Monday, July 28, 2008

New search engine? Not really ...

When I hear about a new search engine I like to go and check it out to see how good it is. Today there is a new one, CNN had an article called: Ex-Googlers launch rival search engine (oh goody, a new toy to play with). Apparently Anna Patterson knows what she is doing as the last time she created such technology Google bought it. Her company is called CUIL and, using her search engine, I did my usual search for Linux Home Automation oddly enough the first few times the engine failed to find anything. Later it started finding some information but the really odd part: the pictures associated with the sites are not related to the site (???). In fact they look like they're paid ads (a lot of them X10). I found a lot of X10 ad pictures next to my sites (and I'm pretty vocal about X10 being crap, etc.). Hmm, I'm not very happy about this. So anyway, I decided to take it to the next level and do this search: linux home automation or domotics or control, nothing, nada, zilch. Seems it can't handle complex search strings.

My verdict: not very good (D). It looks pretty but the information is not high quality. Instead it seems to find a lot of sites which are copy cat sites (my blog entries showed up under other sites but my blog didn't show up) or only briefly mention Linux. I really feel the pictures associated with the site are dishonest and many are ads. I guess this is their intention, a new way to display ads associated with searches. This search engine seems to be more about ads than search results. For the user the quality of the results, not the ads, are the point of the search. Even Microsoft eventually got that point and removed the first two pages of ads so users could get to the search results material. I don't see this search engine as ever being something I'd use or recommend (not that my opinion matters ;-).

For those wondering why I like using my search string "linux home automation"? Because I use it often enough that I know the trash from the treasures. In fact the search string I really use the most often is "linux home automation or domotics or domotica or control". I've removed all sites in China because 90% of them are junk sites. The Scribd seemed like 'just another search engine in the results of a search engine' and Experts Exchange requires that sign up to get any of it's information (screw that!). The rest of the string gives me a pretty good view of the world and HA.


At 7/30/2008 3:02 PM, Blogger steve said...

How crap is x10 when used with an Insteon controller? I'm toying with getting one of the powerlinc controllers and some x10 socket rocket adapters for some multibulb lights (so I can just light certain bulbs depending on the time of day); is x10 really that bad?

Oh, and if you look right at the bottom of the page of expert's exchange you can find the full text of the answer instead of the "you must register" you get at the top. Weird, but there you go...

At 7/31/2008 10:21 AM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Yes X10 is really that bad, the quality of X10 brand product is hideous. Smarthome make much better products. But then there is the issue of the ancient protocol where you send and pray that the command gets there. The new product/protocols like Insteon and UPB work much better.

X10 will still have problems, even when used with Insteon. In fact using Insteon may make the X10 problems worse. What happens is the Smarthome products (their X10 and Insteon/X10 products) become signal suckers (because they're more sensitive than than the X10 products) and the X10 signal becomes weaker with the use of more of these Smarthome products. One solution, not just to the Smarthome/signal sucker problem, is to use one of the XTB products to boost the X10 signal. Though this may run you afoul of the FCC. Many have said this pretty much fixes the signal strength problems with X10.

On the issue of the expert's exchange, I've scrolled down and only found more "All comments and solutions are available to Premium Service Members only. " all the way down the page. So I'll leave the expert's exchange off my searches.

At 8/01/2008 7:27 AM, Blogger steve said...

Thanks for the info, Neil. Do you know if there's an equivalent to the socket rocket for Insteon? I'd like to get something to individually control a candelabra light to get me start on home control, and the socket rockets are about the cheapest solution here in Canada, and I can't find anything similar for Insteon.

The XTB page explains quite clearly where the problem is, I'm not surprised with 5Vpp there's signal issues! Is the Insteon signal significantly stronger, or would it be worthwhile looking at a wireless controller as well/instead?

A hint in the comments here suggests the reason expert sexchange works for me is because I'm running the Adblock Plus extension in Firefox which strips out the "pay to play" message, bizarrely enough!

At 8/01/2008 11:32 AM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Be careful with the socket rocket, don't use them with the bulb hanging down. The heat will cause the socket to fall apart and the bulb to drop.

Also I don't think Insteon or anyone else has a socket rocket type product.

The Insteon signal is not stronger (FCC regulation don't allow for a stronger signal) but instead every time an Insteon device sees an Insteon signal it repeats it. Thereby cleaning up and boosting the signal. The Smarthome folks also have a boosterlinc which is used for X10 to do the same thing. The newer ones do not interfere with the Insteon signal. My opinion is that if you don't mind running afoul of the FCC go with the appropriate XTB product.

Another thing that makes the Insteon product better is the protocol. If you send a command it either gets ACK'd (acknowledged, everything is okay), NAK'd (negative acknowledged meaning that the command couldn't be completed such as the bulb is dead) and what I like to LACK'd (no ACK/NAK, meaning nothing heard you).

There is more to the Insteon protocol but those are the highlights.


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