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Development Life

The Google Search is strong in this one…

It’s a fact that I can find things on Google where others fail to. Why is this? Well, it’s all related to some software I wrote over 20 years ago and a company award…

Back in the 1990s, I wrote some software, for the company I worked for, dealing with the storage and retrieval of Help Desk documentation. And it ran on a mainframe too. Until that point, the company didn’t have anything to do this (indeed, few people in the office even had a PC – everything was on the mainframe still). And, as a result, I even won a company award for “Innovation in IT” (as this dodgy picture testifies)…

So, what’s this to do with Google searches? Well, I was never happy with the search part of my software – I felt it needed to be more intelligent in the way it did so. I studied all the search engines of the time (and Google was just one of them – personally, I was using AltaVista as mine) and delved deep into their more advanced functions. Use of boolean logic, quotation marks, plus and minus, are all things they accepted to make search more advanced.

Of course, in the end, most rivals disappeared and Google came out on top. But that extra functionality is still there but, for most people, rarely used.

On top of that, I learnt how the search engines worked, in terms of their interpretation of natural language use.

As a result, I wrote a search engine for my software that was advanced for the time and, I’d say, was still ahead of how they work now (it’s a personal opinion but once Google came out on top, they seemed to stop innovating with the language interpretation part of the search and concentrated on the results). For mine, you could write a sentence as you would ask for something in real life – it would work out the structure of the sentence and the meaning behind it and therefore what you were looking for.

The consequence of all of this is that I now understand just how Google searches work – what words are needed and which aren’t, as well as when and how to use operators within the search.

Sadly, my search feature never made it beyond my own testing – the manager of the company’s Help Desk decided that they’d hold out for a PC-based solution and told his staff not to use my software. It did a death, only ever used by a handful of people within my own team.

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