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Lighten Up 15 March 2002 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Back by popular demand, your weekly dose of all that's weird, wonderful and whacky on the web.

What's Wrong?
What's wrong with this picture? You might have to look quite closely and it takes most people about a minute to figure it out -- but there's something very wrong with this picture.

Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass
Here's a scientific paper produced by someone who clearly isn't enjoying their studies.

InterCom NZ
Some local content for a change. This site was reportedly promoted by spamming (tsk, tsk) but it's worth a browse just to read some of the Engrish being used. "What is ICNZ stand for?", etc, etc.

Aardvark's Web-site Survey Service
If you're launching a new website, upgrading an existing one, or just frustrated that your web-presence isn't peforming as it should then maybe you need an Aardvark Site Survey. Read more...

Could Search Engines Do Better?
There are quite literally thousands of different search engines on the Net, although the vast majority of queries are handled by just a few well-known names such as Google, Lycos, AltaVista, etc.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Some People Are Just Crazy!... - Jae
  • The Engrish Otago site... - James
  • Ministerial Correspondence... - Peter
  • Email responses to emails... - Graham
  • Have Your Say

    In recent times, Google has taken the search-engine crown both through the massive size of its index and the effectiveness of its ranking system.

    Google is an interesting site insomuch as it appears to have avoided the temptation to accept money for preferential placements in search results and has stuck very much to its knitting. It's made no attempt to be "all things to all people" in the way that so many of the other engines have.

    Surprisingly enough, it's this KISS attitude and the integrity of its results that have helped Google become one of the few search engine sites that actually has black (rather than red) ink coursing through its veins.

    But Google (and its peers) are not perfect.

    Already there are people who have figured out how to exploit Google's ranking system so as to artificially boost the position of their own sites and that's not good.

    However, I think the biggest problem with today's search engines is that they take so long to spider and index new content.

    I regularly submit the same queries to various search engines and what I want to see is the new stuff that has been added just recently. So far I've not found any way of requesting that results be sorted in order of "freshness" -- and that's annoying.

    Do I really want to have to wade through all same old stuff each time? Why can't I just say "give me the new stuff" and save a heap of time?

    Could it perhaps be because few search engines are actually carrying "fresh" links?

    If you go to most of the search engines you'll find that they appear to be deliberately introducing delays in spidering your new submission -- unless of course you're willing to pay an "express submission" fee that will miraculously shorten the time before your site is visited and indexed.

    Some sites are even so arrogant that they simply won't list you unless you pay the fee. An example of this is LookSmart which wants you to hand over US$299 for its "express" submission processing or pay US$149 and wait two months for its "basic" submission service.

    You have to wonder just how comprehensive or fresh such a search engine can be when it's effectively turning away 99% of all prospective new material.

    Even if a search engine can't cope with indexing new submissions in a timely manner, it should at least offer a page like this one at SearchNZ where you can see what's recently been submitted.

    And as for ranking -- how about this as a method of improving the accuracy of the rankings: Measure the time between a visitor's clicks on result links. The theory here being that if a result contains a lot of interesting and relevant information, a user will spend more time there perusing that page than if it's useless.

    Those pages which don't engage the visitor can be demoted on the results list whereas those which obviously keep the user's attention for a good span of time can be bumped up.

    Despite Google's dominance, I think there's still plenty of room for improvement -- and that means there's opportunity for a new player to come out of the cold and steal the crown.

    Have your say.

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