More Semantic News: Woz Takes The DeepDyve


Image by Mark Coggins via Flickr

Everyone who is anyone in tech or an afficianado with respect to Dancing With The Stars knows Steve Wozniak, the Segue-loving, polo-playing, ever-smiling computer genius co-founder of Apple. Apparently Steve still knows a good thing when he sees it: he has just accepted a position on the advisory board of the research engine DeepDyve.  DeepDyve is a semantic search engine that scours the elusive deep web. I touched on it in an earlier post on semantic search engines and I have used it several times with decent results.

The deep web is as vast as our own ocean depths and, like the depths, is not easily accessible. Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb estimates that 99.8% of the web consists of this elusive data.

I didn’t realize this, but DeepDyve’s search algorithm was developed by scientists that originally worked on the Human Genome Project. DeepDyve uses similar pattern matching and analysis across large amounts of data in a very unique and effective way.

Another unique quality: Perez notes that the more text you enter into the search box, the more relevant the results. This is contrary to the usual experience with search engines, where more text tends to skew results in unintended ways.

The biggest complaint about DeepDyve to date appears to be its user interface, which is less than compelling. Never fear, though, as Woz has been tasked with improving the DeepDyve user experience.

How cool is that?

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Google Boards the S.S. (Semantic Search) Web 3.0 – Bon Voyage!


Image by Getty Images via Daylife

While Google apps like Gmail and Reader seem to get all the love and press, Google has been tweaking its search function in little ways and is testing the semantic waters with its big toe. There are two new features that the casual researcher may notice. Google searches will now yield longer “search snippet” results when more complicated queries are submitted. More importantly, Google will now offer semantically-related results for some search queries. The bottom of the page will include suggested searches that are related to your original search. When you follow the links, you may secure even further related searches at the bottom.

How will these tweaks aid you, the humble searcher? The more specific your search query, the more likely the related semantic searches will yield additional research fruit. And the more context your complex query affords, the easier it is to find results that fit your parameters.

Good for you, Google! Welcome to Web 3.0!

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Cool Gadget Alert – Fujitsu Flepia Color e-Book Reader

There is a whole lot of pretty going on with Fujitsu’s fancy color e-Book reader, the Flepia. With an 8″ screen that displays 260,000 colors, wireless connectivity via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, a mini USB port and touch screen, the line between e-Reader and mobile computer tablet starts to blur. The unit has an on-screen keyboard and a big battery life of 40 hours continuous use. You buy the books on SD card and load them through the unit’s card reader.

The tablet comparison is not far off – the Flepia is loaded with a version of Windows called CE 5. This will enable e-mail, web-browsing and other more computer-like pursuits. Plus, you can’t deny its physical good looks.

Unfortunately, all this beauty comes as a price: just over $1,000. Plus the cost of the books. Not terribly competitive with the Kindle or the new Sony / Google pairing, which will enable free book downloads from Google’s electronic library to the Sony reader.

However, if Fujitsu can work on that price, this reader may make some heads turn, particularly those heads that are looking for gadget convergence and a few less electronic doohickies taking up valuable pocket and bag space.

[Fujitsu Flepia]

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Vindication: Sometimes What Sounds Right Is Right


Image via Wikipedia

John McIntyre, a self-proclaimed mild-mannered copy editor for the Baltimore Sun, raised the topic on his blog today of how to deal with use of the words “they” or “their” instead of “he or she” or “his or her.” McIntyre mentions the conventional options of how to deal with this”a or b” situation: (1) use the male pronoun in all instances (nope, not for me); (2) use his and her, no matter how awkward the resulting construction (nah, offends my lyrical and musical sensibilities); or (3) convert everything to plurals so that “their” can be used acceptably (hmm, cumbersome).

There must be a better way … and, there is! McIntyre suggests that you actually can use “they/their” with a singular antecedent. Damn the formal rules, apparently, and use what sounds right and true and musical to his or her or their or my or your ears. It has been used and accepted for centuries – heck, even the English use it with honor. So, then, why can’t we?

I didn’t realize this, but Bryan Garner (of substantial legal writing, grammar and general usage fame) calls this conundrum and its singular solution the “most likely solution to the single biggest problem in sexist language,…” I have never even thought of it that way.

The only argument against the singular solution is logic and adherence to arcane grammar rules. Since when does logic prevail over form? Well, perhaps to a certain degree it must in legal argument crafting. However, when attorneys stick to “logical” grammar rules when writing their briefs, motions, letters and memoranda, they run the risk of drying out the prose, so to speak. Stiff language saps the power of the idea. It forces the reader to spend precious brain cells parsing the words, rather than their meaning. Why detract from your argument just so you can claim grammar compliance?

If it works for Bryan Garner and John McIntyre, by Gum, then it works for me!

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I Spoke Too Soon – Somewhere Out There Someone is Tethering Their iPhone

This is a feature I definitely want: the ability to tether my iPhone to my laptop so that I can take advantage of the 3g connection AND the big beautiful tactile keyboard and screen, anywhere I can find signal. While wi-fi certainly is proliferating, I still can get more cell signal in more places. If you travel with your work and need to compute, tethering is a great option.

I have missed the tethering ability I used to enjoy with my Treo 750 and PDAnet. And I thought tethering remained an impossible dream with a law abiding, non-jailbroken iPhone. Apparently, I misunderstood. Apple is taking down the barrier to tethering but has placed the details firmly in the hands of the carriers that must supply the necessary bandwith. And if the bandwith issues ATT suffered at SXSW were any indication, a sudden influx of tethering might upset the applecart, so to speak.

However, all over my RSS today, tech talking (or would that be typing) heads were reporting that someone heard that someone somewhere had successfully tethered their iPhone equipped with 3.0 software. Lifehacker has the story here, but I saw it at Gizmodo and other sites as well. Both Lifehacker and Gizmodo remarked that tethering might be available via USB, which would be great for preserving power and connection. Gizmodo also indicated that the tether might also be available via Bluetooth. That will be great for my little Eee PC but not so much for my Lenovo which lacks blue teeth.

Tethering is such a killer feature for professional road warriors who cannot rely on hitting a wi-fi spot while they follow the trail to there and back again. Let’s hope that ATT can figure it all out and unlease the tether on tethering sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: Techcrunch has the how-to right here.

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The Afternoon After … Apple's iPhone 3.0 Event

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I am feeling pretty much like I do every Christmas morning. After weeks of frenzied anticipation, the morning of the big day brings a major emotional swing to the other end of the spectrum, a uneasy combination of satisfaction and disappointment. Probably not unlike the feeling Adam and Eve had when they bit into their own iconic Apple.

I followed Engadget’s live blog of the event today, which aired at 10:00 a.m. local time, 1:00 p.m. Advocate time. You too can follow the blow-by-blow, with pictures, here.

First, from the customer (as opposed to app developer) point of view, the good: Yes, Virginia, there really IS cut-and-paste. Seems a little silly to get excited about a feature that has been the norm on other phones for what seems like eons. Seems like a no-brainer on a phone with a touch-screen keyboard that loves to insert its own nonsensical versions of your musings. Nonetheless, I AM excited, for that very reason! Cut-and-paste will work across applications and will work for html as well.

Next, Apple will open up development of peripherals that will work with the iPhone platform, such as medical monitoring and radio transmitters. Cool, but not specifically practical for me, until that day when I develop diabetes.

Next, maps will be made available to other programs and Apple will open up development for turn-by-turn navigation, although this latter service will not incorporate existing map functionality. In essence, the user or developer of the turn-by-turn service will be required to bring their own maps to the function. Not sure how this will work out in practice, but it IS a step closer to one of my A-list features.

Next, some push functionality that will particularly benefit chat-type clients, like Meebo. Getting there, slowly …….

Next, the iPhone will be opened up for peer-to-peer communications via Bluetooth. Transfer information to other users or perhaps play multi-iPhone user games.

Next, landscape view in more applications, such as email! Woohooo!

Next, MMS – and the ability to attach more than one picture to a message! This is a feature lack that has sorely bothered me since I got my phone.

Next, a global search function called Spotlight search, when you scroll to the left of your first icon screen. Now you can search your calendar, your email, your notes. There also will be search functionality within applications. Nice.

Finally, some audio updates, including stereo-bluetooth capability and a voice notes feature.

Now, the bad: no tethering! Waaaaaah. Also, no turn-by-turn directions yet or the innate ability (without added software) to use that great big capacity to move files. Email functionality is still somewhat hobbled, although I believe that a mass delete function will be made available. It is not clear whether push email will be made available from the address, but perhaps more information on that is coming.

In this regard, Apple advises that it only highlighted some of the features during the event, but that there are hundreds of updates with 3.0 that will yet be revealed.

The best part about Christmas presents? You don’t have to pay for them – they are gifts! And so is 3.0, at least for iPhone 3G owners (including moi). Yes, the upgrade will be my favorite price, Free!

So that’s it for now. More later, as details trickle through the internet pipes.

30-iphone

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The Afternoon After … Apple’s iPhone 3.0 Event

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I am feeling pretty much like I do every Christmas morning. After weeks of frenzied anticipation, the morning of the big day brings a major emotional swing to the other end of the spectrum, a uneasy combination of satisfaction and disappointment. Probably not unlike the feeling Adam and Eve had when they bit into their own iconic Apple.

I followed Engadget’s live blog of the event today, which aired at 10:00 a.m. local time, 1:00 p.m. Advocate time. You too can follow the blow-by-blow, with pictures, here.

First, from the customer (as opposed to app developer) point of view, the good: Yes, Virginia, there really IS cut-and-paste. Seems a little silly to get excited about a feature that has been the norm on other phones for what seems like eons. Seems like a no-brainer on a phone with a touch-screen keyboard that loves to insert its own nonsensical versions of your musings. Nonetheless, I AM excited, for that very reason! Cut-and-paste will work across applications and will work for html as well.

Next, Apple will open up development of peripherals that will work with the iPhone platform, such as medical monitoring and radio transmitters. Cool, but not specifically practical for me, until that day when I develop diabetes.

Next, maps will be made available to other programs and Apple will open up development for turn-by-turn navigation, although this latter service will not incorporate existing map functionality. In essence, the user or developer of the turn-by-turn service will be required to bring their own maps to the function. Not sure how this will work out in practice, but it IS a step closer to one of my A-list features.

Next, some push functionality that will particularly benefit chat-type clients, like Meebo. Getting there, slowly …….

Next, the iPhone will be opened up for peer-to-peer communications via Bluetooth. Transfer information to other users or perhaps play multi-iPhone user games.

Next, landscape view in more applications, such as email! Woohooo!

Next, MMS – and the ability to attach more than one picture to a message! This is a feature lack that has sorely bothered me since I got my phone.

Next, a global search function called Spotlight search, when you scroll to the left of your first icon screen. Now you can search your calendar, your email, your notes. There also will be search functionality within applications. Nice.

Finally, some audio updates, including stereo-bluetooth capability and a voice notes feature.

Now, the bad: no tethering! Waaaaaah. Also, no turn-by-turn directions yet or the innate ability (without added software) to use that great big capacity to move files. Email functionality is still somewhat hobbled, although I believe that a mass delete function will be made available. It is not clear whether push email will be made available from the address, but perhaps more information on that is coming.

In this regard, Apple advises that it only highlighted some of the features during the event, but that there are hundreds of updates with 3.0 that will yet be revealed.

The best part about Christmas presents? You don’t have to pay for them – they are gifts! And so is 3.0, at least for iPhone 3G owners (including moi). Yes, the upgrade will be my favorite price, Free!

So that’s it for now. More later, as details trickle through the internet pipes.

30-iphone

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Blellow: More Than Just Another Name for the Color Green (Or, Show Me The Green)

Seriously now, do we need another on-line social network? Apparently we do. Frustrated with LinkedIn’s almost stationary pace? Fed up with the noise on Twitter? Try Blellow, a social network that groups similarly-situated professionals for purposes of collaboration, cross-communiction and commiseration. The idea behind the site is that users can group themselves with other users of a similar ilk and can then exchange ideas in a format similar to Twitter, secure expert information on a task, and possibly even secure work opportunities. Of course, there is the ever-present networking opportunity as well. Send messages to other Blellow group members or, like in the old tried-and-try bulletin board or listserv vein, ask questions to the general group and get tips and feedback from your peers. When you “thank” your responders, they gain value in the system. This can make them more visible to potential employers or clients, which in turn encourages members to respond to questions with rich answers. The site also offers peer document sharing, with up to 10 gb of storage space for $10 per month.

Blellow really does offer a unique combination of features and is getting closer to what I would envision to be a true, value-added professional social network. Unfortunately, a search of the site revealed only a patent lawyer and an 8 member law group. But, if you are an intrepid pioneer, perhaps you can go over and join this group and be in on the ground floor, or even form your own. Blellow is still in beta so it is expected the scope is not fully developed. With Blellow, the possibilities seem broader than Twitter and more focused and dynamic than LinkedIn.

Check out the video below for more detail and an example:

Blellow How It Works

Hat tip to Techcrunch

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Real-Time, Deep Web People Search

123people search is a search engine that digs deep to find a breadth of public information from a variety of web researches in real time. It mines social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Zing, Friendster, HiFive, Flickr, Bebo, Bloglines, Blogger and others, web links, tag clouds, biographies, email, phone numbers, news, images and video. Previously available in the U.S., Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, 123people is now available for British, German, Austrian, French, Swiss and Spanish sites too.

Check out the U.S. version here. You never know what you might find.

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123people_logo

iPhone Copy & Paste? Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

As we all anxiously await (yes, I know you are too) the news tomorrow about iPhone 3.0, the leaks are starting to seep through the cracks. Kevin Purdy at Lifehacker reports that Digg founder Kevin Rose spilled some beans about …. COPY & PASTE!!!!! It’s like the Red Cross coming to rescue my battle-worn fingers beleaguered and besieged by the iPhone touchscreen keyboard!

It seems the user will be able to pinch and drag two quote icons to create copy boundaries and then be able to select from a dialog cut, copy, or paste-in the copied text. LifeHacker has a video – please hit the jump above if you are interested in viewing it.

Purdy asks how pinch-able copy and paste sounds to readers. I say IT SOUNDS LIKE CHRISTMAS IN MARCH!

[of course, you can get copy and paste, video, turn-by-turn voice directions and a host of other features in your iPhone if you were interested in jail-breaking the poor dear. Not that I would advocate illegal or illicit behavior here in the Studio. I’m just sayin’, is all.]

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[Caption]