Monthly Archives: February 2011

Google vs. Bing

As you may have already heard, recently Google and Microsoft have been involved in a “fight” over whether or not Bing, a popular search engine, created by Microsoft, is displaying search results that were taken from Google.

According to a post on Google’s official blog, this “battle” began with a search for “torsorophy”, which was a misspelling of “tarsorrhaphy”, a rare surgery that is performed on eyelids.

When this search, using the incorrect spelling, was performed on Google’s search engine, the misspelling was corrected and results were returned for the correct spelling of this surgical procedure. Google says that at the time of this search query, Microsoft’s Bing search engine did not return any results for the misspelled query.

However, later that summer, according to Google, Bing began returning the same result that appeared first in a Google search, but did not offer a corrected spelling for the word. Eventually, this began to occur more and more for many different kinds of search queries, including results that Google considered to be mistakes of their algorithms.

Due to Google’s suspicion of Bing copying their search results, Google decided to set up a “sting” operating, which they did by creating about 100 “synthetic queries”, which included words or strings of text that they did not expect a user to enter into the search engine. Then, for each of these “synthetic queries”, Google matched it with a legitimate webpage, which did not have anything to do with the original search text. This legitimate webpage would then be displayed as the top search result for one of the made up queries.

After doing this, Google gave 20 of their engineers a laptop, with a fresh install of Microsoft’ s Windows operating system, and using Internet Explorer 8, with the Bing toolbar installed, asked their engineers to enter the “synthetic queries” into Google and click on the results that Google matched with the query.

After a couple of weeks, Google stated that their results began to appear in Bing, using the same “synthetic queries” that Google created.

In a quote from the official Google Blog, Google states:

“As we see it, this experiment confirms our suspicion that Bing is using some combination of:

or possibly some other means to send data to Bing on what people search for on Google and the Google search results they click. Those results from Google are then more likely to show up on Bing. Put another way, some Bing results increasingly look like an incomplete, stale version of Google results—a cheap imitation.”

However, Microsoft denies that they are stealing Google’s search results and in an blog post entitled “Thoughts on search quality”, Harry Shum, Ph.D., the Corporate Vice President of Bing, said:

“We use over 1,000 different signals and features in our ranking algorithm. A small piece of that is clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users.

To be clear, we learn from all of our customers. What we saw in today’s story was a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking. It was a creative tactic by a competitor, and we’ll take it as a back-handed compliment. But it doesn’t accurately portray how we use opt-in customer data as one of many inputs to help improve our user experience.”

This is something that will be interesting to see how everything turns out. It appears as though both companies have their own side to the story, but what is really happening between Google and Bing?

For more information about this, you should check out this blog post from TechCrunch, this blog post from SeachEngineLand.com, as well as Google’s blog post regarding this issue, and Bing’s blog post regarding this.

What do you think about this issue? Please feel free to state your opinions in the comments!

ToonPAINT

ToonPAINT, by Toon-FX is a fun application that enables you to turn a picture, either one that’s in your iTunes Camera Roll, or one that you’ve taken with the application, into an image that looks like a cartoon.

When you first launch ToonPAINT, you will see a sample picture of a girl that comes with the application. However, if you’d like to change the picture, you can do so by tapping on the button that looks like a folder, located in the bottom left of the application. From there, you should be able to either choose a photo from your iPhone or iPod Touch’s camera roll, take a snapshot, or return to your previous sessions.

Once you have either selected or taken a photo, you should see a loading screen for a few seconds and then you will see your photo, which has been turned into a cartoon. However, the cartoon version of the photo will not be in color, though you can choose to color in the photo yourself.

Now that you have your photo in the application and it has been turned into a cartoon, you can make a variety of changes to it.

One way that you can make changes to the photo would be to tap on the button which looks like a rabbit coming out of a hat, which will display some options, such as how thick edges look, as well as how dark the gray and black colors are in the cartoon.

There is also an option to change the sliders from “soft” to “hard”, which have some different effects on the photo. Also, there is a button that “softens” the image, as well as an “Advanced” button, which allows you to configure things, such as the image’s coherence, edge width, as well as edge length.

Since the images are turned into cartoons without color, you have to manually color in the photo, which you can do by tapping on the button that looks like a paint can. From this menu, you should see four colors, which you can change by double-tapping on a particular color. After double-tapping on a color, a menu should come up that allows you to either select a color from a color-picker, adjust the shade of a color that you’ve chosen, as well as use a “dropper” tool to select a color from the original image that you uploaded.

Also from the paint menu, there is a button that looks like a paintbrush, which brings up a slider that changes the brush size. This tool can be useful for when you’re trying to fill in small areas and require a different brush size.

The last button in this menu looks like a bomb and enables users to undo their recent paint strokes or clear the image of any color that has been added.

If you’d like to zoom in so that you can paint in small or difficult areas, you can do so by pinching the image. The same process can also be used to zoom out of the cartoon.

Once you’ve finished editing your cartoon, you can save it by tapping on the button that looks like a green floppy-disk. This button brings up a menu, where you can configure your image’s settings, such as whether or not you’d like to save your image in high or low resolution, as well as if you’d like to save your image with any paint that you may have added.

When you’re ready to save your image, you can save it to your iPhone or iPod Touch’s camera roll by tapping on the “Save to Device” button. There are also buttons that enable you to share your image to either FaceBook and Twitter.

Here is an example of a photo of my family’s dog, Dusty, that I turned into a cartoon using the ToonPAINT application.

If you’d like to try using ToonPAINT, you can purchase the application from the iTunes App Store for $1.99.

Digg Updates

Yesterday, social news and bookmarking website, Digg.com, announced on their blog that they would be rolling out three new features.

These new features include a new redesign of the website, which incorporates frequent suggestions that were made by the Digg community.

The two other new features are everyone’s historical number and percentage of stories that were promoted to the “Top News” section of the website, as well as the option to receive on-site notifications and e-mails when stories that you have submitted or dug that were promoted to the “Top News” section.

According to Digg’s blog, the new design includes a new way to browse through the different sections of the website, as well as an easier way to filter content. In addition, the design was simplified so that stories are more prominent and easier to read.

In addition, the reorganized profile pages makes it easier for users to view their statistics. Another new feature included in the redesign, is a “new submission flow”, which makes submitting stories easier than before.

For more information on these updates to Digg.com, you should check out Digg’s Official Blog.