Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Google Advanced Image Search bug

The Google Advanced Image Search page appears to have a bug in its query builder.

Let's say you want to display images of apples or cherries.

Go to the Advanced Image Search page and enter the keyword fruit in the Related to all of the words field. This keyword will disambiguate fruit images from Apple computer images.

In the Related to any of the words field, enter two keywords: apple cherry. Click search. The results display mainly images of apples or cherries based on the search query: fruit apple OR cherry.

The bug appears if you decide to modify the results to include, say, images of avocados. You now want to display images of apples or cherries or avocados.

If you click the Advanced Search link to return to the Advanced Image Search page, add avocado in the Related to any of the words field, then click search, Google runs this query:

fruit apple | cherry apple OR cherry OR avocado

(Note that Google uses both the "|" and the OR symbol to indicate OR).

Since apple | cherry erroneously remains in the query, all results must contain either an apple or a cherry. The last term (apple OR cherry OR avocado) may not return many images of avocados because the results already must include an apple or a cherry.

It is possible, that after the search algorithm runs the term apple | cherry it completely ignores the next term apple OR cherry OR avocado because it has already satisfied the query by returning an apple or a cherry.

You may suggest a user should delete the apple | cherry term in the Related to all of the words field. However, it was written into the field as a query builder by the software based on the user entering keywords apple cherry into the Related to any of the words field.

Note that Google Advanced Web search handles this same situation correctly.

Here is my original SETI research.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Searching Google Blogs

The Google Blog Directory is where you can find out about Google's new products and features.

"Whether it's a product or feature launch or a cool new initiative, chances are that you'll read about most news from Google on one of our blogs."

On the Google Blog Directory web page, Google blogs are categorized by tabs such as Google-wide, Products, Ads, and Developer. You can select a tab and display links to a set of Google company blogs such as the Public Policy Blog, Online Security Blog, and Research Blog.

Suggestion for improving the Google Blog Directory page: There is no search box on the page - how about adding a search box?

(Currently, you need to search in a specific Google blog, and then some of the blogs display a search box with options: This Blog Google Blogs Web Blog News.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding The Laws That Govern Us

A Google post, Finding the laws that govern us, describes a new feature that enables users to read U.S. federal and state court opinions on line.

You now can use the feature to search by the name of a well-known case, such as Roe v. Wade or Miranda, or you can search by an interesting topic such as the "right to vote", or "freedom of the press".

My suggestion: Digitize legislation and court opinions from many countries in the world and also enable language translation.

This would allow users world-wide to search for topics such as "right to vote", or "freedom of religion" and see and learn how the myriad legal structures of the world compare.

Here is my original SETI research.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rethinking How To Select Optimal Keywords For Internet Ad Auctions

Most internet ad buyers probably apply a commonly held belief that search volume equates to consumer interest so they bid on the most popular keywords that represent their product line.

A Google.org post appears to refute this strategy, at least in regard to swine flu search volume trends.

See: Google Flu Trends expands to 16 additional countries.

The Google post states that "An important aspect of Google Flu Trends is that we filter out terms that may be popular because people hear about them in the news.

What we do not use in the models is a term like (swine flu) since people are more likely to type that into Google because they want to know more information about it, given the news headlines, and not because they actually have H1N1 or swine flu."

If popular keywords such as "swine flu" do not correspond closely to real world activities (e.g. CDC ILI contacts), it may be preferable for internet ad bidders to invest in R&D to find other sets of keywords that have a stronger correlation with consumer activities and bid on those instead.

For example, a cola soft drink manufacturer may find that its yearly sales pattern is a closer match to Google Trends graphs for "sunscreen" or "ice cubes", than to "cola".

Users may run searches for "cola" to get more information about it, making it a high-volume keyword, but not because they are going to consume it.

Rethinking the keyword search volume to consumer action correlation is a significant paradigm shift. It is already applied in Google Flu Trends, but probably not yet by most bidders in Google ad auctions.
See: Search engine ads: auctions or page rank?

Here is my original SETI research.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Predicting Search Trends Based On Historical Data

A Google R&D post describes analyzing historical search trends patterns to predict future search trends. See, On the predictability of Search Trends.

Predicting search trends based on historical search trend patterns is a difficult challenge. There may be insurmountable obstacles embedded in these sayings: 1) Expect the unexpected, and 2) The only thing that is constant is change.

These are my previous posts about Google Trends:






Sunday, August 16, 2009

Public Sector Today's Hot Trends

A Google public sector team post describes how they would like to "build consumer products and applications that connect citizens to public information and services". See, Hello, world!

Suggestion: Create a Public Sector Today's Hot Trends page - only displaying links, not the trends search box. This would enable citizens and public service providers to see at a glance the top 20 search volume trends for public sector issues.

It is, however, important to keep in mind that Google search trends do not equate to users casting a vote, responding to a poll, or purchasing a consumer product or service.

A vote usually indicates a person is in favor of 1) electing an official or 2) implementing a legislative proposal.

Unlike a vote, if "town halls" or "health care" links appear on a Google Public Sector Today's Hot Trends page, those trends include an aggregation of users with wide-ranging opinions on the issue.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Google Chrome: Mixing Metaphors?

Google is starting a contest: "Film yourself building the Google Chrome icon in a creative way..."

I like the color of shiny, metallic chrome but I don't see chrome anywhere. Where's the chrome? Cars have chrome, motorcycles have chrome - the Google Chrome icon doesn't.

The Google Chrome icon (red, yellow, blue, green) looks a lot like many toys and is almost identical to other product icons.

Here is my favorite icon that I consider fun and creative:

Here is my original SETI research.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mom’s Day Brunch With A Side Order Of CAPTCHA

Google’s executive chef serves up a banquet of Mother’s Day recipes on the official Google blog. See: A Mom’s Day menu.

The Mother’s Day brunch includes:
  • Chilled Asparagus & Avocado Soup with Tomato Confit
  • Warm Wild Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Strudel
  • Crab Cakes
  • Molten Chocolate Cakes
Perhaps… Chef Giambastiani has also prepared a side order – a CAPTCHA. 

The Chef relates this childhood story:

“When I was about three years old, my mom and I had a game. Mom would show me things around the house. "Look, Scotto, this is a picture," she said. "Can you eat it?" I asked. "No, honey," she said. "Look, Scotto, this is a flower." "Can you eat it?" I said.”

My suggestion: Although not CA (Completely Automated), Chef Giambastiani appears to offer a potential CAPTCHA – perhaps better than Microsoft’s ASIRRA CAPTCHA.

The chef’s CAPTCHA can draw from a larger and more diverse set of images. That is Can you eat it? / Can you not eat it? may provide greater range and diversity than Is it a dog? / Is it a cat?



Sunday, April 19, 2009

Upright Rotation CAPTCHAs

A Google R&D post describes a new type of CAPTCHA based on asking users to rotate a set of images to a natural upright position.

See: Socially Adjusted CAPTCHAs and the complete R&D paper What’s Up CAPTCHA? A CAPTCHA Based On Image Orientation.

After filtering out images that contain features easily recognizable by computers - such as faces, cars, pedestrians, sky, grass - performing this task successfully is easily done by people but not by computers.

Displaying three images and requiring the upright rotation to be within a 16-degree window (8-degrees on each side) results in random computer-generated guesses being correct in fewer than 1 in 10,000 tries.

An issue I see in the researchers’ reasoning is that a computer does not have to rotate the images to a naturally upright position to break this What’s Up CAPTCHA.

If a computer can detect the overwhelming vertical or horizontal lines or edges in an image the computer can rotate the image on the X or Y axis to an upright, upside-down, left-facing, or right-facing orientation. This would mean three images could be guessed correctly 1 in 64 (not 10,000) tries.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Search Engine Ads: Auctions Or Page Rank?

A Google R&D post provides a glimpse at the complexity of internet ad auctions. The research considers advertiser perspectives such as budgets and bidding strategies.

See: Market Algorithms and Optimization Meeting

The auction model for advertising links on a search engine is only one of two tracks: 

  • The auction model is pay for play
  • Organic page rank growth is web page relevance for play
How does an advertiser split resources across these distinct strategies? 

Perhaps, advertisers should use their budget to build their web site's page rank instead of participating in ad-words auctions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Robotic Pets And The Future Of Search

A Google R&D post describes an artificial pet project (PEPE) with goals of 1) creating a robotic pet, and 2) making consumer electronics, such as toasters and VCRs, easier to configure. 

I don't know if I want my toaster to bark at me. However, it would be nice when my refrigerator is low on food if it would say: Feed me I'm hungry!

Google search has one emotional component: the I'm Feeling Lucky! button.

Suggestion: On the Google search page add a drop-down filter users can select to return pages with emotional content. Here's a set of basic emotions:
  • lucky
  • happy
  • adventurous
  • romantic
  • creative
  • sociable
If a user searches for "vacation vermont" and applies the "adventurous" filter the results could return parachuting and cliff climbing. 

However, if the user searches for "vacation vermont" and applies the "romantic" filter the results could instead include spas and clubs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

An Ecological Perspective: Google Search

A Google R&D post describes the ecological perspective of Google search: Powering a Google search.

The Google post says: "Tools like email, online books and photos, and video chat all increase productivity while decreasing our reliance on car trips, pulp and paper." And "In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2."

An important but omitted part of the equation is what people do as a result of running a Google search query.

Some folks may decide to sprinkle a pasture with carbon-friendly windmills, but others will decide to buy that gas-guzzling SUV they've been hankering for, or plan their next trip abroad by jet.

The post also glosses over other Google products such as Google Maps, Find Businesses, and Get Directions. These apps are probably pollution facilitators. Surely some Google Maps users will walk, jog, zip-line, or bicycle to their destinations. However, most users will probably drive a polluting car.

I use Google search quite often, and I am glad that Google is trying to organize the world's knowledge - however I'm not convinced the net impact of Google is green.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Google Trends: Comparing Ice Cream Flavors

A Google R&D post from a few months ago A new flavor of Google Trends interpreted the Google trends graphs for vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream.

I commented about the post here: Does Google Trends data equate to consumer interest?

Taking another look at the Google R&D post, an additional problem is the queries the R&D poster uses are imprecise for a conclusion about ice cream.

My suggestion: Try these instead: "vanilla ice cream" and "chocolate ice cream".

Probably, there are far more chocolate products  in the world than vanilla. For example:
cakes, candy bars, cookies. However, folks still like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate ice cream.

The surrounding quotes enable Google Trends to return ice cream rather than a mixture of products.