This page contains all my blogs from the whole semester. It is sorted in reverse order of the date that the blog entry was created.

Talent Overload

by ranfanranfan (06 Dec 2009 07:29; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:23)

Talent Overload is the world's most talented search engine!


Chuck Lamb says he owes millions and he is trying his hardest to pay it back. Not dollars, but fans. He has opened a website to begin the pay back process:


This search engine is designed for people with talent as a place where they can share their talent which the world can find with a simple search. Its objective is to be THe site people go to when they “want a clown for your child’s party?” or "share talent with people in CA when you're in NY".

“In time, I’m hoping Talent Overload will become “The Place” for anyone who has a talent to be found by simply searching” Lamb added. “Painters, authors, singers, poets, screenwriters, clowns, jugglers, musicians and anyone else who is trying to live a dream like I am can get some of the exposure they desperately need to achieve their goal.” “Imagine finding your next favorite author just by going to Talent Overload and searching for ‘Author and Fiction’. “In today’s digital world, a person can write and self publish something and then be found directly through our search engine.”

How does it work?

The website is totally free. Anyone who signs up can create a profile, show up to three photos, add links to personal pages, write a bio and enter up to 50 keywords from which they can be found from the search engine. There is an option to upgrade to a premium profile that shows a photo in the search results. Premium profiles will also be listed first in search results.

Why does it exist?

Lamb is known around the world by the name of the character he created ‘Dead Body Guy’. He became a global phenomenon in 2006 when his website was started. His site features him in different poses in and around his home playing dead in hopes of playing a corpse in a movie or TV show. With little to no acting experience Lamb knew he would have to come up with something new and different to get noticed in the world of show business. He also knew he would need support from people he had never met to achieve his dream. Those unknown people came out in droves. The website was sent out virally through websites, blogs and emails by the thousands. Lamb said he personally answered over a thousand emails from well wishers around the globe.

It didn’t take long for Lamb’s site to get the attention he had hoped. Within 6 weeks he was on the front page national of the New York Times and he was flying to New York City to be seen on shows like TODAY, CNN, MSNBC, CBS Early Morning and others. Lamb has been featured in over 400 newspapers and magazines around the world and has now been in over 12 TV shows and movies.It has now been seen by over 50 million people in more than 150 different countries making him an overnight celebrity.

After almost 3 years Lamb has finally lived out his dream. He attended the world premiere of the horror / comedy Thankskilling, an independent movie about a demonic turkey which comes back for revenge. Lamb played Sheriff Roud, a likable but not very attentive sheriff who of course gets killed.

Lamb says “I know me becoming an actor and being seen all over the world was a combination of a good idea, the right timing and support by millions around the world. All I would like to do now is repay some of those millions back for helping me live my dream.”

Essentially, this is a way for him to give back to his supporters and help others get started in the business. And he plans to help them by giving them exposure

Testing it out

I placed myself in the role of a "talent scout" and searched for "Artist" on the website. This Artist was one of eight that showed up. Looking at the profile, the page is very "ugly". It's just a long list with no substance. For someone that's an artist, there are only two pictures in the "portfolio", hidden at the bottom of the page.

Even though it may not be her fault, the setup of this website does not allow her to exercise much of her creativity - something I would expect of artists. This is evidence that TalentOverload does not allow for any loading of talent.

What I would expect from the site of an artist would be something like this. That is the website of a UMich art student, who is able to fully show off her skills, resume, portfolio through the site itself.

Next, I thought of myself as a parent looking for a clown for my kid's birthday party. A search for
clown yielded ONE result. The clown profile is a bit better mostly due to its youtube video which allowed me to see him in action. His own website though is much more lively. However, the lack of choices in terms of search leaves much to be desired. For instance, what if I had wanted a clown that specializes in balloon animals? Or even something as simple as conducting a local search.


1. TalentOverload need to really allow individuals to PERSONALIZE their profile and have their personality shine through, not just offer them three measly pictures and the ability to link. For a guy whose career took off in a viral manner, his site (and hence the users' pages) sure doesn't look very appealing. Nothing here looks like it has the potential to be passed to another person.

2. The search function itself is lacking as well. Currently, it only has the ability to such for keywords in "profile" or "jobs". It lacks critical features such as location or experience (in terms of years). Location is obviously important because an amateur clown isn't going to have the money to fly from Ohio to California. And experience might matter to me because I wouldn't want a clown who's only been around for a day to perform at my kid's birthday party.

3. The ranking system in search results is not ideal.

From the FAQ:

With a Premium profile you’ll be listed at the top of all relevant search results. A picture will also be displayed in the search results. This gives you a better chance to get found and land a potential gig. For less than a $1.00 a month you can’t go wrong. Maximum exposure is exaclty what you trying to get and you get that with the premium profile.

He goes on to say

A premium profile is only $9.95 a year. So for less than $1.00 per month you have a better shot of living your dream. If you never take steps to be famous, you never will be. Create a profile, spread the word and let the world FIND YOU!

This means that companies or individuals cannot rely on the results returned form the website because there is no metric of measuring data within the system. On one hand, yes, people are trying to get discovered, on the other, if and when the website gets larger and there's more than just one clown in the system, what's going to distinguish them from each other? There should be some sort of ranking / recommendation system in place as another criteria.

Furthermore, the current system is very limiting. THREE photos? The ability to write a bio? Links to a myspace page? In this day and age of Twitter, social network sites, it is almost sad that these are even advertised as great features. This limited information is only useful if people know of the site and go directly to it. If it doesn't show up in major search engines, then it is probably not going to get a lot of hits. I tried to find the clown from before on Google. Returns showed up for vimeo, myspace, twitter, talenthouse, mixx, even the meijer site, but I looked through 5 pages of returns and could not find "talentoverload", I even did an in site search and could not find any results.


So overall, TalentOverload is so far disappointing and useless. For artists, tools like MySpace, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter are much better at sharing your talent and getting the word out there about who you are. Today, it is more likely for you to get "discovered" if people can just stumble upon your work or hear about you through word of mouth. Career search engines or even Craigslist are probably more helpful for FINDING jobs.

Heck, for just personal needs for talent, a YellowPage or flyers at the local coffee house might offer more insight and options than this website.


by ranfanranfan (06 Dec 2009 07:07; last edited on 06 Dec 2009 07:11)

PartnerServe Company Inc. announces the launch of Freelemonade to help you search and explore by suggesting relevant keywords. If you are new to a subject or want to widen your understanding and don’t know the issues or vocabulary, this can lead to feelings of searching in the dark.

With a Freelemonade search you receive a list of additional keywords and phrases that are statistically relevant to your interests. Like a table of contents or index of keywords and phrases it helps you explore and learn quickly. Check off your interests and they are automatically fed to the search engine so the search returns focus on pages associated with your specific interest.

Freelemonade is the first tool both for searchers with a focused interest and information gurus wanting to formulate better and more precise search queries. You no longer have to guess which search words will help you find what you want.

The first release covers medical conditions. If you or a family member has just been diagnosed you may be drawn to a major search engine but won’t know what to search for. If you don’t know a subject area you will not be familiar with the issues and vocabulary. In Freelemonade a search for ‘autism’ gives a list of statistically relevant additional words to select from. The returned keywords are guaranteed to be statistically relevant for your search.

The following medical conditions are covered in the current release: Alzheimer’s, Hearing Loss, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Asthma, HIV Aids, Autism, Lupus, Breast Cancer, Depression, Cancer, Skin Cancer, Diabetes, ADHD, Epilepsy, Carpal Tunnel. Additional conditions and subject areas will be forthcoming.

Freelemonade is presented as a Firefox extension and is configured for users who normally use the Google search engine. The Firefox extension takes only seconds to install and is very simple to use. It maintains the look and feel of working with a major search engine. Additional browsers and search engines will be supported in the future.

The technology underlying Freelemonade challenges some basic assumptions held by major search engines and has wide applicability throughout the Internet, but the Freelemonade launch is targeted specifically to those wanting to research medical conditions. Innovative technology underlying and differentiating Freelemonade is patent pending.

At Freelemonade you enter a search and receive a list of additional keywords and phrases that are statistically relevant to your interest. You no longer have to guess which search words will help you find what you want. Select from list of suggestions to help you quickly explore and learn. Whatever your interest it guides you through your search.

Larry Smith, President and Founder of PartnerServe Company Inc., observed “At Freelemonade you enter a search and receive a list of additional keywords and phrases that are statistically relevant to your interest. You no longer have to guess which search words will help you find what you want. Select from list of suggestions to help you quickly explore and learn. Whatever your interest it guides you through your search.”

Freelemonade addresses issues all searchers will recognize:
·1 How can I focus search to exclude irrelevant pages?
·2 How do I know which words to put in my search query?
·3 How can I learn the lingo of a subject that is new to me?
·4 How can I adjust my search to quickly find precisely what I want?
It also offers the following benefits
·1 Suggests additional words statistically relevant to your search.
·2 Click on your interests and type less.
3 Feeds your selected interests to the search engine automatically.

Unlike other search enhancements, Freelemonade does not rely on search engine data or analysis. Instead we depend on linguistic analysis of phraseology and usage within subject areas. Freelemonade leverages the natural language technology of PartnerServe and is able to provide a better user experience through software awareness of language and language structures.


NowGoogle: Unified Interface Meta-Search Engine

by ranfanranfan (06 Dec 2009 02:46; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:23)

NowGoogle is a Multiple Search Engine.

First, as far as I can tell, this is NOT a Google Product. Its name doesn't actually even make that much sense relative to what it does. So if the site no longer works when you're reading this, it's probably due to its name infringement.

About nowGoogle

nowGoogle can be best described as a unified interface meta-search engine so it enables easy and quick switching between the results of different search engines

Like all meta-search engines, its purpose is to collect all the information out in the web in the most efficient manner. Most people normally use the biggest Google or Yahoo, nowGoogle offers the chance to access multiple engines in a same time.

It is a category base sites so you can search web, videos, images, blogs, music, lyrics, downloads, books, social bookmark etc.


Search Categories
1. Web Search
2. Blog Search
3. Files Download
4. Ebooks / PDF Download
5. Images Search
6. Jobs Search
7. Music Search
8. Lyrics Search
9. Social Bookmarking Search
10 Videos Search

Web Search

When I conduct a web search on something like Starbucks, it returns "tabbed" results from various search engines. The pages look EXACTLY like the actual search engine page. What I like most about it is that it gathers information from multiple sites, but at the same time, it doesn't change the interface of the websites that we are familiar with.

An example of this would be searching for Starbucks in the books section within the Amazon tab. Under this tab, it IS the Amazon website page. So essentially it would be this page, a Starbucks search on Amazon filtered in the book category. In nowGoogle, I can browse through the amazon website by reading reviews or even going to related books all while still being on the nowGoogle site. The "tool bar" with all the other tabs are locked such that if I was reading the reviews on Amazon and then decide to switch to the B&N tab to see its' user reviews, when I switch back to the Amazon tab, I'll still be on that page. This is a nice feature that saves me from clicking back and forth too many times


The search engines it compiles include:

  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Bing
  • Ask

Some less "popular" ones like

  • AllTheWeb
  • AOL

Broad base Entertainment Search Engine

  • Lycos

News Search

  • AltaVista

But also meta search engines like

  • Dogpile
  • Clusty

Blog Search

If I switch the option to a blog search, it will look at different sites.

It'll instead look at

  • Technorati
  • Google
  • Blogs
  • Blog Catalog
  • Twingly
  • Blogged
  • Ice Rocket
  • Ask


The Books search looks at

  • Amazon
  • Alibris
  • BooksaMillion
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Google

Other Categories

This is the case for each of the other categories as well: the developer really put thought into what would be the best search site for each category and built this platform accordingly.

Special Syntax

nowGoogle enables special queries: and, OR, -, site:, inlink:, inurl:, are just some special query terms that work. This means the search experience is similar to what it might be on each individual sites. But if the query syntax is not enabled on the site itself, it will not work. This is because it doesn't actually conduct the search itself, it merely gathers the search results the other engines conduct.


I am actually very impressed with the idea behind unified meta-search engine sites. I did not know about them until this class when we learned about Soovle, Search.IO, Joongel, and Zuula.

Comparisons to these meta-search engines

  • Soovle - Only has web search, it separate searches for Google, Yahoo, Ask, Wikipedia, Amazon,, YouTube
  • Search.IO - Separate searches for 8-10 sites in each category; Separate tabs for Audio, Blogs, Books, CSS Galleries, Fonts, Images, Jobs, Lyrics, News, People, Recipes, Search Engines, Social Bookmarks, Stock Photos, Torrents, Tutorials, Videos, Web 2.0 Sites
  • Joongel - Integrates the "10 leading Websites" in each category; Separate tabs for General Search, Images, Music, Videos, Shopping, Social, Q&A, Health, Torrents, Gossip
  • Zuula - tracks recent searches; Separate searches for Google, Yahoo, Bing, Gigablast, Exalead, Alexa, Entireweb, Mahalo, Mojeek (for the Web; others for the other categories); Separate tabs for Web, Images, Video, News, Blog, Jobs

nowGoogle is very similar to the later three of the above. Its categories are slightly different but many of the usage functions are the same. Its interface is very similar to Due to the fact that these meta-search engines merely collect sites, I guess the only thing that separates them from each other is the categories they use and the sites they search from. However, since engines like and nowGoogle both only vary slightly, I personally wouldn't care which one I use. I would pick the one with the better looking interface, which in this case, would be


This is a very sweet tool (especially useful for BIT330 students conducting "web search" experiments. From this year's web search experiment results, we came to the conclusion that using multiple search engines would be more effective in finding information. nowGoogle does that for its users by putting the best search engines for multiple categories together in one unified interface. It does not differentiate it self from other prominent unified meta-search engines out there aside from minor variations such as different categories and the sites it chose to search. Perhaps that is why it attempted to use "Google" in its name to generate attention. Either way, it is functional in its category, but does not stand out.

Site Statistics

According to Alexa, 60% of hits come from Indonesia, the guy or gal who developed it must be from that site. It is getting a decent about of recognition, it was on AltSearchEngines and it gets 9,810 hits on Google while Searchio gets 149,000 hits, Joongel gets 48,200, and Zuula 209,000.

Google Personalized Search

by ranfanranfan (06 Dec 2009 00:52; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:22)

Google announced on December 4th, extending their personalized search system.

This is something that first came out in 2005, and unfortunately, I had no idea it existed.

What is Personalized Search?

Personalized Search uses search history you've been building to get better results. You probably won't notice much difference at first, but as your search history grows, your personalized results will gradually improve.

There are a couple things I didn't know existed in Google

  • My Search History
    • Web
    • Images
    • News
    • Products
    • Sponsored Links
    • Videos
    • Maps
    • Blogs
    • Books
    • Trends
    • Bookmarks

How does Web History Work?

So the underlying principle of Personalized Search is to use web history to figure out what you're probably looking for. Google's web history allows you to:

  • View your web activity. You know that great web site you saw online and now can't find? With Web History.
  • Search the full text of pages you've visited. Web History allows you to search across the web pages, images, videos and news stories you've viewed.
  • Get personalized search results and more. Web History helps deliver search results based on what you've searched for and which sites you've seen.
  • Find trends on your web activity. Look at your most visited sites and top searches.
  • See personalized query suggestions. Suggest based on what you've searched for and which sites you've visited.

To include the web pages you visit in your web history, you need to install Toolbar ( which only works in Firefox, and not Chrome :[ ). During the installation, click to accept the PageRank feature, which sends information about pages you visit to Google. With Web History, the information sent by PageRank will be associated with your Google Account and used to provide Web History services, as well as the PageRank services described during the Toolbar installation process.

PageRank: Google's view of the importance of a web page: Pause your cursor over the Page Rank button to display the importance of the web page that you're viewing, according to Google. Web pages with a higher Page Rank are more likely to appear at the top of Google search results. To learn more, see the Technology Overview.

Extending Personalized Search

Starting this week, Google is extending Personalized Search worldwide to users who are signed out of their Google accounts, and in more than 40 languages. Now when you search using Google, it will be better able to provide the most relevant results using 180 days of Google search activity from your browser. This is based on anonymous cookie in your browser. It's completely separate from your Google Account and Web History (which are only available to signed-in users). You'll know when we customize results because a "View customizations" link will appear on the top right of the search results page. Clicking the link will let you see how we've customized your results and also let you turn off this type of customization.

Good Features

I like the idea of a more "personalized search engine". This is helpful as a time saver tool. For instance, if I always look up news for McCafe and NOT Starbucks, the next time I type coffee, it may show preference for McCafe. Because I only just learned about this feature, I may not get a chance to review its full effects. However, I will start using it now to see how much of a difference it makes.

There are several features that I really thought demonstrated thoughtfulness on Google's part

  • Pausing : If you're visiting a webpage or performing a search that you don't want stored in your web history, just click the Web History link from the My Account page, then click the Pause link on the left side of the Web History page. Once you click Pause, your web activity won't be kept in Web History or used to personalize your search results until you click Resume. I wish this feature could be more accessible, say have a pause button right on the tool bar instead of having to go into Accounts page, but at least it exists.
  • Remove Items : To remove items, you can just go to my Web History and click the Remove button. There's also a link to clear your entire web history
  • Trends : I have mentioned this feature before. You can click the Trends link on your web history page to see the trends in your web activity, including your top searches, most visited websites, daily activity, and other interesting tidbits.
  • Bookmark : On the Google Toolbar, there is also a bookmark icon. It works very similar to Delicious or Diigo, all you have to do it click it and tag when you like a page. You can view the bookmarks for specific labels using the links on the left side of the page. The labels and notes you create for bookmarks are also searchable.
  • RSS Feed History : You can view your history as RSS Feeds


I have been an avid Google user for many years, but I have not heard about this. I can't help but feel that Google should send out newsletter/email or something to its users informing them of all these new functions they're constantly developing. This is a question I will definitely ask the Google representatives coming to class Monday.

There are also lots of concerns about privacy. Rather, the complete LACK of privacy. Google basically is tracking everything you don on the computer. The only consolation is that at least they're using it to help make our experience better. They make the privacy notice transparent, but for the most part it is: "we are going to track everything unless you tell us not to. Even then, we might still track it."

Summary: Web History vs. Search History

It seems like these two are blending together. If I really think about it. Unless I am going to a very specific site, for instance Wall Street Journal, I will usually go through Google to find websites. Similarly, if I ever need to go through search history, it is usually to find something that I searched for on Google. Therefore, the feature of seeing my web browsing broken down is useful. The advanced features of also tracking me when I'm not even signed into Google is creepy. But we already knew that the Internet is a creepy crawler. I mean seriously, the very tool that searches is called a SPIDER. As long as you don't become so shady that a search of your name doesn't show up on Criminal Search, Google's personalization tools should only be helpful to you!

More information.

Social Bookmarking - Delicious vs. Diigo

by ranfanranfan (04 Dec 2009 02:06; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:22)

In this blog, I will first explain a bit what social bookmarking is, it's pros and cons, then compare two popular social bookmarking sites: Delicious and Diigo.

What is Social Bookmarking?

Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to share, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web resources. Unlike file sharing, the resources themselves aren't shared, merely bookmarks that reference them.

Descriptions may be added to these bookmarks in the form of meta-data, so that other users may understand the content of the resource without first needing to download it for themselves. This could be in the form of a comment, a vote, or tags.

Folksonomy = social tagging, "the process by which many users add metadata in the form of keywords to shared content".

In a social bookmarking system, users save links to web pages that they want to remember and/or share. These bookmarks are usually public, and can be saved privately, shared only with specified people or groups, shared only inside certain networks, or another combination of public and private domains. The bookmarks can be viewed in time order, by its category, tags, or through search.

Most social bookmark services encourage users to organize their bookmarks with informal tags instead of the traditional browser-based system of folders, although some services feature categories/folders or a combination of folders and tags. They also enable viewing bookmarks associated with a chosen tag, and include information about the number of users who have bookmarked them. Some social bookmarking services also draw inferences from the relationship of tags to create clusters of tags or bookmarks.
Many social bookmarking services provide web feeds for their lists of bookmarks, including lists organized by tags. This allows subscribers to become aware of new bookmarks as they are saved, shared, and tagged by other users.

As these services have matured and grown more popular, they have added extra features such as ratings and comments on bookmarks, the ability to import and export bookmarks from browsers, emailing of bookmarks, web annotation, and groups or other social network features

Benefits over Traditional Bookmarking

  • The human touch - people understand the context/content of the source better than a search engine who tries to use math to determining its meaning.
  • Time saver - we learned about the Deep Web in class, so we know that there is a ton of hidden information out there. People can find and bookmark pages not indexed by web spiders.
  • Ranking - A social bookmarking system can rank source based on how many other people thought it was important. This is a useful measuring tool.
  • Organization - it is an easy way to organize thousands of bookmarks and accessible from any computer.

Negative Side of Social Bookmarking

  • No standardized system:there is no clear structure for tags. I may find a great site for Apple Pie Recipe and tag it as "food" "pie" while you may tag it as "applepie".
  • Human error: while the human touch is great, it makes mistakes. Often, tags can be misspelled, have multiple meanings, or just unclear.
  • Time waster - yes, it seems a bit unconventional for me to call it both a save timer and save waster, but a social bookmarking site does take up a lot of my time. I start browsing all these great sites, then jump to see what other people with similar taste as me have found elsewhere, then go to those… agree with their taste, bookmark it… and repeat the cycle. I love new information, but I don't know when to stop. At least with just the web, I'll get tired of bad results from Google, but with a tool like the ones below, everything I find looks great to me.


Delicious (about, video tutorial, help, getting started, search)

I was introduced to Delicious in BIT200 to manage web bookmarks. It is easy to use mainly due to its easy accessibility from browser. Delicious, as a power social bookmarking service, of course allows me to tag, save, manage and share Web pages all in one place. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious greatly improves how people discover, remember and share on the Internet.

I'm not going to run through all the intricacies of the site, but I do want to give a general overview of how to use it.

Its homepage is fairly simple. it has three tabs: fresh bookmarks, popular bookmarks, and explore tags. Upon signing in, it shows me my bookmarks in listform with tags, my network (what the people in the network have tagged), subscription to tags, etc. Even when I'm exploring my own tags, links to "popular" and "recent" bookmarks are always tempting me to see what other people have just discovered and liked enough to save it. I can also see how many other people on Delicious have also saved the links that I've saved. Based on this list, I can then look at their tags (and all other features like network associated with my own page) and perhaps add to my network should I believe the person to be a good source of future information.


Diigo (about, video tour, tour, search, demo)

It has several features including the ones below. I would suggest viewing the demo to gain a better understanding of how to truly use Diigo.

  • bookmark
  • groups annotation
  • search
  • send to blog
  • diigolet
  • enhanced linkrolls

Right off the bat, the difference between Diigo and Delicious is clear. Diggo is MUCH more than just a simple "bookmark tool". It also lets you:

  • Add notes and in-page highlights
  • Store, Tag (categorize) and Share webpages (via email, RSS, blog, group, etc.) along with your notes and highlights
  • Create groups (i.e. private group for team members)
  • Subscribe to specific webpages’ notes (i.e. to all notes tagged as ‘funny’)
  • Right-click menu option to search for highlighted terms (on websites, on major search-engines, social bookmarking systems, blogs, etc.)

It is suitable for collaboration and Diigo is actually advertised as a social bookmarking AND annotation service.

Diigo Bookmarking Service

While it is hard to displace oneself away from all the other wonderful features of Diigo, I will first compare ONLY the bookmarking service on Diigo then give my overall views / recommendations.

It is a very similar process to Delicious. You click the "Diigo" icon in your toolbar, add tags, and submit (you can also add comments about the page". These are all functions Delicious has. In Diigo, you can also simultaneous save this page to other services.

Diigo Annotation Services

Diigo's annotation services are used in conjunction with its bookmarking. Instead of merely bookmarking a site, you can also post sticky notes or comments anywhere on it. This is a useful feature because many people often forget why a site was important to them in the first place. A second useful function is highlighting texts on the page. For a very lengthy website, this will drastically save time because I only have to read through it once and highlight useful portions for the future.



In terms of JUST social bookmarking. The two tools are the same in HOW to bookmark. However, the ANNOTATION aspect of Diigo makes it a far superior tool because it actually distinguishes itself in a very important way from just the bookmarks in browser with its ability to let you highlight and make comments. This feature goes above and beyond just a few "tags" allowed in Delicious (also used in Diigo of course) to remind yourself of what was important or so great about that page.

To be fair, I felt Delicious was much more "social" in allowing me to browse the bookmarks that other people also subscribed to. Diigo if I went to networking site, I can see who else also bookmarked it. ( for instance surprisingly only had 73 other people bookmark it; just to compare, delicious had over 27,000 people bookmark it) From seeing who bookmarked it, I can then go to their individual profile and bookmarks. However, there are many subtle search features that I much prefer in Delicious, its interface makes the ability to browse for similar sites much easier. This feature also exists in Diigo, but is much less intuitive and ineffective. I wanted to find sites similar to Engadget so I clicked on the "technology" tag, which in Delicious, quickly yielded me a very expansive list of other bookmarks with this tag. But doing so in Diigo did nothing.

I would use Delicious to "browse" for other useful sites and participate in the more social aspect of bookmarking while I would use Diigo if I want to be more efficient in my bookmarking in terms of narrowing down the content I am actually saving.

More Information - Follow them on Twitter

Diigo Twitter
Delicious Twitter

Image Search - Google vs. CompFight

by ranfanranfan (12 Nov 2009 23:54; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:22)

In this blog, I will compare popular Google Image tool to a less known/used image search tool CompFight.

Some Background Info

Google Image Search

We are probably all familiar with Google Image search, it's part of the Google family, and if you want some more information on recent improvements they've made you can check out my other blog about it here. Because of Google's powerful technology, it is advertised as Google Images. The most comprehensive image search on the web.

While I'm a big fan of Google Images, but I won't spend too much time talking about its features (because you can read my previous blog!). Instead, I want to spend more time introducing you to CompFight.


First off, it is a Flickr image search tool. So its primary benefit over a tool like Google Image Search is that there are less concerns for copy rights. I guess to explain that, you'd have to know a bit about Flickr. It is known as one of the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.


Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.

"Creative Commons is a non-profit that offers an alternative to full copyright." Creative Commons

There are a copy types of licenses that users can chose when they put up their pictures. Some examples include —

  • Attribution:You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give you credit
  • Noncommercial: You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work - and derivative works based upon it - but for noncommercial purposes only.
  • No Derivative Works: You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

CompFight Search lets you chose between commercially license images, or just creative commons, or both. So You can use Compfight for personal or commercial purposes, and perform various types of searches, making it a very flexible tool useful to a wide range of users.


Compfight allows users to easily find a host of images on Flickr.

The basic search is a keyword search that will look through Flickr tags and return up to hundreds of photos tagged with your keyword.

If your results are weak, you can change to an ‘all text’ search that will also hunt through photo titles and descriptions to find your keyword. Click on any thumbnail result and you’ll be brought to the photo’s original page on Flickr.

A ‘Blue Bar’ underlining a photo thumbnail on the results page indicates that Flickr is holding an original of that photo, and by hovering your cursor over a bar, you can even see the pixel dimensions of the original. You can turn on the Creative Commons feature to find licensable photos, or Safe Search to keep your results free of possibly offensive content.

Why not use Flickr itself?

But there is also a search feature on Flickr itself…

The Flickr search to be slow and lackluster. The regular Flickr search returns very few results per page and shows lots of information about them.

On the hand, Compfight beats messing around with Flickr's advanced settings. While Flickr may have more options, Compfight gives you the most popular advanced settings without the added hassle or confusion.

Compfight displays lots of images quickly, and this allows you to look through hundreds of images in the same amount of time it would take you to look through just a few on the regular Flickr search.

Sample Search & Review

I will talk about the results of my searches first, then you can look at the screenshots below. The intention is to allow you to see the differences in the special features of each search engine (with a focus on CompFight). The table below summarizes what I did and what I found in terms of results returned.

  • Google, as expected yields more returns
  • In CompFight, text yields more returns than tag
  • In CompFight, Creative Commons yields more returns than Commercial
  • CompFight images are more "artistic" and look more HD

For instance, a search for [starbucks] yielded mostly just its logo in Google, but in CompFight, because these are photos, they show logo in a real setting. Although Google has a photo only filter, its images are not as "artistic"

I would choose CompFight as a good place to browse for images for presentations because they are more artistic and less conventional. However, for logos company text, images that are already designed in a set manner, I will choose Google Images.

CompFight, despite yielding less results, actually have more images per page, which facilitates browsing. Clicking on an image in CompFight also means that it opens in a new window / tab, unlike Google Images which opens it in the same tab, requiring you to click the back button. In Google, because it shows the image as part of the website, sometimes, the image is a broken link or not what you expected. However, because all pictures on Flickr, not only are they all high quality, you can also click through the photostream of the artist who took the picture. For instance, I really liked this picture, so I also spent a good amount of time browsing through the other photos this particular person took. So CompFight is a good tool for those who enjoy good pictures AND those who are task focused.

What I dislike about CompFight is that it does not have spell check nor does it offer other terms that may yield similar returns. But, I found on several occasions that even if I mistyped, I'll still get results because it is likely the author also made common spelling mistakes.

Search Engine Search Term Features Results
Google Coffee All Results 102,000,000
CompFight Coffee Tag 475,857
CompFight Coffee Text 1,250,350
Google Starbucks All Results 11,000,000
Google Starbucks Red Filter 653,000
CompFight Starbucks Commercial 5,024
CompFight Starbucks Creative Commons 22,247
Google Coffee
GCoffee.pngCompFight Coffee - Tag
CFCoffeeTag.pngCompFight COffee - Text
CFCoffeeText.pngGoogle Starbucks
GStarbucks.pngGoogle Starbucks with Red Filter
GStarRed.pngCompFight Starbucks- Commercial
CFStarbucksCommercial.pngCompFight Starbucks- Creative Commons Only

Comparison in terms of data

According to, in the month of October, 2009 Google Unique Visitors in the US is 146,027,962 while CompFight lags at only 9,113.

Traffic Rank


Alexa traffic rank for 11/11/2009:41,183; 3 month change -10,026

Daily Reach: Percent of global Internet users who visit


Time on Site: Daily time on site for


You can see some more interesting site data about it here


Compfight is a perfect tool for bloggers to utilize to find images for their posts. With a vast array of features and great settings for both commercial and non-commercial blogs, You will not be let down with Compfight's results once you find a search term that will give you what you're looking for. In comparison to Google Image Search, you won't have to worry about running into any legal issues down the line. However, from the Alexa data, one can see that Compfight is obviously not a big threat to Google's image search. Even though Google's search may not yield pretty pictures that Compfight finds on Flikr, it is much more functional. Its filter features by color, size, type as well as its superior syntax structure combined with vast database give people more options.

However, I will go to Compfight when I want to find pretty pictures. It is a site on which I want to spend time because the images are of much higher artistic quality than Google's image search.


by ranfanranfan (17 Oct 2009 03:12; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:21)

Thoora is a just launched real-time search engine that'll help you "Discover What the World is Talking About."


According to their own website

Thoora is a new and unique service that helps people discover the news attracting the most attention within social and traditional media. In real-time, Thoora identifies the most interesting stories by exploring the entire blogosphere, Twitter and nearly 5,000 traditional media sources to determine the stories attracting the most blog posts, comments, tweets, and news coverage. Thoora then clusters the strongest “signals” from each media “silo” – blogs, Twitter and traditional media – to put the spotlight on the stories that people are really talking about.

If that doesn't make too much sense to you, consider this:

  • On the left is the way current method to online news - News lead to reactions on the internet.
  • However, Thoora does the opposite by gathering the buzz on the internet first from various sources and then finding the news stories that attracted that buzz.
  • So when a searcher is discovering news, they'll find the "hottest" topics as well as what people are saying about it.

Where does Thoora fit within the market?

We just did in class exercises where we looked at Twitter services (e.g. NearbyTweets, AskTwitr, TrendsMap ) that allowed you to see what was going on in the area as well as TwitTrent Tools (e.g. TwitScoop, Twopular etc.) However, most people commented that this was "creepy" or "irrelevant". Thoora takes this idea of looking at trends of what people are talking about online and extends it to the blogosphere and mixes it with traditional media sources to provide unique and relevant comments on news.


With Thoora, people can find content from blogs, Twitter, and traditional media sources. The service merges the gap between social and traditional media, so readers no longer have to visit one site for a news article and another place for a blogger’s perspective. And by leveraging the wisdom of crowds to pick out the stories attracting the most attention, Thoora offers a truly unbiased perspective on the hottest stories of the day, and helps uncover voices that otherwise would never be heard.

The technology behind it include "cutting-edge filtering, clustering, and ranking technology to put the spotlight on the stories generating the biggest reactions in new media and traditional media."


I love this site.

First, an intro to its interface, which is slick and clean.


On the front page, it lists 10 news items in a variety of topic areas. Even though it doesn't specifically say anything, I think these are the "most recent" stories. There's also easy access to Today's Breaking Headlines as a more "real-time view" and a "biggest reactions this week" column to the right. The bottom has headlines from each subject area and there are tabs at the top of the page leading to those sections as well. I am a BIG fan of segmenting websites so I adore this feature. Within each specific area (e.g. business), there's a similar format with "most recent", "today's headline" and "biggest reaction this week".

Though reading the above may have been tedious, analysis of the interface is essential to the overall view of the site. Seemingly minor features such as segmentation actually improves the browsing experience drastically and speeds up the search for information.

Further more, I actually think this is a brand new way to read the news so let's talk about the actual returned results.


I'm using this test with an article in the "biggest reaction list" - American is First Woman to Win Nobel Prize in Economics. Here are the main features of the page

  • A "News Timeline" where I can go to various news sites to read the story
  • A special box for Twits related to this topic
  • Top Related blog posts
  • Story stats: how many unique news sites, blogs, Twits, comments
  • Different viewing options: Look at only blog posts, or news posts, or comments (either overall or JUST for blogs, news posts etc. - can be sorted by rank or date
  • Pictures related to event

These effectively separate all the components the site offers to allow people to easily sort through information. On some of the more popular stories, readers can engage in a discussion on the topic in general or make specific comments to partciular blog posts.

Another Test

If I pick my own topic and do a general search.. say for China. It'll help me narrow down the topic by listing the returns in the form of a category breakdown and show current popular stories within a couple of the categories. So I can get a very broad view of everything related to the topic right now.

This is a VERY interactive way of reading the news - I not only learned about what happened, but got to see what people think about it all in one place. Further, I can easily contribute to the discussion.

This is like blog/twitter, news, and a chat room of sorts all combined into one tool.

What I Disliked

I wish I could have somehow read the news story within the website instead of having to go to an external page and clicking the back button - perhaps a blurb summarizing the news. Same with the blog posts, I wish I could see more preview of what is on those pages.

This essentially weeds out information that people don't write about / care about. But that doesn't necessary mean that information wasn't important. I guess I need to put some faith in the filtering system of such search engines and just believe that their function will be to help make our lives easier instead of worrying about what information is left out.

It's a search engine still in beta mode, so I think it's off to a good start and look forward to seeing its improvements in the future.

Cool Features

Thoora has incorporated several key features to further enhance the news discovery and sharing process.

  • Over 25 subcategories have been added to Thoora’s main categories, such as a mobile section within technology, making it even easier for people to browse specific areas of interest.
  • Thoora users can now publish their comments about stories directly to Twitter or Facebook, letting users share their opinions and what they have discovered with their social networks.
  • New internal commenting features, people can exchange comments with their friends on Thoora to spark conversations and talk about the day’s breaking events and provocative blog posts.
  • With an account, you can make friends and follow what they're commenting and saying.

Let me know what you think about it. Go try it out!

Since March 2009, Thoora has indexed more than 81 million blogs and collects content from 720,000 blog posts each day. The service also looks at articles from 4,500 traditional media sources.

Class 7 RSS Exercise

by ranfanranfan (02 Oct 2009 17:50; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:24)

"home" search engine: 5,6: Bloglines
Questions: Starbucks +coffee industry

Useful results: results that show me Starbuck's role within the coffee industry or tell me something about starbucks
Not Useful results: posts irrelevant to starbucks

2. Gathering your data

  1. Submit the query to each search tool. Do this within 30 minutes from beginning to end. The reason for this requirement is that the databases change over time and we want each search engine to have an equal opportunity.
  2. Print out a list of the first 10 resources as returned by each search engine. You will be using these pages to do your analysis (see below). Change your question if an appropriate query doesn't return at least 10 results for all of the search engines.
  3. Before closing the Web page, save the page to your file space. The reason for doing that is so that you can use the links embedded in the page later in the assignment. The printouts themselves are often not sufficient for finding the Web page itself; some parts don't print sometimes.

3. Analyzing your data

Report on the results in the following way:

  1. For these first 10 resources returned by the search engine, determine which of the RSS entries (not blogs!) are applicable and useful. You should look at each entry (not just their summaries) in order to determine this. On the printout you should write a P (for precision) in the right margin next to an entry that you consider to be applicable and useful.
    • An indented result (that is, some sub-page of a site just listed) counts as one of these "resources".
    • If there is a group of images listed as a resource, then that group of images counts as one resource. You'll have to judge the whole group as to whether it's applicable and useful.
  2. Now you need to summarize the results for each search engine.
    • Count up the number of times you wrote P on each page.
    • Write down the results for rows [1] — [4] in the table below.
  3. Determine the overlap of the results returned by the different search engines; that is, we're going to count the number of times a result for one search engine (whether relevant or not) appears in the results of another search engine.
    • Bloglines/Google Blog Search
      • On the Bloglines printout, go through each resource, and if you find it on the GoogBlog results, then put a G in the right margin next to the resource on the Bloglines printout.
      • Count up the number of times you wrote G and put this number on line [5].
    • Bloglines/IceRocket
      • On the Bloglines printout, go through each resource, and if you find it on the IceRocket results, then put a I in the right margin next to the resource on the Bloglines printout.
      • Count up the number of times you wrote I and put this number on line [6].
    • Bloglines/Technorati
      • On the Bloglines printout, go through each resource, and if you find it on the Technorati results, then put a T in the right margin next to the resource on the Bloglines printout.
      • Count up the number of times you wrote T and put this number on line [7].
    • Google Blog Search/IceRocket
      • On the GoogBlog printout, go through each resource, and if you find it on the IceRocket results, then put a I in the right margin next to the resource on the GoogBlog printout.
      • Count up the number of times you wrote I and put this number on line [8].
    • Google Blog Search/Technorati
      • On the GoogBlog printout, go through each resource, and if you find it on the Technorati results, then put a T in the right margin next to the resource on the GoogBlog printout.
      • Count up the number of times you wrote T and put this number on line [9].
    • IceRocket/Technorati
      • On the IceRocket printout, go through each resource, and if you find it on the Technorati results, then put a T in the right margin next to the resource on the IceRocket printout.
      • Count up the number of times you wrote T and put this number on line [10].
  4. Determine the overlap of the results returned by all of the search engines; that is, we're going to count the number of times a result appeared in all of the search engines.
    • On the Bloglines printout, go through each resource and count up how many have a G, a I, and a T next to it.
    • Put this number on line [11].
Data Your value
[1] Bloglines precision 6
[2] GoogBlog precision 6
[3] IceRocket precision 1
[4] Technorati precision 3
[5] Overlap(B,G) 0
[6] Overlap(B,I) 0
[7] Overlap(B,T) 1
[8] Overlap(G,I) 0
[9] Overlap(G,T) 0
[10] Overlap(I,T) 0
[11] Overlap(G,B,I,T) 0

Again, these numbers are a simple count of either the precision values or the overlap values. I will do all the calculations later.

4. How to wrap it up

  1. You need to add your data to this page by Sunday at 5pm. View the page after you add the data to it to see that you formatted it correctly.
  2. You also need to keep those search results output pages. We might be using them again.

I will take all of your data, consolidate it, and report back to the class what the results are.

RSS Feeds Feed My Soul

by ranfanranfan (30 Sep 2009 06:37; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:20)

RSS aggregation allow users to "subscribe" to a website and have updates of that site's info delivered to a single account, it is a great tool for easy tracking of information. There are many solutions to keep track of RSS feeds, the two most popular are Bloglines and Google Reader. In this post, I compare my likes and dislikes of both RSS trackers.

Back in middle school, I had a goal to read the encyclopedia, the entire set. I knew, even then, that there was a whole lot of interesting information out there in the world. Unfortunately, I gave up somewhere into the B's because not every topic interested me. I didn't, however, give up the desire learn new information. Since then, the World Wide Web has been my go to source for questions of all kinds. It has led me to sites like Instructables, forums on which I discuss the latest album of my favorite Asian pop star, recipes for a late night snack etc. Last year, I was introduced to RSS Feeds, and it has essentially formed an online version of an encyclopedia designed exactly for me.

Because it's 3 am and I'm kind of hungry, I would like to think of such a collection of information as food for my soul - reading random blogs is actually very effective at taking my mind off the hunger pains.

I compared and contrasted my experiences / likes and dislikes with the two below.


What I like about Google Reader

Whenever I check email (gmail), I then go to Google Reader and see what’s new. I have my feeds separated in folders like “news”, “blogs”, “photography”, “geeky”, “technology” etc. Some of them were from the prebuilt bundles Google suggests to get started.

  • Personalized Recommendations: This feature makes the experience very personal. At the home page, it gives me “recommendations” based on my current feeds. A brief preview of the most recent items in each of my feed folders, and what I recently stared.
  • The star & unread feature: It allows me to prioritize what I’m reading or go back to a feed. I especially like the star feature, it makes a separate list of all the items I starred
  • Email & Tag:These features are conveniently located underneath each feed item. I can email interesting feeds to friends and tag feeds with key words and go back to them later.
  • Trends: I must admit that I went a little crazy when I first signed up for Google Reader and subscribed to a LOT of sites, and soon realized I don’t have enough time to read through all of them.
    • Through the “Trend” page, I can see my own reading trends (how many items / the percentage of items I read from a site, what I’m starred etc.) and clean up my RSS feed a bit.
    • I can also look at subscription trends which has the nifty feature of seeing which site has been inactive. For instance, there’s a blog I subscribed to that hasn’t been updated since December, 2008. I decided to delete that blog from my feed.

What I dislike about Google Reader

  • Things Disappear: Items that I've read disappear after I've read them unless I star it or tag it. To actually get back an item, I have to click "see all" and it's just an inefficient process.
  • The Search Feature: It is not as well placed. At the top, there’s a search within the reader, but I had to navigate through a couple pages to find the search function.

When I did find the search function though, it was helpful. For instance, I entered the keyword “consultant” and got several (although it doesn’t tell me exactly how many) pages of returns. Each has the title of the blog/site, with number of subscribers, a short blurb of intro to site, and what I found interest is the number of posts per week. So for instance, even though the first return had 2,000 subscribers, it has an average of 0 posts per week. Knowing that it doesn’t update with new information, I only bookmarked the site and did not subscribe to its RSS.

Unique Google Reader Features

Offline Reader I find this useful when I'm stuck in the airport without Internet. I can still catch up on topics I'm interested in using this offline version of Google Reader.


I just signed up for a Blogline account for this class, so to get some new subscriptions, I clicked the top feeds. I really was intrigued by the mini graph they had by each site. It doesn’t exactly say what it stands for but from it, I can still see a general trend of what I assume to be post rate / subscriptions etc. With so many new “hot” sites, it lets me see which ones are growing and which ones are trailing.

What I like about Blogline

  • Unique Email Address: The ability to create unique email addresses and have webpage updates sent to them.
  • Blog: I can publish my own blog! After reading so many good articles, I just might be inspired to reflect or create a piece of amazing writing, and with Blogline, I can do it right there!
  • Save articles:Similar to Google, it allows me to keep an article as new. But it also has a "clip blog" feature that allow me to save the portion that I find more relevant.
  • Playlist Feature: that allows you to make pages with headlines from selected feeds.

What I dislike about Blogline:

  • Less Personalized:In comparison to Google, I feel like it's a less personalized experience. From what I saw, I do not get recommendations concerning what I like.
  • No Tagging Feature: I wish this feature existed so I can organize my information better.


I will probably not switch from Google Reader (I'm a bit biased after having Google Reader for a while now and have been spoiled by the whole line of Google products). There are a lot of comparative features between both tools however and I think a new user should check out both to see which one suites them more. Personally, I feel Google's more interactive interface is more suitable for my needs. The most important thing is that they both satisfy the same need for a collective area where desirable and custom search information is posted without the user actually having to go out and search for the info everyday. It is a wonderful, and life changing automation process.

Useful Info

by ranfanranfan (29 Sep 2009 00:41; last edited on 29 Sep 2009 00:41)

I got a quick question from Bryan today in class about my presentation. I thought I'd give a bit more detailed answer here.

  • I use iStockPhoto as the source of photos for my presentation.
  • The presentation style I use is based on Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson. In addition to this book, he also maintains a related Web site. This can be a very engaging method of structuring a presentation when used in the hands of an effective presenter. I now use this presentation style for my research presentations as well as my classroom presentations.
  • I recently read Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. He maintains a very active blog on professional presentation design. He has great insights into effective presentations that I wish I could more effectively incorporate into my everyday presentations.
  • Just last week I finished reading Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam. He also maintains a very interesting blog related to the content of his book. I have tried to practice this problem solving technique a few times since I read this book — I think it has the possibility of being very effective.
  • I use Apple's Keynote software for my presentations. I find it handles multimedia more easily than PowerPoint does, but this is probably a personal preference.
  • I use the Kensington Wireless Presentation Mouse. I use it in all presentations I give anywhere, no matter whether it's my computer or someone else's, or whether it's a Windows machine or a Mac. It's simple, it works, and it's reliable.
  • I use this green laser pointer because I have a hard time seeing the small red pointers that are normally available.

If any of you ever hear of any book or blog or other resource that you would be of interest to someone like me who is always looking for more information about this topic, please let me know.

Web Search Experiment

by ranfanranfan (23 Sep 2009 16:45; last edited on 28 Sep 2009 03:21)

My "home" search engine: Google

Query: "student credit card" +"cash back" +"no annual fees"
Good returns: those that cards or reviews multiple cards that fit the criteria of both no annual fee and cash back programs
Less useful: Sites containing lack of information about the different cards or links me to a general page without specific student cards

Data Your value
Ask precision 6
Bing precision 6
Google precision 7
Yahoo precision 5
Overlap(A,B) 2
Overlap(A,G) 6
Overlap(A,Y) 1
Overlap(B,G) 2
Overlap(B,Y) 0
Overlap(G,Y) 1
Overlap(A,B,G,Y) 0

Google Results
Bing Results
Yahoo! Results Results

Class 5 Exercise

by ranfanranfan (23 Sep 2009 16:31; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:24)

05 More Search Techniques And Strategies


1. Come up with a list of 30-40 cities in Michigan.

Typed "cities in Michigan" into google… first page was [] which lists 630 Michigan cities.

2. How many types of poodles are there?

Typed "there are * types of poodles" into google, all except 2 returns on the first page stated three, with two others stating "several" or "various"

3. How many people are in the United States?

Typed "how many people in the united states" into Google Search, above the 652 million results stated

United States — Population: 303,824,640 (July 2008 est.) According to - More sources »

4. How many teams are in the National Rugby League?

Typed "there are * teams on the National Rugby League" into Google but didn't get many good returns, then I tried it on Ask, and on the first page, received on which I could find the number of teams

5. On your personal wiki, create a page for research notes — call it “Research Notes”. (Shocking!) Related to your project, you should start using it to keep track of the sites that you visit, the queries that you run, and the types of information you find. This is for your own personal use, but you will find it useful as you work through the semester to have these notes to refer back to. I will not ever check on this page; this is just a hint on my part to help you with your project.

Done… but still have to figure out topic for project!

My First Test Blog

by ranfanranfan (20 Sep 2009 21:27; last edited on 12 Dec 2009 05:23)

This is my first blog entry. I hope it works.

Using WIKI

Using WIKI

Using WIKI

Bold Text


Not important

Something quote worthy

what's a teletype?

raised to the power!

  • one
  • two
  • three
    • four
    • five
    • six
  1. five
  2. four
  3. three



important info


row 1 cell 2
row 2 cell 2
cell-content cell-content cell-content
cell-content cell-content cell-content
cell-content cell-content cell-content



by ranfanranfan (18 Sep 2009 21:09; last edited on 20 Sep 2009 20:56)

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