December 06, 2007
Last Blog Entry
I've Come A Long Way...The end of the semester. WOW! It seems like just yesterday when I came stumbling into the computer lab with no idea what to expect of the class, already thinking I knew everything there was to know about Google and searching on it. Boy was I wrong. I am going to break this final blog into four parts: things I thought I knew but didn't, things that I had no idea about, tools I know I will use after this semester, and one way to change the class.
Things I Thought I Knew... But Didn't
- As I stated earlier, I walked in thinking I knew everything there was to know about searching on Google. I was shocked when we started talking about special syntaxes. I also learned about the precision and recall that search engines aim for.
- I thought I knew about news sites and how to follow a company on the web. Again, I was wrong. Email alerts, page monitors, and RSS feeds were all new to me. I thought you could just look at there press release page and you would know everything that was going on.
- Tagging. I thought del.icio.us was the only tagging site out there. Wrong again. We learned all about social networks and the various types of stuff (pictures, blogs, websites, movies, etc.) that get tagged and the sites to best access them.
Things I Had No Idea About
- I was surprised at the size of the Deep Web. I had never heard of it before and seriously thought that search engines were able to search these invisible sites. Now I know that you need to use special search engines and techniques to utilize these
- RSS Feeds. Again, something completely new. I think they are the most useful thing we learned all semester. The amount of time that they can save is incredible. Having these to monitor personal topics of interest and then the business topics for our wikis was the best resource and one that I will continue to use.
- Wikis. Never heard of them before this class. They are a great tool for organizing information of a topic (like how we organized our term projects). They are easier to use then creating a web page and give you more flexibility when creating subpages.
Tools I Know I Will Use In The Future
- I will definitely continue to use RSS Feeds. As I stated earlier their ability to monitor different sources on a variety of topics makes them the ideal tracking tools. As time goes on, I feel like they will only get better because more sites will start to offer feeds.
- The search principles from the Web Search Garage are another thing that I will use whenever I use a search engine. I guess that some of them are kind of basic and you do them without thinking about it, but others are very useful and help create unique queries that yield precise results.
- Multimedia tagging sites are a third thing that I will continue to use. My favorite is iMeem. It offers free streaming music and the ability to create personal playlists. Another obvious favorite is YouTube because of its vast coverage of everything. I also liked Flickr but will only use it to supplement Google Images due to familiarity with the latter.
One Way To Change The Class
- For next year, I would keep the readings and the books (unless a newer version comes out) because they supplemented the lectures very nicely (which should also stay the same). The exams were structured well and emphasized what was important in class. But the one thing that I would change is the term projects. I would suggest only having one, whether it is personal or business related doesn't matter. I know a problem for me was getting started. I didn't really have an idea what to do until we learned the things in class an then I always felt like I was behind in material. I did not have a strong background in most of these tools, so I was just sitting on Google for hours searching with different queries until we learned all the techniques you wanted us to include. I like the idea of the project and it is really fun to do, but I feel like it kind of back-loads the course because of its structure.
I also wonder if any of these tools I learned will be applicable in a month (6 months, a year, 2 years). There is no way to predict where the internet is going, but if something radical comes out that changes everything, I would feel like I wasted some time learning this stuff. I do not think there is anything that you can do adjust for this, but it is something to keep in mind.
Sorry to end on such a sour note, but I really did love this class. The search techniques and online tools that I learned have already payed off and I hope they continue to in the future. I would definitely recommend this class to all my friends, so I hope you will be offering it next fall. Thanks again.
What's better: Google Images or Flickr?
Google Images was developed in December 2001. It is a free service brought to you by Google that allows users to use keywords to search for images on the entire visible web. The site does not require any registration or information about the user.
How Images are Found:
To begin an image search, a user must develop a unique query to effectively use the search engine. One the search is entered, Google Images returns a page with the results. Each result shows a thumbnail of the image, a short description, image size, and the website where the image can be found. Google Images searches the filename, text pointing to the image, and text adjacent to the image to index each image and allow it to be searchable.
I have to admit, I use Google Images for almost every image search that I do. It provides very precise results and allows users to see a variety of image types. Glancing through the first 100 results for the query "hat", it looked like 85-90% were relevant. The benefit of being a subsidiary of one of the best companies in the world (Google) obviously has its benefits, and those benefits are portrayed though Google Images.
One of my favorite features is the frame that pops up after clicking the thumbnail. Having this frame allows users to easily get back to the search results, while still allowing them get the context of the image and obtain a bigger picture if necessary.
Another feature that makes Google Images my preferred image search engine is the standard Google interface that I am very familiar with.
Google's Advanced search engine is another beneficial feature. It allows users to narrow down their results based on content, size, filetype, coloration, domain, and filtering options.
Flickr is a web based photo sharing platform. Its popularity has surged since February of 2004 due to the strong support by bloggers because of the online community tools that allows users to tag and browse photos by folksomic means. Registration is required to upload pictures but not view them. A simple Yahoo! account gives you full access to the site.Yahoo! Acquired Flickr in March 2005 and used it to replace their outdated Yahoo! Photos.
How Images are Found:
Unlike Google Images, Flickr has multiple ways to find images. The first is similar to Google Images. You enter a query on the home page and are directed to a result page with a thumbnail and along with the image name, date of upload, author, and tags. The second way to find images is click on a tag and view all the images in the category on a page similar to the search one.
I have found Flickr to be more useful when you do not have a specific image in mind that you are looking for. Here is a sample situation: you decide you want to use a picture of something (person, dog, anything) jumping, you aren't really sure what you want it to look like, just a cool looking picture. You would either search for jump of click on the jump tag to see all the cool pictures offered. I also do not think you would be looking for "official" pictures (logos, ads) because of the user generated content.
The best feature of this site is the social networking that it allows. It allows user to upload personal photos, blog with others, tag photos, create collections, have favorite, make contacts, and join groups through your user created profile.
Flickr also allows users to switch photos that they had on Yahoo! Photos over due to the merger of the two.
Flickr also allows users to edit and print their pictures using the Picnik feature. The final cool feature is the Organizr feature. It is what allows users to modify the tags, descriptions, and groupings of their pictures. It also allows users to place their pictures on a world map to show either where they have come from or what they are of. Flickr would not be the same without it.
While both Google and Yahoo provide great products, Google seems to have the edge in image searching. Flickr seems to focus more on the social aspect of photos and not so much the search and it seems to take away from the ability to find useful images. In Google Images, you get what you are expecting. Enough said. And that makes it better.
December 05, 2007
Searching for Multimedia
Revolutionary Media: iMeem.com
The service has both a social network structure and a browsing/filtering structure similar to that of Flickr and YouTube Unlike these two sites, however, iMeem is independently owned and operated. It is funded by an advertising based business model and therefore free to use for viewers/listeners. However, the ad campaign for iMeem is managed by DoubleClick, somewhat linking it to Google.
Getting Started:The first thing that is required when using the site is that you create an account. Creating an account is simple. All you need to enter is your name, an email address, date of birth, and gender. After registering, you are directed to a site where you are able to create and edit your profile. You can upload a picture of yourself, find friends on the site, or invite friends that do not have the service. In your profile, you can also see all the media that you have uploaded, including songs, videos, playlists, and photos. This is also the page where you upload to.
Favorites: When viewing videos or listening to songs, you have the ability to mark them as favorites. When they are marked, they are sent to a link in your profile where you, and others, can view what your favorites are.
Ability to Message/Have Friends/Join Groups: Another aspect of the socialability of the site. Users can send messages to each other, whether they are friends or not. The ability to add friends makes iMeem similar to sites such as MySpace or Facebook. The friends feature links people to each other through the music. Joining groups allows people with similar interest to share views about anything they want, whether or not it is pertinent to the group.
Search: While the search option only allows users to search the site for relevant media material and fails to allow for special syntaxes, it is critical to the success of the site. Users can enter the name of a song/artist/playlist into the search bar and the site will provide all the media that seems relevant to the query. In all the searches that I have tried, what I was looking for was one of the top 4 options.
Playlist: The ability to create your own playlists and view others' playlsits allows users to seemlessly switch from song to song in a chosen or random order. The playlists are all music that the person likes or want to experiment with, so happiness is the only option. It also allows users to listen to a genre of music even if they are not familiar with any artists of that genre.
Ratings and Tagging: Users have the ability to rate any type of media to suggest others to view/listen to it. Users also have the ability to tag any type of media to create categories to assist other users in searching for something that tickles there fancy.
Featured/Rising/Falling/Most Played/Random/Recent: Top 100 lists are constantly updated for these 6 categories. iMeem creates the Featured media based not only on popularity, but due to advertising ability and sponsorship. User activity creates the Rising, Falling, and Most Played lists. Recent user uploads create the Recent category and the random category is just there for user you don't know what they are feeling at that moment. It gives them a variety of everything on the site in hopes of attracting them to another segment of music to increase demand for music overall.
Community: This is maybe the most intriguing and social page on the site. Community allows users to check out existing groups, view other users, check out user photos, and participate in user created polls. This all contributes to the networking and provides an outlet for any type of topic that one wants to discuss.
Download: Along with advertising, this is a feature that makes the site run. The ability to download in a prominent location of the site convinced record labels to allow this streaming music. When users are listening to a song, directly next to the play button is a "download this song" button. Users are then given the option to go to iTunes or Amazon.com to complete the purchase.
ConclusioniMeem is an excellent social networking and media sharing site that allows users to expand their knowledge and preferences in music, photos, and videos while meeting others with the same interests. Great new (relatively) site.
November 12, 2007
RSS Feed: The Good and The BadAfter gaining a basic knowledge from my previous blog entry on RSS feeds, I began to focus on the feeds that I thought would be most beneficial to me for my term projects. As I said earlier, the aggregator I am most familiar with, and thus most likely to use, is Bloglines. For this analysis I will be evaluating the feeds that I have been getting from this site.
ESPN.com: The first feed that I will be evaluating is provided by sporting giant ESPN. This feed provides news of the top sports stories from across the world. It has been the most helpful feed that I have used due its abundance of information regarding rankings, schedules, and scores. One downfall of this feed is that fact that I am getting more than just feeds about college football. While sorting through the headlines is fairly easy, if I were able to refine the updates to just pages regarding college football, this feed would be ideal.
SI.com College Football Blog This feeds is a link directly to the college football blog written by Steward Mandel from Sports Illustrated. It is a blog that is updated at least 5 times a week (usually twice or three times each Saturday after the games end) that highlights major stories from the week and any breaking news. It is very specific to the type of information that I am looking for in my wiki and thus very useful. One downfall is that he is very opinionated and thus his material needs to be needs with this in mind.
Michigan College Football Forum This feed is dedicated to Michigan Football. It provides funny articles, pictures, and videos as they happen. The writer, who refers to himself as "Yost", is very entertaining. He writes from the perspective of a Michigan fan, but isn't that the point of the site? One great thing about this site is the frequency at which it is updated. "Yost" writes at least 2 entries a day and he seems to exceed that every weekend, especially when Michigan loses.
In The Bleachers College Football Blog The final feed that I will be analyzing is another blog, this one written by Brain Sakowski. He writes on the top stories across college football. He also provides some insight on Div. 1-AA, which I will not be covering in my blog. I noticed some of his information is incorrect and almost all of his prediction and upset alerts are wrong. This makes me less likely to use any information from the site because I do not want to have to check every stat to make sure I do not have any contradictory information in my wiki.
As you can see, there is a wealth of information about college football and it is expanding every day. Checking these RSS news and blogs feeds proves to be a very efficient way of staying up to date in the world of college football.
November 04, 2007
Email Alerts: What they are and how to use themEmail alerts are a service that allows users to track updates to an entire site by receiving an email (periodically) that notifies them of these exact changes. There are a variety of sites that offer this service, each with specific benefits and drawbacks. The only experience I have with email alerts is in this class (both the in-class exercises and the use for the term project) but this is everything that I have learned.
Searching for email alertsThe first thing that we learned how to do was search for email alerts using the major search engines (Google and Yahoo). I learned that are more sites with emails for most topics than any one person could handle. Because of this, you should use specific search queries to really narrow down the topic of the alerts you are looking for. I also learned that you should use different variation of email alerts (email alerts, e-mail alerts, email alert, e-mail alert to get the most results.
General Email Alert ServicesYahoo Alerts: This is the general email alert service offered by Yahoo. The interface is very user friendly and the categories cover everything from Sports to Horoscopes to Stocks. After creating an account and signing in, you can start signing up for alerts. First you need to click a category and then select what device you would like the alert sent to (email, phone,or pager). After this you have the option of picking term to include and exclude. This is a great feature offered by Yahoo. You can decide exactly what you get updates on and what terms are excluded from the updates. One thing that I had trouble with on this site was when I clicked some of the categories I got directed to a page where I was forced to register a device besides email (which I do not have). This was kind of annoying and distracting. Other than this I really liked the site. Another great feature is the ability to link these updates through Yahoo Pipes to other stuff. I do not think I am advanced enough to use this, but if you are I am sure this is a great feature.
Google Alerts: I found that Google Alerts was much easier to set-up. It did not require a user name or anything like that. it just allows you to type in the term that you want updates about and then begin getting updates. Then after you have selected the email address you are allowed to make changes to the search, such as sending the updates to a phone via text messages. I could not find how to include or exclude specific terms using this, but I am not sure if I just couldn't find them or if Google does not offer them. For this reason alone, I liked Yahoo Alerts better, and the addition of Yahoo Pipes would definitely make Yahoo a better alternative.
GoogleAlert: This is another Email alert service, but the name is misleading. This site is not affiliated with Google what-so-ever except for the fact that they use Google searches and alter them to benefit the information trapper. I did not use this site very much, so I do not have much to say about it except that is better than Google Alerts because it does analysis after the search that Google returns.
ConclusionThis brings my analysis to an end, but as you can see email alerts are a very useful way of trapping information. They are better than page monitors because they monitor the entire site and they offer results to pages that do not have RSS feeds. Yahoo Alerts is better than Google Alerts because of the refining search features that it has.
October 30, 2007
Mailing Lists and Groups
What can you get out of mailing lists and groups?When I started this class (and writing this entry) I had absolutely no idea but here is what I have learned so far.
Mailing lists and groups are features offered by search engines such as Yahoo and Google. Below I will describe (in detail) both for you and how they can be utilized.
Groups are free features that can be useful when pursuing a topic that is commonly discussed and liked (finance, gardening, or football, the possibilities are endless). The groups feature discussion threads about the topic of interest. Google Groups and Yahoo Groups are the two main players. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
First I will start with Google Groups. This feature extends back to 1981 (through their acquisition of Usenet). The interface is a little bit easier to use than Yahoo, but overall they are pretty similar. One advantage is the list of popular groups along the side of the main page. It lists groups that currently have the most recent members. Starting groups is another advantage that Google has over Yahoo. It is very easy to start your own group for any topic you desire. Because of Google's acquisition of Usenet, they offer two very distinct types of groups. There are the Usenet groups which are decentralized and unmoderated and then there are the Google groups hosted by Google which are more similar to Yahoo Groups.
Next, I will talk about Yahoo Groups. Yahoo groups was launched in 1998. Yahoo likes to think of their groups as electronic mailing lists with the additional feature of archiving past conversations for the group members. Yahoo also provides additional function on the group site, such as a calender and file uploading capabilities.
Email ListsOriginally, I thought that groups and email lists were different, but after doing more thorough research, I realized that they are one in the same. When you join a group, you are added to its email list. Discussions are able to be carried out over email, with the individual emails being archived on the group site on one of the search engines. I really like this additional feature because it allows you to carry on the conversation without having to constantly check the group site, but allows people not in the conversation to check the site whenever they want an update on the topic. It is the best of both worlds.
ConclusionGroups and the mailing lists that go along with them are very useful to topics that have a lot of followers and are interesting to discuss. They allow followers to interact with one another and pick up helpful hints and strategies to whatever their passion may be.
September 23, 2007
Critique of web based RSS Feed Aggregators
Web based RSS feed readers are used for browsing RSS (Real Simple Syndicate) feeds (including blogs, news sites, and other sites with feeds) in order to limit the time needed to be up-to-date on topics of interest. Most of the sites offer search options, where you can enter keywords in the search bar and the aggregator will provide you with sites that are relevant to that topic. Here is my review of the following sites.
I am going to have to say that I automatically took preference to Bloglines because it was the first aggregator that I used, and instantly fell in love with them. But with that said, after having tried some others, I still feel this way. Bloglines is a fairly typical RSS feed reader. The interface is very easy to use and the site is ascetically pleasing. The first thing that you have to do is register, but the is short and easy. After registering, you can start searching keywords and adding feeds to monitor. A feature that I really like is the sorting and managing of the feeds that you are subscribed to. I created folders for each of my interests along with a folder that will contain feeds that are relevant to my wikis (for the term project).
Another thing that I really like about Bloglines is the fact that is free. Another interesting (but useless to me) feature is the ability to change the language of the entire site to over 10 different languages. This allows the site to be used by people from more than English speaking countries to access the site. A final feature that I like is the “Find new blogs” site. This is a list of newly added and recently updates blogs. It is interesting because the variety of the content is vast. It allows me to look around and see anything that I think looks interesting.
Similar to Bloglines, Rojo is a RSS feed aggregator, but Rojo also offers the feature of social networking. They allow registered users to browse the feeds of other users to see what people are currently looking at. A feature that Rojo offers is the "What Rojo member are viewing" section on their main page. Another feature of Rojo that I like is the list of short cuts listed on the right side of every page. It makes jumping between feeds very easy.
I found that the hits on Rojo were more opinionated blogs with less factual data, and because of it was less appealing than Bloglines. I also found that the feeds offered a lot more pictures. I am not sure if this is just my topic, or the nature of Rojo in general, so I searched a few different topics and got varying results.
What to do now?Now it is time for you to be on your way to maximizing your searches. Any popular RSS feed aggregator that you find will be good, but Bloglines and Rojo are a good place to start.
Posted by adamcole at 07:21 PM
September 12, 2007
Searching the Deep Web
For the today's exercises, we searched "timber industry California" using a bunch of different search engines. Listed below is a description of the results/information I found on each of the sites:
This concludes the exercise for today involving the Deep Web. While most of these tools were very helpful, some of the later ones did not perform very well.
September 09, 2007
What I want to get out of BIT330
When I enrolled in this class, I really didn't know what to expect. I figured I know how to search the web; I have been doing in forever. In class the first day, I was really surprised how much of the stuff that we are going to learn how to do that I didn't know. My goal for this class is to learn the tools necessary to allow me to be an effective searcher. I want these tools to allow to me save time and yield better results when require to find information. I am not sure what specifics I am going to learn, but I am excited to jump in and learn everything that I can.
Overall, I would like to come out of this class with a wealth of knowledge on searching the internet in order to show employers that I am tech-savvy and an asset to anywhere I work.