Teen creates an app that promises a better way to search the web.

Man, I wish I was this smart when I was younger.

Actually, I wish I was this smart now.

A 16 year-old created an iOS app that seems to be a viable alternative to Google. Instead of relying on often useless keywords, it uses an algorithm that seems to mimic how humans would summarize text in order to come up with results that display the more important and relevant bits of information the user needs.

I liken the concept of Summly to CliffsNotes, but for the web. And, indeed, D’Aloisio sees his tool becoming highly useful for kids working on homework, as well as for general web searching.

“I think, fundamentally, there is a real need for this on a mobile device, when you’re short for time,” D’Aloisio says.

When you search for a topic using the app, it compiles results from different search engines, so you’ll notice it doesn’t deliver the same results as a Google search, or even a Bing search. You’ll also notice that typical results like Wikipedia articles and dictionary definitions don’t show up in the listing; the search function generally appears to be limited to actual news articles relating to the subject you type in. However, you can also type in a URL if you have a specific text-heavy web page you’d like summarized.

What with websites employing SEO to ensure higher search engine rankings, using Google now could become a chore of filtering out irrelevant results.

Let’s just hope that the app works better than Siri’s embarassing abortion fiasco. And here’s crossing fingers that this app will be available in other platforms soon.

Teen’s iOS App Uses Complex Algorithms to Summarize the Web
Siri’s abortion glitch critics still waiting for a fix

A cow-based economics lesson.


Sam Aminisam of TechDust posted this clever summary of economic models based on cows.

A Cow-based Economics Lesson

You have 2 cows.
You give one to your neighbor.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and gives you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and sells you some milk.

You have 2 cows.
The State takes both and shoots you.

Continue reading “A cow-based economics lesson.”

This is the start of another Internet game addiction.

The game City of Wonder is not loading in Google+ and it’s pissing me off. I’ve recently got hooked to the game and I’ve been taking some effort in designing my city, complete with a little isle surrounded by a lopped river. It’s cute; the isle even has the Fountain of Life in it.

Of course I can’t get a screeshot now because the blasted game won’t load. I’ve already restarted the computer several times; but everytime I try to access the game, it only loads until 99% and stays there indefinitely.

Finally, I thought, screw this , and stood up to get a glass of water.

And then I remembered Bern’s mom is dropping by the apartment to see her sick son. So I tidied up the house, sweeped the floor and tidied up the bathroom. Especially the bathroom. From my experience, mothers often react violently to dirty bathrooms (not that ours are, even on most days).

I can’t really understand the bathroom obsession; I’d be more keen on checking out the cleanliness of the fridge, the kitchen and the trash bin, really, but most people judge the state of a house’s sanitation based on the bathroom.

And after I’ve done those, I went back to the computer to load City of Wonders and again and it’s still hanging at 99%. Motherfucker.

Bern came out of our bedroom (now that’s a room that needs a lot of cleaning up in our flat) from his nap and saw me seated in the living room, zombie-like.

“I cleaned the bathroom,” I told him. “And this game is still not loading.”

Bern told me of a friend of his who was also obsessing over an Internet game. The guy would not pay them attention if he’s in the middle of a game. One time, while Bern was staying at that friend’s place, the internet connection went down. Said friend went out of his room, headed straight to the bathroom, and cleaned it. While still not paying attention to his visitors.

“It seems,” Bern concluded, “it was only that that could move him away from his chair.”

…and the game is still stuck. Motherfucker.

Interwebs chismis: Random links from Google+.

Despite the issues that have been coming out of Google+ as of late (such as the mandatory banning of NSFW material and its insistence on using one’s “real” name), I’ve been enjoying checking my G+ feed.

It’s true that part of it was because other blogs and social networks is no longer accessible at work (not that I’d make too much of an issue about that).

It’s also true that, so far, my general Stream is not yet populated by inane posts from games, Foursquare, or one/two-word status updates from people telling the world they’re bored or busy, or what day of the week it is.

And once the throng from Facebook start invading Google+, I could still easily shove them away by placing them in an appropriate “Not Worth Reading” Circle.

Here are two interesting links recently shared by friends:

The University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication issued a statement to President Aquino on the first year of his presidency:

End Human Rights Violations; Stop the Killing of Journalists!

‘Mr. Aquino was elected on a promise to end poverty by ending corruption. But in the first months of his term he also pledged an end to human rights violations and the killing of journalists, while assuring the press community that, unlike his predecessor, he would defend press freedom rather than undermine it.

‘But a scant month and a half in office, in August 2010, in apparent ignorance of the self-regulatory regime in the media, Mr. Aquino threatened to file criminal charges against some of the journalists who were in violation of the ethics of their profession during the coverage of the August 23 hostage taking incident, while refusing to take any action against his friends in government who were primarily responsible for its bloody conclusion. In the ensuing months Mr. Aquino kept up his criticism of the press, accusing them at one point of irresponsible behavior, while, in a call reminiscent of Joseph Estrada, he urged the business community to advertise only in “responsible” media organizations.’

Last night at the apartment, Leo suddenly said, “Today is Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, no?”

I was answering Bern’s text message while facing Markee, who was watching a DVD in Leo’s laptop. Both of us looked at each other after three beats and answered Leo: “So?”

I’m ashamed to say we’ve become politically apathetic.

Fact still remains that the Philippines is currently the third most dangerous country in the world for Journalists. While working in Manila is usually okay; but provincial journalists (who are outside the rather glamorous image of TV news anchors, and are actually working to bring about the news that are ignored or glossed over by the bigger media networks) are always at risk of getting killed by political enemies.

At this point I am abruptly changing my topic.

Tobie shared an entertaining blog post from Joe Mulvey about his attempt to engage a colleague to read comics despite said colleague’s indifference towards the medium:

What do you REALLY know about comics? The Great Debate

JoeMulvey: So I do this kind of online experiment where I get people who don’t read comics, to read comics. I interview them before and after they read the books and see if their perceptions about comics have changed at all. Would you be interested?

Dennis: Hmmmmm. Why?

JoeMulvey: Sorry?

Dennis: Why should I do it?

JoeMulvey: HA! Wow, to be honest, no one’s ever asked me that before.

Dennis: Really?

JoeMulvey: Yeah. I either get a yes or a no. You’re the first one to just ask why. I mean, do you want to hear my pitch for reading comics?

Dennis: Sure.

JoeMulvey: Ok. Well, honestly, comic books and comic book properties are a pretty big resource in other types of media right now. Millions of people are willing to see the movies, watch the TV shows or play the games but they don’t seem willing to give the actual books a chance. Which is why I’m doing this. I don’t know your personal thoughts on comics, but the most common perception I run into when it comes to them is that they’re for kids. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I often compare comics to television. Where as TV DOES have programming for children, it also has programming for adults. Someone wouldn’t throw on the TV and see Spongebob and then walk away from the TV forever, designating it as a thing just for kids. You realize that that specific bit of programming isn’t for you and you search out one that is. It’s the same for comics. Superman, Richie Rich or the Flash might not be for you but there are a TON of other books out there that are. You just need to find the right channel for yourself. Because right now there is no other entertainment medium that is as innovative, exciting and diverse as what you’ll find in the world of comics. And it’s time people stopped missing out.

Dennis: Ok. I’m interested.

JoeMulvey: So you’ll do it?

Dennis: Well, here’s my thing. I get your point and I’m sure you have your opinions on it, but if comics are this great resource for entertainment and everyones making comics into something else, why is it that I’ve heard of or seen the other things but not even heard of the books? You get my point? How good can they really be?

JoeMulvey: Well they’re obviously good enough resources to make other things off of. But I get your point and that’s the problem. I mean there are tons of movies that I’m sure you’d have no idea were based on comics. A History of Violence and Road to Perdition. Hell, The Dark Knight is one of the highest grossing films of all time and Heath Ledger won an Oscar. The material can’t be completely for kids.

Dennis: Yeah but that’s exactly what I mean, in other mediums it can work, maybe just not comics.

JoeMulvey: Yeah but you’re saying maybe, because you haven’t read the books and seen the quality of storytelling that they have. That’s why we could have this discussion before and after you read the books, IF you do the interview.

Dennis: I just find it really hard to believe any great medium is completely hidden or some great secret treasure. If comics were as good as you think they are, more people would know about them. No?

I agree with the commenters that Dennis made some valid points (so he wasn’t being a complete douche; at least, initially). But there’s really no hope of winning over someone who had already made up their mind about something.

If I could have my way about it, I will likely end up spending the entire day online, reading. But mundane existence beckons (and I never forget to count myself lucky how I could talk about stuff I read in the Interwebs because that in itself is a privilege available only to maybe 20% of the world’s population).

My tummy is growling. It’s time for breakfast.

The ‘Webs and all them haters.

Technology writer Mike Elgan posted a short essay in Google+ on the comment culture of various social networking sites, particularly the emerging culture in Google+:

Comment culture is determined partly by the structure of the network, and partly by the prevailing demographic. But it’s also determined, in part, by deliberate effort on the part of the community.

So far, the general commenting “vibe” on Google+ has been awesome. But this could change, as the community grows. It’s up to us pioneers to set the tone, and shape the culture.

I believe the key is how we all handle criticism, which is an under-appreciated skill, in my opinion.

Elgan raised several good points on harsh or negative criticism and how one could handle them:

When someone criticizes you or something you care about publicly online, ask yourself: Is the comment disrespectful in some way? Is it a personal attack, rather than a disagreement with an idea? If so, you may be tempted to 1) attack the person back; or 2) defend yourself.

But most of the time, the best way to deal with disrespectful posts is to ignore them. By responding to them, you may bring a lot more attention to them, which in fact may be what the critic is after in the first place. By responding to respectful comments, and ignoring disrespectful ones, you can drown the bad ones in a river of constructive and interesting conversation.

Respectful disagreement is another matter. If someone strongly disagrees with your idea, or comment, without attacking you personally or being nasty about it, it’s a good idea to respectfully engage in a debate about the ideas in question. Or not. It’s your choice.

I’m a big believer in acknowledging good argumentation and valid points, as well as admitting when I was wrong — which is often. It’s easy to be embarrassed by being proved wrong in public, but I’ve found that people respect you more if you admit it rather than trying to win the argument by refusing to admit it.

Here’s my most surprising bit of advice: When someone disrespects you in private — say, a note that’s private to just you on Google+ or Gmail — the best response is a respectful reply. I’d say 90% of the hate mail I’ve responded to respectfully and without negativity caused a 180 on the part of the hate mailer.

The items he outlined could apply to any online forum and could be a reference to basic communications class. What with how how everyone seems to be eager to join in the pervasive social media, many people seem to forget how to act like decent, respectful people, instead degenerating into hordes of Internet trolls.

Read the rest of his post here.