Archive for the ‘Interesting links’ Category

Microsoft Tags

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Playing around with creating tags that can be read by smart phones. Information on the tool at or go to from your web enabled phone. US only right now. What phones? From the FAQ:

The Microsoft Tag Reader is available for most smartphones and many feature phones. It is available on Windows Mobile, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry, and Symbian S60 phones. Of course, your phone needs a camera and it must have Internet-access. A detailed list of all supported phones is available and new phones will be added over time.

Links to my vCard online.


Links to my other blog.



Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

So the people who own “American Idol” (which is some TV show I have never watched) think that there are people who might reasonably think that a strip club’s “Stripper Idol” is sponsored by them. Say what! Well they use the word “Idol” and there is a logo that apparently uses a similar color and text style to the “American Idol” logo. But still – can you see people assuming that there is a connection? Perhaps an idiot might wonder for a minute or two. But would a reasonable person assume a connection? I doubt it. But there is a suit going on anyway.

Well maybe a lawyer would but if so I would drop them from my list of reasonable people. Of course the suit has brought a ton of attention to the strip club and their business is booming. So perhaps the “American Idol” people do have a piece of the action? Yeah right. Some things just make you wonder.

How well do you use search engines?

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

One of the things that amazes me is how poorly many people are at using Internet search engines. Students are particularly bad at it. You would be amazed at what they can’t find. Recently I found out about a game called Page Hunt.

A brief blurb about the game:

This game is like search in reverse:  you’re shown a web page, which you have to ‘hunt down’ using queries sent to Live Search.

When you see the web page, think of a set of terms that would return this page.

You type these words  into a search box. Page Hunt shows the top 5 results for this query from Microsoft’s Live Search.

You get points if the web page you’re ‘hunting’ is one of these top 5 result pages: 100 points if it’s at position 1, 90 points at position 2 etc. If you don’t get it right, change the query and try hunting again. If you get it right, you advance to the next page.

Occasionally, you’ll see very frequent queries listed for a page. If you don’t use these queries to hunt these pages, you’ll get a 50% bonus when you crack that page. And sometimes, just for fun, we give you other bonuses!

If you move the mouse away from the search box, it becomes slightly transparent, so you can see the page better. You can also move the box around if you like. If you get stuck on a page, you can click on the Skip button to go to the next web page, with no penalty in your score. If you encounter a page which does not render properly, or is bad in any way, click on the Bad Page button to flag it.

Each session of the game is 3 minutes long. At the end of a session, you get your session score. At the end of a session, you can review each page, the searches you tried and the results you got from Live Search.

The game uses Silverlight, so you may be prompted to load Silverlight when you first run it. 

Page Hunt is actually part of a research project that is trying to improve online search by looking at how people actually use search. How metadata is used and other attributes of both web pages and the way people form queries. So if you think online search could be better playing this game may help improve things. And honestly I find it fun trying to find out how many pages I can “find” in the 3 minute time period.

My best score so far is 520. Anyone else beat that?

Random Search Engine Notes

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

So I was viewing some of the logs for my main blog today and saw a visit from Google. I assumed it was probably a spider but when I focused in on it I found that it was actually the result of a search. Apparently people who work for Google use their own product. Go figure. 🙂 Anyway, what they were looking for was “schools kindle” and what came up number one was my blog. I tried a couple of other search engines and my blog didn’t show up on the first couple of pages of any of them. Weird. I’ still trying to decide if Google has it right and the other sites have it wrong or what. Open to opinions.

My default search engine is Live Search by Microsoft. I initially switched over when they started returning my web pages at the top when one searched for my name which people do a surprising number of times. I  think they are looking for me but that may be a little vain. There are others out there including my father and son. In fact I have been contacted by people looking for both of them and not for me. I have a bigger Internet footprint. I have links to several of the members of my group and I see a lot of hits from people looking for one of them as well. It’s not as much as it used to be because they are getting more search engine attention as their blogs expand and as more people link to them directly.

Blogs are really powerful for search engine optimization. My personal web site was hard to find for the longest time. Once I started blogging and linked to my home page it rapidly climbed up the search results. If you want attention a blog (or two) is a great way to do it especially if you get people to link to you.

A while ago I tracked down solutions for an error that kept popping up. Every time it came up I did searches and seldom found anything useful easily. So I collected all the possible solutions for the things that might be causing it and I wrote a blog post about it. I included the full text of the error message and I get traffic to that post virtually every day. I think that creating a good solution with the right key words and you can really attract the search engines. A good thing I think.

Of course the power of blogs has attracted the notice of spammers. Those people spoil everything. Have they no shame? I wish there was a way to get to them and make them stop. Oh well.

Civics Quiz

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

I found this interesting civics quiz on the Internet today. So far this month the average score is 75% but over a longer time it is apparently much lower. Perhaps more people who think they know stuff are self selecting to take it.

I missed one question (out of 33) and am somewhat embarrassed about that. I blame the question in part. 🙂 But in all honesty I am somewhat of a history/politics/social studies geek. I read a lot about this stuff. So I can see a lot of people missing some of the questions.

For example the main item in the Lincoln/Douglas debates. But not being able to name the three branches of government? Yeah I don’t get that one.

Take a look and let me know what you think. You don’t have to report your scores.

Obama in the News

Friday, November 7th, 2008

This is pretty cool. They have hundreds of newspapers from November 5th from around the world on one screen. Actually Obama didn’t make the front page of all of them. In some parts of the world local news seems to have been more important.

Zoom in and read any of them. Works best with a scroll wheel but you can get by with the navigation aides on the top left of the screen and clicking.

Gas Is Cheap

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Well it doesn’t feel that way at the pump and I was really unhappy about the check I had to write out on Monday to fill the oil tank in my basement. But there is good news. The Annals of Improbable Research has a new article out that calculated the price per gallon of other liquids that are commonly used. White Out is over $400 a gallon! Red Bull is over $30 a gallon.

Does any of this make you feel any better about the price of gas? No, me either. 🙂 The only thing that helps even a little is coming home from countries where gas is $8 to $10 a gallon. BTW in those countries you never see people sitting waiting for any period of time with the engine idling. Never. And their doors and windows are a lot better than ours are at keeping out the draft and cold air. We could (should) learn some things from them.

Now These I Get

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

This is the basic digital lifestyle sort of video. I’ve seen it a number of times and am surprised Microsoft doesn’t make more of it.

This one is a fun look at business and the new Microsoft Office.

51 Places You Can’t See On Google Earth

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

The list is here. I suspect that most of them are also not available on Live Earth – Microsoft’s really cool maps site. BTW while Google has those really cool logo images on their search site Live Search uses really cool images as screen backgrounds. I love the picture of observatories that is there today.

Hello Kitty Hell

Monday, July 21st, 2008

So I just found out that there is a blog that posts a lot of wierd stuff about Hello Kitty. Some of it is pretty wierd indeed – Hello Kitty pasties?? Anyway it is called Hello Kitty Hell and is by a man whose wife is seriously into Hello Kitty.

His wife didn’t believe that a lot of people read his blog so there is a bet on about number of comments. If he gets 1000 comments on this post by unique people he a) gets his wife to donate 200 Hello Kitty items to an orphanage and b) gets to avoid a Hello Kitty themed trip. So go leave a comment – its the only humane thing to do.