January 2003 Archives

January 31, 2003

Sea Lions and Dolphins trained for war

It it just before 2am in the UK and BBC News 24 is rebroadcasting U.S. ABC News. The last news item is how sea lions trained by the US Navy are better than dolphins trained by the US Navy because dolphins get drowsy in the Persian Gulf heat, and the sea lions can pursue their enemy prey on foot/flipper. Is this really happening? Addenda: There are BBC News stories about this from March 27th: Dolphins clear mines the natural...
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January 27, 2003

Barry Cox calls for an end to public service broadcasting?

Barry Cox argues in todays Mediaguardian that it may be time to axe what he calls the BBC's poll tax - arguing that the provision of public service broadcasting can be maintained in a digital micro-payment or subscription environment. He also questions the longevity of the Sky practice of bundling a whole package of unwanted channels together just so you can access the premium channels. However, in a stratified digital television market solely consisting of niche pay-per-view channels you...
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January 24, 2003

Google PageRank - neither democracy nor corporate muscle

It seems that across the web and business community there is a bit of a backlash against Google 's market dominance. And their search results are not always as topical or context-sensitive as they could be. However, am I the only person getting tired of webmasters bleating about how Google is doing them down? A case in point is this article "Google PageRank - Democracy or Corporate Muscle?" by Tony Bury from last week. In an essay that is...
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January 20, 2003

Virtual Google tour launched

The promo slot under the search box on Google.com has changed to be a link to visit the Google tour. It is the clearest set of instructions yet on how to use their suite of search tools and add-ons. Perhaps it is an admission that in the last year they have to an extent diversified from the "I'm feeling lucky" model, to the "well, if it isn't what you wanted, here is a directory, a catalogues search, Froogle, labs,...
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January 17, 2003

US - Iraq war is even closer

A find of empty shells that are designed to carry chemical weapons brings Iraq closer to a material breach. Meanwhile travel on the tube got more paranoid, and John Le Carré claims in The Times that 88% of Americans favour war, and 50% think Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center....
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Lobby Parliament on 21st January - No to Bush's war for oil

Alice Mahon of the Socialist Campaign Group is urging people to Lobby Parliament on Tuesday January 21st to say no to Bush's oil war...
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Danny Sullivan on measuring search result relevancy

Danny Sullivan weighs in with an article on the different ways we can measure the relevancy of search results from different search engines against each other. he is absolutely spot on when he talks about the different 'functions' a search can take - navigational for example. However, quite what the relevancy of the article being sponsored by Google is, I'm not sure....
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January 15, 2003

Kartoo visual site search

I always thought the Kartoo web search seemed a nice pretty idea, but not particularly friendly to the novice user. However they are currently doing a public beta of a Kartoo site search solution, which looks stunning - and the visualisation model works so much better when the context is already defined and scoped to a specific site search....
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Content is worthless, it is publishing that counts

Arnold Kling writing at Tech Central Station has some negative things to say about the Creative Commons initiative - not least of which is that it is - "based on a strikingly naive 60's-retro ideological view of how content intermediaries function" I would be a lot more interested in his arguments if it wasn't for the fact that the music industry 'content publishers' in the UK (including the BBC) are currently engaged in a war of inflicting consecutive hit...
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January 13, 2003

Searching for Pete Townshend

I don't care how they boast about their index size or their refresh rate, search engines are still not cutting it with freshness. A classic examples in the UK is the news story over the weekend concerning Pete Townshend and child pornography (another UK witch-hunt courtesy of Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail). It should not be difficult for a search engine to pick up a sudden rise in searches for such a specific topic, and then have either...
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January 10, 2003

SearchKing vs Google round 12

The SearchKing vs Google lawsuit has entered a more public phase of served documents. SearchKing go on to enhance their reputation by wanting to charge $20 dollars for access to the documents, whilst Google has placed the same documents in the public domain for free via lawmeme. There is also some legal analysis of the case. One of Google's fundamental points is summed up thus: 'The PageRank values assigned by Google are not susceptible to being proved true or...
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UK identity cards by stealth

Stand.org.uk/ is inviting interested parties to submit comments to the UK Government's consultation process on it's proposed "entitlement card". It is a national ID card by stealth, and with the force of the civil service track-record and big business information technology consultants whispering in the government's ear, it is almost guaranteed to come in under-spec & over-budget. And of course, there is no way the government can claim any guarantee of data integrity...
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January 7, 2003

Google log file analysis

An interesting article about Google's monitoring of its logfiles from The Age - including an oblique reference to the possibility of making money from them....
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January 6, 2003

A third of FTSE 100 websites tied to Microsoft browsers

There was an article in the finance section of The Guardian by Richard Adams about a survey of the websites of FTSE 100 companies. It showed that a third don't display their own share price, and only one in ten provide advice to investors. Big deal. If I am visiting the Sainsbury's website, the chances are I want to shop for groceries, not shares. However what did catch my eye was the fact that: "More than a third of...
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How the keywords tag got its spam

Fantastic look into the murky world of metadata from a self-confessed websnob. Robert Thau is name-checked as the man whose site-index.pl script inadvertently sent the internet down the route of meta keywords tags stuffed with spam about Baywatch actresses....
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January 2, 2003

Search dominates UK web destinations

Nielsen Netratings issued a press release over Christmas [available as a PDF] awarding Google the best website of 2002 award. More interesting is the top ten list of sites visited by UK users - search and utilities are dominant, with Microsoft's Passport and BTOpenWorld being the only domains in the top ten not to offer web search from their homepages. And let's be honest, Passport traffic is almost exclusively the re-direct people get passed through when logging on to their...
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January 1, 2003

Google in forgiving mood to start the New Year

GoogleGuy has been on webmasterworld waving the wand of search engine forgiveness, allowing back into the index some domains that had been penalized for taking part in a dodgy link exchange program. He/She also directed webmasters once again to Google's good web practice guidelines....
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