Google plans major revamp for search engine


The Web giant has been working on the “next generation of search” over the last couple of years and now it’s ready to start rolling it out.

Google is about to embark on its biggest renovation in history. In order to keep up with increased competition and new technology, the Web giant is working to keep ahead of the pack by completely revamping its search function, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Google search executive Amit Singhal told The Wall Street Journal that the new Google search will look more like “how humans understand the world.”

Changes are expected to roll out over the next few months, the Journal reports, but the full makeover to “next generation of search” will likely take years. A Google spokesperson told CNET that there is not a specific timeline and the company’s philosophy is to launch things when they’re ready.

The plan for the revamp isn’t necessarily to swap out the current keyword-search system but rather to provide more relevant results. This process will work by using technology called “semantic search.” With semantic searches, people’s searches will be better matched with “entities”–or people, places and things–which the company has been building over the past two years, reports the Journal.

For example, the Journal reports that people who search for “Lake Tahoe” today get links to the lake’s visitor bureau website and a map; whereas with the makeover, they will see key “attributes” about the lake, including location, altitude, average temperature and salt content.

Google is basically building an infrastructure layer or a knowledge graph that would underlie many aspects of Google, a spokesperson told CNET. The idea is to make more possibilities with search using these entities.

According to the Journal, this renovation most likely comes with changes to how the search engine actually works, including search engine optimization, advertising, and page-ranking results. Some 10 percent to 20 percent of all search queries could be directly impacted by the change, the Journal reports.

Over the past few months, Google has been making various changes to search, such as showing search results before a person finishes typing their query, adding Google+ to searches, adding concert dates to music queries, and saving searches across platforms with the new “recent” icon.

 

 

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET.

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De-stressing with Jojo Struys


By REVATHI MURUGAPPAN revathi@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: If you’re having sleepless nights of tossing and turning in bed, then head to the inaugural Star Health Fair 2012 next month to pick up de-stressing tips and techniques from TV host cum producer JoJo Struys.

She will be conducting two workshops daily, which are especially beneficial for insomniacs and highly-strung individuals.

“All of us have some type of stress, whether it’s related to family, work or deadlines. I’ll walk you through some exercises to squeeze the stress out of your body. They are simple and you can do it at any point of the day. You just need to find a quiet spot,” said Struys, 36, who is also an accredited Reiki master.

  Mind power: Struys will walk participants through some of the de-stressing exercises at the fair.>>

Struys, who studied units of psychology in varsity, has always been fascinated with wellness and the power of the mind.

“It’s not always that you are what you eat but what is eating you is equally important.”

At the fair, Struys will also launch her inaugural guided relaxation CD entitled “Letting Go”, which contains her voice with soothing background music. If you sleep off while listening to the CD, then you are totally relaxed, which is a good sign.

“Come dressed in comfortable clothing because we’ll be doing some basic stretching exercises. I’m hoping that you’ll walk out of the workshop a much calmer and more positive person,” Struys said.

The fair, organised by The Star, will be held at the MidValley Exhibition Centre from April 6 to 8 from 10am to 7pm. Admission is free.

Living in sex-citing times


SO AUNTY, SO WHAT? By JUNE H. L. WONG The Star/Asia News Network

It seems Malaysian women and men are meeting as near equals in … the bedroom. Now how did that happen?

WELL, enough has been said about the banning of a certain children’s sex education picture book. What I want to natter about is a recent report on the state of sex among Malaysians.

It’s simply awesome: the latest Durex Sexual Well-Being Global Survey found that a whopping 81% of Malaysian women enjoy great sex.

Not only that, nine out of 10 Malaysian women, or 89%, agreed that sex brought them emotionally closer to their partners, and 88% even said they felt loved during sex.

Now when did Malaysian men become such considerate and high-performing stallions in bed? And how?

Apparently, Durex interviewed 241 men and 265 women in Malaysia aged 18 and above. The news report did not provide details on the age breakdown so one can only make guesses how this blissful state has emerged.

Perhaps most of the male respondents were below 35 and raised by mothers who taught them to respect and love women. And to always put the women’s needs before their own.

They could also have been exposed to chick flicks and somehow figured out what women want, despite the neurotic, fickle and often ridiculous spins Hollywood puts on such female-centric films.

Or women themselves have decided they won’t be just passive lovers who must accept what their partners dish out to them in bed and are demanding more attention and action to reach sexual fulfilment.

If that’s what’s happening, then finally I can echo that old Virginia Slims cigarette ad: You’ve come a long way, baby! And add, you’re smoking hot!

What’s more, if both men (89% say they have great sex) and women are finding sexual satisfaction, then surely the old taboos and Victorian belief that sex is only for procreation and not for pleasure are fast being discarded.

Mind you, some of the stuff that’s going on these days makes you wonder if it is still circa 1900. But the truth is sexual liberation for women started on May 9, 1960, when the US Federal Drug Authority (FDA) approved the oral contraceptive – the Pill.

With that, women were finally in control over their reproductive health, and with the fear of unwanted pregnancies largely removed, new notions of sex and pleasure took off.

It must be said it was the baby boomers who led the sexual revolution and broke many of the taboos that cowed their mothers. And it is likely it is these baby boomer mums who have taught their sons and daughters well.

Boom-boom mums grew up in the more relaxed and easy-going 1970s and 80s, were well educated and went on to become a force to be reckoned with in the workforce.

Some quarters (a.k.a. men) may bemoan the breaking down of the old “father as breadwinner, mother as housewife” mould and say that’s the cause of the increase in divorces.

There’s probably some truth to it but others (a.k.a. women) see it as the crumbling of a very unfair power structure. Now, men are no longer lords and masters over their womenfolk and the modern marriage has become a partnership between equals.

So what if that makes some men who want to cling to the old ways unhappy? Why should women stay unhappy to make them happy?

By the same token, women don’t have to take anything they don’t like lying down any more. But really, what do men have to complain about? Almost 90% of them are getting their satisfaction. And you don’t get that if you are sleeping with planks.

The battle of the sexes is far from over but it sure gladdens my heart to know that in one battleground – the bedroom – there are only victors. The battleground is now a jolly playground.

We can still do more to teach young people about safe sex because despite enlightened parenting, Internet and MTV, misconceptions and misfires can happen.

I remember reading about a married couple who failed to conceive. When they finally consulted a doctor, they soon discovered the problem: the man was trying to make love to his wife’s navel!

Can’t be much fun there.

Human beings really only have two appetites grounded in physical desire: food and sex.

We Malaysians are already living in a food paradise. If the Durex survey is accurate, perhaps we aren’t too far from creating another nirvana for ourselves.

Like I said: Awwwwesome!

The writer is proud to be a baby boomer, the generation that may be a little long in the tooth now but still has plenty of bite.

Phison’s silicon wafer plan; Mandarin, Hokkien, the main lure


Phison’s silicon wafer plan  

By DAVID TAN  davidtan@thestar.com.my

Its partner Silterra may produce essential components in Kulim

GEORGE TOWN: Phison Electronics Corp‘s partner Silterra Malaysia Sdn Bhd may undertake the production of silicon wafer in Kulim Hi-Tech Park for the flash memory chips to be developed and designed in Penang.

Phison chairman and chief executive officer Pua Khein-Seng told StarBiz that Silterra was now studying the feasibility of manufacturing the silicon wafer for the Phison’s unit, which would be established in Penang in three to six months.

“The unit will undertake the development and design of flash memory applications and solution products. Our other partner, Index Diversified Sdn Bhd, will distribute and market them in the local and South-East Asia markets,” he said.

“The assembly of the finished flash memory products would be outsourced to small and medium enterprises in the country. We will decide on the volume of units to be produced six months later,” he added.

 Pua: ‘The assembly of the finished flash memory products would be outsourced to small and medium enterprises in the country.’

Pua also said that the investment of US$1mil to US$3mil would be for the salaries of engineers and purchasing the necessary equipment.

Also present were Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Silterra chief executive officer Dr Kamarulzaman Mohamed Zin, and Silterra Sales and Marketing (L) Ltd, Taiwan Branch senior vice-president Lai Yit Loong.

Lai said the flash memory product, which could be in the form secure-digital and smart cards, would be used in tablets, ultrabooks.

“The flash memory products will also be targeted for use in mobile payment platform and in video recorders for automobiles,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lim said the importance of Phison’s investment was that it would lead to talent and technology transfer to Penang.

“The Phison unit will likely be located on the island, and the state government will provide the necessary assistance for the group to establish its presence here,” Lim added.

Phison Electronics Corp was established in November 2000 at Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Starting with the world’s first single-chip USB flash drive IC, Phison is now a market leader in NAND Flash controllers and applications including USB, SD, eMMC, PATA and SATA products.

In 2010, the company shipped over 500 million controllers worldwide and topped US$1bil in sales revenue.

Phison also offers system and OEM services for major retail brand names. Founded in November 1995 as Wafer Technology Malaysia Sdn Bhd and renamed as Silterra Malaysia Sdn Bhd in December 1999, the company offers complementary metalic oxide semiconductor design and a broad range of fabrication processes for integrated chips in advanced logic, mixed signal and radio frequency and high voltage applications.

The principal investor of Silterra is Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Mandarin; Hokkien, the main lure

By TAN SIN CHOW sctan@thestar.com.my

GEORGE TOWN: The Hokkien connection has once again put Penang in the limelight, albeit, this time on a positive note.

Taiwan-based Phison Engineering Corp has chosen to set up its first Malaysian branch in the state this year because the Hokkien dialect is widely used here.

According to its chairman and chief executive officer Pua Khein-Seng, who was raised in Sekinchan, Selangor, the Mandarin and Hokkien dialects were among the reasons for setting up their Malaysian unit in Penang.

Given a choice, the 38-year-old Malaysian said he would have chosen Kuala Lumpur as it was nearer to his hometown. “However, the move will not be viable as my working team from Taiwan only speaks Mandarin and Minnan (which is similar to Hokkien).

“I have a lot of engineers, some of them Malaysians, who do not have a strong command of English or Bahasa Malaysia as they have been based in Taiwan for far too long. They will not be able to survive in Kuala Lumpur.

“It is better for them to be here as the Chinese community here speaks Mandarin and Minnan,” he said during a question-and-answer session during his talk on “Driven to Success Road to Build a $1billion Company”.

Just last month, the Hokkien connection put Penang in the limelight when police busted a Taiwanese-led international Internet syndicate which had chosen the island as its base so that its members could blend in.

Pua said another plus point was the many well-trained engineers and industry players available here. “Here, materials are easily available from the semiconductor and electronics companies.”

Pua, who describes Malaysia as his motherland and Taiwan as his second home, is the inventor of the pen drive when he was only 27.

Phison was set up in November 2000 and within six months Pua had come up with the invention.

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 Taiwan’s Phison IC design project, a ‘brain gain’ for Malaysia

WTO rules U.S. unfair subsidies for Boeing illegal


The U.S. is hailing a World Trade Organization ruling on illegal Boeing subsidies as a victory. (Roslan Rahman/AFP Reuters

The World Trade Organization has ruled that U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing received $3 billion to $4 billion in illegal subsidies in the form of federal research grants and local tax breaks, the top U.S. trade official said Monday.

But U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk called the decision “a tremendous victory” for the United States because he said a separate WTO panel ruled last year that European governments provided $18 billion in subsidized funding for Airbus.

“It is now clear that European subsidies to Airbus are far larger — by multiples — and far more distortive than anything that the United States does for Boeing,” Kirk said in a statement.

“The United States is ready to address all of the WTO findings, and we expect Europe to do the same. Airbus is a mature, highly capable company with ready access to commercial financing. It doesn’t need the launch aid that European governments are continuing to provide,” he added.

The WTO appellate body ruling on Monday faulted the United States for research funded by NASA and the Department of Defense that benefited Boeing and for tax breaks granted by the state of Washington and city of Wichita, Kansas.

The United States will have six months to comply with the ruling, once it is formally adopted this month, Kirk said.
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