Saturday, 16 February 2013


This valentine's I'm saddened by the surprise demise of a duck--likely taken by a fox on one of these ill-weather days while I was in Canada. I live on a small hobby farm outside Washington DC, in Boyds, where simple chickens, goats, horses and duck have been companions to ground my psyche to the here and now from the abstract coding at NOAA. The duck never quite fit in among the other animals, having lost his con-specifics to a fox raid early in the year. I liked him the best: he'd actually wake me up in the mornings begging for bananas and oats.

And so my mind thinks of a cyber outsider that has me excited: DuckDuckGo. It is described as a hybrid search engine, pulling results from Yahoo, Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia, and its own crawler. It is generating lots of buzz, perhaps being the only contender against the Google. For me, its open-source, tweakable platform tickles my nagging sense of indignation with Google and its censor-happy tendencies. DuckDuckGo promises zero tracking, privacy, and decent searches. For me, it does well for R and science related searches, which is important (although Google is still the best for pulling results from academia, Stack Overflow, and relevant science sites, etc).

Has it occurred to you that Google has turned to the dark side? For me, the realization came a long time ago, before SOPA and other aggressive attacks on internet freedom. Consider the story of the deceased and way back in 2006: these websites hosted free (& pirated) college textbooks, and were blacklisted from the Google results. To add insult to injury, when was taken down in early 2012, the domain name actually redirected you to Books.Google.Com (wow!): now, directs you to, which is a great study of double-think.
For me, I'll give DuckDuckGo a good chance.
My cannot-do-without Search tools:

Firefox InstaFox Add-on: to do all sorts of search engine searches from your browser address bar. Tailor to use d+space for DuckDuckGo. I have 'ci' for, 'me' for Mendeley, etc.

GNOME Do: For linux users, why point and click when the Super+Space allows you access to web searches, applications, recent files, music, system settings, etc.
(I miss the duck).

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