June 27, 2006

The latest version is out the door. This version sports more explorative features such as a slideshow and auto completion of search terms in filter mode.

The auto completion differes from mere term completion in that it behaves like Google Suggests and actually types the suggested term for you while selecting the suggested portion so that it gets replaced as soon as you type any further.  This was more of a catch up feature with other real time suggestion tools.

The slideshow mode offers an alternative method of scanning search results sequentially. It’s most useful if you want to sequentially navigate through every search result like when searching for images or when reading through a news feed. It builds on the preview and minibrowser mechanisms to offer both quick response times and full document browsing abilities. The interface currently relies on the keyboard: left to go backward, right to go forward, and down to scroll down. I hope that’s simple enough.

I might make one more foray into expanding Fact200’s presentation of results by cleaning up the slideshow and displaying thumbnail tiles as the results. Maybe something along the lines of Windows Explorers slideshow too, but I’m leaning towards not.

Another feature on the list is PDF support which is sitting on the fence. I don’t like the notion of supporting binary formats but PDFs are prevalent enough to be of some use.  However, having to rely on another ActiveX control (and a terribly bulky one at that) is not very appealing.

Google Listening

June 16, 2006

First time I heard about this was probably about a month ago, but it still seems to be getting press. The basics behind this technology is that it can recognize TV shows from audio input, thus gaining some additional insight into your user profile (remember they already have your search history…especially if you're using personalized search), and thus allowing them to display better targeted ads.

There is a neat factor in being able to ID tv shows from the audio. But the thing that seems ludicrous to me is the premise that users would willingly allow audio monitoring of their environment. Essentially users are allowing themselves to be bugged.  Bravo.

Fact200 1.0b6

June 13, 2006

On a slight whim, I released 1.0b6 today. It seems mostly settled with the exception of change notes but I just couldn't put it off any longer.

There are still a few remaining quirks, but it feels a whole lot better than 1.0b5. The things that didn't quite get in this release:

1) Auto realtime completion. Fact200 supports auto completion via the right arrow key, however doing it in real time adds a few odd complexities (like what happens when the user hits the delete key) and potential problems that it was best not to put this in this late.

2) Category tab tooltips. Its a definite pain to go to the categories dialog (which has now been combined with the library settings) to see what's in a particular category. Unfortunately, I'm apparently using the CTabCtrl in a way where the built-in tool tip functionality doesn't work. Bah. So what turned into a 1 minute trick is now a multi-hour course that I don't have time for.

3) Cleaned up Category-Source relationships. This is a sticky problem that might not have a clear solution. To be sure, this version refines the configuration of these quite a bit, but there is still some odd behaviour. It all centers around the fact that sources are actually related to categories through internally generated IDs and not by name. The IDs are necessary so that sources can be universally identified regardless of name.

Oh yeah, and a feature I didn't mention in the release notes to snapfiles or versiontracker: This version supports direct loading of URLs. This means you can type in a url and if it's already in the database, it will automatically appear. If you load it, it will load it like a search result. Unfortunately, there is no auto-completion/suggestion of urls. I chose to reverse keys in the URL index for better key distribution which precludes finding completions with ease.

The biggest features in this release are batch loading and link sharing integration.

Batch loading turns Fact200 into something like an RSS reader. It's also meant for offline work so that users can do a batch load in the morning (of news, or particular research topics) and then search and browse without an internet connection.

 Link sharing allows you to submit urls to delicious, simpy, or furl easily. The main advantages over traditional submission is that you can add multiple urls at a time, and that the keywords are defaulted to the category and search terms you used to find the urls.

Failure of search

June 12, 2006

An article by MediaPost on the deficiencies of search engines.

IE still not out

June 6, 2006

Try this in Firefox: Copy a table and paste it into Excel..

IE seems to handle it quite nicely.

I just can't quite get over the UI 'enhancements' MS has done to IE7…why couldn't they just stick in Tabs and be done with it?