Category Archives: search

Yahoo Reveals Top 10 Searches of 2011



Yahoo today announced the 10th anniversary edition of their Year in Review.  The top 10 searched terms are a general barometer of the year, giving insight into the biggest products, news stories, and celebrities.  Yahoo boasts about 700 million unique monthly users, so these results do provide a pretty good overview of the hot topics of the year.  Yahoo has made their Year in Review available “in 17 versions including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and United States”

Surprisingly, at least to me, was that the most searched for term of 2011 wasn’t a celebrity or a news story, but a tech item – the iPhone.  It was the first physical object to garner the number one spot since the Playstation 2 did in 2002.  Britney Spears is the only multi-time winner, being number one in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.  The Apple phone was the only non-news, non-person to to make the top ten list.  Beyond it, you will find a mix of names, mostly celebrities along with a couple from news stories.  Only one event made this year’s list – the Japan earthquake.

Here are top ten most searched for terms of 20, based on Yahoo’s data.

  1. iPhone
  2. Casey Anthony
  3. Kim Kardashian
  4. Katy Perry
  5. Jennifer Lopez
  6. Lindsay Lohan
  7. American Idol
  8. Jennifer Aniston
  9. Japan earthquake
  10. Osama bin Laden

You can get a lot more data and lots of different lists by visiting the Yahoo Year in Review.

 


Search Data and Browsing History Used As Evidence



Google Logo
The murder trial of Jo Yeates is front page news throughout the UK – a neighbour Vincent Tabak is accused of killing her. At the moment, the prosecution is presenting its case and a couple of interesting things have emerged as evidence.

In particular, the prosecution has alleged that the defendant:

  • looked at Wikipedia for the definitions of murder and manslaughter.
  • searched for the maximum penalty for manslaughter, i.e. how many years in jail.
  • looked up definitions for sexual assault and sexual conduct.
  • searched maps showing the area where the body was later found.
  • searched on CCTV cameras in street where both the defendent and victim lived.
  • use Google StreetView to view the same area.
  • researched criminal forensics, fingerprinting and DNA evidence.
  • read news stories on the investigation into the disappearance  of the victim.

Of course, it will be up to the jury to decide whether these are good indicators of guilt, but regardless it’s clear that if someone is accused of a crime then there’s a pretty thorough examination of one’s computers and on-line behaviour. Obviously this case is about a very serious crime but it’s almost a gift to the prosecution when put together like this: can you think of any good reason to access this material at the time of the disappearance? However, this is circumstantial evidence and needs to be weighed as such.

On a related note, Google has announced that if you are signed-in to Google when you search, you will automatically use https://www.google.com/, the secure version of Google Search. While this will prevent casual snooping on your search, Google will be keeping hold of your search information so that it can better serve you adverts. And how long does Google keep the search information? Indefinitely or until you remove it. So while on the face of it encrypted search is a good thing, it comes at the price of Google knowing yet more about you.

I suspect that in the current murder trial, all the computer forensics team had to do was look back through the defendant’s browser history. Easy if there’s only one computer, but more difficult if the person has a home computer, work laptop, smartphone and so on. If you’re tied into Google everywhere, all they’ll have to do is subpoena information from Google and get your search data in one tidy little bundle. Nice.


Google Search gets Football News, Stats, Standings, and More



It’s almost my favorite time of the year, otherwise know as football season.  And, today Google revealed that all sorts of football information, both NFL and college, is now available right in Google Search

Last week Google began bringing MLB results, but football is America’s number one sport, so it’s nice to see this partnership with ESPN evolve.  The simple announcement from Google came from software engineer Itay Maman and reads as follows:

“Just as the NFL season kicks off and you have your fantasy football league ready to go, you’ll be able to get useful information such as the latest scores, schedules, standings and stats for football-related queries in your search results. Last week, we started showing MLB results in partnership with ESPN and we’re now expanding sports live results to include the NFL. In addition to information on the football league, teams and players, you’ll also have direct links to previews, live streams, updates and game recaps. We hope to add more and more sports information on google.com, so stay tuned. “

You can try it out by doing a Google search.  A simple search for NFL yielded results such as the schedule, fantasy football, news, players, news, and more.  Adding ESPN to the search gives you box scores right in the top your results.  You can see screenshots of both at the bottom of this post.

This is a handy way to get quick information and news without trying to navigate the NFL web site, or an app app on your phone or tablet.  As you saw in the Google announcement, they are promising even more integration is on the way.  So….Are you ready for some football?!

Google NFL search

 

Google NFL ESPN search

Yahoo Steps Up Image Search



yahoo image search

Yahoo announced today that they are enhancing their image search.  It has a new tiled interface, a “latest” tab for trending results, a “galleries” tab, and Facebook integration that displays pictures from your friends with your results.  The biggest change is, perhaps, the way clicked images are displayed.  According to the Yahoo announcement:

“By clicking on any image on the search results page, the image will appear on a fresh page allowing users to browse effortlessly through full-size images with a simple click on the desktop browser.”

The new tiled interface renders all images in equal size, which I actually like better than Google’s “mismatched” look.  Like Google and Bing, Yahoo enlarges an image if you hover your mouse over it.

Yahoo is also claiming that more improvements are on the way.  These changes are worth checking out because I think this may be the cleanest, prettiest image search of any of the big three search engines.  Of course, the bottom line is the results your query gets, and that remains to be seen.  You can test it out at images.yahoo.com.

 


“In The Plex” Audible Audio Book



Controversy. The world of news seems to thrive on it, including the world of tech news.

Ever wonder what goes on inside a premier tech company like Google?

I just finished listening to “In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives” written by Steven Levy and narrated by L.J. Ganser.

“In The Plex” is all about Google – it’s employees, it’s business culture, and even it’s cafeterias. Additionally it includes behind-the-scenes accounts of major Google controversies most people will remember.

Google is one of those remarkable “Great American Company” stories that happened right under our noses within the past decade.

The unabridged “In The Plex” Audible audiobook version is 19 hours long. The narration is top-notch and the content quite entertaining. It ends with a discussion of Google’s sometimes-tumultuous, sometimes ho-hum social networking forays, along with a brief discussion of the development of “Google+” which has recently gone into a controlled roll-out to the general public.

If you were ever curious about the company behind the search engine, I recommend “In The Plex” as a means of sating that inquisitive urge.


What Do You Love?



While Google+ may have been making most of the headlines, Google also introduced “What Do You Love” at www.wdyl.com. It’s a way of searching Google services such as Maps, YouTube, News, Patent Search, Blogger all at once will the results presented together.

The user interface is much as you’d expect.

The results are displayed on a single page broken up into applets showing the individual returns from each service.

Let’s say you love kittens – who doesn’t? The results for a WDYL search for kittens is shown below.

You can easily dismiss it as superficial – who cares about the popularity of kittens on the web – and the name WDYL doesn’t help. But if you were wanting to get an idea of emerging trends, say democracy in the middle east, you can see what’s happening along with (mostly) relevant books and videos from YouTube. The more you experiment with it, the more you get the feeling of how powerful a tool it is for research. There’s nothing that you couldn’t have done yourself, but by presenting everything together you can start to see synergies.

WDYL isn’t going to replace standard Google search, but if you want to go a little bit further and search beyond text, give it a try.


Google Updates Search App for iOS



A couple of months ago Google released a new Search app for iOS devices.  Now, today, they are releasing an update to that app based on user feedback they have received.  The new version is touted as faster and easier to use.

Google claims that search is now 20% faster as you type in your queries.  They have also turned off the “Just Talk” app by default claiming that it was a part of the slower performance that users were experiencing.  Just Talk allowed users to search via voice by bringing the phone up to their ear and speaking, rather than tapping ,the microphone icon.  It can be re-enable by users by visiting the Settings > Voice Search menu.

Google has also increased the size of the font that appears in search results, making it easier to read on a small screen.  They have also made the entire result “tappable” as opposed to just the actual link.

Both of these improvements should enhance the usability for all iOS device owners.  Google, in mobile especially, needs to continue moving forward with improvements given that Bing is suddenly emerging.  While Bing has a great mobile service, I wouldn’t go so far as to call them a competitor yet, but they are at least the little dog that nips at ankles.