Category Archives: search

Microsoft Offers Reward for any successful Bing search!

It must mean something that to find something on Microsoft’s own sites, you have to use Google. Even within Microsoft Office apps, searching for something is like embarking on a mythical quest for some holy foo.

Come on Microsoft, you supposedly hired the best, but we’re getting the worst. If within Office Word I open the Help window and search for “remove horizontal line”, relevant hits should show up, and they should only be related to Word. In fact, if I put quotes around it, nothing is found. No, I won’t check my spelling, didn’t those PHD,s put some algorithm to account for spelling?

Let me try the same search on Google, boom, 0.27 seconds later, 35,700 results.

What I’d like to see in the Wall Street Journal one day, ratings for:

Suckiness Evilness Richness
Microsoft ? ? ?
Google ? ? ?
Apple ? ? ?

By the way, this is all in jest and constructive feedback. Just in case I apply for a job at Microsoft. Do you hire average intelligence but a lot of creativity and good looks? If you don’t, maybe that’s the problem.

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How to search using Windows 7 file explorer?

When it comes time to search for a file on the local or networked file system you would think win7 would have advanced capabilities.

keywords: Windows 7, win7, search, keyword search

Nov 7, 2015: Still abhor Windows 7 search. I just had to search for a text in XML files. I had to use NotePad++. How bad can something be that even a text editor offers better and faster searching? Does Windows 10 “fix” this?

It does and it doesn’t.  For what it does have, it is not exposed in the GUI.  Yup, a graphical operating system interface does not present an easy way to do advanced searching.  Anyway, below are links to articles that show you how to get access to this search capability.  Many books supply the missing information too.

I’m surprised (not) that Windows help doesn’t really give the information. The way to do advanced Windows File Explorer searching is to use the “Advanced Query Syntax” (AQS). Bah! Why not use the industry standard reqular expressions?

Ok, I skimmed the docs below and I still don’t like it. How would I search for a file that has “yup” somewhere in its name and also has the text “foiled” but was also created a certain time period? In Windows XP that would be easy. In Linux I would use the “find” command and all its inscrutable switches.

Windows needs to have its file search redesigned. If I navigate to a folder, I want to be able to search for file content, just like every prior Windows version before it (I skipped Vista). Yes, I know you can change options to always search content even in non-indexed locations. Never mind all that indexing nonsense, Windows is a not a Mac.

If you want to use real search maybe it has to be by an external tool. Like Agent Ransack.


  1. Advanced tips for searching in Windows:
  2. Advanced Query Syntax (AQS):
  3. Search Network Folder By Filename
  4. Exploring Windows 7’s New Search Features (Part 3):
  5. Query Syntax:
  6. Exploring Windows 7’s New Search Features (Part 1):
  7. Exploring Windows 7’s New Search Features (Part 2):
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How to improve web search

I originally wrote this on January 21, 2010.  A few weeks ago I was helping a family member with some research.  I searched the web on the topic.  It was very bad.  No matter what I used as a query the results were bad.  Not only were the results not relevant,  duplicates and noise were overshadowing everything.  I tried using different search engines, Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others.

This is not new, of course.  Though search services are very good, there is just a lot of noise out there.  Worse, there is an adversarial relationship between search targets and the search services.   To see an example of this see this blog post The Anatomy Of A Bad Search Result

During the following days I thought about this, then while driving  the solution popped into my head (very dangerous!).  Use the results of searching to present possible terms to the user to augment the search.  One technique I thought of using was Tag Clouds.  In Bing, Yahoo, or Google, one would just do a normal search, but new panels would then show with different type of Tag Clouds: terms, news, location, entertainment, etc.  The user could click on a term and that would be added to the search string.   That would solve the problem of not knowing what to add to the terms to narrow the search, but also whether the search terms are helping get closer to the “real” topic.  Subsequent searches would allow refinement, adding and removing terms, and new tag clouds would form.

Well, I get an idea and know how to embellish it and make it powerful, its fun to do this.   So, I also saw how to extend this to do much more such as using Semantic tools, RDFa, TopicMaps, and graphical visualizations.  As I’m doing research to see if I can write this up, I stumble upon DeeperWeb.  Wow, they use the TagCloud technology to do just what I wrote about above.   Not only did they implement this, they also started to use some Semantic Web technologies like Topic Maps, which I was also thinking about.   Oh well, at least I found something that hopefully will improve search.

Unfortunately, DeeperWeb plugin has not improved my search results.  In fact, it has not been useful at all.  Occasionally the phrases panel was useful.   Puzzling.  I think this is not possible with a plug-in.  Instead, the search services themselves must provide the “deep web” results.  For example, Google has an ginormous database that can create a tag cloud or other type of  search augmentation.  I know there were some lab experiments like a mindmap like visual explorer (which was lame).

In the meantime, just for fun, I’ll look into the other ideas I had.  Tag Clouds were just an interim means, much more can be done.   There is a rich storehouse of more information that can be correlated and presented to assist the user in search.   Even location based filtering.  Social network based topic discovery, cultural cues, and even search augmented by crowd sourcing.  Let say you are search for xyz, this search can be broadcast to subscribers of a search service who then can augment the search terms to provide better results.  They would ask pertinent questions of course, and privacy is paramount.

As a Google employee stated, most of search has been solved, its the last part that will take the most effort, the usual 80/20 rule.

I’ve had this blog post in draft so long now I lost the momentum.  Oh well.

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How do you rate user ratings?

I’m puzzled by the shopping lists ranking views.  For example, at I searched for a product, got the list, then I set the display to order by “Best Rating”.    Now I get a bunch of stuff and the top two items are

Item# #Reviews #Excellent #Good #Average #Poor #Very Poor
foo-1 2 1 1 0 0 0
foo-2 171 112 26 7 9 1

Doesn’t that seem odd? The first item is listed first, yet it only has two reviews, whereas the second item has a lot more reviews. True, the first item has no negative reviews.  Is that why it’s listed first?   Doesn’t sound correct to me.

I searched for an explanation on the site, but did not find one.   Yet, I don’t see an alternative.  My gut feeling is that the second one should be first.  It doesn’t have the best rating score, but it has the best rating responses so should be more accurate.  Isn’t this covered in Statistics 101?

I’m sure there are nice algorithms or frameworks to make this more useful.  Then again, maybe not. I’ve searched and I don’t find any definitive answers. Yet, there should be. How do people rate user ratings? Gut feel only?

Another example, I searched for a book on Amazon, the new Lee Child’s “A Wanted Man”. The user ratings were:

1 star 2 star 3 star 4 star 5 star
actual 174 184 268 312 462
Normalized 12.4 13.1 19.1 22.3 33

Just based on the ratings score, without reading the feedback, is this a “good” book? Note, here are a few statistics measures, though be wary, my statistics 101 was not recent:

Avg median mode var stddev
20 19 5 star 69.3 8.36

Using the SurveyMonkey computation we get a Rating Average of 3.5. This is a 4 Star rating. Seems the Survey Monkey approach is to the use the vote count of each each cardinal star as a weight. This gives an expected value computation.

Here are a few references on this that I hope to read one day:

Further reading

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