Move Over Jeeves!

It’s part of the common vernacular to ‘Google’ something – just like you’d stop a runny nose by reaching for the Kleenex, or fixing a cut with a Band-Aid. While it’s hard to argue that Google isn’t the ‘best’ at finding results (if you find yourself in the 2nd page of Google results, chances are you won’t find what you’re looking for), there are definitely different ways in which search engines could deliver results to their users.

First I’ll get the technicality out of the way. I’m going to explain (preaching, really, to a congregation of more faith than I) how to make a certain search engine the default search engine.

Oh wait…no I won’t!

(Kidding, of course I will, it’s worth half a mark just to do it.)

How to set default search engine:

To make things clear: I will simply be outlining how to do it for PC Chrome users. It really should be the browser to use, because not only is it run by the same people who basically run Gmail, Youtube, Drive, Maps, Translate and, well, everything you ever need to pretend to be smart, it’s a very fast browser, and extremely easy to delete the whole bunch of toolbars and plug-ins that your parents got suckered into installing.

First, go into the main menu by pressing the horizontal lines to the top right hand corner of the browser, right under the big red X. Go down to settings, and enter the settings page. On the fourth heading on the Settings page, where you see the word ‘Search’, you’ll also see the button ‘Manage Search Engines’. Clicking that will open up a small box where there might be a whole list of websites that have any form of search function built in. The top section of that list is the list of “default search engines”, and hovering over the one you want to use – say, ‘Bing’ (ha) – will bring up a small choice to ‘Make default’. Click it, and now when you type into the blank searchbar, you’ll be using Bing by default. Quick, change back before you regret it!

Alright, now to the comparisons.

I am comparing DuckDuckGo, instaGrok and the mighty Google.

The search term which I used across all three engines was ‘dofp’, the abbreviation for ‘Days of Future Past’, which is the title for the upcoming X-Men movie. I used this because the theatrical trailer was released yesterday, so the buzz should be quite high.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo focuses on getting the user an answer, straight away, whereas instaGrok is about teaching the user anything they would want to know about the topic, and all the sub-topics, etc. Google will find you links to sites that would have information on what you searched, placing the most commonly accessed and/or relevant on top, so on.

Because of this, DuckDuckGo gave me an Instant Answer box, which actually told me about the original comic of Days of Future Past. Then, the third result down was the one which mentioned the film in a journalistic capacity – that is, not purely review – with the video to the trailer. The first result was actually to acronym.com, to tell me what dofp could stand for, despite the Instant Answer having told me already.

In this way, DuckDuckGo was rather useless in terms of helping me get to an immediate access to a trailer, a cast list, a release date, or news from major sites, but it did give me an immediate answer, albeit to the wrong medium.

Top results with DuckDuckGo

Top results with DuckDuckGo

InstaGrok

instaGrok is probably not built for this kind of searches. Firstly, I actually had to re-assert that I was searching ‘dofp’, not ‘dop’, but after that, things got interesting. instaGrok works like a mind-map, the kind you drew in primary school with branches that come out of a central idea. In this case, the branches that came out of my search term (when setting the search difficulty to ‘Einstein’) gave me topics such as ‘Avenger’, ‘Bryan Singer’, ‘Evan Peters’, and ‘ Film’. Film was giving a separate part of the branch, meaning that it is of a different significance to the other branches.

So, I still have no idea what ‘dofp’ stands for, if that’s why I searched it, but instaGrok has given me the opportunity to delve into other, similar subjects. Bryan Singer is the director of the film, Avenger is a franchise which is set in the same comic universe as X-Men, although the movie rights are owned by different companies, and Evan Peters is an actor in the film. ‘Film’, on the other branch, gave me a chance to go off on a whole different tangent of knowledge.

Clicking on each segment gave me a few, unexplained choices. I realized that I could look at the key concepts of the segment as defined by other users (completely irrelevant for ‘dofp’), I could look at websites that discuss the search term (still useless but more relevant in terms of gathering some information), but none of them are in any way telling me about the search term, or giving me a chance to be linked to somewhere else that could, in a sentence, tell me about it.

Results with instaGrok

Results with instaGrok

Google

Finally, Google gave me news results to begin with – great, because the 2nd one down linked me to a big site that had the trailer – then went on to give me the Wikipedia link to the comic series page. To the right, Google also had a small box, much like DuckDuckGo’s Instant Answer box, that gave me a fast tidbit to tell me it was an upcoming movie.

Top results with Google

Top results with Google

Now, I spent so long explaining the first two search engines, because the results were very interesting to me. While the search term that I used may not have been the broadest of terms, it is one which would be quite popular at the time of writing given the surrounding societal situation. DuckDuckGo is good for that instant answer, but delved into strange results, especially by prioritizing smallerย orย unknown sites over large, expansive ones (Joblo.com before IGN.com). instaGrok, on the other hand, was almost completely useless in this search term, but if I was to be doing research on X-Men, for example, I would given segments to explore all kinds of terms related to the in-universe as well as the genre aspects of the term.

In all, DuckDuckGo would be a search engine I use for the Instant Answer function, instaGrok one which would start a research effort, and Google will ultimately be my friend for specific information.

Alex.

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Your Touch Is What I’m Missing

[Comatose – Skillet]

I will have to make the quota somehow, so I guess this is more a boring post than anything.

Anyway, I notice that on TV shows, when someone is doing something sneaky on their computer and they hear someone walking in, they suddenly change the screen to the desktop, and then says waits for them to walk in and say hi like nothing’s going on. The person who walks in then doesn’t suspect a single thing, and the perpetrator gets away with it clean.

I’m not going to call myself a buff in film techniques or direction or whatever, but if the director/writer wants to show someone snooping and getting away with it, maybe a blank desktop and a more nonchalant composure is more believable. I mean, if you walked into a room to have someone sitting in front of a clearly computer switched to the desktop, and them nervously greeting you as you entered, you’d think something suss is going on too.

You know what’s not suss? If you had Google open – and not the blank homepage, but maybe with the search result of a movie or something – and when they entered, you’re just casually clicking on a link, and you wait for them to start conversation, then it’s more natural.

And I’m saying this not only for TV shows, but for real life too. If you don’t want people to get all suspicious at you, don’t draw attention towards what you’re doing on the computer.

So today I got all my Semester 2 results back, and in short I averaged at 69 for the whole year, which isn’t great but isn’t too shabby, and it’s only a point below what I was aiming for. I checked all my subjects that I chose for next year, and I have not a single exam, so I think I’ll be good – I got low marks for my subjects with exams, and so I think I’ve found my problem.

Alex.

Differences Noted

I think the major different of high school compared to university has finally dawned on me.

I mean, apart from the lifestyle – I mean the public lifestyle. Life at home is still the same. I’m still being treated like an 8-year-old who can’t make decisions for herself when it suits my mom’s needs…but that’s another rant – which is obviously different, like the blatant smoking and drinking around campus. Apart from that, the academic side of university is also finally showing itself.

It might have been obvious to Science and Biomed students from the get go, because their level of work is quickly stepping up (I cannot say for sure, not having done the subjects, but the speed at which high school chemistry traveled would indubitably be snail-speed compared to what university would be going). But for myself, an Arts student, the first few weeks of university hasn’t really been that different.

Sure, I don’t have to do maths or Chinese anymore, and each subject is getting more specialized and, to a certain degree, globalized (as in, each subject really only talks about the scope of said subject, and more about global issues rather than Australian issues) but really it just felt like a slightly more intense elective subject at high school.

But when my essays started hitting, I found things different.

In high school, you are more or less told what to do, how to do it, and then whoever can copy that formula the best while not appearing to have copied that formula gets an A. You might think you have more choice in VCE, what with the 3 different topics you can write about on the SAME book, or the “freedom” you have to “express yourself” in the “Whose Reality?” part of the exam. But, not really. Again, you’re more or less told what the expected outcome is, and you reach for that.

In uni, it’s just that one step scarier. First of all, you’re not REALLY told what is expected of you. You get a few samples of the genre/s that you’re probably trying to emulate – note, emulate, not copy – and these aren’t even past student examples, these are real life examples. You get the description of what the assignment is, for example “30 – 40 lines of poetry, roughly equivalent to a 1000 word essay”. Then they give you 4 weeks of random poetry to read, poets coming in to tell you how they stumbled across poetry, and then bam! your poems are due next week.

Poetry isn’t so hard to understand how to write, really. I mean, write, not write well. You can write anything and you can say it’s poetry, and no one can really dispute you, because it is poetry, just crappy poetry.

But my 2nd Creative Writing assignment had me stumped; a creative non-fiction.

I know what it is; I’ve read the Hiroshima example, and it was fantastic. But what topic can I write about? To be able to creatively write about a non-fictional topic, you’d have to have a respectable amount of knowledge about it. To get a respectable amount of knowledge, you’d have to research – and researching, then transferring this knowledge creatively, will take a lot longer than the time given for this assignment. So of course you’d have to write about something you already know.

That’s all good if you already knew shitloads about, say, Roal Dahl, or whatever. But I don’t! So a weekend was spent desperately trying to think of what to write. And that was the most frustrating part; I know I have the skills, I just don’t have a medium to show it. It would be good if in tutes we were given a list of possible topics, but we weren’t, and that’s how uni rolls.

In the end, I chose to write about music, and how music is experienced differently by different people.

But that’s just Creative Writing. Then we have Professional Writing, which is easier in some senses, and harder in some. I got my result for my first assignment – the magazine profile – back. I thought I’d done well – not fantastic, but well. I’d stuck to the conventions of my chosen genre of magazines – but the result said that, if I don’t draft this assignment for my end of semester folio, I’d only get a 60% mark. It would have been okay if I knew where I went wrong, but I’m not quite sure. I suppose that’s the difference – now you have to go ask the tutor why, and they’ll probably not answer you properly.

You know, I also noticed that I use the hyphen a lot more now. It gets annoying.

For my other two subjects, Cinema Studies and Intro to Media and Comm, I have 2 research projects’ due date coming up. After today (I’m going out today, which I will write about tomorrow, probably) I’m going to have to start doing the research for those two. Cinema Studies has me researching cinematic monsters, and Intro to M+C has me working with Annie and Christy for something which none of us has started so I guess it’ll be a bit of a last minute pull.

So things are definitely different in university now. I’m having fun, don’t get me wrong, because these things are my forte, and I actually enjoy them. But it is noticeably harder and more stressful to get that optimum mark.

Oh my god, I’m still mark-driven.

Alex.

Because The Drugs Never Work

[Teenagers – My Chemical Romance]

Today was the final assembly for my school life, ever. Okay, so one more category tagged for School haha.

There isn’t much to say, except congratulations to everyone, we did fantastic (the official result comes out tomorrow but I think we’ve managed to pull in first again. Then again, Garvey wasn’t sounding very confident).

Also it was funking hot.

It was so hot, in fact, that when Jen, Sonia and I got on a tram, a girl (who I think was a MacRob chick but I can’t be sure) remarked,” It’s so hot in here!” To my usual self, I said half loud enough to hear, “That would be because of me.” The girl looked at me and then said, “Yeah probably.”

Easily made my day.

Now I’m home, and basically waiting for tomorrow, because it will be cooler, and Katherine’s coming over!

Score.

There are some other personal stuff going on at the mo, for me, but I think I’ll not bore and depress you as the festive season nighs, and I’ll just let you know that while I’m pretty sad, I think it’ll be okay.

Alex.

It’s A Terrible Thing To Know What You Want

[The Way She Moves – Forever The Sickest Kids]

Obligatory VCE RESULT BLOG POST!

I think for now I’ll stay reserved on here and simply state that I’m happy, I’m relieved because it’s enough, despite what my parents may think/say/do.

And I’m very very happy for Cathy who got one of the best marks so far, while being in Frankston.

My Study Scores made me laugh though. How did I get so low for English? And how was English Language my first when I did so badly in the exam? Well, the mysteries of VCAA.

I hope all was well for everyone too. And when I say well, I meant: satisfactorily enough and a good reflection of the hard work you put in. Don’t beat yourself up just because you didn’t get that score “your parents wanted”. As long as you’re ace with what you did, that’s the real ace. It’s YOUR life.

Alex.

P.S. Omgsh I think this will be the last time I tag “School” as a category. It’ll be university soon!