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Microsoft Launches Social Search Network for Students

By | Free tools, Internet News, Social Media | No Comments

At the end of 2011 college students at the University of Washington, Syracuse University,
and New York University were invited to try out Now, just two days ago, Microsoft has
made its experimental search engine (pronounced “social”) available to the general
public. is a free experimental research project, developed by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs, focused
on exploring the possibilities of social search for the purpose of learning. can be used
by the general public, but the target group are learning communities.


The search experience is powered by Bing. As students work together, they often look
for the same content, and discover new shared interests by sharing results. These results
can be web pages, images, or videos found through Bing.


To encourage interaction and collaboration, provides rich media sharing, and real time
sharing of videos via “video parties.” Video parties let you search, and quickly assemble a list
of movies to view together with friends. You can view any existing party collection created
by any other user, or create your own, and easily chat with other users.


Unless you mark it as “private”, your search results, and any other data you post to are broadly available for use by other entities and individuals. uses Facebook
authentication, which means you use your Facebook account to log in, and your name and
profile picture from Facebook appear in That people don’t have to registrate for
makes them probably more likely use it.


How popular might become and will it have influence in the way people are searching
for information? First of all, is not meant to replace existing search and social
networking tools and it will probably be hard for it to get mainstream when everybody is
using Facebook already. Secondly, I don’t think Google has to be worried at all. Even if
is available to the general public it has been created for learning communities and probably
won’t get any traction outside the education sector.


The question we can’t answer at the moment is if we need if we have already
Facebook, Twitter & Co. What do you think?

Free WiFi Spots in North Sydney

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Perhaps you’re rushing to a meeting and need to check some things online? Or maybe you want to meet a colleague or customer outside the office, but you need WiFi? We’ve been in this situation many times, so we have put together this map showing free WiFi spots in our area – North Sydney.


Caveat: By ‘free’ we mean ‘you probably have to buy at least a coffee’, and nobody likes the guy who sits there for four hours sipping a single cup of tea (I’m looking at you George).


View Free Wi Fi North Sydney in a larger map


Our favourite is JB Coffee Shop, next door to our office on Alfred St – (They also do a fantastic Eggs Benedict English muffin in the mornings).


If you know of a place that has been left off, let us know. Alternatively, if you know that one of these places no longer offers free WiFi let us know too.



China Internet Users Hits 338 Million

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Not only does China have the largest population in the world, it now also has the most internet users in the world. China has so embraced online technology that a whopping 338 million Chinese people are internet users (according to the China Internet Network Information Center ).

To be able to understand such a huge number, note that this is 35 million more people than live in the United States and 16 times the number of people living in Australia. The number, while huge, is only 25% of the Chinese population, so of course there is a lot more room for expansion. The USA has an internet penetration of around 70%, which means China still has a long way to go.

Internet use in China is always under scrutiny – their ‘Great Firewall’ aims to suppress sensitive information, and since the riots in Western China a couple of weeks ago, Facebook has been blocked across the country. The recent Chinese Government bid to include censoring software in all PCs sold in China was met with condemnation from around the world. Years ago, Google copped abused for operating in China under the Government’s restrictive rules, but I think any Chinese person would agree with me that restricted Google is better than no Google at all.

Google isn’t the leader in the search market in China, unlike most other places. That honour goes to Baidu, and is probably due in part to the difficulty Google has in dealing with deciphering the Chinese character as much as national pride. In China, colleagues and friends advise that Google is used for more ‘serious’ searching, while Baidu is used for entertainment, such as downloading music, movies and games.

With this burgeoning internet audience comes the desire of marketers to appeal to them, and so digital marketing in China is becoming a bigger and more competitive industry with agencies springing up every day and conferences scheduled throughout the year. Optimising websites in China raises a lot of new concerns such as Baidu including ‘paid’ ads in their natural results and the Chinese love of flash and interaction. However, cracking the Chinese online market will expose you to the largest online market in the world – so I pretty much think it is worth the trouble!

Australian Budget 2009 Online

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With only 2 weeks to go until the Federal budget is announced, newspapers are already speculating about the make up of this years spending. Seeing as we are so far in the red already, I would have thought the budget would focus on savings, but Kev has already been hinting at more stimulus for our economy.

Nearly everyone in Australia probably feels as I do – that no matter what the budget turns out like, they should have done something a bit different.

For all us armchair politicians (and ex-Finance Department employees), has a fab new application, Instabudget, which helps you develop the budget for yourself – to see how you would really go.


After having a go on it, I realised I was hugely in the surplus – even though I reduced taxes for everyone! This could be because I left $0 in many of the categories, which really isn’t realistic I know. However, this is no place for me to have a political rant.

Anyway, this application is fun to waste 10 minutes or so, and also has a dedicated area of their site for all budget related news, which will include breakdown and analysis after the announcement.

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