Monday, December 31, 2007

Ice skating is fun

Especially if you can do it without falling !! Unfortunately, not falling even once doesn't go well with others, more so, if they keep falling all the time :)

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Observations at work

Some observations I have made in the past few months while working as a GA at the library:

1. Patrons, especially students, prefer dropping the books in the "Book Return" box rather than handing them over to a real person when the books are late / overdue. They also don't like admitting / asking for help if they have forgotten their account passwords - even if it means they have to come to the library every 2 weeks to renew their books.

2. While using the online catalog to place holds / request books, patrons tend to request several books simultaneously, i.e., they don't visit the library catalog everyday but when they do, they place requests in bulk. They pick up books in bulk too.

3. Not everyone wants to ask for help when they have misplaced / lost something - even if it is valuable but replaceable !!

My inferences: It is always better to ask the students if they know (and inform them anyways) about available resources. Many of them are probably too shy to ask for help. Of course, greeting them with a "Hello" and smile helps !!

Having met quite a number of students (under-graduate and graduate), I would give myself a overall "B+" or an "A-" when it comes to how well-informed I was about the Engineering library resources and how well I utilized them. Of course, after having started working here, (I would like to believe that) my grades have improved to an "A" :)
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wassup Google?

I use Google a lot. And I have also read many recent articles that have criticized its search results and how several other search engines produce better results. I think I have stumbled on something (from my own website) that supports these claims.

Now, most of my web pages are static. I don't update a lot of content in my site apart from my blogs, and even those aren't updated that frequently (50 posts in 2 years!!). I have had my website for few years now, so I guess it is alright for Google to give my pages a good ranking.

However, I have noticed that Google returns my blog pages (in the top 15 results!!) for a lot many keyword combinations that actually have little relevance to my blog posts except that those words are in there in the text.

Examples - Keywords & Google Results*:
"flight from cincinnati to mumbai" - 2nd result
"delta jfk to mumbai flight, laptop" - 5th result
"i hate my classmate" - 3rd result
"rights of ration card holders" - 10th result
"Five Point Someone + online reading" - 15th result

And these aren't some random examples. These are search terms that were REALLY used by some users who were directed to my site via Google. (I got that from the referring url info.)

If you take a look at my posts that were retrieved by Google (just click on the links above), you will agree that most of my posts had no relevance to the search target. I mean, why would someone who searches "flight from cincinnati to mumbai" in Google be interested in my post about the problems I once had during my travel from mumbai to cincinnati. Isn't he more likely looking for purchasing tickets for a cincinnati - mumbai flight? Im sure that there is no arguing on the issue that the users weren't looking for my posts because... well, they visited my site for 0:00 secs - that confirms it, right? I am pretty sure there are 1000s of sites (if not more) with better relevance to these search terms than mine. And what bugs me most is that these relevant pages are ranked so low that they go completely missed. I certainly wouldn't want that happening to me when I google something.

This raises a lot of interesting questions.

Is this some basic flaw in the page ranking algorithm? Or is it just another temporary thing that Google will be fixing by the time you read this post? (I am not sure about this being a temporary thing though, since about a month back, googling "pulp fiction dream wallpaper" returned this post as the first result and even now, it is the 3rd result !!)

This doesn't seem to be the case with Ask or other search engines. Try "flight from cincinnati to mumbai" in - the results are a lot saner. Since only blogger pages seem to come on top in these Google results, is Google is giving undue importance to Blogger? If so, does it mean that if you have a website with a good page ranking, you can create a blog (in Blogger), add posts with titles on popular search terms and have your blog posts return in the top 10 - 15 results?

I am sure that would have some serious implications, especially if you have ads on your blog!! May be I should subscribe to Google adSense :)

Is Google listening?

*Note: Google results for the keywords as of Dec 16, 2007, 12:06PM EST.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Blue Umbrella

After waiting long enough, finally, I managed to see the movie recently and it didn't disappoint a bit. One of the best children's movies I have seen lately although classifying it as a movie for kids would be really unfair unless you would do the same to a "Ratatouille" or a "Finding Nemo".

A certain must see.
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