Thursday, June 5, 2014

Comment on SRS Challenges (UC system and "Daughter of Rula Lenska")

ONE of the fascinating things about writing these Challenges is how hard it is to determine when a question is going to be difficult.  I'd figured this "UC system" Challenge to be about 0.8 (out of 1)--hard, but not crazy-hard.  

I think that's because I know one tool that nobody has thought of yet; once you know the tool, the task is pretty simple.  

You're all on the right track--using the site: operator is the right idea; the question is, how can you do many such site: operations all at once?  Searching for an aggregate domain (something like would be great, but I'll tell you that no such superdomain exists.  (If it had, you would have found it by now.)  

You could do a query like:  

     [ coral seminar June 2014 OR OR    ] 

but that's pretty unwieldy.  

Hint:  Maybe the right question to ask yourself is this--Can I find a tool that will help me search over a set of web resources all at once?  

What would such a tool be?  Can you find it?  What might it be called?  

Once you figure out what tool to use, the questions will be answered fairly quickly.  

Keep searching!!  

Dan diving in the Bahamas with sharks. The one in front of me is an 8 foot long black-tipped reef shark.
Makes you realize that in some parts of the world you are NOT at the apex of the food chain.

Rula Lenska's Daughter... 

Several people have asked for more detail about finding Rula Lenska's daughter.  

I think Rosemary got in right (in the comments) when she pointed out that... 
"we have the daughter of a famous actress who seems to be living quite a ordinary life, it wasn't difficult to find the photos mentioned here already. However she is overshadowed by her parents & probably quite deliberately, therefore she doesn't have a huge presence on the internet. When searching for an average person we can use social networks and perhaps photos that have been tagged. We can search for hits by location, interests, work, and family. My take-away for this part of the challenge wasn't finding photos of her but realizing there are limitations based on a person's preference to be seen or not." 
In truth, I have no idea if she wants to be relatively anonymous or not, but I was a bit too glib when I said "it's easy to find pictures of her online."  

I did a version of Jon (the Unknown)'s query:  

     [ "brian deacon" AROUND (9) "lara deacon" ] 

(Jon, FWIW, that's the approved version of your "NEAR" operator.  The number in parens is the "radius" of words to search around.)  

And I also found the family newsletter, which has a lovely wedding-day photo.  Then, an image search for her married name: 

     [ "lara deacon parker" ]  

which got me to her Rummikub photo (seems to be post-wedding, but clearly the same guy as in the wedding image).  

As others pointed out, there are a lot of "Lara Parker" and "Lara Deacon" images--almost none of which are the correct Lara Deacon Parker.  (Lara Deacon is a well-known actress, while Lara Parker is a relatively frequent name.)  In all these cases, you have to find the right Lara Deacon Parker and visually confirm that it's the same person.  

Search... and verify! 


  1. Okay I have been trying something else I haven't done before. Perhaps someone here has and can get us to the finish line. I thought what we might need is to construct a Custom Search Engine. I have given it a go but results haven't panned out yet. If you're a wiz a making CSE's you may want to give it a go as well. We can do this. Any other ideas?

    1. Rosemary you are amazing! After reading Dan's answer you were on the right track. Anne and I didn't even think of this!

  2. Here’s what I did with Custom Search Engine.

    Go to Google’s Custom Search Engine webpage to setup.

    Enter each school as and in fact you can do this in one step

    Create a name “University of California Challenge”

    To the right enter Seminar “coral” June 2014

    And you get all the schools and I got 77 results immediately.
    Here’s a link to my CSE if it will link showing the results.


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  4. Rosemary you and I were thinking alike. I tried looking for a metasearch across the campuses. Dove into their library system thinking for sure they would have an index or something. Nada.

    Headed over to Google Custom Search and put in the 10 campuses. I put them in as *, etc. to hopefully get all of the domains.

    Search across the parts of UC

    Still have not found a seminar though.

    1. Fred your CSE does give seminar results is you use [seminars "coral" June 2014] and go down to “Passport | Global and International Studies Program - UC Santa …”. It links you to
      the seminar already mentioned “ Ocean Apocalypse Now - BREN Community Colloquium
      Monday, June 2 / 11:30-12:30 / Bren Hall by Jeremy Jackson

    2. Fred my CSE is giving different results. Yours works but mine is not even though I am using the same keywords exactly. [seminars "coral" June 2014]. Can you post a link to your setup for CSE so I can figure out what's different? Thanks.

    3. I figured it out. I needed to abbreviate Santa Barbara, San Diego, and San Francisco etc. to link to their sites. I used full names with no space but that didn't work. Do you think we are there yet?

    4. I can add editors. Added you Rosemary. If anyone else wants into it, email me.

    5. Fred, I also added you (I think I did) as an editor to my own CSE. I couldn't find a way to add Rosemary. Anyway, I think everyone has done the same CSE now. I just used and so on as websites to search, since that's equivalent to **, as mentioned on the URL patterns Help page.

  5. Hello Dr. Russell, RoseMary, Fred and everyone.
    I was thinking about an aggregator. Maybe the answer is not this but I'd love to know if is possible to search Google as an aggregator other than with Custom Search Engine.

    Also thought about using operator link: . As you say, Fred, Nada. I thought that all campuses should link to University of California.

    Finally, one question. If I want to search for something between June 1 and June 12, which query is the correct?
    A. [ June 1..June 12 my question]
    B. ["June 1".."June 12" my question]

    Thank you.

    1. I'll be watching for an answer to this. I used [ "June * 2014" my question ]. What I'm curious about is what if it on the page as 6/4/2014? Will those results show up in either of Ramón's queries or in mine?

    2. Good question Ramón. When we have the Date filter to use via the “Search Tool” in the Google search box and/or we can do an ‘advanced search’ we have the ability to specify date ranges. But when we don't have this available we need a tool within the search box, at least that's what I think. I needed this in my Custom Search Engine because I can't see any method of adding a date range except in the search box. Now I did as you did Ramon and using a date range. I don’t know if we can get good results using daterange:”june1-7 2014” I tried the Julian calendar in my CSE {daterange:<2456810.2731>-<2456819.27391>} but something is wrong. I did that because the search box doesn’t have any advanced search capabilities so I have to do it in the search box.

      I think we are on the right track. I still like the idea of a CSE but perhaps daterange and/or sort filters can do the trick. I’ll keep trying.

    3. My calendar converted add 5 numbers to the right of the decimal point which I do not believe is required. Still working on the operators daterange & sort. Perhaps in conjunction with CSE or may not be necessary. I am definitely curious.

    4. Ramon I tested the Julian calendar June 1-June 10 2014 daterange:2456810-2456819 "university of california" and it worked exactly the same as using the Search Tool beside the Search box i.e. "any time" custom date range. So I would say if you need to use the date range in a search box this may be how to do it.

  6. I would one more comment on Lara Deacon Parker in the Wikipedia article "Rula Lenska" which has her name used incorrectly. Did anyone else notice via "TALK" the article is rated Start Level ? You pointed out TALK awhile back, which I had never noticed, since then I always hit TALK as well as the article. Knowing it was of low quality that got me trying different name combinations.


    1. Thanks for mentioning levels on Wikipedia articles. I hadn't noticed that, although I sometimes contribute as a minor editor. By the way, I edited the article in order to correct her married name.

  7. I have tried the CSE approach, thanks to Rosemary's suggestion. I had never tried it and didn't remember it existed. After I have found the UC schools (parts) the same way Fred did, I created a CSE including all of them: (btw, Rosemary, the link you provided to your CSE is not working for some reason).

    I also used a funny poster I had been sent some weeks ago (What to call your academic event in order to find talk / seminar synonyms.

    Then I did my search but even with all those synonyms I couldn't find anything but the June 10 seminar already mentioned, which is out of the date range. I tried ordering results by date but that doesn't seem to be very useful because dates seem to be sticky even if a page gets updated, or change when indexed again.

    After I read jon the Unknown's answer, I was desperate and did a search on my CSE that couldn't fail, [ coral jackson colloquium inurl:bren june * 2014 ], just to check if the CSE was working. Well, it failed. The only result is Dr. Benjamin's Halpern curriculum vitae.

    My final disheartened answer: I can't find a good way to find the seminar others have found.

  8. Luis I checked my links & they seem to be working now. Anyone else? Earlier I hadn't made my CSE "url" public so perhaps that's why but that's fixed. I've also been experimenting with my CSE as well which may be at the same time you were trying to access it. Nevertheless I have opened your CSE and using the query [jeremy jackson "coral" June 2014] the second result is what you are looking for.

    In regards to sharing/ adding editors to your CSE I have been added to Fred's which was confirmed by email (thanks Fred).I am assuming the only way to add an editor is by email, correct? I need to get other "core" contributors email addresses.

    I still feel the CSE can be fine-tuned with the use of operators since the advanced search features don't seem to be available. At this stage perhaps Dr. Dan will be able to pull it altogether for us. Fun challenge.

    1. Apparently, the operator shortcut * instead of NEAR or the official AROUND (9) doesn't always work. I like short (that's why I use the pipeline | instead of OR) but I guess I will stick to AROUND (n). That, however, was not the reason for my mentioned search fail. It's only a guess but I imagine that that part of the page wasn't indexed.

      Rosemary, your search doesn't lead to the Bren School page I was trying to refind. The second result you mention is a page on Passport ("Weekly Guide to International Events at UCSB") no one had found out yet, as far as know. That page does mention the talk in question and points to that Bren page.

      Now for a quirkiness not that unusual to find when googling. The very simple search [ coral seminar june 2014 ] on my CSE doesn't show that result on the first page (it's the 12th result). The search [ coral colloquium june 2014 ], on the other hand, gives the wanted link as the 2nd result (on the first page). What's funny is that the snippet shows a highlighted "seminar" and the Passport page doesn't contain the word "colloquium". The page it's trying to find, though, has colloquium but no seminar.

      Rosemary, I believe I am now following you on Google Plus. I made my contact information available to you. Also, if you follow me back (I don't even know if this is needed), you may message me on Hangouts.

      On a last side note, I finally understood why my links didn't show up on my recent posts. Somehow, my brain stopped and I wrote "a html" instead of "a href".

    2. Luis sometimes simple works. If you want to go directly to Bren then using query [coral jackson seminar inurl:www.bren june 2014] and click on Events Page. No need to add more operators than are absolutely required. Using seminar OR colloquium resolves the results issue.

    3. Luis - The * operator is a word(s) match function. So [ Jerry * Brown ] will match "Jerry E. Brown" and other variations like that. It's not EXACTLY a "near" operator. AROUND (n) always works.

      WRT quirkiness, I suspect it's a localized Google effect that's giving variant results. You're in a different country (correct?), so your results are actually coming from a different Google index than the one used in the US.

      Rosemary's right: Simple is good. Usually preferable. ;-)

  9. My experience with CSE:

    Friday morning I had never heard of CSE

    Saturday evening I made 2 of them - and they work as advertised.

    Thanks for this