Blinkx Video Search

Not surprisingly we’re going to see much more in the way of video or “multimedia” search from the likes of Yahoo, Google and of course Microsoft, but it looks like the Blinkx Video Search is the first one out of the starting blocks (too bad they don’t offer the results in RSS with enclosures)

“The beta offering, dubbed Blinkx TV, captures and indexes video and audio streams directly from television and radio broadcasters to make available news, sports and entertainment clips, the company said. The engine lets people group specific searches using “smart folders” that continuously collect multimedia content from sources including Fox News, HBO, ESPN, National Public Radio and the BBC World Service.” (via
CNET)

IBM the Google for businesses?

There are few specific details in this article on CNET about IBM’s push into the Enterprise Search market, but it does hint at IBM’s commitment to “higher-margin software and services” during its transition from the PC Hardware space.

“IBM is building software it hopes will make it the Google of corporate-search technology.”

“IBM is constructing a content management and search product line through acquisitions and by sifting through the results of its research and development labs.” (e.g. WebFountain)

“We very much view unstructured information evolving the same way that relational databases evolved, where companies want to have content repositories that will serve multiple applications…”

Google Auto-Complete

I know, I know… first post in a long time. Trust me; I haven’t abandoned the blog — more on that another time.

Anyway, I just tested Google Suggest, the new Auto-Complete feature that’s currently in beta at Google. My first impression is that this is a wicked fast service! I hope they make it a default feature, but I imagine they’d still have to work out the scaling issues.

Beyond that, I’d like to see the Auto-Complete feature applied to all the other Google properties like GMail, Froogle, Google News and even the Google Tool Bar. I’m sure it’s in the works.

In fact, I noticed that Google does pass the “&complete=1” query argument over to Google News when your web searches display results with relevant news stories. However, the Auto-Complete feature does not yet work in News.

Again, bravo to Google! They even brought me out of a blogging slumber :-)

Clusty Clustering Curmudgeon

I’m not sure about the name or whether it will be a Google killjoy, but yesterday Vivísimo open to the public their consumer search service called Clusty, which utilizes results from Yahoo’s Overture engine.

At the forefront of Clusty is Vivísimo’s topic clustering of search results (hence the name). Searches can be preformed across web, news, images, shopping, encyclopedic and something called ‘gossip’.

Hidden behind the ‘Customize’ tab in Clusty are options to span your searches across eBay, Slashdot and Blogs! (although I’m not sure why they separate Slashdot and Blogs)

Still, Clusty is impressive and worth a look.

Oh and soon to come is the obligatory browser toolbar. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a desktop personal search offering as well, but that’s pure speculation on my part.

One-up-man-ship: Google, Yahoo and of course Microsoft

After a week on the beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina with family I feel refreshed and recharged — perhaps not recharged enough to ride up l’Alpe d’ Huez, but I digress…

During my week away there were a few notable acquisitions made by Microsoft, Yahoo and Google.

First up is MSFT acquisition of my current favorite personal search tool Lookout, which integrates well with Outlook and complements my archive of NewsGator subscriptions nicely.

Perhaps this and the other acquisitions by Yahoo and Google were driven simply by one-up-man-ship.

But in MSFT’s case, I think the purchase of Lookout was partly, as Joel Spolsky nicely put, “one of those “HR Acquisitions,” wherein Microsoft buys a company for a few bucks because it’s the only way to hire someone they want.”

Also, since the personal search promised in Longhorn is still years away (2007?), I suspect Lookout was an easy feature steppingstone.

I expect Lookout will tie into MSN’s new web search shortly as well. This doesn’t bode well for X1 and others in the space.

Additionally, Anil pointed out that Lookout uses a variation of the Apache Jakarta Lucene full-featured text search engine library, which is something I didn’t realize.

Apparently this marks the first time MSFT software is licensed under an Apache license. (Is that really true?)

In other news, Google’s acquisition of photo management software vendor Picasa seems to be another move in Google’s quiet quest of becoming a consumer portal.

I find it intriguing that Google choose a Windows Application Developer and Service Provider (ordering prints). I wonder if Google’s plan is to migrate this “service” into GMail? It seems to be a natural fit.

Lastly, Yahoo’s purchase of the well liked and little known Oddpost Web-based Mail Client seems like a definite knee-jerk reaction to the elegance of Google’s GMail web client.

From what I remember of Oddpost, it certainly gives Outlook 2003 Web Access a run for the money. We’ll see if it can scale to user needs of Yahoo Mail.

Oh yeah, one unrelated final thing…

This year’s Tour de France is again incredible — with Basso as Lance’s new threat and the amazing tenacity of Voeckler! Wow! This is a supersport!

I’m very saddened that Tyler had to dropout. Tyler, you’re still Tyler “Freakin” Hamilton. We’ll see you next year! Regards to Tugboat… he will be missed.

Blinkx Contextual Search

Om Malik praises the new contextual desktop search tool called Blinkx, which is currently available in a downloadable beta client as well as a web only interface.

Om goes on to cite some attractive examples such as…

“BlinkX is all about contextual search…Say you are reading through a big Microsoft Word document… the BlinkX bar at the top of the page, will retrieve relevant news item links with brief summaries… The software basically reads the entire document and builds a contextual link database on the fly.”

There’s certainly a tremendous buzz in the desktop/personal search category, with the likes of MSFT, Google, Ask Jeeves and many others all gunning for the space.

I’m not sure where it’s all going, but for me it’s great because I’m a sucker to test these tools. I currently have X1, Grokker 2, Lookout and now Blinkx installed on my system.

So far, Lookout is the one I use almost exclusively. Due in part to its focus on searching Outlook, but I also found its interface and indexer to be unobtrusive. Oh and it’s very fast!

Although, after only a few minutes of using BlinkX, I can see how the contextual search feature is addictive (whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know).

Gmail in the Enterprise

I’ve been disconnected all week in PeopleSoft training, but during lunch today I caught Steve Gillmor’s eWeek column from last week about Gmail where he cites a potential example of the “Google Platform” in the enterprise.

“By the time the Gmail beta period ends in three to six months, Brin and his team have promised to enable forwarding and POP3 access. However, more is required of a corporate mail service. Those capabilities must be extended to allow Gmail to provide disconnected operation and IDE for packaged applications.”

Thanks to a Gmail invite via friend Jason Fischel of CNET (who needs a blog!), I can honestly say that there’s merit in what Steve is suggesting. Gmail would certainly be practical in the enterprise. Google already has market penetration in the enterprise with their Search Appliance. However Gmail enterprise customers wouldn’t necessarily be the same as. So the fit isn’t seamless.

I’ll spare you the obligatory review/rant and simply say that I’m impressed with Gmail — mostly with the UE subtleties (e.g. archiving versus deleting and the seamless conversation threading).

However, in the meantime, I’d be content merely with RSS feeds from any Gmail thread, filter or label.

How long before we start seeing the O’Reilly Gmail Hacks books? ;-)

Google Groups Beta 2

Google opened beta 2 of Google Groups. They’ve integrated it with Gmail, which gives you the ability to post to Usenet newsgroups as well as create new groups.

All these “new” features are strangely reminiscent of what
My Deja News offered back in 1998…

Hey wait a second! Google purchased Deja back in 2001. What took them so long to integrate services?

I’m not sure, but there is progress however…

For example, you can now get an Atom Feed of your favorite newsgroups.

Although I can do this with NewsGator too.

Open Source Search Results Clustering Framework

My smart search buddies over at BA-Insight (who need to get their blog online!) pointed me to Carrot2, which is described as “ a system for clustering textual data“. (the site is a bit slow)

Generally speaking, Carrot2 is an Open Source alternative to Vivisimo. (Nice!)

Carrot2 has some other interesting features too. Like for example, it can be used as a meta-search component. In addition, it can be integrated with full-featured text search engines such as the Open Source Egothor and some other lesser known engines.

Overall I’m impresses with the various clustering algorithms you can select to display your results. Performance however seems to be lagging, but I’m sure that can be worked out.

Google and Flash Index Friendly

As some of my friends can attest one of my long-standing gripes regarding the usage of Flash has been its inability to be indexed by search engines.

I suppose that argument is now moot since I just read that Google is now indexing Flash files (via Outer-Court and The Unofficial Google Weblog).

I still at times have problems with the usage of Flash. I suppose it’s more so now the miss-usage of Flash when it does not add any extra value over what a simple text description or graphic would accomplish.

However, at least I can now “google” for my favorite flash

Big Blue Tiki Masala

This doesn’t seem like a spicy chicken dish to me…

“IBM is set to unveil an upgraded version of its enterprise-level search technology. Code-named “Masala,” the new software is an improvement on Big Blue’s DB2 Information Integrator released last year. It is expected to enable simultaneous search of the Web, internal applications and corporate databases … and will be released in beta in early May. The full release is slated for the third or fourth quarter. ”

“By allowing corporate personnel to search a number of different content sources simultaneously, Masala could be effective in many different scenarios. Sales representatives, for example, could use it to learn about prospective clients by searching internal enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, as well as information available on the Net.” (Via NewsFactor)

I wonder if Masala is related to WebFountain? Ahh! So it is…

How is Masala search related to WebFountain?
Masala and WebFountain share technologies but serve different needs. WebFountain is a hosted solution focused on advanced analytics for the internet, while Masala provides search and analytics capabilities for enterprise content.” [more here]

Visualizing Google News

Marcos Weskamp announced on his blog yesterday a new application called newsmap, which displays the constantly changing panorama of Google’s News Aggregator (across countries too). [IMHO: This is probably one of the most useful applications in flash I have yet to see.]

Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator. Treemaps are traditionally space-constrained visualizations of information. Newsmap’s objective takes that goal a step further and provides a tool to divide information into quickly recognizable bands which, when presented together, reveal underlying patterns in news reporting across cultures and within news segments in constant change around the globe.”

Gunning for Google Below the Radar

Stefanie Olsen of CNET News.com pulls together a good overview of the start-ups targeting Google’s dominance.

Some quotes from the article:

“…Google also faces Lilliputian threats from a fast-growing group of start-ups that hope to replicate its own meteoric rise from unknown upstart to Internet powerbroker….

At the top of the list are companies like Quigo and Industry Brains that aim to improve on search engine advertising techniques. A second group, including Mooter, Eurekster and Dipsie, are advancing ways for people to get personalized query results, something that both Google and Yahoo also are hoping to perfect. Others are developing search tools tailored to specific localities as well as visualization features to assist in better targeting search results around specific topics.”

“…some analysts now predict it’s just a matter of time before Google loses its dominance to rivals in at least some areas of the search market.”