Thursday, December 27, 2012

Answer (Dec 26, 2012): Where is this?

Quick answer:  This flowery crest is in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and is taken from the Belvédère (a very nice restaurant where I had dinner), and is located at 51° 50' 51.97" N 5° 52' 21.95" E.
Well… you should know by now that Search-by-Image doesn’t always work.  In this case, since it was a picture I’d taken (and NOT posted anywhere), it was pretty unlikely to match in a Search-by-Image attempt.  Still, since that’s such a quick thing to do, it’s a worthwhile first attempt. 

Since SBI didn’t work out, the next thing you might try could be

["coat of arms" garden flowers]

and then filter by the color orange.  However, that doesn’t work well because there’s too little orange in this images.  There’s also no guarantee that they plant the same color flowers from year-to-year.  

Filter by orange... too limiting... 

There IS LOTS of green, though, and that’s going to be constant from year-to-year.  So let’s filter by that color.  If you do an Image search with

["coat of arms" garden flowers]

and then filter by the color green to find a nice image ( Flickr image ) in the 8th row of images.  Note that the Flickr photo gives the location as Nijmegen.  (This picture also shows the Latin name of the city: “Noviomagus,” which if searched-for leads you back to Nijmegen.) 

It's pretty simple to use to jump to Nijmegen, Netherlands, then search in there for Belvedere (with or without the accents) and find the location:  

 And when you switch to satellite view, it's pretty obvious that this is the place: 

Other approaches:  If you just search for

[ coat of arms flowers ]

without any color filtering, there’s a decent picture of the floral display around row 20.  You just have to be persistent to find this image without filtering. 

Another thing you can do is to use the Photos layer in Google Maps to get higher quality photos that show you this really is the correct place.  
You can click on the Maps icon (upper right) and then select "Photos" to see images that are geo-located here from Panoramio.  

Search lessons: Several people reported finding this one quite difficult.  Almost everyone who put in the term “coat of arms” was able to find it without much trouble. But what if you don’t know that’s what it’s called?  Then you have to learn as you go… and pick up likely looking search terms as you work through similar images.  

Have a great end-of-year celebration!  See you in 2013. 

Searching onward! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Search Challenge (Dec 26, 2012): Where is this?

It's just after Christmas, Festivus is done, Hanukkah is gone, but today IS Boxing Day!  So let's have a challenge that is fun, simple, and maybe a little rewarding.  

Today--just a single question: 

      Where was this photo taken?  

Click on the picture to get the high-res version.
The best answer would not only include the name of the city where this display is located, but also HOW you figured it out.  

And let us know how long it took you to figure it out!  

Happy Holidays.  

Search on! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

1MM #5: What does all that bold text mean?

A class or two ago, one of my students asked "What does all that bold text on the results page mean?" 

I realized that it was obvious to me, but not necessarily obvious to everyone else.  So I made this short 1MM to answer that question.  

The answer is this:  It's the search terms you used... or their synonyms.  

Here's a quick demo for you. Hope you enjoy it.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Answer: Looking for just the right person?

Quick answer:  It's a RED couch.   
Red couch

Some times it helps to understand the structure of an information resource.  In particular, the internal structure of URLs is sometimes handy for searching out particular pieces of information.

In this case, the challenge was to find someone whose G+ profile has his LinkedIn, Twitter and Pintrest URLs in it.  Let’s start with this part first (we’ll worry about the furniture in a second.) 

To solve this one you can search for

[ inurl:about pinterest ]

Why this query? 

First, I want to limit the query to search JUST G+ profiles.  So I want to site: limit my searches to just – that makes sense.  Next, I ALSO want to search in for all of the ABOUT pages.  If you look at a few G+ ABOUT pages, you’ll see they all have a URL that looks like this (this isn’t a real G+ url, just a model of one):

That is, they all have the word “about” as part of the URL. 

So, if we include the search filter  inurl:about that will return only G+ profile ABOUT pages. 

Now, we just add search terms and pintrest to the search, we’ll find only those profiles that also include all three of those social media sites.

If you go one step farther and change to (because you figure he’s living in or near Australia), then you’ll reduce the number of hits to 5.  It’s  a quick scanning problem now!

So you just scan the profiles that come up, and figure out it’s Phillip Drury, with an About page on Google+, that also lists his, and pintrest connections. 

If you follow his LinkedIn profile there’s a link to the company page:

A quick click, and you’ll see it’s a RED couch that’s on his company website.

Search lesson:  Normally for a person search I would have started broadly and narrowed it down as I went along.  But in this case, the criteria were SO specific (lives in/near Australia, 3 specific social media sites, G+ profile) that I could construct a pretty focused query. 

As I mentioned, sometimes knowing a little bit about how a site is constructed lets you create a specific filter for content that’s otherwise difficult to limit.  Keep that in mind when you’re trying to do deep searches within the interior of a website.

Search on! 

(Many thanks to Phillip Drury of Clemenger Tasmania for being our sought-out man in the antipodes!)  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Search Challenge (12/19/12): Looking for just the right person?

 People are often the most interesting (and often the most difficult) to find in web search.  It’s not hard to find just someone, but finding just the person you’re looking for often requires a bit of thought.   

Here’s a good question that sounds ridiculously difficult, but which is actually straightforward… if you know the right bit of search knowledge.  See if you can solve it. 

Question:  Find a person who lives on an island in or near Australia, and whose Google-plus profile lists his LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest profile URLs. 
Now, what color is the piece of furniture on his company’s website home page?
Be sure to let us know what your answer is (what color is the furniture?), how long it took you to solve it (it took me just under 1 minute), and most importantly for all of us here—HOW you solved it.  What method did you use? 

Search on!

(Many thanks for this challenge go to Irina Shamaeva – head of the Boolean Strings search firm; a sourcing company that does this kind research when searching for people to hire.)  

Friday, December 14, 2012

1MM #4: Search Google News Archives Fast!

There are many ways to search the Google News Archives, but this 1-Minute Morceau shows you probably the fastest way to search archival news.  

I've used this before, but I recently saw a demo of this at a recent "Google Apps For Education" (GAFE) event by Google Certified Teacher Mark Hammons.  (Thanks for the reminder Mark!) Here's Mark's screencast of a similar method.  

Search on! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Answer: What's the connection?

The short answer is that garum (a kind of fish sauce) was famously made in Pompeii, the city buried by the eruption in 69 AD by the volcano Vesuvius.  The liquid garum sauce was and packaged in amphora for shipment around the Mediterranean.  The major flavor of garum is called umami, a taste discovered and labeled by Japanese professor Kikunae Ikeda (池田 菊苗) in 1908. 

The backstory…

As I mentioned, I was in Barcelona a while back and while touring the Roman ruins there I learned about the method of producing garum, a very smelly process by which fish offal (all the blood, guts, scales, fins, etc.) were all dumped into a vat with plenty of salt and left to ferment in the warmth of the sun for many, many weeks. The liquid that was left after the fermentation was then drawn off the vats and placed into amphorae for distribution. 

This is a mosaic of a garum-filled amphora from the villa of Aulus Umbricius Scaurus, Pompeii.  The inscription reads: G(ari) F(los) SCAM(bri) SCAURI.  (Or, “Garum from Scambri Scaurus.” 
Photo by: Claus Ableiter, on Wikipedia

This sounded fairly disgusting to me until someone pointed out that this kind of fish sauce is actually a major component of things I know and love—Worchestershire sauce or Vietnamese fish sauce (aka nước chấm), both of which I have in my fridge.  Nothing changes your opinion so quickly as finding out that you actually LIKE it and have been eating it for years! 

Still, garum production facilities, such as those at Pompeii or the ones I visited in Barcelona, were kept outside the city walls and usually pretty close to the port (which was usually pretty smelly as-is). 

To solve the challenge:  As several readers pointed out, you COULD clip apart the composite image I made and do a search-by-image for each of the parts.  But you already know how to do that… so let's talk about a different approach. 

Another way to approach this would be to start with the one of the concepts that seems well-defined and work outward from there.  In this challenge, the idea of the “Mediterranean volcanic explosion” seems pretty well-defined, so lets start with:

[ volcanic explosion Mediterranean ]

and do a straightforward visual scan of the results from Image search.  That gave me a lot of dramatic images of red and orange explosions, so I limited the results to black and white to match the image in the banner above.  Once I did that, I quickly spotted that image in the results. That told me it was Vesuvius, and that made me suspect that Pompeii was involved.

My next search was to follow my hunch connect the volcano with Pompeii and with processed food:

[ Pompeii processed food ]

Which led me to a few articles on food processing, including "Food technology in the ancient urban context"  (by Robert Curtis, Department of Classics, U. Georgia).  This was my aha! moment.  Curtis describes the production of fish sauces in vats much like the ones in the photo above.  

So know I want to read about fish sauce in Pompeii. 

[ fish sauce Pompeii ]

then leads to lots of information about garum and other fish sauces: liquamen, allec, and muria.  Check out the Silk Road Gourmet for recipes on how to make your own garum and liquamen.  Careful:  do this far away from your house.

Reading around on this SERP jars very similar to those in the header, and indicated that the process was done outside of the city due to its smell.

Finally, I had to figure out the connection to the professor. I searched for:

 [garum professor ]

and spotted only one name that would be plausibly Japanese in the list.  Clicking through led me to learn about Professor Kikunae Ikeda.  He's the man who first scientifically identified umami as a distinct flavor in 1908.  (And, incidentally, got the world to think about MSG as a flavor enhancer.)  Umami is a loanword from Japanese (うま味) and can be translated "pleasant savory taste". The term is derived from umai (うまい) "delicious" and mi () "taste.”  It turns out that our tongue has receptors for L-glutamate, which is the reason you can taste the umami flavor.

And now, for the piece de resistance… Just on a lark I went looking for a modern recipe that uses garum (or the modern version) and found several.  But my favorite has to be spaghetti with grape tomatoes,garlic and garum  

I have to try this tonight! 

For those of you interested in all of this, it’s worth knowing that there is still an on-going debate about whether or not some garum produced in Pompeii was kosher or not.  (See: )

I have no opinion about this, and I’m not even going to try and dredge up Roman web-sites from 79AD to confirm or deny the rumor. 

Search lesson:  Start with what you can figure out (in this case, the volcano was easiest for me), and work outwards looking for the connections between the ideas.  You’ll often spot them as you scan the SERP looking for interlocks (as I did when I spotted the Japanese professor’s name and was able to track him back to umami and the flavor of garum). 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Search search challenge (12/12/12): What's the connection?

We think of highly processed foods as being a relatively recent phenomenon.  But you might be surprised.   Here’s a photo I took on a recent trip.  

This is a view of an ancient food production site somewhere in the Mediterranean, a place where byproducts were heavily processed into something that was pure yummy goodness.  This pic shows several vats side-by-side.  They're pretty big--maybe 6 feet across and 4 feet deep.  

When I first learned about this, I couldn’t believe it was real, the processing they used seemed to be unsanitary at best, and just weird at worst—but then I actually tasted some and… well, I now have some of this stuff in my fridge (although mine was made more recently).  

On the far left of the top picture is a container that this substance would have been shipped in.  Some places (especially one of those connected with the volcano shown above) were famous for making this stuff.  

Making this stuff was a pretty aromatic process.  Most of the production facilities would have been kept outside the city walls.  But it was such an unexpected and strange production process that I KNEW it had to become a Search Challenge. 

Today’s question (especially for you history buffs):

Q:  What is the connection between a huge & dramatic volcanic eruption in the Mediterranean,  this food-production facility, and the professor shown in the picture above? 

It’s a tasty question, sure to get you salivating! 

Search on!