Firefox extension face-off

Bumble Search

Firefox extension face-off

A new app, Bumble Search (www.bumblesearch.com), has the pun-ridden premise of “cross pollination” or, as developer Andy Mitchell put it to me, “indiscreetly stuffing one page inside another”. You might wonder why you’d want to do that. CustomizeGoogle lets you open a Google search in competing engines with a single click, but takes you away from Google to that new search page. With Bumble Search, says Andy, “Google doesn’t lose visitors to competing search engines”, as the results from the other site are integrated into the Google page. He also told me: “We will not strip adverts from websites. The duality principle is upheld that if we help one site we also help its competitor.”

Now, not only can you compare the two sets of results easily, but you can also compare any two sets of results easily with a single click. The new search IFrame that opens within the original window was, I first thought, rather crippled by being of a fixed, too small size that caused much horizontal and vertical scrolling. However, once you find its lower-right corner hotspot, you can resize it at will. The best is yet to come, though, because cross pollination comes into its own once you step away from Google. Looking to purchase a product at the cheapest price? Bumble Search can stick eBay inside Amazon, Froogle inside eBay, Amazon inside Google and so on. Finding the cheapest price suddenly becomes very easy, and Bumble Search doesn’t even take a slice of the transaction unless you toggle that option on (for Amazon only). Even then, it donates some of its cut to Mozilla and Wikipedia, the rest going to its own ongoing development fund.

If you don’t want to go shopping, Bumble Search will optionally, and very effectively, filter out the comparison engines using the simple keyword-filtering technique I’ve discussed on these pages before. But instead of having to set up your own filter or use a third-party service, it’s done straight from within your standard Google search through Firefox.

A sidebar that gives access to Google and MSN, with a capability to take notes about pages you find, left me cold, but it’s entirely optional, since Bumble Search just works whenever you use Firefox to search for anything. What I do like is the option to highlight keywords on pages reached from a search, in subtle pastel shades that are as inoffensive as they are effective.

However, the page keyword analyser engine is what really floats my boat. This approximates the algorithm Google is believed to use, granting priority to correctly marked-up semantics and hyperlinks, and human readable text. It’s one of the better tools to use when evaluating your own website as regards keyword placement, since it affects search engine results ranking. So Bumble Search is a search engine optimisation utility on top of all its other virtues. It’s British, it’s free, it’s open source, it’s effective and it doesn’t waste your time with unnecessary eye candy. That has to be worth supporting?

Getting the max from ADSL

I was discussing an ADSL tongue twister with a colleague recently. It involved signal-to-noise ratios, attenuation and data rates, and he was hopelessly muddled – and he’s not alone.

This problem usually starts when the time arrives for you to renew your ISP contract and you discover that ADSL Max has arrived at your exchange (as it will have done unless you’re connected to one of the unlucky 155 exchanges that didn’t get upgraded on 31 March). This is a rate-adaptive service – that is, one whose line rate depends on actual line conditions – and that makes predicting what sort of data rate to expect by upgrading to ADSL Max (assuming your ISP gives you the choice) far from easy. Go to an ISP availability checker, which will link to the BT checker, and you’ll get a report saying something like: “Our test indicates that your line should be able to support a potential ADSL Max broadband line rate of 3Mb/sec or greater.” If you’re unlucky, your ISP may interpret all Max-enabled exchanges simply as “a broadband line rate of up to 8Mb/sec”. Neither way is very helpful, which is where services such as www.dslzoneuk.net come in, but these require you to enter your attenuation and noise margin/signal-to-noise ratio figures in order to get more accurate estimates.

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