Google Reader finally has search!

This was one feature that I was missing in Google Reader. So, while I tried the Google Custom Search when I really missed it, I was not quite happy with it, since it was showing up really old posts and there was no obvious way of viewing only 'relevant' posts or 'new' posts.

I have also tried a couple of GreaseMonkey scripts. But I was not happy with the user-interface integration.

So finally today, I open Google reader and see a tiny box on the top and wonder for a moment if it was some GreaseMonkey script running. Then I make a search and am convinced it is not! I also make a search in Google News to make sure it is true. And yeah, here is the confirmation. This is perhaps the most long awaited feature ever with regard to Google's applications.

The integration is just too good. Plus there is option to search only within specific tags or subscriptions. There is suggest in the drop down of tags and subscriptions. And guess what, there is also a way to reach the result page directly. Just create a keyword bookmark for: http://www.google.com/reader/view/#search/%s/ and give it a keyword like grs (Google Reader Search) and then use your browser address bar to perform a search directly in Google Reader, for example, 'grs eclipse'.

Suits me perfectly! Finally I feel like I am playing with an ATOM store rather than a simple feed reader.

Search results and relevancy

Search engines suggest alternative keywords when you mistype keywords.

I was looking for a Wikipedia article on Liskov substitution principle. I came across this when I was reading about Design By Contract elsewhere and the article had 'mistyped' the phrase as Lyskov substitution principle.

I first entered it in my Firefox Wikipedia search engine plugin and got no results. My next target was Google and this is what I got:

Not knowing that I had mistyped the phrase, I did not click on the suggestion. I was in fact surprised that Wikipedia does not have an article on this!

Then I searched in Yahoo and this is what I got:

Wow! I had indeed mistyped the phrase and Yahoo turned out to be intelligent in guessing what I was interested in.

Google's approach is like: 'I guess you have made a mistake, but I am not sure, here is the result for what you typed. However, I think you are looking for this.' Yahoo's approach is: 'I guess you have made a mistake and this is what I think you are looking for, if you are interested in search results for only what you typed, click here.'

I am not sure which approach is better, but I definitely like Yahoo's approach because it saves me a page load and a click.

Web 2.0 service aggregation tools

Recently I noticed a new trend in the Web 2.0 aggregation tools. These are tools which combine other web 2.0 services in one place and provide a way to host a single page containing all your services. The most common services provided by these aggregating tools are combining delicious, flickr, blogspot and rss feeds in one place.

Examples of such tools are:
Suprglu
Squidoo
Peoplefeeds

Here are my pages:
My Suprglu page
My Semantic Web page @ Squidoo
My Peoplefeeds page
(I had signed up for squidoo long back and got a chance to check out their public beta offering.)

I found an inherent problem in these services.

What I tried to do is to set up a page which contains feeds of my interest based on various other tag search results. In particular, I wanted it to aggregate feeds from delicious, Technorati, Google blog search, Yahoo news search, Feedster, Icerocket etc. I wanted search results for:
(semanticweb OR semantic-web OR semweb OR sw OR semantic_web) AND (owl OR rdf OR rdfs OR ontology OR ontologies OR taxonomy OR rdql OR SPARQL OR w3c OR metadata OR semantic OR semantics OR knowledge)

These are the problems I faced:
* Most tag search engines are not intelligent enough to provide RSS feeds for such searches.
* The page is not intelligent enough to remove duplicate links. For example, suppose I have a page bookmarked in delicious having the tags as semantic-web and rdf, then that particular link shows up in both the tag searches. So if I combine the tag search results, the page shows up twice.
* Most of the service providers do not have an option to turn off non-English pages. So many Japanese and French (or Latin?!) pages turn up in the results.
* I want a hierarchy. I should be able to create a group “Semantic web” which contains feed results for the search query given above and another group, say “Web 2.0” which has a similar query. I should be able to relate the results of “Semantic web” group with those of “Web 2.0”.
* The ability to view feeds using different views – “Technical” and “Non-technical” or “Office related” or “Non office related”.
* Finally, there should be a theme. I would like to read my “Technical feeds” once a day and “Comics” once a week. How do I separate them?

I am still looking for a solution.

Speech recognition -> Podcasts -> Podzinger

Podzinger is just what I was looking for! Podzinger uses speech recognition technologies to actually try and figure out the words in a podcast and then helps us to search within podcasts! Although not quite 100% accurate, it is quite impressive.

This can actually be used in a number of ways:

* Just search for keywords the way you do a normal search and get the podcasts of your choice. Podzinger actually provides RSS alerts for these keywords and so you get podcasts on the fly delivered to your favorite reader.

* I had recently written about the Problems with podcasts, where I had mentioned:

…there is an inherent problem with podcasts. They are not searchable. A typical podcast, for example, Slashdot Review contains many different news items. In this example, Slashdot review contains all the important stories published in Slashdot in that day.

In RSS, suppose I am not interested in reading a particular news item, I can just skip and read the next one.

Podzinger helps us with this.

Usually podcast publishers provide you with a description, which tells you what the podcast contains. Just use this to search in Podzinger and you can magically be transferred to the exact location where that particular item starts.

One problem however: Podzinger works only with IE 5.0+ with RealPlayer. (However for the sake of using this utility you can definitely go back and use that browser. 🙂 )

If you care about podcasts, you definitely should give it a try!