For those of you who run into my blog here…I haven’t posted in who knows how long. My blog is now located here: http://joshmilenthal.com/
Go check it out..I’ve gotten much better, and post a lot more!
This summer was when I first started really getting into all things social, beyond Facebook that is. I joined Twitter just this past June (sent my 1,000th Tweet today, btw), and signed up for LinkedIn, a host of Twitter clients, Quora (within the first few weeks of it’s beta release I believe), and many other sites that were, or still are, startups trying to get into the game even more recently than that. However, the best online discovery I made was no social tool, it was a search engine…called DuckDuckGo.
Now before you laugh at the somewhat childish nickname, go check it out. Give it one full day of trying it out and I guarantee you never go back to your previous search engine. This little engine that could emphasizes user privacy (“Google tracks you. We don’t” it claims on it’s About page), this privacy mission is explained in detail here (pictures included!), at the aptly named donttrack.us website. While promoting user privacy, it also makes searching almost too easy. How so you ask? Read on:
First, it has this little feature called Zero-click Info that gives you a snippet of information about what you’re searching for without you having to click through to a result. For example, this is what comes up when you search for James Cameron’s Avatar:
Keep playing with it and it also allows you to search things like the distance from Atlanta, GA to Columbus, OH (any cities, states, or countries will do…that’d just the route I travel most often). Why go to some website when you get this:
Next, the “Goodies” (c’mon, how can you argue against a search engine that advertises it’s ‘goodies’ on their homepage and not mean something explicit?) the site offers are incredible, and got me to switch over from Google. The !bang syntax, something I’ve never seen done on any website before, is it’s most useful feature. It allows you to search hundreds of websites directly, without wasting time going to the actual website and typing into the search bar. So, for example, imagine you want to search for…Youtube’s #1 total views leader, Lady Gaga. All you have to do is type in “!youtube lady gaga” in the search bar and you will immediately be brought to this page. Simple right?
**Helpful tip** If you’re using Google Chrome, set your default search engine to DuckDuckGo and now whenever you want to search popular sites like Youtube or Facebook, all you need to do is use the !bang syntax in your URL bar at the top of the browser and Bang! (yes, yes I did) you’re at the results in less than a second. If you ever thought that it doesn’t take much time to go to a site, find the search bar, then search the site….welcome to the world of DuckDuckGo.
The last great feature of the site is that it allows you to type in something like “Simpsons characters” and will return something actually helpful, unlike what Google will give you:
The one true con of the site (impressive, compared to the many pros) is that it is not 100% independent yet. The image search still uses Google Images as it’s resource, and links you to the Google Images results page whenever you search for a picture. Once this site becomes fully independent and provides this service on its own (if this does ever happen, I don’t see a need right now to change anything), this site will be complete.
Give DuckDuckGo a try, I bet you’ll end up sticking with it. Let me know what you think in the comments.
I just read an article by Kelly Dwyer about the NBA “cracking down” (I use quotes because the situation is so stupid and laughable that cracking down is almost too extreme) on upside down headbands of all things. Yes, wearing one’s headband upside down is now something the NBA is outlawing. I have struggled to tolerate the power trips that the head offices of both the NBA and NFL but this might be pushing things over the top. Here’s a list of things that are now not allowed based on recent “infractions” (yes, they get fairly specific):
- No upside down headbands in the NBA
- Two players cannot do DIFFERENT hand signals to the crowd after a touchdown is scored (watch the video, Sam Hurd does the hand signal for “I love you” in sign language)…Miles Austin jumping over Williams was not penalized.
- The new rules on technicals the NBA thinks, or thought, would be a good idea are allowing officials to “award” technicals to players who calmly ask why a call was made, or demonstrate disagreement in the form of raised arms..
- You cannot, for any reason, make Tom Brady feel like he’s actually playing a football game and might get tackled, if you do you WILL be penalized:
- The new rules on devastating hits in the NFL now will suspend players for any hit “deemed” flagrant (see: too hard of a hit).
Both leagues have different motives behind the regulations it seems: The NBA is restricting players so that they are more uniform and lessen the complaining of the game. I understand the uniformity to a degree, but upside down headbands? All “disrespect” for David West aside (he’s the guy in the NBA logo if you didn’t know), does anyone really care? For Rajon Rondo it’s a superstition thing…and superstition plays an immeasurable role in sports. If you’re an athlete you have rituals, it’s just how it is. With the rules for dishing out technicals I only see the game being slowed down and the passion of the game being deflated. Sports require adrenaline and passion and if you are telling players that they have to just accept any calls regardless of the legitimacy of it…it means a lot more pent up anger. Chill out NBA, disagreement is part of the game. Why don’ t you tell fans they aren’t allowed to boo calls anymore, or they will be ushered out.
The NFL is cutting back on touchdown celebrations why? Saying that more than one person can’t participate in a touchdown celebration is telling players, fans, and teams that it is NOT a team effort to score a touchdown. I understand that the league doesn’t want excessive celebration…but 30 year old players aren’t going to have their feelings hurt by a couple players getting excited for scoring a touchdown. Calm down NFL, it’s not a big deal. Let two players throw up hand signals to the crowd, let a cumbersome offensive lineman hit the ground during a celebration by accident without drawing a penalty…I mean, c’mon. Nobody is getting hurt here. However, the new rules on devastating hits does address people getting hurt, but putting in a new rule that has no truly defined definition means refs have to judge yet another aspect of the game in order to assess a penalty or not. When has this ever worked out before without extreme controversy? Define it: helmet to helmet hits result in suspensions, regular (but devastating) collisions do not. When receivers go across the middle for a pass (like DeSean Jackson a couple weeks ago) a defender is going to hit them, hard. The hit that knocked Jackson out of the game and the game after was completely legal, just difficult to watch. Players being told they can’t hit people are going to freeze up to think about what to do…should players going up for a ball be allowed to catch it from now on, then wrapped up nice and softly and placed on the ground? No, defenders should be allowed to hit them hard to prevent them from catching the ball.
I think that these new rules, even with good intentions behind them…are completely ridiculous and need to be changed. The players play this game voluntarily and they are choosing to play violent, passionate games. Let them play.
I was recently on the Scoutmob website where they were advertising a deal for their new T-shirt. In order to get a shirt they write: “Unfortunately, you can’t order your Scoutmob shirt via the iPhone or Android app. This will only work the old-fashioned internet way. I understood that they are saying this in a joking manner, but the reality is that this description of the internet as “old-fashioned” is actually very true in many ways:
1) When was the last time you ever heard someone say “internet” with any excitement? Even a decade ago people were in awe about what the internet allowed them to do. Nowadays everyone and their mom (and dad, and grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, etc) is on the internet now. At one point in time it was “new” and “revolutionary” to sit for minutes at a time (minutes!!) while your dial-up logged in on AOL. But now I see my grandmother getting impatient after 5 seconds of waiting for a page to load. Back when I was younger it was a big deal to be able to simply find out information (without Googling it…wtf were we doing back then?); I am only 22…that’s how fast things are moving.
2) While phones and tablets and game consoles are now jumping on the internet bandwagon full force now, it’s what is now capable on phones with things like QR codes and Stickybits, mobile shopping, social networking, etc. that are captivating the entire population. The internet is now just a means to an end, rather than the innovative service that once was.
3) The internet has simply become so mainstream that simple use of the internet is no longer an action. With words like “Google” “Youtube” and “Tweeting” becoming verbs, simply logging on isn’t a big deal. The realization of something like the internet being taken for granted is pretty profound if you think about the hundreds of millions, or billions, of people who use it daily. “E-mail” and “screen names” are not obsolete, yet, but they aren’t the go-to choices for communication for many people.
What does this spell for the future of communication? Something as revolutionary as the internet is now an expected luxury, more of a right instead of a privilege. This isn’t meant to preach any morals or points of views specifically, it is just an observation of how fast our world has progressed even in the new millennium. It’s astounding how quickly societies can evolve, and its a great testament to human willpower and ingenuity don’t you think?
Ask yourself this and I bet you can’t remember: When was the last time you went even one week without being on the internet? Post your answer in the comments.