CoolChaser Blog

Archive for October 2006

Among the technically inclined, when I describe how our social search engine combines the best results of Google, Yahoo! and MSN, a common response can be summed simply:

Isn’t that SLOW?

As users of url.com know, our search responses are actually quite fast and usually just a tad slower than any of the top search engines. (ok, I’m biased here, do regular users think our search response times are acceptable? Please comment below)
One reason why metasearch engines are thought to be slow is because, for each search result, the engine has to grab results from the original search engine, process it and then route the results back to the client browser.

URL.com before ajax
What is unique about url.com is that we employ a technology such that your browser actually grabs search results directly from the original search engines such as Google and Yahoo. We do this via ajax apis that Google and Yahoo provide.

Url.com ajaxified
This technical architecture also has the nice side benefit that it lightens our server load for each search request, which allow us to serve more requests per server ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the biggest technical challenges of this novel architecture that we’ve chosen, is that we need to make sure each request to the original search engine is made in parallel, e.g. I don’t have to wait for Google results to come in before I make a request for Yahoo! results.

In technical parlance, we figured out a way to do issue such request in a non-blocking fashion in Javascript. I think this technique is applicable beyond url.com and will be happy to share how we do it in a later post.

Although we’ve put in quite a lot of work into figuring out how to speed up search results, we’re really just at the beginning. We have several experiments underway to make the results faster, and equally important, appear to be faster.

To that last point, we certainly can allow search results to be displayed as soon as we receive them, but we’re not sure if that would result in too much flicker.

Do you have ideas on how we can speed up search results? Or have a better UI to display the search results? Please share.

Update: Try out CoolChaser, our MySpace profile editor that allows you to personalize backgrounds and layouts without any messy codes!

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Myspace users, wonder why you got here (http://www.url.com)?

Non-Myspace users, wonder why so many searches for “myspace backgrounds” “backgrounds” “BACKGROUNDS”?

Well, this is the answer! TADA~!

myspace1.gif
(click to enlarge)

This is a form on Myspace to customize your Myspace blog. Hey, pretty neat you can put your own background!

Such as http://www.url.com/image.gif?

Actually, the way Myspace used http://www.url.com” was not meant to say “go to url.com to grab your background” but rather as a generic site address – something like “http://www.some-website-name.com/” or “http://www.the_address_of_the_site_that_has_the_background.com.”

Why on earth did Myspace use url.com then??

According to Webopedia, the definition of URL is the following:

Abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator, the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web.

The first part of the address indicates what protocol to use, and the second part specifies the IP address or the domain name where the resource is located.

For example, the two URLs below point to two different files at the domain pcwebopedia.com. The first specifies an executable file that should be fetched using the FTP protocol; the second specifies a Web page that should be fetched using the HTTP protocol:
# ftp://www.pcwebopedia.com/stuff.exe
# http://www.pcwebopedia.com/index.html

So basically, it was meant to be an example – something like “Fill out your name (e.g. John Doe)”

Myspace users, please don’t despair! Since URL.com is a community enhanced search engine, you will see many searches that the community has performed regarding myspace backgrounds!

http://www.url.com/search/meta?query=myspace+backgrounds

Or you can search for whatever background you wish and we are sure you will find something good really fast using our engine ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope this helps!

UPDATE: I’ve written another post due to so many comments regarding how to put a background to Myspace. I tried to put it myself and figured out the way so I hope it will help some other people who are having the same problem. But remember, this is not a help forum, this is a blog of the community enhanced search engine, URL.com! See you there Myspace users! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Psyched about what you found? Lets hear about it!

  • did you find a great result that you wouldn’t have found using your normal engine?
  • did the community-enhanced results help? (maybe a better result was voted up, a bad result was voted down, or you appreciated the comments..)
  • did you discover something cool, just by browsing recent searches or browsing through another user’s search history?

Mulling over our recent challenges (and planning some general strategy stuff), I stumbled upon this post by Search Engine Watch- which shows DOGPILE (yes, DOGPILE) as having the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any search engine. Why?! Is it the metasearch functionality? An underdog loyalty? Intermingled Ads in the results? Regardless of the reason, I think this is as a hugely encouraging sign that a different search experience can win loyal hearts of a searching community. Congrats Dogpile and Ask!

“Here are the J.D. Power survey’s customer satisfaction findings. Little used Dogpile was ranked number one:

1. Dogpile
2. Ask.com
3. Google
4. Yahoo! Search
5. AOL Search
6. MSN Search
7. Internet Explorer (treated as a search engine in the survey)

I don’t have any insight into the survey methodology so we have to take the results at face value. But 10,000+ respondents is a very large sample. A disconnect is the difference between search engine market share and the satisfaction ratings. Based on these findings one would think that if Ask and (especially) Dogpile could gain broader awareness and visibility they might be able to gain some share.

Posted by Greg Sterling on Oct.”

UGH…. Soon after we moved to the new home at url.com, we ran into numerous volume-related “incidents” – all tied to things a bit out of our control. This has unfortunately forced us crawl back into our secret shell for a few days while Chao finishes a really really cool AJAX workaround.

Stay tuned…

Say hello to URL – No more secrets! As of yesterday, we removed the โ€œsecretโ€ from our domain… No, this is not a โ€œlaunchโ€ (Communities can’t just “launch”), but it does mean that we are looking forward to welcoming more public users into our pilot.

Say hello to some of your community – To celebrate the change, this post will begin a new weekly routine of introducing & profiling our more active community searchers. The hope is that motivates us all, and we can all learn from how each other search!

Kschroer105

We found Ken because is an active expert on Yahoo! Answers, where he is on the leaderboard with over 4100 points...today he tole me “I use url.com frequently to get good answers to all questions in any discipline or area whatsoever….one search engine’s results are usually better than others… I like the ability to automatically take the weighted “cream of the crop.”


bodhisattva

Bodhisattva is a Reiki Master, Tarot Reader, Kuan Yin teacher/trainer, she creates and runs many Kuan Yin sites and groups on the internet. She’s a Wife and Mother, and loves music. I spoke with her last week after some of her cool searches for Kuan Yin Poetry … she had a simple zen-like description of why she uses url.com – “I get search power and feedback all in one. “

I’m still pretty amazed at how seldom the top 3 search engines concur with their respective top search result. Conversely, when they do agree, you can be pretty darn sure it’s the right answer!

On url.com, we take advantage of this by taking you directly to that result on the rare ocassion when this happens. It’s our version of Google’s well-loved, “I’m Feeling Lucky” feature, except you don’t have to choose which button to click, it’s automatic.

For all of us FireFox lovers, here’s a more subtle way to activate this feature right in the url address bar:

  1. Type “about:config” in the url address bar
  2. Type “keyword.url” in Filter textbox and you will see only the preference keyword.URL.
  3. Double-click on keyword.URL and change the value to: http://url.com/search/meta?bullseye=true&query=

Now, whenever you type in keywords in the address bar, it’ll take you right to the site when there’s a Bull’s Eye; otherwise, it’ll show you search results related to your keywords!

If for whatever reason, you’ll like to restore the default setting, simple follow steps 1-2 again, and then right click on keyword.URL and select the menu item “reset”.

Hat tip to Simple Thoughts, which I found from searching “firefox search engine url address bar“.


Looking for MySpace stuff?



If you are looking for MySpace 1.0 layouts, MySpace 2.0 layouts, and MySpace blog layouts, visit CoolChaser.com!

You can create your own original layout in a snap!
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