Tag Archives: Search Engines

Update on MSE360

Soon after I had published yesterday’s posting on MSE360,  I sent feedback to them on a couple of issues  including the lack of a ‘NOT’ command. They replied within a couple of hours and overnight have corrected a bug that had caused the problem.  So the Boolean NOT does work in MSE360.

I raised another question about a green icon that appeared to the left of some entries in the results list.  This was most obvious in my ego-surfing and I had hoped that that the icons next to my web pages and blog postings meant that they were highly recommended. Unfortunately it is not so.  The little green icon represents a site that you have visited before, but it is  a feature that only Firefox supports.  It is a really neat feature, though, especially for those of us who do a lot of desk research.  It is useful to be able to ignore those sites we already know about and have visited and, perhaps more importantly, to quickly track down the perfect site that we found yesterday but cannot easily spot in the results list.

MSE360 Search

One search engine bites the dust (Accoona) and another one is launched. I picked up details of Search (MSE360) via Phil Bradley’s blog posting and so far am very impressed with it. The home page is minimalist as is the norm these days and apart from the search box the only other obvious search option is a pull down list of countries. Hidden at the bottom of the page is an Options link that allows you to set safe search for images, change the default country, enable/disable WOT, and choose a different style sheet for your results. WOT is short for “Web of Trust” and is a community whose members exchange knowledge of websites.  If a site has a bad reputation, WOT will warn you by inserting an icon next to the results. The colour of the icon ranges through shades of green, amber and red, red indicating sites about which you might want to exercise some caution. Hover over the icon and you can view the WOT ‘scorecard’.

The results page is ‘three tiered’. The centre panel contains the usual web listings, and the default style has images on the left, and  wikipedia and blog postings on the right. The layout can be changed by selecting a different stylesheet. I eventually decided to have both sidebars on the right hand side of the screen. There are the inevitable ads (Google) but these are in the sidebar and clearly labelled as Paid Results.

The quality of the results for my standard, basic test searches was excellent and compared favourably with Google.  What did concern me initially was that there is no advanced search screen: I include site/domain and filetype commands in many of my searches and, for me, a search engine without them is a non-starter. After some experimentation, though, I discovered that that you can use the commands as part of your search strategy, for example

“car ownership” UK site:gov.uk filetype:pdf

I also found that you can use Boolean AND, OR and parentheses but not NOT (reminiscent of Yahoo!) . The minus sign can be used in a simple search if you want to exclude pages containing term but it does not seem to work when combined with Boolean operators.

Moving on to general issues, MSE30 stores no private data The only stored data are customization cookies on your own computer.  Your IP is not kept, nor is any other identifiable information. To help combat spyware, they  use an internal spyware alert program to provide warnings next to sites that may host spyware.

MSE360 say that they are still a test site so there are bound to be bugs,  and no doubt some changes will be made to the interface. They say ” We’re not at a stage in which we can say we’re ready, but you still love hearing your feedback, good or bad”. My first impression is that they are very close to being ready and light years ahead of some of the appalling, over-hyped  search engines that have been launched recently.  I definitely recommend that you pay them a visit.

TouchGraph Google Browser

Thanks to Phil Bradley for the alert on this search visualisation tool.

TouchGraph is a  Java application that loads into your browser window and displays the networks and connections in your data or a search results list.  There are three free demos that tie into Google,  Amazon and Facebook.  I found the last two very cumbersome to use and limited in their usefulness but the Google one is worth a try.  You type in your keywords or a URL and Google’s results are presented as groups of interconnected ‘blobs’. You can zoom in and out, hide or expand individual groupings and filter results, although I must admit to not having yet mastered the last feature.


An interesting way to explore search results but I still prefer Cluuz‘s visualisation of web based data.  I may find TouchGraph more useful for looking at connections and relationships within my locally held information so I have signed up for a TouchGraph Navigator trial.

Yahoo! drops Boolean NOT operator

I go away on holiday for three weeks and on my return disaster strikes. ” Yahoo! drops Boolean support” was the headline that jumped out at me as I fired up my RSS reader.  The story, carried by Pandia Search Engine News, refers to a report by Greg Notess in Online Magazine. I was not able to access the original in Online so had to make do with Pandia’s summary and test out the claims myself.

It turns out that it is only the NOT operator that has vanished. Not such a catastrophe after all as you can still place a minus sign in front of the term that you want excluded from the search results. The posting goes on to say that nesting with parentheses has also been dumped. That was definitely not the case when I carried out test searches on both the UK and US versions of Yahoo. All of my nested Boolean searches worked, once I had replaced the NOTs with minus signs.

I shall wait a a week or so before assuming that the change is permanent.  Earlier this year, the link and linkdomain commands went AWOL. They were no longer available on the main Yahoo sites but still worked on AltaVista. After a couple of days they reappeared on Yahoo as suddenly as they had vanished.  Hopefully NOT will be back – it is easier to remember to use only Boolean operators rather than a mixture of Boolean and math signs – and fingers crossed that none of the other commands disappear.

Allplus search tool

Allplus is yet another search tool that searches Ask, Google, Live and Yahoo in one go. As well as web pages, you can also search the News, Image, Video and Blog databases of the search engines. Moreover is added to the mix for News. In addition to displaying the results for your selected type of information, it  gives you items from the other resources on the right hand side of the page.  On the left hand side of the screen, it organises your results into a ‘cluster tree’ and you can also view a ‘cluster graph’.  Clicking on the topic in the tree or graph brings the pages in that cluster to the top of the results list and is a useful way of focussing your search.