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Category: search.engines

It’s official

There’s no internet censorship in China. A Chinese official, at a United Nations internet summit in Athens, explained:

I don’t think we should be using different standards to judge China. In China, we don’t have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that’s a different problem. I know that some colleagues listen to the BBC in their offices from the Webcast. And I’ve heard people say that the BBC is not available in China or that it’s blocked. I’m sure I don’t know why people say this kind of thing. We do not have restrictions at all.

So this is, I guess, a mirage. And that study by researchers at Harvard Law School that found 19,032 Web sites that were inaccessible inside China? All caused, apparently, by temporary server failures.

More on feed readers

Newsgator has been either down or slow all this weekend. I like them, but I’ll starve if I don’t get my feeds. So I imported them into Google Reader, which has been getting favorable reviews. (Basically you just find the OPML file and upload it. GReader has instructions spelling it all out.) It bugs me having everything at Google, and right now the plan is to go back to Newsgator as soon as they fix whatever their current problem is. But since I now have all my feeds at both places this gives me a good opportunity for comparing features and performance — I’ll report back later. Anyone have any experience with these you’d like to report?

Specialized Web Searches

Google has released a custom search feature that’s supposed to allow customizing searches to produce better results. You can read about it over at Philipp Lenssen’s site. Supposedly this enables focusing results pertinent to a particular topic. I’ve set up a couple of test engines on a specialized searches page. Check it out and see what you think. Can you think of a better topic to perform a test on?

Google ranks third for search, according to Google

Search for “search” on Google, and who gets the top result? The answer is a bit surprising.

Read More

How to create a custom news feed

Pay attention, class, we’re going to learn how to create a custom feed.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we’re going to assume that we’re interested in the great Argentine writer Julio Cortazar, and we want to keep up to date on any news about him. For this purpose we’ll use Google News, but the same principles apply in other scenarios. For example, you could create a feed of del.icio.us or technorati tags.

We could subscribe to a Google News Alert, but that would clutter up our in-box with an endless stream of e-mails. Instead we’ll collect all the news in one place that we can access with our browser.

Okay, first we enter our search term, Julio Cortazar, in the Google News search box.

step 1: the search box

On the resulting page we select the feed link (“RSS” or “Atom” at left; either will work in most readers).

finding the feed link

Next we copy the url of the feed page:

copying the url

Now we go to our feed reader of choice. There are plenty to choose from, among them Bloglines, Google Reader, Rojo, Pluck, etc. I happen to prefer Newsgator. There we select the “URL & Import” option (at right in the screen shot below), and we paste in our url:

importing the url

Once we import the url Newsgator will ask if we want to move it to a particular subfolder. This is handy because sooner or later your feeds will start to get out of control if you use your feed reader much.

Now we can view Julio Cortazar news and our other feeds simply by going to newsgator.com rather than having to navigate to all the different sites. We could also view blog posts through our feed reader, even if our workplace blocked them with something like Surf Control — a handy work-around for those who need to do strictly work-related research. 😉
viewing the feed

By the way, the new Firefox 2.0 browser has a feed subscription button built in that will simplify this process (specify your reader in preferences, click the feed button, bingo).

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