Wallpapr helps you find a desktop wallpaper by retrieving suitable images from Flickr.
The next obvious step would be to write a tool which automatically finds and sets a new desktop paper each day for you.
Whilst the DC ended up being a commercial failure for Sega, it's a much loved console for gaming aficionados and lists like these are great for fans to catch up on missed classics2. In case you're interested, my top 5 from that list are Ikaruga, Rez, Chu Chu Rocket, Bangai-O and Space Channel 5.
- As an aside, I'm quite pleased to be able to say that I own all the games mentioned bar two. [back]
- It's also worth mentioning that even with the games that have had sequels on other consoles, the DC originals are still superior to this day. In particular, the sequels to Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi had only a fraction of the charm of their predecessor. [back]
The difference between HD and DVD.
Seeing side by side (or top over bottom) comparisons such as this one help illustrate just how much of a leap High Definition video is; it's just a shame that, as with any edge technology, the sheer expense take away from the attractiveness of the product for most consumers.
The game that you can't beat… The US release of Bubble Bobble DS cannot be completed as Level 30 contains a boss battle with no boss.
Some things to note if you're following the tutorial:
- Make sure QS' advanced features option is turned on
- Enable the "Open URL With" via the action preferences panel
- Make sure that the Safari module is installed
These are all mentioned in the comments but I had overlooked them upon my first read.
So if you're looking for information on school or college loan consolidations, where do you turn to? How about advice on auto insurance quotes or maybe teleconference services.
Well, according to this list of the 50 most expensive adwords, apparently marketers believe the answer is Google Adsense. Clearly, education is highly valued by the loans and insurance industry…
Jeremy Cowart has showcased some of his lovely cover art and photography in his flickr collection.
There's a post on Creative Review about the recent fake front cover of The London News.
The London News is an afternoon publication by Rupert Murdoch's News International competiting in the hotly contested free newspaper market. As with the other free newspapers such as Metro and The London Lite, the publication is supported via a variety of ads. However, in a bid to gather a greater advertising cut, The London News makes use of ad-sponsored cover wraps which enclose the actual newspaper. The problem in this instance is the actual ad campaign. Plastered across the front page was a poster shot depicting "the Assasination of George Bush"; as a subject matter, it couldn't be any more deceptive. Whilst I imagine they were compensated quite comfortably for the campaign, I can't help feeling that they've shot themselves in the foot by allowing this to go through.
The backbone of any newspaper is it's credibility; by allowing the boundaries between news and marketing to blur, The London News has given the impression that it's willing to sacrifice it's credibility as a serious paper for the sake of commercial interests. A dangerous precedent to set and a warning shot for the future of journalism.
This rather sexy looking laptop demoed at the Ceatec tech fair also doubles up as turn-table. Personally, it looks more like a electric hob and the ergonomics of the touch-sensitive keyboard is debatable but it's good to see laptops veering away from the usual cheap plastic look.
So you suddenly find that you need a speaker for your PC. What do you use? Yes the correct answer is that you open up your hard drive and modify it as a custom speaker. And of course, you use it to playback the beginning to Pulp Fiction. Viva User Generated Content!
David Sullivan has a good piece on hype behind natural language searches. Like biometric authentication, natural language searches are an example of a technology which sounds appealing on the surface but, after a more careful analysis, wouldn't actually be that good an idea in practice.
The problems are varied but all ultimately stem from NLS' raison d'etre, namely that NLS are a more effective means of finding information and that the first company to bring one to fruition will have a killer application on their hands.
The problem is that many people haven't actually considered if that's actually even true. Keyword searches are actually an optimal means of searching for information in many situations.
The big part of the information encapsulated in a search is already contained within keywords. Borrowing David's example, the keyword search for "Pirates of the Carribean" already captures the bulk of the information that you want to search from. There is little more information that you can derive from such a phrase. The amount of benefit that NL analysis can provide is limited and expanding the phrase to a natural language equivalent does little to aid the search process.
However, perhaps the bigger issue is that, search is supposed to be a quick and efficient means of finding a resource matching your request. Keyword searches are quick and simple (to use and understand); natural language searches result in verbosity and greater initial time investment. Why do a search for "I want to find out more information on about Pirates of the Carribean" when a keyword search for "Pirates of the Caribbean" is just as effective? But you may cry "people don't have to use a NL, they can do a keyword search as well". In that case, why not use a regular search engine like Google which is likely to be more effective with such input.
Google succeeded because the changes it made required no changes on the part of the user. The results simply got better, even though the method of searching (and number of words) remained the same.
This is an important point to note. For many people, keyword searching is an intuitive way to search. As mentioned, they are easy to understand and easy to use. The results are, in a way, predictable and fit in line with a user's mental model of how searching should work. The simplicity of the user model has two big repurcussions. Firstly, it's easy to pick up and use; it's easy to understand or teach the concepts of how to search with Google1. It's a familiar interface which people know how to use almost intuitively. They don't have to make an initial investment in learning how to use the system. Secondly, the user model is easy to extend; want to find PotC games? just add games to the search query. Thirdly, keyword searches are predictable and (relatively) unambiguous. I don't have to think about why the search worked this way; it might not have found what I was looking for but the search and results made sense.
Context and refinement
One of the often-mentioned problems of keyword search is that of context. I want information on the PotC ride, not the film. However, NL searches are a poor approach to this problem. Clustering (or the grouping of information from different domains) is one approach, which has nothing to do with NLS; tacking on another keyword is another. Suggested searches are another. These are all, however, enhancements to (or that can be made to) existing engines. Extension not replacement is the key.
Being better? First be just as good
The concept of extension rather than replacement is useful to remember as it asks you to consider why something is successful and what you have to do to displace an established product. For a product to displace a given leader in a given domain, it has to do two things. It has to have a killer feature, whether that's something it does which no one else does or something that it does differently (but more effectively) than someone else. More importantly however, it has to be able to everything else that the competitor competently. That is, it has to be able to act as a reasonable alternative for the leader. Competitors to Microsoft have had a difficult time in succeeding because they've all missed some feature somewhere.
The hard challenge is not being better than Google for a given task; it's about being good enough so as to minimise the inertia cost.
Behind Google's success
One of the things that people keep overlooking when talking about the next Google killer is what are Google's strengths. Ignoring their assets such as their developers, infrastructures, financial strength, customer base and supporting products, if you were to look solely at their search platform, they would still be a significant force.
I'm not sure how many pages are on the web nowadays but the phrase "If it isn't on Google, it's not on the web" certainly rings true in some respects. The size of Google's index is really quite incredible and if it doesn't sound so impressive now, it's only because we're conditioned to expect it. What's impressive about it is not just the size but the infrastructure and architecture that they've set up to accommodate and make use of such.
Firstly, the actual technical challenge in indexing, maintaining and searching such a large data set isn't trivial and the system that Google have developed to tackle such is impressive2. It's no surprise to hear some people referring to Google's architecture as being their real ace card, the unsung hero that enables them to keep ahead.
The other side to a large index is the weighting of results. Interpreting a search string is only part of the issue; Google's pagerank algorithm was a breath of fresh air when it came out as it provided a reliable framework for returning appropriate results. It was enough of a killer app to catapult them to market leader.
Investors really need to look further if they're looking for a Google killer. Whilst history has told us that no company is safe and that Google's ascendancy won't last forever, it's hard to see it being displaced by any of the companies listing NLS as their big selling point.
- To a degree, as illustrated by Scriv's post. However, if anything, that post reinforces the point. If people don't use Google in the expected manner, would NLS be any better? [back]
- Thousands of cheap servers replicating data across several machines which deal with issues such as failures and load in a scalable (price as well as performance) manner. [back]