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Finding alternatives TECHNOFILE Is Google really the ultimate? Search me, says TimStackpool.


While many other services shelter under the umbrella of Google, and the internet giant is still singularly recognised as the search engine of choice, is it worth taking a wider look? Clicking into its competitors' realms


might well yield some surprises. Search engines use algorithms, sort of


like rules, to determine what results are relevant to the searcher (you). Google’s algorithms, which are constantly being refined, set it apart from other search engines many years ago. Today, similar (but different) philosophies are being applied by other engines in a bid to claw back a piece of the search pie. Google'smajorcompetitor isMicrosoft’s


Bing, which at first sight is hardly as mini- malindesign as theBigG.It’s prettycolour- ful,andyouwillfindthat it returns different results, even for regular searches. Surprisingly, some “experts” believe


Bing’s image search outdoes the Google version; unsurprisingly, Microsoft is using its muscle to build Bing into its web browsers and mobile phone software as the default search software, so expect to see greater acceptance of this alternative going forward.


Search engines use algorithms, sort of


like rules, to determine what results are relevant to the searcher (you).


Ask.com gives you search results based


on a question. While still usingalgorithms to return the answers, there is a human “question and answer” sectionwhere you can submit problems. Real humans sub- mit the answer, which is then considered by Ask for future searches on similar sub- jects. If the answer is straightforward, the solution is provided directly at the top of the results, rather than being contained in a separate clickable link. Never heard of DuckDuckGo.com?Unlike other engines that track your searches


and use that information to return “rele- vant” results,DDGdoes not use profiling, so the results are unfiltered and complete- ly clear of assumptions. Everybody receives the same results for the same search. Additionally, most of the results come with a short summary so you can more easily identify find what you are seeking without having to click through. Ahallmark of DDG's philosophy is the


privacy of the user.The company does not record visiting IP addresses or log user information. It is clean and somewhat spartan compared to others, but it is the service to use when you want to decide what is relevant. Afinalmention has to go to Mahalo.com.


Touted as an “information handler”, it is a great place to go when you need to learn about stuff. It is a “human-powered”


search site that uses contributors to manually sort and differentiate thou- sands of pieces of information. You’ll receive fewer results for a search in Mahalo, but if your subject has been considered, the results will be of a high calibre and more relevant … in so far as a human editor can judge. Wonderingwhere Yahoo! liesonthis list?


Well, it has transformed into a portal for anythingyouneedonthe net…so it thinks. It is beyond being a mere search engine, graduating into a place that accumulates news,general info, answers,photos, advice, technology,TVguides andmore, although its search component occupies prime position at the top of the page. Yahoo! re- presents the ultimate evolution of the humble search engine. It hopes you’ll find everything you need right there. E


JUNE/JULY 2012 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM.AU 31


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