Blind Search

The only real way to actually test out search engines. Compare the results with all of the formatting removed and location radomnized. Here’s a great site to test it out for yourself. You do a search and then vote for the site that you think has the best results.

In the early voting it looks like Bing is actually edging out Google by a slight margin. At the time of writing Bing is up 42% to Google’s 41% with Yahoo trailing behind at 17%. It’s often apparent that two of the results are quite good while the third is not nearly as good with the third place result being Yahoo.

HP Desktop Centos installs

I picked up a couple HP desktop machines to beef up my garage datacenter recently and came across some very different experiences while installing Centos 5.3.

On the HP a6700f, which goes for about $500 with a quad core AMD phenom at 1.8Ghz, 4Gb memory, and a 500Gb disk, the Centos install went beautifully. I had a running linux server in a matter of minutes with everything picked up and running as expected.

Later, I had needed one more machine and was at Frys where they only had the HP a6720f. It’s a bit more expensive, but comes with a 2.2Ghz AMD Phenom and 6Gb of memory. However the install on this box was a completely different story, almost nothing worked. The motherboard is slightly different and the ahci driver couldn’t pick up the sata harddrive. The install would hang for awhile and if you checked the alt-f3 screen you could see that the driver was failing while trying to communicate with the harddrive. Using Google, I was able to determine that at the install prompt you needed to add the param “pci=nomsi”. With this the harddrive was picked up properly, but uses the device-mapper driver instead of the normal /dev/sda. I haven’t noticed any performance difference though.

After I got the machine installed on the now functioning disk I realized that the on board Gig eth card hadn’t been picked up. A trip back to Google and I found that on this chipset that the on board ethernet is not supported yet with linux. So a quick jump to amazon to pick up a Intel PRO/1000 PT dual Gig eth adapter and I had a fully functioning server.

I would definitely say that the while overall the HP “a” desktop line is great for an ultra cheap linux server, the a6720f is just not worth the headaches. Pick up the a6700f instead.

Bing’s not bad

I saw today that Microsoft released their new search engine Bing and have spent some time playing with it.  It’s definitely been a pleasant surprise, which is much better than I ever thought Msoft could pull off.

Of course one of the best ways to test something is to do a head to head comparison. Here’s a little site, that allows you to search on both sites at once. For the handful of test queries that I threw at the two search engines I would say it was a toss-up as to who had the best results. The test would be even better if it stripped the formatting and randomized the display so you didn’t know which was which by the appearance or location. I think in such a test Bing could hold its own.

This is actually exciting to see a real competitor appear again.