Seriously, Google?

Oh, the joy of the colourful semantic do-dahs…! But erm… no results.

DuckDuckGo results. Telling Google Images to quack off…

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Listen Notes: the podcast search we’ve been waiting for

Listen Notes is new and appears to be the podcast search-engine we’ve all been waiting for. At long last. Plus, it’s a very pleasing service. Fast, comprehensive, and simple to use, if in need of a few hours of graphical and UI polishing. This is what it looks like for me (I immediately perma-blocked its row of distracting examples of ‘most searched for’).

There’s a date-order filter. It’s not yet perfect in its search handling, though. For instance, search for:

“West Midlands”

… and then for

“West Midlands” -BBC

No results at all for the latter search, despite the first set of results containing a number of non-BBC podcasts related to the West Midlands. Curious. Nor does it knock out unwanted results using NOT, which some sites such as 3D Warehouse use. Given the overbearing online verbosity of the BBC, it seems a pity they can’t be excluded from results in favour of a wider variety of grassroots podcasts. As far as I can tell it’s impossible to modify results by excluding some keywords. If that’s down to a server workload problem, it seems a pity that a half-dozen exceptions can’t be offered, such as -BBC -NPR etc.

There’s also a very comprehensive and seemingly unbiased Directory with categories which, with a little drilling, gets you to sub-categories like History podcasts. Navigating the Directory is rather haphazard at present, but the another option is to Google thus…

site:www.listennotes.com/directory/ wildlife

… which in this case will quickly indicate that you’ll need to browse the directory pages to the Local | Outdoor | and Government categories, and that you’ll be wasting your time looking for any mention of the word “wildlife” in Natural Sciences podcasts.

There’s no keyword-based date-order search results to be had by RSS, which would work as a form of alerts service, but it’s good to see that each podcast’s own RSS feed is prominent on each show’s profile card.

Interestingly, there’s an offer: “Buy podcast database for $1000 flat fee”. It looks as though it’s actually worth the price, though given the lifespan of podcasts you’d then have to do some serious ongoing work to maintain and repair it.

On the Grid

National Grid Reference Redirect is a simple free service that takes your UK Ordnance Survey Grid Reference map location number, and then whisks you to the equivalent string of geo-coordinates on the large public mapping services such as Google Maps. Sadly it doesn’t yet work with the excellent OS-based footpathmaps.com or the historic maps.nls.uk.

Usage: make sure you use the six-number format, e.g. SJ882359. If you have a more precise eight number OS Grid Reference — such as SJ882?359? — then you’ll need to lop off the last ‘?’ number in each block of four, and then cross-reference with the same spot in the OS-based footpathmaps.com and maps.nls.uk to work out the precise spot.

We could really use a Web browser plugin that streamlines all this, and intelligently discriminates between six and eight OS digit map references. Or the big mapping services could just start being able to handle OS map references.

Nope, you can’t go there…

The Firefox Web browser’s ever-increasing security nannying is starting to become very annoying. It’s now currently refusing any connection whatsoever to Google Scholar…

No option to say “sod off and let me continue, you stupid bot.” This has happened too many times, recently, with other mainstream sites.

Firefox has an ‘abandon or keep’ fork-point coming up with version 57, when it will start point-blank refusing to run add-ons it deems ‘insecure’. With their officious nannying the makers of Firefox are risking an exodus to the Opera or some other browser, it seems to me. Security I control and can turn off is one thing, but handing it over to some always-on uber-bot is quite another.

On the slide – how to block Google’s “More Info” slide-out panel

Are you regularly annoyed by Google Search’s spammy slide-in panel labelled “More Info”? It’s also known as the “Local Info” or “Info Panel” among marketeers.

I have no use for it whatsoever, and it’s just another whizzy and distinctly spammy distraction from proper search. It tends to appear when doing local searches, but I’m almost never searching for an eatery / hotel / venue ‘to book’. Instead I’m looking for pages that give long-range advance details about forthcoming events, such as conferences, events which are set to happen locally over the coming months or even into next year. So I can feed them through into special-interest local Facebook groups. In which case Google’s panel becomes yet another annoying example of dumb auto-suggest getting it wrong.

How to block it? In AdBlock Plus, with the Element Hiding Helper installed, this slide-in panel can be blocked for Google Search UK with…

 google.co.uk###rhs.slideout

Presumably

 google.com###rhs.slideout

… etc, would also work.

Zazzled

It appears that Bing Images is including paid-for? Zazzle ad-results in Image Search results, and refusing access to all results if one tries to remove the offending Zazzle crapware with a -zazzle search operator…

Search Bing Images for: “postcard” “stoke-on-trent” “realphoto” …

The Zazzle ad-results are the two naff pictures with brightly coloured hearts.

Search Bing Images for: “postcard” “stoke-on-trent” “realphoto” -zazzle …

Jay Kay Klein archive

The Jay Kay Klein archive has just released nearly 6,000 vintage photographs of U.S. science fiction fandom. Mostly it appears to be convention room-parties, panels/auctions in progress, and author signings with the head turned down – but there are more than a few gems in there. For instance, here’s Ray Bradbury with young artists from Oakland at BayCon in 1968, holding a lizard-man head made by Philip Tippett. Phil — as he was later known — went on to work on the first Star Wars films and lead the animation team at Industrial Light and Magic.