Tinfinger people search

Phil Bradley was not very complimentary in his blog about Tinfinger, a people search tool. His search on Gordon Brown, the current UK prime minister, came up with an entry that had clearly been computer generated and which was full of inaccuracies. Tinfinger’s Paul Montgomery confirmed in a comment to Phil’s posting that a lot of the content is pre-generated, but that the intention is for people to use that raw data to write full profiles.

It seems that Phil’s posting encouraged someone to update and correct Gordon Brown’s profile as the information is now correct – or was when I looked at it. Tony Blair’s is a different matter, though. There is no profile but there is a picture and several “tags”:

“Blair has the name of The Rt Hon. Tony Blair. Blair has the type of Alumni of the Inns of Court School of Law. Blair is on the Sedgefield (UK Parliament constituency) list. Blair is listed with the external id of 0086363. Blair came before “(constituency created)“. Blair is an devotee of the Anglican religion. Blair started in 1983. Blair was preceded by John Major. Blair’s spouse is Cherie Blair. Blair has the order of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Blair’s term started on 1997052. Blair represents the constituency of Sedgefield (UK Parliament constituency). Blair’s deputy was John Prescott. Blair’s job is politician.”

I would love to know from where that information was collected! It is early days for Tinfinger and hopefully people will get on board and start editing and creating more accurate profiles. At present it is an example of how wrong information can be when it is automatically generated, and the importance of being aware of how content is compiled.

Tinfinger Profile of Tony Blair

Research Recap

Alacra’s Research Recap pulls together industry, economic, academic, market, investment and credit research reports. It concentrates on free content but also offers links to selected paid research deemed of relevance to the topic. Priced reports are sourced from a wide variety of providers, including the Alacra Store. Much of the paid research is usually password-protected and will not show up in a Google-type search, but Research Recap has made arrangements with providers to review their proprietary research to determine what is appropriate to highlight for Research Recap’s audience. Research Recap does not claim to be comprehensive and may not include items that are widely circulated elsewhere.

Research Recap is published in blog format and is also available as an RSS feed.

Research Recap

Edinburgh: home to the UK’s fastest supercomputer

This story, found on Silicon.com, really appeals to the geekishnes in me. Hector, High-End Computing Terascale Resource [what happened to the ‘o’?] , can handle 63 trillion calculations per second, which is the equivalent processing power of 12,000 desktop systems. The supercomputer is based at the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Computer Facility and operated by the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC). The sort of work that Hector will do includes forecasting the impact of climate change, projecting the spread of disease epidemics and developing new medicines. For those of us who are self-employed, though, the name Hector brings to mind the bowler hatted cartoon character that the UK Inland Revenue used in their adverts to exhort us to get our self-assessment tax forms and payments in on time.

Now for the serious techie stuff: Hector uses a Cray XT4 system with software and application support provided by NAG; Hector has a peak capability of 63 Teraflops but this is due to increase to 250 Teraflops in October 2009, with a further upgrade due two years later. Now you know:-)

On a global scale, though, Hector comes in at number 17. The TOP500 Supercomputing Sites lists the … erm … top 500 supercomputing sites. The November 2007 list is at http://www.top500.org/list/2007/11/100.


Founded by Michael Sha and Parker Conrad, Wikinvest covers US stocks with a market capitalization of at least USD 100 million. And, yes, it is a wiki where anyone can edit and comment so bear that in mind when using this site. Having issued the health warning, I must add that I have not yet found any vandalism or spamming on the main pages although there have been the expected crop of idiots in the discussion areas. That could be down to the vigilant monitoring by the serious contributors, or that the site is not yet well known, or both. It is not comprehensive in coverage. At the time of writing this, there were 349 companies on Wikinvest and not all had articles associated with them, but the number is increasing and they do all have stock charts. On the Companies page you can browse by industry sector or search by company name. As you type in the name a drop down list appears with the all the options. Once you have found your company, you should see four tabs: Neutral, Bulls, Bears and WikiChart.

Wikinvest Company Information


‘Neutral’ is where you will find the main article about the company, which covers topics such as history, products, market trends, competition. The main ‘contributors’ to the article are listed and you can click on individuals for their profiles, although not all have provided detailed information about themselves. I was initially confused by the uniformity and limited number of job titles but then realised that these are assigned by Wikinvest depending on the number of contributions you have made to the articles. The bottom rung is Analyst and the top is Senior Director. I am still a mere analyst as I have yet to make any edits or comments! This page also includes a thumbnail of the WikiChart for the company and the top three Bulls and Bears. As with most wikis, you can view the History of the page and see who has edited what and when.

The WikiCharts use quotes provided by Thomson Financial and are delayed at least 15 minutes for NASDAQ, and 20 minutes for NYSE and AMEX. They go back to 1981 and you can use the slider on the top time line to focus in on a a particular time period. The main chart can be annotated so that key events are superimposed on the graph, making it easy to see how an event or announcement may have affected the share price. An option to overlay a graph for the stock market index as a whole would be useful here so that one can assess whether any major shift in the share price is due to company events or the to changes in the markets in general.



The concepts section looks at the main trends and ideas within a sector and also get you up to speed with the main issues affecting an industry. For example, under energy there are articles on biofuels, clean coal, carbon trading and peak oil.

At a personal level you can edit existing articles or write new ones, bookmark companies in which you are interested or ‘Track changes’ to an article, for which you need to set up an account (free of charge) and to be logged in. There is an email alerts option for the ‘Track changes’ but no RSS feeds.


I must confess that because of its ‘wiki nature’ I was somewhat hesitant about using this as a serious source of information for US listed companies. So far, I have not spotted any vandalism. Any arguments I may have with an opinion on a stock or market are exactly the same as those I would have with articles that appear in the mainstream press such as the FT or WSJ. For a quick overview of a major company listed in the US I would still go to Yahoo Finance first, and then to the SEC for the official filings. For opinions and a more detailed, and free (!) history, and the ‘1981 – to now’ annotated share price graph I will definitely use Wikinvest.

FuzzFind Web Search

Yet another gem discovered via Phil Bradley’s blog. FuzzFind Web Search is a meta search tool that combines Google, Yahoo and Live searches with results from social bookmarking site Del.icio.us. The results are amalgamated and deduplicated into a single list. So what? Meta search tools are 10 a penny. But I really like this one because of the way it shows me where each result has been found in each search tool by placing icons and numbers to the left of each entry in the results list. I don’t know why that particular and very simple feature impresses me but it does. Search, and the presentation of the results, is a very personal thing and what works for one person will not necessarily work for someone else. This one really works for me.


Zuula Search

Zuula is another search engine along the lines of Intelways and Trovando. You type in your search once and then run it through several search engines one by one. The search engines are grouped into Web, Images, Video, News, Blog and Jobs. It is not as wide ranging or as comprehensive as Intelways, for example it does not have a group for searching by file formats, but it does offer an Advanced Search screen that includes a domain search. You can also keep a list of your previous searches.