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October 05 2011

Four short links: 5 October 2011

  1. Ghostery -- a browser plugin to block trackers, web bugs, dodgy scripts, ads, and anything else you care to remove from your browsing experience. It looks like a very well done adblocker, but it's done (a) closed-source and (b) for-profit. Blocking trackers is something every browser *should* do, but because browser makers make (or hope to make) money from ads, they don't. In theory, Mozilla should do it. Even if they were to take up the mantle, though, they're unlikely to make anything for IE or Chrome. So it's in the hands of companies with inarticulate business models. (via Andy Baio)
  2. Perspectives -- Firefox plugin that lets you know when you've encountered an SSL certificate that's different from the ones that other Perspectives users see (e.g., you're being man-in-the-middled by Iran). (via Francois Maurier)
  3. Always Connected -- "I've got a full day of staring at glowing rectangles ahead of me! Better get started ...". I have made mornings and evenings backlight-free zones in an effort to carve out some of the day free of glowing rectangles. (I do still read myself to sleep on the Kindle, though, but it's not backlit)
  4. Is Teaching MapReduce Healthy for Students? -- Google’s narrow MapReduce API conflates logical semantics (define a function over all items in a collection) with an expensive physical implementation (utilize a parallel barrier). As it happens, many common cluster-wide operations over a collection of items do not require a barrier even though they may require all-to-all communication. But there’s no way to tell the API whether a particular Reduce method has that property, so the runtime always does the most expensive thing imaginable in distributed coordination: global synchronization. Detailed and interesting criticism of whether Hadoop is the BASIC of parallel tools. (via Pete Warden)

March 03 2011

Startups get social with browser extensions

HeyStaksWajam.pngAs Google and Bing try to increase reach in a battle over who displays what social elements in search results, search engine add-ons are emerging to bring all social network results together.

Start-up HeyStaks Technologies launched its social search Firefox extension March 2 at the DEMO Spring 2011 conference. The extension works in tandem with established engines, displaying social results in a section above the regular search results. The product is built around "staks," which are described in a company press release:

Users can create "search staks," collections of the best Web pages from a group of users on a particular topic; these "staks" can be made public and easily shared with colleagues and friends via email, Twitter, etc., or kept private or shared on an invite-only basis.

The product provides an effective solution for users who share a common goal or shared interest, allowing them to search the web in a collaborative fashion using mainstream search engines, to make their searches much more effective by keeping the content relevance of results high.

Example of a HeyStak stak
An example of a HeyStak "search stak"

Another startup, Wajam, also recently launched a search extension. Wajam scours networks like Facebook, Twitter and Delicious and results are displayed horizontally across the top of search results.

Example of a Wajam result
A Wajam search result

The Wajam site says they're currently "oversubscribed," but several reviewers have mentioned if you send them a tweet (@wajam) requesting a subscription, or like them on Facebook, the wait isn't too long.

HeyStaks is available as a Firefox add-on and an iPhone app. The Wajam extension is available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer. Apps for the iPhone and Android are pending.



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