Brainboost Answer Engine

Brainboost Answer Engine

I groaned when I saw that Brainboost “uses Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing techniques” to answer questions written in plain English. But I found this “answer engine” to be very good. It successfully answered “which US presidents were assassinated”, “which UK prime ministers were assassinated”, and “who directed the Duck Hunt cartoon”.

It was not so clever on “who is Karen Blakeman”. Brainboost came up with some 3 year old information on a course I was running at the time in London, and ” Karen Blakeman is chairing the Concessions Committee, and will be needing LOTS of help here”. You bet I will! I know nothing about the Concesssions Committee – obviously another Karen Blakeman. The regular search results taken from a range of search tools fared better on the last one.

Worth a look and an interesting alternative answer/reference tool to Unsafe Search Unsafe Search:

I was alerted to this by fellow Internet Consultant Phil Bradley via his blog.

Unsafe search works by performing two Google queries, a normal query and a query with SafeSearch enabled. The set of ‘safe’ results is then subtracted from the set of normal results to yield only ‘unsafe’ entries. The idea behind Google’s SafeSearch is to eliminate p**n and other “undesirable” sites.

What is interesting about Unsafe Search is discovering what Google considers to be “unsafe”. The first test search I ran was on air quality. It yielded only one unsafe result in the top 30: the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality! A search on chocolate consumption came up with 3 unsafe results (one on chocolate is good for pregnant women, one on the potential health risks and a link to a Nestle forum). A search on gin vodka came up with no unsafe results in the top 30. Great! Now where did I put that cocktail recipe book?

Google Desktop Search out of beta and better!

Google Desktop Search

Google Desktop Search is out of beta and has been officially launched. It is much improved and now searches PDF files. Support for Netscape, Firefox, Mozilla and Thunderbird has also been added. For Open Office and Star Office users there is a plugin at

As well as switching off cacheing and indexing of secure web pages, such as your online bank statement, you can also switch off indexing of password protected pages. All documents still remain in the cache after you have deleted the original unless you follow the remove instructions at

It is a rather tedious process and isn’t straightforward. There is a danger that you could miss files, especially individual emails.

Personally, I’ll stick with Yahoo Desktop for the time being.

Our Property – Property and house prices revealed –

Our Property – Property and house prices revealed –

One of the many services that repackages the Land Registry’s data but this one offers users 20 free searches a week. You get to see the address of the property, the date it was sold and how much it was sold for. It does not give the name of the owner or the name of the lender. For that, you have to use the Land Registry’s priced service. At present, the data goes back to 2000 and covers England and Wales only. “Our Property” plans to add Scottish data in the near future.

The quick search on the home page enables you to search by post code but you can refine your search or use the Advanced Search to limit your results by street, town or locality, freehold/leasehold, house type (detached, terraced, flat etc.) and date.

If you use up your 20 searches you can top them up by either recommending a friend for 5 free searches or by signing up to a weekly newsletter which contains a voucher for 20 free searches.

A really neat site.