Search engines meet data-mining applications

Submitted by Karthik on 15 March, 2004 - 22:24

I came across Vivisimo yesterday, and was quite impressed by its clustering system. With my curiosity piqued, I googled (sic) around for other sites that offered new and improved searching capabilities, and was (pleasantly) surprised by what was on offer :) Read on for a list of what's out there, and my (rather brief) opinions on each of them.

  • Vivisimo: Probably has the most google-esque interface, with fast load times, and a purely text-based approach. From what I can tell, Vivisimo like most new breed search sites, does more cataloging/grouping than the actual indexing of pages. That bit is left to 3rd party sites such as Lycos, MSN et. al. But surprisingly the results are great. What might have needed about 3-4 refined search queries in google, is usually just reduced to a single click, as your query is broken down and grouped into separate sections, and listed sequentially. This works especially well when you submit an ambiguous query.

    Pros: Fast, efficient with a clean userfriendly layout.

    Cons: High dependence on 3rd-party sites. And a surprising number of sponsored listings which are probably scraped from Overture.

  • Grokker: This is the software that has been promising much better results than Google for a while now, and I decided to give the (whopping) 19.2 MB trial download a go. While Vivisimo was purely text-based, Grokker follows a highly visual mode of cataloging/mapping. The interface is quite intuitive for an experienced user, but I'm not entirely certain that neophytes will be able to use it effectively. I personally found that if used as recommended, Grokker shaves off a lot of time that you spend in refining your searches in Google; However, it takes an unbelievable amount of time downloading it's results and cataloging them, and takes a big bite out of your CPU usage. That's definitely not what you want happening at all.

    Pros: Very intuitive, innovative and logical. Good fun too :) There also seem to be a lot more "advanced" features that I didn't test out, such as the mapping systems, various plug-ins etc.

    Cons: Extremely slow; high CPU usage; 19.2MB download; prohibitively expensive at USD 49 (minimum).

  • Kartoo: Kartoo has been around for a couple of years now, and caught my eye initially as it is entirely written in Flash. This essentially seems to be a less-intesive, web-based form of Grokker, but with a mixture of text and visual interfaces. Both of them have a similar cataloging system using visual and interactive maps. While Kartoo makes excellent use of Flash in accomplishing this, it is restricted due to it's inherent restrictions.

    Pros: Besides the advantages of cataloging and mapping systems, it offers similar visual elements as Grokker on a web-based system, without the 19.2MB download; Reasonably fast, with a simple interface.

    Cons: Inherent limitations of any intensive implementation using Flash - the processor gets hammered; While the interface works, it is very tacky; Still have to wait a while to get your results;

  • Mooter: While Grokker required a download, Kartoo required Flash, Mooter offers something similar with a standard browser (with heavy use of javascript though). Still in it's beta stages, Mooter doesn't seem to be very intensive producing far fewer results than the other options.

    Pros: Text based; Simple and user-friendly interface, with the clean "clustering" map, increasing it's ease of use.

    Cons: Not intensive enough for some purposes; Still have to wait a while to get your results.

  • Eurekster: Another product still in it's beta stages, Eurekster moves away from the grouping/mapping/cataloging/clustering (sic) concept, and towards a more personalized system, by keeping track of your selections and weighting your choices. Another innovative idea is that similar people will need similar results. Therefore, a network of people (e.g. your work colleagues) can influence the search results of other members of the network (by way of the afore-mentioned tracking system). For example, Flash might mean Macromedia Flash to web-designers, and mean DC Comics' Flash (the superhero..), to comic book enthusiasts.

    Pros: Text based; Clean and user-friendly interface; Interesting and possibly useful concepts, which might make Eurekster invaluable for some people.

    Cons: Requires signups, logins and all that muck to be used effectively; Lack of the grouping concept (especially if you don't have/use any friends :P) puts it on the same rung as Google; Google however is aeons ahead and produces far more comprehensive results.

  • Dipsie: I came across these guys in my web logs. As per their website: "Our goal is to deliver more relevant results from a more complete index of the Web and enable our users to find what they're looking for within 2 clicks."

    Pros: N/A

    Cons: N/A

However, all said and done, for an average internet user, nothing comes even vaguely close to the power and reliability of Google. But I'm glad to see the competition making some innovative advances. Hopefully, Google will introduce it's own comprehensive grouping system, rather than relying on it's present rudimentary directory system. But for the moment, Google is still the Numero Uno in search engines. For the moment..

Tech Savvy, bungee jumping indian politician goes online

Submitted by Karthik on 9 March, 2004 - 08:53

Baijayant “Jay” Panda, a 40 year old US educated Oriyan politician, has launched his own website. While, most educated (i.e sensible :P) people try and avoid any forays into Indian politics, primarily due to it's inherent corruption, it's quite heartening to see MP Panda making his stand. Read the full story here.

He seems like the Parthiv Patel of Indian politics.. Looks ten years younger than he actually is.. Also, you'll need to head to the profile section for the bungee-jumping bit ;P

The article got me googling for a list of links to Indian political parties.. Read on for a list of the (working) links that I found..

2003 - Fight Against Terror; 2004 - Fight Against Error

Submitted by Karthik on 9 March, 2004 - 02:04

With more and more americans blinding themselves to the fact that it's american companies that are outsourcing their mundane jobs to India et. al., indian companies are coming under a fresh spate of attacks, as election frenzied americans bay for some indian (as in the patels, kumars, sivaramakrishnans etc.; not the sitting bulls or crazy horses - they finished them off a long time ago :P) blood. A fresh slew of articles appeared today in The Economic Times [here, here, here, here and finally a collection of amusing cartoons doing the rounds here.

Electronic Paper device to be released later this year

Submitted by Karthik on 8 March, 2004 - 07:35

E Ink and Philips have a new electronic display that is as clear as ink on paper. The Technology Review article (It always makes me shudder when I see ASP on a University (albeit affiliated) web server :/) is here, while a couple of press releases from E Ink can be found here and here. Also check out the large size blowup of what exactly this is going to look like :)

I personally have been considering getting a rocketbook reader off eBay (the manufacturer has gone bust :() for a while now. It only costs about USD 120 or so and I've heard only good things about it; especially it's 25+ hour battery life! Here's an early review.. But I guess I might wait to see how this pans out :P

Not many takers for Macromedia Central

Submitted by Karthik on 7 March, 2004 - 21:54

"A year after Macromedia revealed ambitious plans to expand the reach of its Flash format, the software maker appears to have trouble building support for the effort among developers and information technology planners."Read the full story here.

Besides the fact that Central still sucks in terms of usability, the answers to the more obvious questions such as reasons for the very necessity for Central are still being left unanswered. The official MM whitepaper [PDF, 1.26MB] isn't terribly illuminating either :S

The article also mentions Longhorn's new graphics system - Avalon as a direct competitor to Flash applications (presumably using Sparkle).

GSM1x technology tested successfully in China

Submitted by Karthik on 7 March, 2004 - 10:33

Qualcomm's GSM1x technology has been successfully tested in Suzhou, China. This bodes well for India, where both technologies are currently being used extensively, hopefully allowing for greater flexibility for the end user.

"GSM1x is a CDMA2000 solution for GSM operators. The flexibility of the GSM1x solution allows the unmodified GSM-MAP core network to interface with the unmodified CDMA2000 radio network. GSM1x offers the best of both worlds, combining the feature-rich services and roaming capabilities of GSM with the enhanced data services and spectral efficiency of CDMA2000."

A peek at script kiddie culture

Submitted by Karthik on 7 March, 2004 - 00:36

An interesting take on the underground DDOS culture on the Internet (primarily on IRC). While this hits pretty close to home, it's funny how phone phreaking is referred to as "good old '60s-style phone phreaking", while the kids in question here are social delinquents and degenerates ("Most of them, if they were to go parties they would get beat up." etc.). An interesting read nonetheless :)

An example of what Andy Kirch meant by "pulling dox" :P An overview of the technical aspects of DDOS-ing..


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