Exalead support and new demo

I did some tweaks to the site definitions to include Exalead, the European search engine that includes some neat features such as looking at recently-changed pages only. This also meant adding some more smarts to my routine to convert relative links into absolute ones, which is a surprisingly tough problem.

I also noticed that some Google links were showing up in the ad section of the Ask results, which surprised me, but I added them to the ‘ad-catcher’ list of sites not to check with Ask.

There’s a new demo video up too, and a new screenshot on the front page. I’ve added the site to StumbleUpon and ProgrammableWeb, and seen quite a lot of traffic from StumbleUpon.

A lot of usability fixes


I’ve just uploaded version 0.5 of PeteSearch to the site and CVS. I’ve focused on polishing the UI, based on everyone’s feedback. Here’s the quick list of changes:

  • You can now turn the extension on and off by pressing control and ‘/’.
  • The magnifying class icon now closes the preview if you click it a second time.
  • Pressing shift and the left or right arrows moves through the results in split-screen.
  • There are now some buttons next to the lonely close button in the preview pane to do this too.
  • I also fixed a bug where gmail pages were being incorrectly recognized as google searches.

Keep the feedback rolling in, it’s been really helpful!

Added a close button, dug some drains

Due to overwhelming demand, I did a quick update to PeteSearch on Thursday night and added a button at the top of the split-screen preview to close it. I’ve got plans to offer a slightly more sophisticated toolbar at the top of the preview, but it seemed like a big usability problem so I wanted to get a fix in as soon as I could, and I’ll add the bells and whistles when I have a chance.

I’ve just had a great another great day out on the local trails, doing some work with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council. Check out this snake I met whilst leading a crew last weekend!

Luckily he (or she, not sure how to tell with snakes!) was unscathed by our tools, and slithered off into the bushes once we got him or her out of our way.

Today we worked on Zuma Canyon, in the middle of Malibu. I’d never been there before, we usually go to the closer, west end of the mountains, but it was really beautiful. I managed to put my pick to good use, building a few drains where the water was eroding the trail, and came home filthy but happy.

Public PeteSearch Launch

TreeOn Tuesday night, I found a way to work around the Firefox crash that was holding me back from doing a proper launch of PeteSearch (by switching to getElementByName() rather than getElementById() for the technically minded).

I started off by posting to the outer-court.com forum, once I heard back from the guys there that it all seemed to be working for them, I contacted John Battelle and Gary Price. They’ve both been very generous with their time, in Gary’s case despite just having just got married on Sunday, and being about to head on his honeymoon! Congratulations Gary!

That lead to a lot of traffic, and some more blog mentions, notably from Pete Prestino, and a couple of French sites, Brainsfeed and NetWizz

It was really nice to see other people as excited about the idea behind PeteSearch as I am. I’m convinced there’s a lot of ways to improve search interfaces, it’s good to see people are looking for something better than the current passive page full of links.

What was really helpful were all the ideas for improving PeteSearch. Gary mentioned that the split-screen view was too hard to close, which I  plan on fixing with a button on a small bar at the top. I might add some other options there too, I’m reluctant to have a typical always-on toolbar since I don’t want to suck up users valuable screen real-estate, but a transient bar there seems a lot less annoying.

All-new PeteSearch

EyeI’ve just put up a new version of the PeteSearch Firefox plugin. Highlights include Technorati support, a better summary popup, control+equals will open all the results in new tabs, and the preview is now shown in a split-screen view rather than a popup window.

These improvements were inspired by some great feedback, including Ionut from Google Operating System and Phillipp from Google Blogoscoped, thanks for all your help!  One question that I’m planning to answer with a short video demo is why it second-guesses Google and checks all the pages in the results itself, but here’s a summary:

I’m a graphics researcher, so I have to do a lot of exotic queries. I got very frustrated one day after clicking on a bunch of results, and on each one waiting for it to load, only to discover that it didn’t have the term I was looking for, or the page didn’t exist at all. Computers are meant to speed up repetitive, time-consuming work like that, so I decided to write a tool to automate the process I was going through.

Here’s an example of a query that has a lot of bad results:

And here’s the top ten results I get:

customizing mozilla
regexp term missing

Mozilla Firefox 1.5 files and source code
Exists, and has all the terms

Gives a 404 error when clicked on

mozilla-devel-1.6-12.5.100mdk.ia64 RPM
Gives a 404 error when clicked on

seamonkey-debug-1.1.1-2mdv2007.1.i586 RPM
Gives a 404 error when clicked on

r976 – in changes/jat/mozilla1.7.13/tools/sdk/mozilla-1.7.13 …
Exists, and has all the terms

Ž­è @ d – ¨ I \ ( ] Œ ^ ß BD < , Y Ä ,$ , : G > d ã † Ž ˜ y Ô Ó h …
All terms found –

/usr/share/comps/sparc/.discinfo /usr/share/comps/sparc/comps.xml …
Exists, but doesn’t contain either of the terms

libPropList-devel-0.10.1-371.i586.rpm …
Exists, and has both terms

bin/cat utils/coreutils bin/chgrp utils/coreutils bin/chmod utils …
Exists, and has both terms

So four out of the top ten results are bad, and without PeteSearch I’d have to waste time clicking on them, waiting for them to load or fail, and then search through for the terms I wanted. With my extension, I can focus on the good results.

If you are doing a lot of complex or obscure searches, you should try PeteSearch, it’s designed to save you time.