Is Bing the New Google?

Bing Logo

The New Face of Search?

Bing has now been with us for a little over a month now, and I was excited to hear about Microsoft’s latest offering. Something over the past couple years at Microsoft changed, as I’ve gone from strongly disliking their products to being able to actually use them in my day-to-day life. An example of this is the Windows 7 Release Candidate, which runs fantastically, and so far has been much more stable than my previous Windows XP and Vista experiences. Whatever they are doing culture-wise over at the Redmond campus seems to be working though.

As much as I would like to give Microsoft credit for their Bing offering, I am reminded by the shadows of their previous release: the MSN Network and Windows Live Search. Both of those products left a terrible taste in my mouth and I found them to be incredibly user unfriendly. It has taken years for Microsoft to finally get it right, and it seems that they have in a big way.

The first thing I noticed was the clean interface. I want to say Google-like, but there is a distinctive design use there that separates it from the competition enough to be called unique. But it isn’t the colour scheme that I’m particularly interested in; I’m much more interested in the search results and feature capabilities. On those two topics I was pleasantly surprised by the relevance and clarity of results provided. My measure of usability relies on two things: how simple of a search I can do to retrieve the content and how relevant that content actually is to my needs.

Now, I have been using Google for years, I think I started when I was maybe 14, after I got tired of dealing with the poor returns of the heavyweights of the time: AltaVista and Ask. I used Google once and was hooked. Bing almost did the same thing for me as Google did to the previous reigning champions: it got me interested in my search results again. With their snippets of information beside each search, the cleanliness of the results page and most importantly getting me to my relevant content fast. It perplexed me how much I actually enjoyed using their service, and as of right now I use Bing as my default search provider.

Now I don’t tend to use many of the other services provided on a regular basis, such as image search and news group search, but from the little I use the services, I say that they are at an equal trade off: Google is a little faster, whereas Bing has a few more nice UI features. That being said, I don’t really consider those categories when I am comparing the two engines.

Overall, I have to say yes, Bing must be a real competitor to Google, since it seems to be swaying quite a few users back the Microsoft way, even for a short while. Also based on the fact that Google seems to be alert to this new competitor is interesting, as shortly after Microsoft began to see success with Bing, Google announced their entrance into the desktop operating system market. Now if that isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to Bing, then I don’t know what is. It will be interesting to see how these two giants battle it out over the next year or so, and it will also be interesting to see what people have to say about their experience with this new search competitor.

People and the World of Information

I guess it shouldn’t come as a shock to me that there are still people out there who do not believe that the internet is a great medium for information sharing and gathering, but in some cases I see their points. One of the latest authors to do so is Ray Bradbury, who believes that the internet is not something where tangible work can be done and shared. And while I share in his belief that libraries are a persistent and necessary tool in civilization, I don’t share his belief that the internet is not a powerful medium in his own. So to satisfy myself, I produced the following binary table:

Binary table comparing the internet to libraries.

The MPAA... So Much Hate

There, now I feel much better being in the (1,1) column of this binary table of information love. Either way, share your comments on your beliefs about the internet.

The World is a Smaller Place

Fantastic audio and video mashup of the song ‘Stand by Me,’ which started off as a basic recording of of a street artist, and as the authors collected more samples using just a laptop, camcorder and microphone from different groups around the world, it just became this masterpiece. The world may be smaller today with modern technology, but sometimes it is for the greater good.

File Systems Paper Review

For my Operating Systems theory class, we were required to write a term paper on a topic of our choice. I chose file systems, one to be a little different than the vast majority of people who were choosing the recommended topic, and two, because I see it as an area that will need a huge revamp in the coming years. The area of file systems has been a relatively quiet one as of late, the only newest advancement in public use being EXT4 for Linux operating systems. Many devices are going portable, and by effect are going flash based. I don’t blame them, in fact flash is a fantastic technology, it’s temperature tolerent, shock resistant and has lower power consumption. The problem with the technology is it wears out, and it wears out much faster than traditional media unless the issue of wear leveling is addressed in the design of the driver.

The paper details research that other individuals have done into the sustainability of file systems in various environments, and I relate them to their importance to flash memory. File systems are going to need to undergo a drastic redesign in the next few years if we are to provide faster technology that can handle higher bandwidth media either locally or through network storage. I also included a short section on DIY information for flash storage solutions out of simple USB enabled flash memory that would allow an individual to obtain speeds faster than traditional hard drives. The scope of the material is limited, but I will be posting a tutorial in the near future in relation to how to mount yourself a flash RAID out of your USB keys as well as recommended file systems for the fastest access times and wear leveling. For more information, I have posted the paper in my repository under ‘Papers’ and it is free for all to read, use and critique. If you have any comments, feel free to leave them below. Also, a follow up on my Web 2.0 concepts soon to come.