Madhav Kobal's Blog

This blog will be dedicated to Linux, Open Source and Technology news, affairs, how-tos and virtually EVERYTHING in these domains.

Posts Tagged ‘Google’

DuckDuckGo – A Worthy Google Search Alternative(?)

Posted by madhavkobal on 14/07/2010



Does the name “DuckDuckGo” ring a bell? Unless you are a Redditor or a HackerNews reader, you can be forgiven for thinking that it is the name of a kids cartoon show. DuckDuckGo is actually a little known search engine. Don’t let the queer name turn you off, because it is actually pretty good.

I have been using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine for the past couple of months. While my initial intention was to simply try it for a week or so, review it and then be done with it, I have started to grow a fondness for it.

As I understand it, DDG is maintained by a single guy – Gabriel Weinberg. Its results are fetched from multiple sources including Bing, Yahoo! BOSS and the DuckDuck bot (DDG’s own webcrawler). DDG has loads of unique features to keep you interested. Some of my favourite ones are:

Arrow Zero-click info: This is somewhat similar to the onebox Google has been experimenting with, but is often more useful. It basically provides a quick snippet, which gives you an idea about your query without having to navigate away from DuckDuckGo.


Arrow Information Search: If you are looking for information on a specific topic, Information Search can be a real timesaver. Just have a look at the screenshot below to grasp what DDG’s information search has to offer.


Arrow !Bang: This is probably the best feature of DDG. You can directly search dozens of popular sites from DDG. For example, if you want to search for WinRAR, just type “!download WinRAR”. DDG will directly take you to the appropriate page on The full list of supported queries is available here.

Arrow Loads of goodies: If you thought Google has some nifty tricks, you should really check out DuckDuckGo. Want to generate a random password? No problem just type “pw”. Want to check your ip address? Once again, DDG can take care of it. Everything from weather reports and time zone conversions to complex calculations and unit conversion is supported.

Arrow Disambiguation pages: DDG automatically offers disambiguation pages for terms with multiple meanings in Wikipedia style.


Arrow Privacy Aware: Not only does DDG have a secure mode (https), but it is also more privacy conscious. Your ip address isn’t stored, neither is your full user agent. In fact, DDG doesn’t even pass on your query string to the referred website. Although I don’t like the later feature (since if it becomes popular among search engines, it would paralyse web analytics), there is little doubt that DuckDuckGo takes privacy seriously.

Arrow Infinite Scrolling: While there are userjs/greasemonkey scripts to achieve the same with Google, DDG supports it out of the box. DDG automatically loads additional results as your scroll down the page.

Arrow Keyboard Navigation: Once again, most pro users would appreciate the advanced keyboard navigation supported by DDG.

Arrow Relevant Search: Of course none of these fancy features would matter, if the results delivered by DDG weren’t accurate. Fortunately, I have found them to be really good. In fact, there have been occasions when I was better served by DDG than Google.

In the end, is DDG a perfect search engine? No. Its biggest disadvantage is that it has a learning curve. While computer savvy users would appreciate the advanced functionalities offered by DDG, most users would simply fail to grasp some of DDG’s best features. I am also not a big fan of the website’s visual appearance. I understand that DDG doesn’t want to take itself too seriously, but that’s no excuse for looking like a website from the late 90s. Another area where DDG can improve upon is speed. Most of the time I am stuck on a pathetic Tata Photon Whiz connection. Unfortunately, the JS heavy DDG doesn’t fare too well on slower connections.

In spite of all the shortcomings, DDG is the best Google search alternative I have seen in recent times. It’s amazing how a single guy has managed to make super hyped start-ups like Cuil look outright dumb.

Original Post by Pallab De


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Google Launches Online Dictionary

Posted by madhavkobal on 05/12/2009

Search giant Google has launched Google Dictionary — an online dictionary service that offers definitions of words in 28 languages.

“Google Dictionary isn’t in the pull down menu above the main Google search bar, nor is it located on the More Google Products page. It is, however, the fourth result that appears when searching for “dictionary” on,” according to

The service features translations between English and 28 other languages, synonyms, related phrases and definitions from other online sources.

Besides English, Google Dictionary contains the major Western European languages, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean, Arabic, Hebrew and many more.

Google has also added “Translated search” to its Search Options panel that makes finding and reading content written in other languages easier. Translated search helps you find information from sites written in more than 40 languages.

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Google Wants to Take Over DNS, Too

Posted by madhavkobal on 04/12/2009

Google now wants to be your browser’s phone book, launching a DNS service Thursday in hopes that users will let the ad and search giant take over yet another part of their net experience.

Browsers ask Domain Name System (DNS) servers to translate URLs like into the web addresses where the servers are (e.g., That lets browsers retrieve pages and e-mail clients address e-mails to the right place. Most people simply use the DNS server provided by their ISP, and don’t even know the service exists.

But in recent years, DNS has become competitive with OpenDNS and Neustar offering free and premium services.

OpenDNS in particular has thrived by making their lookups faster, smarter and safer than those from most ISPs, which have little interest in investing in DNS.

But now Google says it’s going to offer its own DNS, which it says will be faster and more secure (See Webmonkey’s Google DNS post to learn the how-to and the whys). While the project isn’t open source, Google says it plans to share what it learns in order to speed up the web around the world. It also says it plans to limit the data it keeps and not show any ads.

Why Google Public DNS?

As web pages become more complex and include more resources from multiple origin domains, clients need to perform multiple DNS lookups to render a single page. The average Internet user performs hundreds of DNS lookups each day, slowing down his or her browsing experience. As the web continues to grow, greater load is placed on existing DNS infrastructure.

Since Google’s search engine already crawls the web on a daily basis and in the process resolves and caches DNS information, we wanted to leverage our technology to experiment with new ways of addressing some of the existing DNS challenges around performance and security. We are offering the service to the public in the hope of achieving the following aims:

  • Provide end users with an alternative to their current DNS service. Google Public DNS takes some new approaches that we believe offer more valid results, increased security, and, in most cases, better performance.
  • Help reduce the load on ISPs’ DNS servers. By taking advantage of our global data-center and caching infrastructure, we can directly serve large numbers of user requests without having to query other DNS resolvers.
  • Help make the web faster and more secure. We are launching this experimental service to test some new ways to approach DNS-related challenges. We hope to share what we learn with developers of DNS resolvers and the broader web community and get their feedback.

Google Public DNS: what it is and isn’t

Google Public DNS is a recursive DNS resolver, similar to other publicly available services. We think it provides many benefits, including improved security, fast performance, and more valid results. See below for an overview of the technical enhancements we’ve implemented.

Google Public DNS is not, however, any of the following:

  • A top-level domain (TLD) name service. Google is not an operator of top-level domain servers (generic or country-code), such as Verisign.
  • A DNS hosting or failover service. Google Public DNS is not a third-party DNS application service provider, such as DynDNS, that hosts authoritative records for other domains.
  • An authoritative name service. Google Public DNS servers are not authoritative for any domain. Google maintains a set of other nameservers that are authoritative for domains it has registered, hosted at ns[1-4]
  • A malware-blocking service. Google Public DNS does not perform blocking or filtering of any kind.

Overview of benefits and enhancements

Google Public DNS implements a number of security, performance, and compliance improvements. We provide a brief overview of those enhancements below. If you’re a developer or deployer of DNS software, we hope you’ll also read the technical information pages on this site for more information on these features. Ultimately, our hope is to share our insights and inspire the community to adopt some of these features in all DNS resolvers. The changes are grouped into 3 categories:

  • Performance. Many DNS service providers are not sufficiently provisioned to be able to support high-volume input/output and caching, and adequately balance load among their servers. In addition to load-balancing user traffic to ensure shared caching, Google Public DNS implements “smart” caching to increase the speed of responses. Google Public DNS independently resolves domain names and keeps the resolutions in the cache until their time-to-live (TTL) expires, at which point they are automatically refreshed. The cycle of caching and refreshing is performed offline, asynchronously with user requests, so that responses are almost always available directly from cache. For more information, see the page on performance benefits.
  • Security. DNS is vulnerable to various kinds of spoofing attacks that can “poison” a nameserver’s cache and route its users to malicious sites. The prevalence of DNS exploits means that providers have to frequently apply server updates and patches. In addition, open DNS resolvers are vulnerable to being used to launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on other systems. To defend against such attacks, Google has implemented several recommended solutions to help guarantee the authenticity of the responses it receives from other nameservers, and to ensure our servers are not used for launching DoS attacks. These include adding entropy to requests, rate-limiting client traffic, and more. For more information, see the page on security benefits.
  • Correct results. Google Public DNS does its best to return the right answer to every query every time, in accordance with the DNS standards. Sometimes, in the case of a query for a mistyped or non-existent domain name, the right answer means no answer, or an error message stating the domain name could not be resolved. Google Public DNS never blocks, filters, or redirects users, unlike some open resolvers and ISPs.

Please refer configuring Google DNS.

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Goggles Music Manager For Linux

Posted by madhavkobal on 19/11/2009

Goggles Music Manager is a music collection manager and player that automatically categorizes your music files based on genre, artist, album, and song. It supports gapless playback and features easy tag editing.


Goggles Music Manager


  • Fast and light weight. Quick startup, no splash screen needed!
  • Supports Ogg Vorbis , FLAC, MP3 , MP4 , ASF and Musepack music files.
  • Support for AlbumArt embedded in tag or as separate file on disk.
  • Tag editing and file renaming capability (batch). One or more tracks may be edited at the same time.
  • Smart sorting with user configurable leading word filter to prevent sorting on common words like the, a or an.
  • Support for play lists. Play lists may be played in a certain configurable order, or browsed through like the main music library.
  • Export music library and play lists to XSPF,PLS,Extended M3U,M3U and CSV.
  • Clipboard & DND (drag-and-drop) support to arrange playlists and dragging to and from gnome / kde applications.
  • Uses xine multimedia library for gapless playback.
  • Written using FOX, one of the fastest GUI toolkits available. Support for FOX-1.6.x and the latest development version FOX-1.7.x.
  • Customizable icons. Either use building icons or use an existing gnome/kde icon theme.
  • Configurable user interface from minimalistic to detailed view. Full screen mode available with FOX-1.7.11.
  • Clean and fast database backend using SQLite 3.
  • Last-FM audio scrobbler support.
  • Replay Gain support (Ogg Vorbis, FLAC and mp3 with APE tags).
  • Equalizer

Basically, it’s a simple music player that does it’s job and works really fast. Other than it’s speed, I was also impressed with how little system resources it uses: 8.7 MB of RAM (on my system) and never more than 2% CPU (my music collections is something near 40.000 songs).

Please note that to install it in Ubuntu, you can’t have Nvidia 190 drivers (because libxine1 depends on nvidia185 drivers).

Download Goggles Music Manager:

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Google Wave Explained in Plain English

Posted by madhavkobal on 05/10/2009

I was raring to try out Google Wave but havin’t received an invite yet. So I did the next best thing which is to scrounge the Net for more info on Google Wave. Thus I chanced upon this wonderfully made video explaining in plain English what Google Wave is all about.

What is Google Wave ?

Simply put, Google Wave, as I have understood, is about removing duplicity in our communication. All the conversation that takes place within Google Wave is one huge wave. There is only one copy of a conversation stored (on a centralized server). And that conversation can be shared amoung countless people, with these people adding bits and pieces here and there to make the conversation grow. You can add not just text but videos, attach files, add voice and pictures, embed maps – all of which merge seamlessly with the wave. There is even a playback feature to help people to keep track of the conversation that is happening.

Some people are calling Google Wave a morph of – Instant Messaging, Email, and Web Conferencing – All rolled into one application.

Excited ?

Then check out the following informative video which explains the Google Wave technology to lay persons like you and me.

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Google Fast Flip Brings Print ‘Online’

Posted by madhavkobal on 15/09/2009

It was only on Sept. 14 that Google launched its latest Beta Labs product, the Google Fast Flip for the world to see. Fast Flip is nothing but a content browser that allows the user to virtually “flip pages” of online content in a faster (but not necessarily more convenient) way.

The argument behind the existence of Fast Flip is the fact that it is a time consuming process to flip multiple whilst reading news online. According to Google, even with most broadband connections, it takes at least 10 seconds to load most media rich websites today. What Google wants here is to help you read news in the traditional way, where you just flip the page and have the content served to you in seconds. This, besides giving you a more “natural” feel to the reading experience, will also mean lesser time to flip pages. Google compares Fast Flip to reading a newspaper or a magazine where the reader can turn the pages in a second. Thus, according to them, this is way better than reading stuff before after waiting for the page to load.

Now, having said all this, there is this problem that Fast Flip cannot solve. The content that you read is still “online” and what you see are nothing but cached images of the web pages of popular websites (Google has tied up with major websites to feature their content on Fast Flip and will even share ad revenues). The problem with this is that you will not be able to click on links within the page – oh and don’t think of “scrolling down” as you can only move sideways and flip forward or backwards.

But then, according to Google, Fast Flip offers the publishers multiple entry points to the original story – which might not be a bad idea after all. This is because, if you wish to proceed to the original article, you can simply click on the image and go to the source page, complete with the links and the original content. The initiative seems to be supported by quite a few publishers and for now, it would only feature those websites which were in the “tie-up”. As of now, you cannot customize Fast Flip to include your own web pages. But then, we’re not complaining since this is a Beta product and a cool one at that. Tried Fast Flip yet?

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Set Gmail As Your Default Mail Client In Firefox

Posted by madhavkobal on 14/09/2009

I do not use Kmail, Evolution or Thunderbird on my netbook. So when I click an email link in Firefox, I get sent to the Evolution’s setup screen. This guide will show you how to setup Gmail as you default email application in Firefox. That way, when you click a mailto link (or any email link) Firefox will open it with Gmail. *Note: this only works in Firefox 3.0 and above.

1. Go to Gmail and sign in.

2. While in Gmail, copy and paste the code below into Firefox’s address bar and hit enter.


3. A bar will appear under the URL bar, click “Add Application”
– to add Gmail as an application for mailto links.

4. Then go to Edit>Preferences
switch mailto
– In the Application tab, under mailto select use Gmail

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Google Begins “Real-Time” Suggestions To Google News

Posted by madhavkobal on 06/09/2009

Aiming to eliminate the cumbersome process of typing for its users, search engine titan Google has recently added its predictive Google Suggest feature to Google News. “We are delighted to announce that we have enabled Suggest in all of our Google News editions in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish versions,” Google said in a blog post.

Now when you go to search for something on Google News, and as you begin to type in a query, Google will attempt to work out what you are searching for and offers relevant suggestions in a drop-down menu. The feature has been available on since August 2008.

“The feature can make your experience searching Google News better by helping you formulate queries, saving you keystrokes, correcting spelling mistakes and exposing you to queries you might not have thought of,” says Google.

As shown in the image below the query for Pontiac g6 vehicle and its relevant suggestions in the drop down menu…

According to Google, “The goal of all that? To get you to the articles you are looking for as quickly as possible.” The company is also working to enable Suggest in other editions of Google News.

Google introduced Google Suggest to last year. Earlier this year in was made worldwide. And after a short period, Google even began placing ads within the suggestions. This was one feature introduced a few months ago along with some navigational suggestions, personalized suggestions, and suggestions on results pages.

So far, it is not known as to how many of these features will be active in the Google News version of Google Suggest, but it is interesting that Google calls these suggestions as being “real time.”

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Google Adds Three Features

Posted by madhavkobal on 06/09/2009

Google has announced that it will be soon adding three features to its search engine.

The new features are Notebook, Co-op and Trends.

“Notebook” lets people save web searches and interpret them. Through “Co-op” lets you to gather data from real people.

And finally “Trends” lets you compare searches people have entered into Google from around the world.

Click here for “Trends” and here for “Co-op”, while “Notebook” is on its way.

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Minitube: Slimline YouTube Client

Posted by madhavkobal on 01/09/2009

Anyone wanting to watch just a short video on YouTube probably won’t need Minitube, for those that want more, it’s a must-have app.

Minitube is a classic Unix program for the playback of YouTube films. Enter a keyword and the program will retrieve all relative URLs from YouTube and play them one after the other. With a binary of just 440KByte, Minitube does without Flashplayer, is advertisement-free and relies fully on the Phonon framework for audio and video support.

Made in Italy.

The QT programmed tool was created by the Italian Flavio Tordini. A binary for Linux, Mac OSX and as source code under the GPLv3 is available for download. A free BSD port also. QT in version 4.5 at least, is required. Playback on the KDE multimedia framework will call for the installation of the relative packages.

Once the tar-gz archive is unpacked, start the program via the console with ./minitube. Enter keyword and a list of suggestions (similar to Google) will be shown. A click loads the available videos and playback starts automatically.

Something with Linux? Minitube helps you choose.

Minitube remembers used keywords and provides a list for speedy access.

The Player.

The graphic interface is easily explained. In most cases, a simple click on the full-screen button will get things running. Tabs let you decide if you want to watch the newest, most-viewed or highest rated videos. The default QT mode will select highest rated videos.

Don’t like the video? Click the skip button or press [Ctrl]+[Right]. With [Ctrl]+[Y] the video will open on the YouTube homepage. Here however, you will need the Flashplayer plugin to play the videos.

Type in the keyword and press enter. The playlist for the evenings viewing is quickly filled.

More than this, Minitube can’t do, but generally speaking, if all you want to do is watch a couple of really good vids, what more do you need?


It’s been a long time since I found a program that works out of the box and does what the blurb says it should. Minitube belongs on every multimedia PC.

Original Authour : Marcel Hilzinger

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