June 27, 2009

Seen and Heard: Search Engines

There's more to search than Google, and it's extremely apparent that they won't get picked up by the mainstream anytime soon. Still, it's good to know a few more sites you can try searching in when Googling just can't do the job.

Microsoft's Bing
Completely separate from MSN or Windows Live, Microsoft's new Bing basically is their latest competitor to Google.
Every day, Bing changes its picture and introduces some small facts on it- like Easter eggs. The home page looks very simple (taking a page from Google, perhaps?) but it's also more "warm" and "welcoming".
One of the more special features of Bing include a little sidebar that gives an overview of the page as well as keywords included within. On the left sidebar (not shown), related search terms are displayed.
Image search results are also displayed in a fashion where the image info is only displayed when you hover your cursor over the image. There are filters on the left side that let you narrow your search down to "size", "layout", "color", "style" and even the "people" contained within.

But if you're looking for something a bit more academic- basically a sort of calculator thingy- then there's something else for you called;

Wolfram Alpha
This search engine is not exactly a search engine but more of a "computational knowledge engine". It's home page is full of information that will help you clarify its purpose, as well as let you jumpstart the search process. It does not, however, search for images or videos like the other search engines.
What it does search is objective answers to questions like "the anagram of 'wolves'" or "Arccos 769 degreees" and more. It's more educational than anything, so if you want to satiate your need for say, Michael Jackson news, this is not the engine to go to.
With an extremely minimalist home page, Cuil is also a comprehensive search engine that, while not new, also has a few stuff up its sleeve.
When you search for something, you are presented with a simple results screen with a tabs that will help you narrow down your search. The tabs are basically search suggestions and filters. You can also narrow it further by exploring through categories that are related to it.
As you can see (if you enlarge it, especially) the scroll bars don't seem to be placed right and that's because the buttons that will lead you to the next result page will remain at the bottom- unaffected by scrolling, which is personally a nice touch.

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