Archive for February 5th, 2007

Could Cha Cha be the next big search engine?

Before Google, there were a number of main search engines…everyone had their favourite, and they all painted a very different picture of the Internet. At one stage my favourite search engine was MetaCrawler, which seemed to do a good job of making sense of the all the different results from the different search engines.

Times have changed, and it seems that these days there are three dominant search engines, Google, Yahoo and MSN (they accounted for 94.2% of all search engine referrals to this website last year). I rarely use anything but Google now, and whilst I think that overall it is a very good search engine, there are times when it would be nice to have a human with more knowledge than me of the subject I’m searching for, helping me to find what it is that I’m looking for.

This isn’t a new concept, many search engines have tried it. Ask Jeeves was an attempt at automating it…ask a question in plain English and get an answer…well maybe…didn’t quite work. Google Answers took the human approach, ask a question and set a price for an “expert” to answer it, it worked, except for the fact that most people don’t like paying to search and didn’t bother to use it.

Cha Cha is a relatively new search engine which seems to take the best of both worlds, featuring both the standard search engine, and human “guides” for the tougher searches. The standard Cha Cha search engine is pretty good, the interface isn’t as cluttered as some parts of Google have become, and with Web, News, Images, Video and Audio, it has about all you could really ask for. There are two minor things that bother me about Cha Cha’s standard search though, one being that the only way to start a search is with a web search…you can’t instantly access News, Images, Video and Audio, you can only get to them after starting a search. My second gripe is that the image search wastes a heap of space by only showing the thumbnails down the left hand side of the page, it would be much more efficient if it had a page full of thumbnails.

Cha Cha’s guided search is primarily intended for more difficult searches, where you might struggle to find an answer on your own. It’s completely free to search with a guide, and each guide apparently has a set of broad speciality subjects.

I decided to test Cha Cha’s abilities by searching for some obscure information, the information being the name of the bar that John Kerr and listeners attended before having lunch on his recent Terrigal outing. This is information that I did not place on this website in textual form, it was only in this image and its associated thumbnail. Only having it in an image was going to make it a bit harder to find and require a different set of keywords…searching for the bar itself would be hopeless.

So I tried typing my question “What is the name of the bar where John Kerr and listeners had drinks before lunch in Terrigal?” in plain English into Cha Cha’s normal search engine.
A search with Cha Cha
(Click to enlarge)

Something about a “John Wesley”, a couple things about Terrigal, and something about listener numbers…so, off to the guide I trotted. After a few moments I was presented with “Jay W.” as a guide.
A guided search with Cha Cha
(Click to enlarge)

After a couple minutes Jay W. presented me with a result. It was a page which contained a lot of references to John Kerr’s Terrigal lunch, and I had to click through to the second page to find the name of the bar (for the record, it was the “Lord Ashley Bar”), but none the less, Jay W. had found the obscure information.
A guided search with Cha Cha
(Click to enlarge)

I was more than happy to rate Jay W. with a “Great” rating.
A guided search with Cha Cha
(Click to enlarge)
A guided search with Cha Cha
(Click to view at original resolution)

I think Cha Cha could very easily be the next big search engine…whether or not it will take top spot from Google is another matter, but I think it will join Google, Yahoo and MSN as a big search engine, and will probably be a favourite amongst students who need a bit of help with their assignments.

Samuel

1 comment February 5th, 2007 at 11:33pm

Peter Debnam

Good evening Stuart,

Just on this subject of whether or not Peter Debnam resembles Frank Spencer…well I think Mr. Debnam looks a bit like Prince Charles, especially his ears. I’m just happy that I live in Canberra and not New South Wales as I would have a hard time choosing between Morris Iemma and Peter Debnam…the only problem with living here is that I have to wait until next year to vote against Chief Turnip Stanhope!

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

3 comments February 5th, 2007 at 11:09pm

The Telephone Keypad

There was a question on Eddie McGuire’s 1 Vs 100 tonight about the mobile phone keypad.

Q: On a standard mobile phone keypad, on which button does the first letter appear?

The possible answers were “0”, “1” and “2”.

The correct answer was “2” which, on a standard mobile phone keypad, features the letters “abc”. I incorrectly answered “1”, as up until recently most phones sold in Australia used a keypad which had the letters “qz” on the “1” button. Unfortunately we seem to have switched to the US keypad where “q” is added to the “7” button, and “z” is added to the “9” button.

The vast majority of the people answering the question also got it wrong, I wonder how many of them have landline phones where “qz” is on the “1” button?

Samuel

5 comments February 5th, 2007 at 10:23pm

Samuel’s Musicians Of The Week

This week the award goes to Bill Haley and His Comets (aka Bill Haley and The Comets).

I nearly made “See You Later, Alligator” the feature song, but ended up choosing the blatantly obvious song, “Rock Around The Clock”.

For those who are wondering why this has taken so long to appear, I wrote it last night and accidentally clicked “Save” instead of “Publish”. Better late than never!

One, Two, Three O’clock, Four O’clock rock,
Five, Six, Seven O’clock, Eight O’clock rock.
Nine, Ten, Eleven O’clock, Twelve O’clock rock,
We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight.

Put your glad rags on and join me hon’,
We’ll have some fun when the clock strikes one.

We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight,
We’re gonna rock, rock, rock, ’till broad daylight,
We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight.

When the clock strikes two, three and four,
If the band slows down we’ll yell for more.

We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight,
We’re gonna rock, rock, rock, ’till broad daylight,
We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight.

When the chimes ring five, six, and seven,
We’ll be right in seventh heaven.

We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight,
We’re gonna rock, rock, rock, ’till broad daylight,
We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight.

When it’s eight, nine, ten, eleven too,
I’ll be goin’ strong and so will you.

We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight,
We’re gonna rock, rock, rock, ’till broad daylight,
We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight.

When the clock stikes twelve we’ll cool off then,
Start rockin’ ’round the clock again.

We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight,
We’re gonna rock, rock, rock, ’till broad daylight,
We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight.

Samuel

2 comments February 5th, 2007 at 04:16pm


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