Duck(Duck)ing the User Interface

It must be well over a year now since I switched my main search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo. I changed partly because of concerns over Google’s handling of privacy issues, and partly just to try out the new one.

DuckDuckGo’s results are usually fine, and if you ever can’t find something and you think Google might be better, it’s easy to redirect your search there by adding “!g” at the end. There are other special codes like this, such as “!w” to search Wikipedia.

So it’s all fine. But what I’ve only gradually realised is that I much prefer the Duck’s user interface. And this is for one simple reason: infinite scrolling.

Now, infinite scrolling isn’t always good, and I’m sure it has a negative effect on things like usability and caching, in at least some cases. But on DDG (as I’m sure no-one ever calls it), it makes the whole search experience better.

Because sometimes there are more than ten Interesting hits. Or the interesting ones are long after the tenth. But with Google, you get ten on a page. And then you’ve got to click or touch a link to go to the next ten. And it just feels so old fashioned.

After just a few months on DDG (as we should all start calling it from now on) you can’t go back to Google without feeling a weird interrupt at the end of a page, before you go, “Oh, yeah, gotta click that.”

It’s just an inferior experience.


Surely There's a Better Answer Than That?

For one reason or another we wanted to remind ourselves1 of the Spanish word for “south.” I like to ask Siri for that kind of thing, because speaking to your phone is just easier than unlocking and typing sometimes. And Siri is not bad. It quite often gets the right answer for this kind of thing.

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Not so much there, though.

So it correctly understood my question; but instead of feeding it to Google Translate or another translation service, it sent it to Wolfram Alpha, seemingly. And that came back with intriguing answer that the Spanish for “south” is “about 99027 people.”

Seems like an unwieldy way to specify a compass direction.


  1. I say “remind” because I learned Spanish at school, my beloved is a linguist, and our daughter is learning it, so we knew really. ↩︎


Cluttered by Google, Lost by Bing

I was reading The Clutter Didn’t Kill the Love by Brent Simmons, about how he was trying Microsoft's Bing search engine, instead of Google. His reason was the current worry that Google is becoming less than trustworthy.

Google losing trust would be a shame. But at least a Google search for “martin mccallion” (without the quotes) has this blog as the number one hit. Try that on Bing at the moment and you get a whole pile of other Martin McCallions.1 The worst part to me is that the first six are Facebook or LinkedIn profiles (the seventh is one of those annoying directory sites, then you get me).

I wouldn’t mind other people with the same name appearing above me, if it was their proper sites; but to me social-network profiles feel like distinctly second-class web entities.

Or is that snobbish?


  1. As an experiment, and to ensure a like-for-like comparison, I signed out of Google, and went to the .com version (I normally use .co.uk by default). I was still at the top. ↩︎