Review: Google Instant

Google launched Google Instant today, which is exactly what it sounds like: search results appearing as you type. The concept is simple: you type something into Google, and you see search results for what Google thinks you’re going to search for, even before you finish typing.*

As I’ve mentioned before, Google isn’t my primary search engine, and even when I do use Google, I never use the website. Instant is supposed to launch browserside eventually, but for now it’s limited to the website. Since I probably won’t be using it too often for that reason, I decided to give it a try today, complete with its most important shortcuts: tab for finishing a word, right arrow to finish a query, and up and down to go up and down search queries.

Conclusion? Still deciding. This may have something to do with my typing speed. People have guessed this during NaNoWriMo word wars and (of course) last weekend when I wrote the three-day novel. See, I can create at least sixty words a minute when actually writing the words off the top of my head. Writing 900 to 1000 words in fifteen minutes is normal for me, not outstanding like it is to many others. When typing other things, I can type significantly faster, so the third-second or so wait before the search results appear is just a tiny bit faster than what I’d be waiting anyway. Still, that does save some time.

Since Google isn’t my primary search engine, I turn to it with very specific queries, usually those whose answers can’t be found on the first page of a search result. For those queries, the results usually won’t show up until entering the last word, in which case I may as well have just entered it in my browser’s search bar.

My results: Mixed feelings. Sure, I’ll save a few seconds, but I don’t use Google often enough that the seconds will add up significantly. If I really want to save those seconds, I’m better off searching from my browser instead of opening a new tab for Google and watching the results show up. That’s the ultimate time waster. For someone who keeps a search tab open all the time, this could be a lifechanger.

*Unless you’re searching for inappropriate content. Then you still have to type in the entire search query and hit enter.


Review: The Delicious addon

I installed the Delicious toolbar for Iceweasel (the Debian rebranding of Firefox) yesterday. First impression: Wow. Why didn’t I install this sooner?

The installation is just like the installation of every other add-on. You install and restart, and upon restarting, the new add-on is ready to go. Excellent. The three new buttons that got added to the navigation bar made the address bar smaller, but that was fixable. I could remove the toolbar. Those were fixable.

Then I noticed something that made me laugh. Delicious was really trying to sync all 12,000+ of my bookmarks with the browser, not what I wanted. I started using Delicious to reduce my dependence on browser-based bookmarks! This setting can also be adjusted, so I switched back to classic mode, restarted my browser (again), and entered a world where ctrl-d saves a bookmark. I may change my mind later, especially since searching in the sidebar looks useful. You can sort by oldest first! That’s really valuable, especially given how long I’ve been bookmarking there. There are a lot of lost gems in the archive (and a lot of lost gems that need to be retagged).

Now to read and save the half-dozen links I just opened.


Menstruation machines

If you’ve ever had a period, you’ve probably had some amount of pain to go along with it. Guys, don’t give me that look and laugh. I have the perfect comeuppance for you: the menstruation machine. It simulates the pain and bleeding of five days of menstruation. It isn’t mass-produced, but if it were, part of me would be tempted to try it out just long enough to see how accurate this person’s idea of menstruation is compared to my own cycle. No matter what this menstrual cycle is like, it’ll never compare to those who have really vicious cycles and will think this machine’s version of menstruation is a walk in the park. More importantly, it will never compare to PMS, which won’t be fully programmed into a wearable machine for a long time.


Is IM on the decline?

A writer for the BBC Magazine thinks so. Texting and Twittering are the new way to communicate instantly, the writer argues. I disagree. Yes, I text, though my phone isn’t conducive to texting because I have to hit the 2 three times in order to make a C. Typing a complete sentence takes much longer than typing on a keyboard. Yes, I have a Twitter account. I IM with several people who aren’t on Twitter, and (gasp) with more who do. I IM with people who live outside my country, and the texting charges are more than I’m willing to pay. Let’s not forget group chats. While there are several well-known Twitter hashtags used for chats, particularly in the writing community, Twitter isn’t an ideal chat platform, especially with the time it takes to load new tweets on a topic. Texting and Twitter are good on the go, but when you really want instant replies, instant messaging is still the way to go. Unless, of course, they do as I do on occasion and wander off.


Can’t go past ?page=401 in Delicious bookmarks? It’s not just you.

Update: I posted a bug report on the forums and got a reply. Turns out that allowing this would cause performance issues at Delicious. Time to reorganize my bookmarks.

I have a large collection of Delicious bookmarks, which sits at over 11,000 right now. As my collection grew, I’ve wondered if there was an upper limit to bookmarking in the cloud. Wasn’t having the ability to store and access all those bookmarks the point of cloud computing? Would I eventually bookmark every site on the Internet, then bookmark the Delicious URLs of those URLs, causing the Internet to implode?

Don’t worry. I’ve taken extra precautions to prevent that. If the Internet implodes, it won’t be my fault.

Tonight I discovered something that may change the way I think of bookmarking. Delicious users, consider this a bug report.

After a round of Wikipedia-hopping, I stumbled upon Joshua Schachter’s Delicious bookmark collection. That name should sound familiar; if it doesn’t, he founded Delicious, so I wasn’t surprised to see that his collection was larger than mine. Since he’s the first user I’ve encountered with more Delicious bookmarks than me, I clicked his last page to view his first bookmarks. The date on those bookmarks were 2004. Reasonable, but odd since the site was founded in 2003. I clicked the page before that and saw the same bookmarks. And the page before that. After about five minutes of experimentation and URL tweaking, I discovered that I could view up to ?page=401 (or 401 pages of bookmarks) before seeing the same few bookmarks from 2004 over and over.

My bookmark collection is slowly creeping up on Schachter’s, so it was time to test this hypothesis on my own collection. While logged in, everything was fine and dandy. The bookmarks on the last page were those imported from my browser and dated 2006. When logged out, I encountered the same problem.

I signed up for Delicious in 2007. Don't pull these shenanigans.

I tried exploring the bookmark collections of some users with over 4000 bookmarks. Same problem. After asking Twitter and asking friends off Twitter about this conundrum with my own account, it’s not just me. This has happened in Windows (Firefox and Opera, no reports or IE/Safari/Chrome yet) and Linux (Firefox and Epiphany). No Mac reports yet.

So what does this mean? Overall it’s not that noticeable. Several searches show that it hasn’t been caught yet. I’m always logged into Delicious, so the bug wouldn’t affect me often. Every now and then I want to find something on the go or see what others have bookmarked over time. This bug stands in the way, and as long as it’s still outstanding, I’ll worry about the future of my bookmarks at Delicious.