Compare Google and Bing results with Bingiton

Bingiton comparison results

Just over a year ago Bing launched a website called Bingiton (http://www.bingiton.com/), which enabled you to compare search results from Google and Bing side by side and then decide which set was best. You had to run five searches and then Bingiton told you which search engine you had chosen for each. After a couple of weeks the site was restricted to US users but it has now been relaunched in the UK.

The principle remains the same: you type in five searches, Bingiton displays the two sets of results side by side, and you decide which you prefer or go for the draw option (“can’t decide”).

I ran several batches of searches through Bingiton and Google won 4 of the rounds. The fifth, which consisted of searches for cake and jam recipes, was a draw with me being unable to decide. Two other rounds had to be declared null and void because “Scholarly articles” links (Google Scholar) appeared at the top of one set of results indicating that they were from Google. Another included what was obviously a Google map!

Bingiton

For me Bing seemed to be better at recipes and shopping enquiries than research oriented queries. Google consistently came out on top for local information and current news. Phil Bradley has also blogged about Bingiton (http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2013/10/bings-bing-it-on-challenge-returns-to-the-uk.html) and invited people to comment on their own results. It is an interesting mix and Google does not always win or win outright. Take the Bingiton challenge yourself at?http://www.bingiton.com/.

Google to start using your photo and reviews to endorse ads

If you have a Google+ account you should have received an email from Google with the innocuous subject line “An Update for Google+ Page Owners and Managers”. Don’t ignore it because it contains important information about changes to Google’s terms and conditions that take effect on November 11th, 2013. From that date Google may start using your profile name and photo to endorse ads. Several people have already posted extensively about this so I will not go into much detail here. Tony Hirst has already written an excellent article on this at?http://blog.ouseful.info/2013/10/12/googles-new-terms-mean-you-could-soon-been-acting-as-a-product-endorser/, which also addresses other privacy issues and account settings that you may wish to review and change.

If you do not want your photo and name used in advertisements you have to opt out because Google seems to have automatically added everyone to the scheme. Sign in to your Google+ account and go to the settings page. You should see a new option for “Shared endorsements” that is switched on. Click on the Edit link to change it to “Off”. Of course, Google tries to discourage you from doing this by saying that “your friends will be less likely to benefit from your recommendations”.

Google+ Shared Endorsements

Click continue to carry on and switch endorsements off.

September Tales from the Terminal Room now available

The September issue of Tales from the Terminal Room is now available at?http://www.shugle.com/tfttr/archives/2013/sep2013.html

This month’s issue includes:

  • Recent presentations
  • Search tools – Google announces Hummingbird…..hmmmm
  • Top tips from the latest business information workshop
  • Interactive maps of UK renewable energy generation
  • Twitter notes
  • Forthcoming workshops and meetings How to Make Google behave: techniques for better results, Wednesday, 30th October 2013
    • Free resources and search techniques for EU and UK legislation, Wednesday, 13th November 2013, London
    • Anything but Google, Tuesday, 19th November 2013, London

The newsletter is a compilation of recent articles from this blog plus some extra goodies such as Twitter Notes.

Interactive maps of UK renewable energy generation

I recently mentioned Gridwatch (How the UK’s electricity is generated ?http://www.shugle.com/wordpress/2013/08/21/how-the-uks-electricity-is-generated/) as a way of tracking how much energy is passing through the National Grid and the technology used to generate that electricity. Although Gridwatch is a great way of observing the total amount of electricity that is generated by each technology – gas, coal, wind etc – it does not go into any detail with respect to individual installations. The?Digest of UK energy statistics (DUKES) produced by the UK ?Department of Energy & Climate Change (http://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-energy-climate-change/series/digest-of-uk-energy-statistics-dukes) includes a spreadsheet listing all of the operational power stations, fuel that they use, installed capacity, location, and the year that generation began. The direct link to the spreadsheet is?http://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/226895/dukes5_11.xls. This is historical data and the current list refers to plants in operation at the end of May 2013.

UK Energy Watch has a map (http://www.ukenergywatch.org/Electricity/PowerStations) showing the location of UK power stations of 400 MW or larger, so it is by no means comprehensive. It does allow you, though, to click on a plant and display current generation except for CCGT stations (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine).

There are more options available when it comes to what are called renewables (for example wind, solar, biomass, hydro). The DECC’s?RESTATS interactive map at?http://restats.decc.gov.uk/app/pub/map/map/?enables you to search by technology, region, county, planning authority and application status. It also has a separate map for wind farm capacities.

RESTATS Interactive Map of Renewables

The site information includes installed capacity, details of the planning application but not how much energy is actually being produced. RESTATS says that “Information is held on the performance of operational projects but owing to the need to maintain the commercially sensitive nature of these data, specific site details and performance figures are not disclosed“.

RestatsSIteDetails

 

The UK Data explorer has produced a renewables map at?http://ukdataexplorer.com/renewables/?that uses the RESTATS data and?shows operational renewable electricity sites over 0.01 MW.?The different colours represent the type of plant and the area of the circles indicate installed capacity (maximum power output).

UK Data Explorer renewables interactive map

 

To see details of a specific installation you should be able to hover over a point on the map. This did not work for me with some of the smaller plants and when I tried to zoom in on an area I often lost the background map.

The Interactive Map of Renewable and Alternative Energy Projects in the UK at?http://www.renewables-map.co.uk?is another interactive map and?can be filtered by technology type and planning status.

 

Renewables Map UK

 

According to the website the information is gathered from “a wide range of web resources, in all cases these will be referenced, usually by a link to that information. Locations are either taken from existing data, usually from planning applications, or by painstakingly identifying the location on the ground using online maps.” I am not sure how up to date the map is and I noticed that the smaller hydro installations along the Thames are missing. Another problem that I have experienced with this site is that when I click on “More details” for an installation I get far too many “internal sever errors”. However, when the information does appear it includes useful comments on the technology, links to relevant websites and the latest news.

 

Renewables_Map2

The final one in my list is from the energy generating company RWE Innogy (http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/en/194914/rwe-innogy/sites/production-data-live/). Its interactive map provides information on most of its European plants and includes?wind farms, hydro power plants and biomass CHP (Combined Heat and Power). The production data is updated every minute. To see information on an installation, click on its icon on the map.?The information includes live production, location, type of installation and when production started.

?Renewables_RWE

These are by no means the only websites offering interactive maps and information on UK energy production, and none of them give the full picture. They are good starting points, though, if you are interested in researching individual technologies or individual power stations.

Google announces Hummingbird…hmmm

Google announced a major new search algorithm to celebrate its 15th anniversary called Hummingbird, because it is “precise and fast”. Interestingly, the change was implemented about a month before the announcement was made and most of us did not notice any difference! That is probably because Google is continually making minor changes to the way it presents results, and then there are the live experiments that we are all subjected to (Just Testing: Google Users May See Up To A Dozen Experiments? http://searchengineland.com/just-testing-google-searchers-may-see-up-to-a-dozen-experiments-141570). So, even if we do suspect that our results have changed, it’s difficult to know whether it’s the usual combination of personalisation and experiments or the new algorithm.

Phil Bradley has written a neat summary of what Hummingbird is (http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2013/09/what-is-google-hummingbird.html) and Danny Sullivan has compiled an FAQ at http://searchengineland.com/google-hummingbird-172816. There is also a short video on the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24292897 in which Amit Singhal, VP, Google Search talks about the launch and the future direction of Google search.

I have not noticed any significant differences in either desktop or mobile search but that is probably a good thing. We tend to spot changes only when Google completely messes up. I suspect that we’ll see little difference when using advanced commands such as filetype or site; Hummingbird seems to be geared more towards handling natural language queries. It is far too early to say how this is going to affect in depth research, but if you suddenly find strange things happening to your search it could be Hummingbird and not you.

If you are keen to find out more about how Google works and how to get better results I am presenting a workshop later this month in London that has been organised by UKeiG. Further details are on the UKeiG website. Alternatively, if you have had enough of Google and want to explore alternatives there is the Anything but Google workshop, again organised by UKeiG.