Search PDFs & eBooks via Live PDF (and Google & Bing)

With new content consumption devices popping up faster than you can spell “i-P-a-d”, you surely will need some content to consume. How about a search engine for PDFs and eBooks. Live PDF (link here) lets you query Google or Bing (although not at the same time) via a single search interface for PDFs and eBooks on any topic. Your results will take you straight to the downloadable content, where you can whisk it from the ether into your internet-enabled reading device.

There are no filters, categories, sorting options or any other form of data / search manipulation tools on the page, but you can view the last 10 searches! Here is to hoping that one of the previous ten visitors was looking up stuff on the semantic Web!

Thanks, MakeUseOf!

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Microsoft Bing Master Class – Still Feels Like Recreational Search

Computerworld has compiled an article it calls Microsoft Bing Master Class – Top Tips & Tricks. With a title like that, who could resist?

So, I hurriedly made my way over to the Master Class to grab up hot information on manipulating Bing to do my bidding.  And this is what I found.

Bing, as many are aware, does not rely on keywords, but instead applies its own internal processes to guess at what you are looking for based on the terms entered into the search box. This is still my big beef with Bing.  I want a more objective criteria in securing my results. Perhaps this is a relic-like by-product of my Boolean upbringing.

Much is made of its “colorful design” and splashy background with links to more information on the pictures displayed. Bing automatically displays certain links that it “thinks” you might find interesting. Seems these characteristics appeal to the Web surfer who is looking to be entertained rather than informed. By default, Bing will offer suggestions for your search as you type (this feature can be turned off, as Computerworld points out).

Results are shown based on popularity, although I am not sure how that is defined. There are advanced search settings, and here is what Computerworld says about those:

You can further refine your search using the Advanced Search button located to the right of the main window. This lets you search for results that include a specific phrase, web pages that are listed at a particular site, domain or country, or those written in a particular language. Alternatively, you can display UK-only results by typing loc:UK in the search bar.

The Related Searches box on the lefthand side of the search results window can be used for refining searches with other popular phrases. Click the Images category and a list of related people will be displayed on the lefthand side of the window.

These advanced parameters feel a bit thin to me. If you search intitle: and add a word, Bing will pull sites that only include that word in the site title. Typing maps in the title with a search term will display a tiny map of the area, with link to a bigger Bing  Map. Hovering over a blue arrow to the right of the search result will show a preview of the identified page. I do like the preview feature.

Depending on the terms you employ, Bing can serve as a calculator, a dictionary, a weather forecaster or a currency converter. Combined with Microsoft’s new Silverlight program, you can access enhanced map data with local weather, street view, and a compass. Finally, Photosynth allows you to view stitched digital images that combine to create a 3D effect of your location of interest. There are features that overlay local twitter activity and local blogs in certain specified areas.

While all of this is indeed interesting, none of this has convinced me that Bing is a viable competitor to Google when it comes to more academic web research. Bing’s bells and whistles appear designed to attract the web surfer seeking entertainment or simply passing the time.

To be fair, on my iPhone, I am alternating my searching between the Google Mobile and Bing apps. Of course, these search tasks are more of the recreational variety. In my own informal analysis, Google still appears superior to Bing in delivering the result I am looking for. In my most recent example, Google identified a restaurant I was looking for at the top of the results list, while the restaurant was nowhere to be found in Bing. While  Bing has managed to outshine Google a couple of times by a slight margin, overall Google still feels more reliable to me.

Hat tip to Resource Shelf on the Computerworld article.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Internet Searching …

… or at least a great deal of it may be found in the pages of this “book” brought to you by the fine peeps at MakeUseOf. The 39-page PDF, aptly named “Guidebook To Internet Searching“, includes tips and tools for this increasingly-important skill. The book is broken down into sections devoted to the major search players and more esoteric tools by topic, such as searching for people, products, images, video, files, real time, and everyone’s favorite computational engine, Wolfram / Alpha. I love the Google search “cheat sheet” at the end, with lots of search terminology. Also, check out some of the other great Guidebooks they list at the back.

I bet there is something in here that will be new to you!

Hat tip to Jane’s e-Learning Tip Of The Day

Studio Hits The Big Time! paidcontent.org

Well, this is almost as good as being named a top legal blawg by the ABA ;). Following my rant article about the dumbing down of search, I was contacted by a reporter from paidcontent.org, a sub of the Guardian news outlet. The focus of the site is to “chronicle the economic evolution of digital content that is shaping the future of the media, information and entertainment industries.” The specific site provides global coverage on the economics of digital content.

Mr. Tartakoff was interested in getting my viewpoint on whether there was any reason to use Bing and what should Google do in response to Bing’s growing popularity, particularly in light of Google’s upcoming search announcements scheduled for this coming Monday. Never at a loss for opinions, I gave him probably more than he needed.

Check out the article that appears on the front page. I am pretty stoked!

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“Dumbing” Down Search: Bing vs. Google

When looking for information on the Web, what search service do you turn to these days? Are you still a diehard Google fan and feel most comfortable with pages of popular links based on loosely associated keywords that can be tweaked by advance search form, which you can then follow to find more information and, ultimately, your “best” answer? Do you scan the source of those links on the Google results page to make your own assessments as to the potential veracity of the information excerpted? Do you seesaw back and forth between results page and linked sites until you are satisfied that you have the skinny?

Or, would you rather just get an answer and run? If you fall into this growing category of on-line searchers, then maybe Microsoft’s search upstart Bing is your answer.

Paul Boutin at VentureBeat offers the observation that Google’s search methodology is quickly becoming obsolete and that Bing is offering the better option for today’s searchers:. In Boutin’s own words “[i]n short, the people who use search engines today are nothing like the people who build them. Online, the normals have finally displaced the geeks.” His bullet points encapsulate the new search mentality:

  • Don’t give me a link to the answer. Just give me the answer.
  • Pictures are better than words.
  • I’m totally fine with getting search results from a Microsoft database of multimedia celebrity flash cards instead of from the entire Internet, if it tells me what I want to know

Bing meets these needs beautifully and has garnered ten percent of search traffic in the approximately 6 months it has been in business. From canned “cards” prepared by Bing-heads for frequently searched topics to answers pulled directly from Wikipedia, searches can easily “click and run” with their answers on Bing.

Google, concededly, requires a bit more effort. But Google offers the opportunity to view many different answers to a particular query and weigh the results based on the strength of the site from which the information is pulled.

I definitely see a place for both strategies in the search arena. But much like yesterday’s diatribe on the use of Wikipedia (never in a court room), searchers need to be cognizant of what they are getting and consider when the extra effort is necessary. Like Boutin, I sincerely hope that Google does not bow to the peer pressure and “dumb down” search. I still get a pitter patter in my heart when I see services like Wolfram/Alpha and the various semantic search tools providing yet another angle on the information. Because, as we all know, rarely is there one single true answer to any question, even the query: how do I get from Gloucester to Boston? There are still geeks out there like me who want to be shown the how and why of it.

You can call me the Norm Abrams of Search.

In a (barely) related note, I came across an interesting new bookmarking service this morning called Faviki. Like Delicious, it allows you to collect and tag your bookmarked sites. Unlike Delicious, it offers suggested tags based on semantic overlay. Unfortunately, the semantic overlay is from Wikipedia, as this still remains the largest repository of common information on the Web. Nonetheless, it is an interesting application of semantic technology and may be worth a try. Particularly since it now allows for importing your huge library of Delicious bookmarks.

"Dumbing" Down Search: Bing vs. Google

When looking for information on the Web, what search service do you turn to these days? Are you still a diehard Google fan and feel most comfortable with pages of popular links based on loosely associated keywords that can be tweaked by advance search form, which you can then follow to find more information and, ultimately, your “best” answer? Do you scan the source of those links on the Google results page to make your own assessments as to the potential veracity of the information excerpted? Do you seesaw back and forth between results page and linked sites until you are satisfied that you have the skinny?

Or, would you rather just get an answer and run? If you fall into this growing category of on-line searchers, then maybe Microsoft’s search upstart Bing is your answer.

Paul Boutin at VentureBeat offers the observation that Google’s search methodology is quickly becoming obsolete and that Bing is offering the better option for today’s searchers:. In Boutin’s own words “[i]n short, the people who use search engines today are nothing like the people who build them. Online, the normals have finally displaced the geeks.” His bullet points encapsulate the new search mentality:

  • Don’t give me a link to the answer. Just give me the answer.
  • Pictures are better than words.
  • I’m totally fine with getting search results from a Microsoft database of multimedia celebrity flash cards instead of from the entire Internet, if it tells me what I want to know

Bing meets these needs beautifully and has garnered ten percent of search traffic in the approximately 6 months it has been in business. From canned “cards” prepared by Bing-heads for frequently searched topics to answers pulled directly from Wikipedia, searches can easily “click and run” with their answers on Bing.

Google, concededly, requires a bit more effort. But Google offers the opportunity to view many different answers to a particular query and weigh the results based on the strength of the site from which the information is pulled.

I definitely see a place for both strategies in the search arena. But much like yesterday’s diatribe on the use of Wikipedia (never in a court room), searchers need to be cognizant of what they are getting and consider when the extra effort is necessary. Like Boutin, I sincerely hope that Google does not bow to the peer pressure and “dumb down” search. I still get a pitter patter in my heart when I see services like Wolfram/Alpha and the various semantic search tools providing yet another angle on the information. Because, as we all know, rarely is there one single true answer to any question, even the query: how do I get from Gloucester to Boston? There are still geeks out there like me who want to be shown the how and why of it.

You can call me the Norm Abrams of Search.

In a (barely) related note, I came across an interesting new bookmarking service this morning called Faviki. Like Delicious, it allows you to collect and tag your bookmarked sites. Unlike Delicious, it offers suggested tags based on semantic overlay. Unfortunately, the semantic overlay is from Wikipedia, as this still remains the largest repository of common information on the Web. Nonetheless, it is an interesting application of semantic technology and may be worth a try. Particularly since it now allows for importing your huge library of Delicious bookmarks.

Searching Twice The Area In Half The Time

Research is all about efficiencies – you want to cover as much ground as you can in an effective manner so that you can provide the best answer. In law, the best answer should be delivered in a timely fashion, often by overwhelmingly-short deadlines.

How about splitting yourself in two and searching in two places at once? How is this possible? –  you ask, knowing full well the ethical implications of human cloning? Erica Wayne at Legal Resarch Plus has the answer: two different search functions that offer simultaneous searching!

Browsys offers the two tools: Twoogle and Twofind. Twoogle allows simultaneous searching of Google and Twitter (hence the clever name mash-up). From the site:

Twoogle provides an easy way to search Twitter and Google simultaneously, from the same site, displaying its results side by side.

Twoogle aims to make easier for people to get the best of two worlds: The realtimeness of Twitter and the relevancy of Google search results; it also provides a “Tweet these results” functionality, making it easy to share on Twitter with just one click.

Twofind allows the searcher to search two search engines simultaneously. The drop down menu on the search page shows:  Google / Bing; Google / Yahoo; Google / Twitter; Bing / Yahoo; Bing / Twitter; and, Video. The results display in two side-by-side windows within the main window, each with their own scrolling.  Since I am finding myself searching both Bing and Google these days more often than not, I love the fact you can hit one search query and get both sets of results at the same time!

Browsys offers other free features on their site as well. Their search function has a search box over tabs marked: Google; Bing; YouTube; Twitter; News; Blogs; Wikipedia; Facebook; Flickr; W/A; Ask Q&A; and, OneRiot.

Advanced Finder expands the engines accessed, including some of my semantic favs and visual search engine Searchme, with category breakdowns such as: general; images; video; news; social; files; reference; and, academic.

There is a tool called SidePad that collects all the big and little search sites one could ever imagine in the left column, and a window display area showing the selected site on the right.

Quiclip offers a notepad for drafting text and urls which then can be shared, tweeted, IM’d or bookmarked with a single click.

Browsys also offers virtual file space or folders for collecting and sharing information en masse.

I am always grateful to companies like Browsys developing innovative ways to access information on the Web and offering their resources for free! Happy searching!

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Kumo is now Bing

As promised last week, Microsoft has trotted out its new search engine. It’s called Bing and you can find it here. PCMag has a great review and slideshow of the search engine here. True to its semantic genetics (including the Powerset search engine that Microsoft previously purchased and incorporated), Microsoft is calling Bing a “decision engine” rather than a search engine. Bing offers suggestions for related concepts and information, with answers to inquiries, rather than just links to other pages, offered right on the search results page. You can get even more information from suggested links when you hover over a result entry. You can get “deep” links, such as search boxes for FedEx or UPS tracking right on a Bing results page. Bing’s pages are not spare, but can include images of current events, landscapes or other “bling” (sorry – couldn’t resist 😉 ).

Rather than review each element of Bing and how it handles matters such as travel, shopping, images and video and news, I recommend you go try it yourself. Check out the PC Mag article linked above for a comprehensive list of features and the page slide show. While many web commenters are echoing the famous refrain “it’s not a Google killer”, Bing looks to be a promising hike along the evolutionary path away from the popular-by-number-of-links search option.

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Will Microsoft Build a Better Magnifying Glass?

Not to be outdown by the likes of Google and Wolfram Alpha, Microsoft appears to be unveiling its new search engine next week at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things D tech conference in Carlsbad, California, according to Resource Shelf.

The engine’s code name is Kumo, but it is really a rebranding of Microsoft Live Search conjoined with its new semantic ally, Powerset. And guess what? It is going to help us find more relevant results! The screenshots over at All Things Digital / Boomtown show a clean, spare look. PC World reports a three-column search results page with useful tools like related searches, a “single-session search history for quick backtracking”, and other related categories tied to your search inquiry. PC World uses an example of searching for a recording artist with results that include song lyrics, tickets, albums and the artist’s biography. Or searching for a product with results including images, reviews and product manuals.

Will Kumo stand or fall amidst the search stars? Not sure, but I can say this: more semantic competitors add up to us edging closer to a truly semantic on-line world! Kudos to Kumo!!!!

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Guess What? Traditional Search Engine Reviews are Flawed! What Does That Say About the Engine?

Live Search Mobile
Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Fascinating post by Louis Gray, over louisgray.com, one of my favorite blogs about all things Web and social media-related. Apparently, Microsoft hosted a get-together Tuesday evening about semantic search engine Powerset and its incorporation into Microsoft’s Live Search. One of the topics discussed was how search engine reviewers perform their “craft” and how ineffective their process really is in gleaning an understanding of this complex endeavor. And the effect of this inefficient review might be to sink the better option.

This result seems particularly true as search engines become more complex in design and practice. To truly understand how effective a search engine might be, one needs to spend some time with the engine, put it through its paces and delve deep into the results. “Teaching” search engines to “think” like humans takes time, and recognizing when the engine “gets it right” should also take time.

As I have said before here, when search engine’s compete to grab out attention, we the researchers stand to win the grand prize. In Louis Gray’s words, for Microsoft, “building the better mousetrap” will only be half the battle in the war of the ‘engines. Can’t wait to see the “results.”

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