming from Disconnect and they never know any information about you.”

A bunch of new collections are available at Archives.com. “These birth, death, and marriage indexes from Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, and Montana contain more than 10 million records.” Good morning, Internet…

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Bing, Twitter, Fold3, More: Wednesday Morning Buzz, February 12, 2014

Interesting: a Web service that aggregates quotes you gather across the Internet. It’s called Gloss.

Have you heard about OpportunitySpace? It’s developing online databases of publicly-owned land and buildings in various municipal areas, and has launched its first properties database, for Louisville, Kentucky. “The comprehensive catalog brings together property data from various government agencies and centralizes it in a single, searchable website that is free and open to the public. One of its current uses is for the city’s ‘Lots of Possibilities’ land use redevelopment competition for vacant properties, in which residents can submit ideas to repurpose a vacant lot in the city.”

Duke Digital Collections has added over 300 newly-digitized interviews to its Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American Life in the Jim Crow South digital collection. ” The new interviews are specifically focussed on North Carolina residents. Although several regions are represented, many interviews focus on the Charlotte, Durham and Enfield regions of the state.”

In recognition of Black History Month, Fold3 is making all publications in its Black History Collection free through the end of February.

Apparently Twitter is testing an interface design that looks a lot like Facebook. Because all Facebook users are just thrilled with how Facebook presents content, right? I think my head just exploded.

If this is true, ewww! Bing! Is Bing censoring Chinese-language search results in the US? “Searches first conducted by anti-censorship campaigners at FreeWeibo, a tool that allows uncensored search of Chinese blogs, found that Bing returns radically different results in the US for English and Chinese language searches on a series of controversial terms.”

More Bing: Bing is now offering Bitcoin conversion. (And Google apparently still isn’t?)

What a lovely idea for a Tumblr: curated public domain photos.

Old schoolin’: apparently the Search Engine Watch forums have gone offline. But is it for good? Good morning, Internet…

I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Bing’s Buffet of Special Syntax

Monday was a historic day — I gave my first BingSquee. That is, I read an entry in a Bing blog, looked up the associated content, and my resulting “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!” was heard for miles around. I’m fairly sure I broke windows.

What was I squeememorating? This recent post on the Bing Community blog, noting that there’s now a guide to Bing query language. Now, there are few things I like more than a good collection of query syntax for search engines. And when I saw Bing’s, I was thrilled. Let me show you some of the highlights, but I also want to encourage you to explore the syntax for yourself.

The guide actually comes in several flavors for but I’m focusing on the HTML version, available at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff795667.aspx. Before you dive into the syntax take a look at the Operator Precedence page, so you can be sure you’re setting things up in the right order. Then click on “Advanced Operator Reference” for lots of fun, including:

contains: — Used with a keyword and finds pages that have links to a specific kind of filetype (as opposed to filetype:, which finds results of a specific kind of filetype.) For example, specification template contains:pdf.

inbody: — Searches for a specified words just in the HTML or metadata of a web page. For example, site:edu inbody:”key performance indicator”.

near: — A real proximity syntax! Use near: with an integer to specify two keywords and how close they should be to each other. For example, “web-based” near:3 dashboard.

norelax: — Apparently Bing has a pretty hard query word restriction: “Bing implements relaxcount for a 5+ word query by default; that is, the fifth word in a query and subsequent appears do not necessarily appear in results.” norelax: used with a query word means it would not be subject to this restriction. You can get a good sense of how this works by trying to query one two three four five snowblower avocado, which gives you about 6200 results, and the query one two three four five norelax:snowblower norelax:avocado, which has 3,920. (That still seems like a lot…)

This list isn’t, of course, all the syntax available, just what I thought was the most interesting. I was also intrigued by feed:, which was supposed to find RSS/ATOM feeds, and hasfeed:, which was supposed to find sites containing feeds, but I couldn’t get either of them to work. Most of the syntax I played with allowed you to stack it together (site:gov contains:pdf “proposed budget” or intitle:news contains:pdf site:edu norelax:autism norelax:study but I didn’t do exhaustive testing.

I knew Bing offered some special syntax but I wasn’t aware it was this extensive. If the feed: option worked I could see myself using that a lot. I will definitely compare the near: operator to the old trick I currently use with Google (“web-based * * dashboard”). Worth a look.

Bing Gets More Entertaining

Search engine Bing has been putting up several blog posts this week highlighting new elements of its search engine. I have mentioned a couple of these in Morning Buzz, but I think the recent update about new entertainment content deserves its own post.

If you want to browse through entertainment content, you can go straight to http://www.bing.com/entertainment, but you can also get content as well.

First up is music. You can now get a lot of music information from a simple search. The one I’m most excited about, though, is lyrics. There are about a jillion places online to find lyrics, but many of them are loaded with ads and its’ not easy to tell sometimes which ones are safe and which aren’t. Now with Bing you can do a search for artist songname and you’ll get a result that shows a song with a lyrics link. Click on the link and you’ll get the lyrics to the song with writer credits without leaving Bing. This even works when you’re doing a search for lyrics, though you may have to do some URL hacking to get there. Check out this search: http://www.bing.com/music/lyrics/search?q=sipping+a+cup+of+pity.

A couple of notes on lyric search: it doesn’t seem to be censored, and I didn’t see an easy way to set the filter. Some of the most innocuous searches will get you some pretty wild results — I don’t think I’d let kids use this search without supervision. Also, many lyrics are presented colloquially; if you’re trying to find Dierks Bentley’s What Was I Thinkin’ you’ll have to search for hood slidin’ like Bo Duke because hood sliding like Bo Duke won’t get you any results. Experiment.

You’ll notice this result also gives you a “play” icon for this particular song (Soul Sloshing, by Venus Hum.) When I clicked it though, I got a “coming soon” popup, as I did for Gov’t Mule, Modest Mouse, Jane Siberry, and other searches I tried. I didn’t explore this further.

If you get tired of looking at music you can play a game or two. Bing has information on about 35,000 games, which it notes includes reviews, cheats, and walkthroughs. I had mixed results with this feature. I got results for Final Fantasy and Super Mario Brothers but not for Civ IV or Civilization IV. I didn’t get results for Mario Kart but I did get results for Mario Kart 64. This is another arena where you’ll have to experiment.

Bing has also embedded about 100 casual games that you can play from the search engine itself including, unfortunately, Bookworm. (Just search for Bookworm and you’ll get a link to the game and an invitation to play. You don’t have to be logged in unless you want your high score recorded.) Drat you, Bing…

If playing games is too much work Bing now offers episodes from over 1500 television shows. You can browse everything that’s available at http://www.bing.com/videos/browse/tv/all?q=browse:tv/all#, which I recommend because it took me a while to find a show doing random Bing searches. I saw soap operas, dramas, lots of reality television, and anime. You can filter by recent or popular items, or narrow down your search to clips or full episodes. There are also a couple of different duration options.

Bing has gathered a good strong set of content here, and also has wisely emphasized the issue of safety. However I wish that aspect of it had been explored a little further with quick filters being available for lyric searches. Definitely worth an explore, though I’m going to try to avoid Bookworm. If you never see another post on ResearchBuzz again you’ll know why…

Bing Social: Now Searching Facebook and Twitter

Nice! Bing announced yesterday that its site Bing Social would now be searching both Facebook and Twitter. Bing Social is available at http://www.bing.com/social.

If you can’t think of anything to search for, there’s a list of hot topics on the left. But I did a search for soccer.

The results are divided into three parts — at least I think that’s how it’s supposed to be, though it didn’t turn out that way for me. The first part is the summary, which shows you a live update of links from Twitter and Facebook (or Twitter and Twitter — more about that in a minute) and shared links. The second part is supposed to be just updates from the social Web but Bing kept telling me there were no results. Um, no results for a search for soccer? I dunno. (Update: Later I tried it and it worked fine.) The third part is the list of links that are being shared. You can see who has shared the link recently, or get a full list of places the link has been shared.

Though both Twitter and Facebook are included in Bing Social Search, Twitter tends to drown out Facebook due to sheer volume. I saw some Facebook updates in my search results, but not many. Bing does give you the option to specify the social network on the left, so you can turn the Twitter updates off.

At the moment the firehose of output is so lopsided between Twitter and Facebook I’m not sure I’d use this — I’d be afraid I was missing some interesting Facebook updates in the Twitterlanche. However if/when Bing Social adds more sources to its search, and I can search between them while leaving Twitter turned off, it’ll be useful.

Bing’s Adding some Features

What’s the opposite of spring cleaning? Spring adding? Spring enhancing? Whatever it is, Bing is doing it, with an announcement last week of new features coming up on its Web site.

The first thing is the Quick Tabs in the Explore Pane at the left of the search results. The links here are sort of a combination of clustered search and context. If you do a search for Dallas, for example, you’ll get general links to Dallas events and Dallas weather and Dallas jobs, but you’ll also see related searches like Dallas TV Show, Dallas Morning News, etc. Bing is testing moving some of this data to the top of the page for better/faster/more obvious access. I’m not seeing this yet, but I hope the results are true tabs (easy to get back to original results.) Bing is doing a good job of helping users easily add context to their searches and get key data from their searches with their left nav.

Bing is also riding that real-time bandwagon. It’s already teamed with Twitter and has started testing “new experiences for real-time results.” Also in its own words: “For example, when you search for a publication such as the New York Times, Bing not only gives you quick access to specific sections of the destination website, but also provides the most popular shared links from that publication.” When I did a search for New York Times I got a first result that looked like this:

In this case the latest links at the bottom were not, as far as I could tell, the most popular. Instead they were the latest items from the NYT feed. The “Latest Posts” feed links to an XML file. Searching for Washington Post and LA Times didn’t find any latest posts. However, searching for Dallas Morning News did find a search result for the latest stories.

From Bing Cool to Bing Pfui. Bing also announced a new feature called Map App. Map App shows real-time data from foursquare on the map you specify. Sounds neat, right? I’ll have to take Bing’s word for it; I can’t get it to run. I’ll hold off on my rant about Adobe Flash and now Microsoft Silverlight… gaaaaah.

The map app aside, I’m looking forward to integration of more shortcuts to important data in search results, and, hopefully, some more credible real-time than a random Twitter stream.

Bing Ties Up Tighter with Facebook

Bing announced last week several initiatives that will tie it in tighter with Facebook. Facebook recently had its sixth anniversary, which is pretty old in Internet terms, but has gotten really hot in the last couple of years.

Bing is the search provider on Facebook. In other words, when you run a search on Facebook and get all the results that Facebook can provide — people, groups, and so on — you get Web results at the bottom, and those are provided by Bing. Bing’s Web search integration will be extended to outside the US, covering all of Facebook’s 400 million users, and Bing will soon be integrating additional features into its Facebook Web results, including (I hope!) its rich search answers. (So I can search on Facebook for red beans and rice and get fan pages, groups, and recipes!)

I suspect there will be a closer tie-up with Facebook appearing in Bing’s search results, but after a few tests searches I’m not seeing it yet. As Bing mentioned in its announcement, it’ll take several weeks/months for all this to shake out.

This is good for Bing. They’ve got a big role in one of the hottest properties on the Web. Twitter has an API and is appearing in all kinds of search results. What are the other hot independent Web properties that haven’t teamed up with a major player? Yelp, maybe? Foursquare?

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