Category Archives: Networked Media

Flipped Lecture 1 – Browser Wars

I’ve started taking notes differently when I listen to lectures. My notes for part one of Download: The True Story Of The Internet look like this-

I watched part 1- Browser Wars. It’s about the world’s first graphical web browser and the trouble it caused in Silicon Valley. It was quite interesting, even though I knew a bit about the so called browser wars already.

In fact, unlike these people in the video below, I actually knew what a browser was before I watched this Browser Wars.

My dad sent me that video a few years ago so I could laugh at it. I made me a bit sad actually.

Anyway, I use Google Chrome as my browser and I’m happy to see how far they’ve come since being releassed in Spetember of 2008.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

Anyway, I’m deviating from the doco a bit as it focused on the demolition of Netscape Navigator and the maliciousness of Microsoft in creating Internet Explorer to get rid of the competition. Although, I guess what goes around comes around as Internet Explorer is now no longer the most popular browser…

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Search Engine Comparison

They say change is good, but I am not convinced. Google has been my go to search engine for at least the last 9 years, but what about before that? Way back in primary school I was using search engines like Yahoo, Dogpile and Ask Jeeves (for kids). I was also using cool programs like logo, but that’s beside the point.

So today, I’ll be comparing these three search engines and seeing what they’re like now. I’ll start with a relatively easy search term, “The Little Prince”. It’s been on my mind lately, so I thought I’d see what the Internet has to offer in regards to one of the books of my childhood.

Yahoo and Dogpile both brought me comparable results to Google (because of course, I couldn’t resist “Googling” it as well) but Ask Jeeves brought me some really whacked out results. First, I was surprised at the sponsored links at the top, they certainly weren’t there a decade ago (oh god, a whole decade, now I feel old). Then there were two relevant and useful links, all good, followed by eight, yes eight, links to Disney sites or toy stores. Clearly a search engine aimed at kids, unfortunately, not as good as it seemed to be a decade ago.

But wait, perhaps I’m being unfair. A decade ago I was using Ask Jeeves to do research for my projects, searching for terms like “What do koalas eat?” and “Where is krakatoa?”. So let’s try all three search engines with the question “Why do volcanoes erupt?” and see what happens…

Ah! All three search engines return useful links. The Ask Jeeves results were aimed more at kids with simpler explanations and more kid friendly websites. So, much better this time round, however they still had the sponsored results at the top and bottom of the search results. Dogpile had a long list of sponsored results at the top it it’s page, but that’s because they’re a combination of Google promoted results and Yahoo promoted results (Dogpile uses a combination search, drawing on results from Google, Yahoo, Yandex and Bing). Yahoo on the other hand had no promoted results for this search querie, but did have an ad for itself at the bottom of the results claiming to be “promotional results” when really it was totally unrelated.

Okay, but let’s get rational here. I don’t really need to know why volcanoes erupt these days, I mean, I’m studying at university for goodness sake. I need to know things like how citizen journalism has affected Malaysia. So let’s try searching “How has citizen journalism affected Malaysian media?” and see what we get.

Right. Ask Jeeves has returned not one useful or relevant link. At all. But Yahoo and Dogpile? Both have plenty of relevant links, both are nicely laid out, easy to navigate, and come with categories up the top to sort results. Dogpile has two main advantages at the moment, the first being it’s suggested searches on the side and the second being the cute dog who I presume is the one doing the fetching every time I click “fetch”. Wait, I lied. It has three advantages. The third is it’s ability to pull results from Google and Yahoo as well as Bing and Yandex. This means it gets a good mix of results and beside each result it tells you where it was found (for example, exclusively on one search engine or on many).

So out of these three search engines, my favourite is Dogpile. Of course, I could set it as my homepage (except I don’t actually have or use a homepage) or I could set it as my default search engine with my web browser, but I’m still way too attached to Google to do that. Instead, I’m going to add it to my bookmarks bar and use it next time I’m tempted to click to the second page of results on Google. Because, I mean, who does that?

News From The Other Side Of The World

It’s been nice having my Google Alerts sitting in the bottom of my reader the last couple of days. I mean, mostly. It’s also kinda sucked cause it feels like just another thing I don’t have the time to read… but it’s also been good, as I can keep up with the news relating to Watoto, Uganda and Africa.

I must say I was a little disappointed with the African news results, only because there was so much Olympic news in there, and in general the comments on such news articles were in serious need of some moderating!

There were only three results for my Watoto alert, two relating to their world famous choirs and one about a scandalous land grab that upon reading the actual article turned out to have no actual scandal related to the church.

By far the most interesting alert was the one I set up for news in Uganda, and truthfully, this is the only one I won’t be deleting after I finish this post. I have a personal affinity for Uganda having travelled there twice in the last three years and made connections with the country and her people while there.

I read about the 40 year anniversary of Idi Amin expelling Asians from the country. I read about the Gay Pride weekend that was being held in the botanic gardens of Entebbe (a place I have visited and so can vividly imagine what the gatherings would have looked like). And I read that the HIV rate in Uganda is, sadly, on the rise again.

I am currently in the middle of a lack-of-travel slump and reading these tid-bits from Uganda really perked me up. I’m going to keep my alert for news from Uganda for a few more weeks, but keep the pressure off to check it all the time. It’s kind of a handy way to keep in touch with the news without having to hunt it down myself.

Google Alerts

I set up three Google Alerts for the search terms of Watoto, Uganda and Africa. I set each alert to only show me the news and to go straight to my reader instead of clogging my inbox.

I’m going to give it a few days and see what kind of news I get from these alerts. I’ve not used Google Alerts before and I’m interested to see if it’s any good. I’m glad I could skip the email deliveries though, I get enough junk in my inbox as it is!

Have you used Google Alerts? Did you even know you could subscribe via RSS? Tell me in the comments

Things I Should Know By Now

I am a list person. I really, really like writing lists. I also like reading them. This is a list that popped up in my reader a while back that I bookmarked for reading later. I just went through all my bookmarks and rediscovered it. The list is 20 Things I Should Have Known At 20 by Julien Smith who writes over at In Over Your Head.

I already know some of the things on the list, I am learning (sometimes constantly) other and still more I am yet to learn. But it’s a good list to keep going back to and checking in with. The only point I disagree with is number 19- Get known for one thing. But that’s because I’m also subscribed to Emilie Wapnick who’s blog Puttylike talks about and to multipotentialites and I’m beginning to suspect that I am one.

Emilie describes a multipotentialite as “a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life” and goes on to use her website and blog as a way to reach out to other multipotentialites and explain how that is a bloody good thing.

Anyway, back to Julien’s list, I also found this treasure sitting in my starred items in Google Reader and I think it relates to #6 on the list. And yes, I subscribe to online comics. Go on, judge me. I dare you.

 

Blog Rules etc.

This is not a post I would actually write if this blog wasn’t being marked. It is intended to be read with a voice dripping in sarcasm. Just so you know.

Here I tell you about my shiny new Creative Commons License. I’ve licensed this blog under an attribution, non-commercial, share-alike creative commons license. More information about it here. Basically, you can share, use and remix my work as long as it’s not for money, you attribute the work to me and you publish it under a similar or stronger license.. It also means that any work I post to this blog is under the same license (but always attributed if it’s not my own). Work that belongs to others that is under a stricter license will be individually noted.

I have established several blog categories. You can browse them by using the widget on the right.

And I have not set up a strategy to deal with comments or spam. That’s right. Have not. Because I’m blogging with WordPress and WordPress is amazing. By default, WordPress automatically filters comments using Askimet to block spam and sets the comment moderation to “comment author must have a previously approved comment”. This means that if you comment on my blog for the first time, I’ll get to decide whether or not I want to show it. But if I decide yes, then you can comment again without me having to moderate each comment. Yay. Saves me a lot of work and I’ve not had a single problem with Askimet ever (including on my wordpress.org accounts).

</sarcasm>

Get With The Times, New Roman

I’m going to keep yammering on about fonts for a bit, because I’ve fallen down that rabbit hole again.

So imagine for a minute that all your favourite (and not-so-favourite) fonts were people. Then imagine they were in a meeting deciding whether or not to accept a new font to their little club. Then stop imagining that because the hilarious folks at College Humor have already imagined it and they turned it into a video for you to see.

I like this video because it gives personality to fonts and makes me think about them in new ways. It’s also well scripted and quite funny, or should I say punny? No, I probably shouldn’t.

The only thing I don’t like is that Comic Sans appears to be the hero of this piece. However, the comments also picked up on this irk of mine and for once, the comments section of a YouTube video is filled with smart replies, conversations and jokes.

For more real font hilarity, watch the sequel here.

What did you think of the video? Tell me in the comments.