Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Adversiting as History

In a wonderful article, PC World Techlog discusses A Brief History of Computers, As Seen in Old TV Ads.

This very interesting article features commercials from YouTube (YouTube actually functions here, if I might be a bit academic, as an archive of popular culture), from the beginning of commercial computers.

***Warning: Ideas in Sociology Bellow this Point***
Naturally, ads can teach us a lot about a society. Perhaps, this is another thing lost with globalisation - everybody sees the same Kinder Chocolate kid all over - but it used to be that you could learn about social trends and discourse from advertising. After all, if to follow a Marxian line of thought, advertising is the main medium of capitalist societies.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Google DIY: "Google Co-OP"

Google Co-Op is a new tool (in Beta) from Google:

"Harness the power of Google search to create a free Custom Search Engine that reflects your knowledge and interests. Specify the websites that you want searched - and integrate the search box and results into your own website."
You can find it here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Google Direct Answers - a German Experiment

Following Philipp's post about Google's Direct Answers, and WestofWillamette's "complaint" that he gets an answer in Dutch for a natural language question in English, I decided to try how (and what) works in German.

Philipp's first experiment: Google Q&A. You type in a question and get an answer. For example:

Q: Who is Dumbo?
(A: "DUMBO — ... is an animated feature, produced by Walt Disney and first released on 23 October 1941 by RKO Radio ...
According to")

I tried "wer ist Dumbo?" (in fact, also "wer ist Karl Marx?") and received no definition from the German Wiki or another type of direct answer, although in Marx's case, the German Wiki was the first result.

Next, Philipp uses the calculator: "How much is 9 times 7"? In German, you get no automated response for a full question, although one must say that if I ask 9*7 I get an answer in German.

The same happens with the currency exchange, which also gives an answer in German if you don't use natural language question:
10 EUR in USD

What’s the time in Chicago?
was Philipp's next question, that this one, too, doesn't receive a straight answer in German. Google (in English) also has a feature that defines terms and words. You can either use the "define:" parameter, or just ask, in natural language, "What is..."

In German, Google responses to define: (not to "definieren") but not to a natural language question. I didn't even try the Google flight feature, and in fact, it doesn't work for me on my "English" Google. The tests directing one to Froogle ("Where can I buy...") and to Google Images ("Where can I find pictures of ...") have also failed.

But, when I type in "Berlin Karte" (not "Wo kann ich eine Karte von Berlin finden"?, I gave up on natural language at this point, I do get some interesting results:
- images of Berlin maps
- Local results of shops selling maps in Berlin
This DOESN'T work with the term "Landkarte".

This is in fact the next feature on test at Philipp's, and this one works like a charm:
Kneipe in Berlin?

If you write "nachrichten ├╝ber afrika?", you also get references to Google News (Germany).

It seems that dierct answers are not possible yet in German. However, some features do function - those that are dependant upon common signs in English and German (or the usage of English parameters in German, like define:), references to News, Froogle, Images, and Scholar fucntion partially (not with natural language questions). In fact, it seems that the whole system is unified and doesn't have language recognition - you'd get Dutch definitions, if the only "lexical" source is in Dutch.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Searching for specific media files on Google

Certainly you don't do anything illegal. But let's just assume that you'd like to listen to some mp3 totally in the public space; or let's just assume that e-Mule has been out of business.

What shall you do?

Using certain parameters, you can search Google and find mp3 of your favourite artists, or text files of books, or just videos.

Just use this:

-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:”index of” +”last modified” +”parent directory” +description +size +(wma|mp3) “NAME”

Replace the term "NAME" with your favourite artist.

Same goes for videos
-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:"index of" +"last modified" +"parent directory" +description +size +(mpg|wmv) "VIDEO"

You can also use it, instead of searching for mp3 or video files, to search for .doc or PDFs

With some very slight modifications the same search string can easily be used to search for ebooks in DOC and PDF format:

-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:”index of” +”last modified” +”parent directory” +description +size +(pdf|doc|rtf) “BOOK″

Again, replace the term "BOOK" with whatever you're looking for.

And if you're totally lazy, you can try G2P Beta. It does it for you.

Marc and Angel

Useful Tool: Converting Media Formats

If you'd like to convert wmv to mpeg, or ogg to mp3, the cure is here, for free! As usual Ze Doktors are Deutsch, so the site is in German, but there is an English (and other languages) version - on the right hand corner .

No software download, nothing.

I've tried it myself, using an ogg file that has been uploaded to Google Answers. Worked like charm.

The more savvy readers might say, "ha, ogg!", but the Media Convert can convert rarer file types, such as fits, vqf, 8svx, odt, 3gp; convert ringtones to mp3 (and vice versa, converting mp3 to ringtones without having to use only what Jamba and their buddies have to offer; and because this pretends to be a legit blog, your own songs as your ringtones); vector documents (wmf, etc.), text documents (including the easy for savvies, but otherwise much sought after, pdf to doc), data and math files, compressed archives (zips) and MS Access files.

So, up you go , Media Convert is waiting for you.

Warning Signs

Arenamontanus, a Flickr user, has published new and useful warning signs. I am not sure which ones I like better, the more philosophical ones, or the highly needed and practical warning on a no-connectivity zone.

Full show - on Flickr.


Tabloid Whore

Search My Eyes Online