“Just Google it”. There are few other phrases that demonstrate just how ubiquitous Google search has become. Google is so popular that people are either unaware other search engines exist or just unwilling to use them and to be fair there are good reasons for that. Google’s service is excellent, it is integrated with their browser (chrome) and all of their other services (Drive, gmail, google docs etc.) The fact is, for a long time Google has just been better than the competition. That being said there are many reasons one might want to try a different service. Maybe you are trying to “De-googilfy” your life, maybe you find one provider controlling all of your services uncomfortable or maybe you’re just curious about the alternatives. Whatever your reason, I’d like to introduce you to a relative newcomer to the Search Engine scene, DuckDuckGo.
DuckduckGo is billed as the privacy browser or “The search engine that doesn’t track you” to use their words. This is a pretty powerful hook, in fact it’s the main reason that I decided to try it out in the first place. It was founded in 2008 but it really started growing in 2012 when it first hit 1 million searches a day. The search engine has really spread it’s wings since then and now has over 13,000,000 searches a day. Growth spurred in part by the Snowden leaks.
So, how does DuckDuckGo compare to Google Search? Well, lets find out.
The most important aspect of a search engine is of course the results. At first glance it seems like Google has the edge over DuckDuckGo. Google results are constantly updated, meaning that you will get a far larger number of results when searching through them than when using DuckDuckGo. Google also keeps track of what you are searching and attempts to ensure things that would interest you reach the top of your results and to do it’s best to make sure everything you see is relevant to you personally.
This has its pitfalls however. Google’s methods means they can create a “filter bubble” and you tend to find that sponsored content at the top of your list.
In comparison, DuckDuckGo doesn’t list its findings based on your previous searches and only on your keyword. This means that you tend to get the official website first rather than sponsored content but you will get far less results than you would using Google and sometimes the results aren’t quite what you were looking for.
Overall, I would say that Google has the edge here because you can get a better variety of results but DuckDuckGo’s results will always try to find you the official, rather than sponsored, link first and does prevent you from being trapped in a filter bubble.
DuckDuckGo’s focus is on building a “private” environment for its users. DuckDuckGo have promised not to collect any data on their users. They also take active steps to prevent “search leakage”. The phenomenon where, when you click on a result from a search engine to get into a website, it gives that website your IP address, browser information and search terms used to find them. This allows websites to find out how you found them, but also means they collect a great deal of information about the visitors to their site. DuckDuckGo does not collect any information on its user and so it cannot sell any information to third party advertisers or be compelled to hand this information over to Law Enforcement agencies.
Google on the other hand focuses on building a “personalized” environment for its users. This requires Google to collect a lot of information on its users browsing habits, including keywords, IP addresses and previously visited sites. This allows Google to deliver the content that is most relevant to you. It also allows Google to sell your information to advertisers so that they can deliver targeted ads to you that they believe you will find most ‘useful’.
DuckDuckGo is clearly the browser for privacy minded users but this means that it looses a lot of Google’s “personal touch” and the information you find will be more generic.
When it comes to extras both browsers are come with an impressive arsenal. Google features significantly better search controls than its smaller competitor and everything is integrated with other Google services, providing a seamless web experience. You have easy access to services such as Google flights and maps and the search engine is tailored to how you use it, which is pretty cool. The downside is that this means all of your eggs are in one basket and you’re pretty much trapped in Google’s ecosystem.
DuckDuckGo has a whole host of features that Google doesn’t possess. One of the coolest of these is !bangs. Bangs are a feature that allow you to search directly on a site through DuckDuckGo. Lets say that you need to find a video and you know it is on Youtube. You can type “!yt cute cat videos” and DuckDuckGo will search Youtube directly for you, saving you valuable cat watching seconds. DuckDuckGo is also significantly more customizable than Google, you can change your background, layout, style, font and text color to suit your own needs or aesthetic desires.
DuckDuckGo also comes with an array of special search terms, you can search for social media profiles, alternatives to certain services, calculate the price of a loan, check whether a website is up as well as a lot of other cool stuff. Google does offer some of these services but not all.
When it comes the search tools themselves, Google does have some tricks up its sleeves. In particular Google has much more powerful filters that allow you to set any number of parameters to filter your results by. Google also has a lot more search categories, you can search by book, news, scholarly articles etc. Which gives it an edge.
So, which is better?
To be honest it’s a tough one. Both Google and DuckDuckGo are really solid search engines and it really depends on what you want out of your web experience.
If you want personalized results, don’t mind your information being tracked to improve your experience and want as wide a range of results as possible, stick with Google.
If you want as much privacy as you can get, are interested in open source and want to ensure you get the official sites first and want to separate your services, then DuckDuckGo is the choice for you.
Personally, I started using DuckDuckGo a year ago. over time it became my primary search engine and now I would struggle to go back to using Google full-time, especially with the knowledge of how much of my privacy I sign away to use their services. I will be the first to admit that DuckDuckGo isn’t perfect and there are occasions where I am forced to !g my searches but it is improving all the time.
DuckDuckGo is a great alternative to Google and if you are at all interested in protecting your privacy I would recommend giving it a go.
4 Most Interesting Crossovers in Gaming
Gaming crossovers are a great way to bring in new people and drive up interest in a title. With that being said, crossovers aren’t as rare as they once were. More and more gaming companies are now embracing crossovers, to the point that some may say that it has lost its appeal. And while this is true to some degree, there are still crossovers that are really effective when it comes to adding a whole new dimension to a game. To prove our point, we’ve put together a list of five of the most interesting crossovers.
Forza Horizon 4: Halo
Forza Horizon 4 is the eleventh installment in the Forza series. The Forza series is known for its ability to emulate realistic racing conditions and offer accurate representations of real-world cars. And while they’ve partnered with car manufacturers before, Forza Horizon 4 features one of the most interesting collaborations in the entire series.
For a series that prides itself on realistic racing, Forza also knows when to cut loose and have a little fun. Nothing exemplifies this more than the Halo crossover that features Master Chief and the iconic Warthog.
Fortnite: Travis Scott
Fortnite is no stranger to crossovers. But if we had to pick one as the most interesting it would have to be the Travis Scott concert. Not only did this crossover include custom skins and emotes but it also paved the way for one of the most unique digital experiences of 2020.
The Verge’s article on the Travis Scott crossover details that the crossover included an interactive digital concert that turned the Fortnite island into a music stage. What’s great about this crossover is that it hints towards a future wherein music and video games will be working hand in hand to deliver immersive musical experiences to millions of people from all over the world.
Merge Dragons: Rick and Morty
When you think of the popular TV show Rick and Morty, a fantasy puzzle game isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. This is what makes this Rick and Morty crossover so interesting. The sheer absurdity of this crossover shows what gaming collaborations can achieve when one thinks outside the box. The game features original dialogue spoken by the characters that matches their characteristics from the show. It is a fun addition to the puzzle game.
However, this crossover shouldn’t be too surprising as Rick and Morty have appeared in other games, demonstrating how they have become pop culture icons. The comic nature of the duo makes them perfect for every type of genre, including slot games. Foxy Bingo’s pop cultured-themed slots include an official Rick and Morty game that features the iconic imagery and characters from the show. The show has also produced its own game in the form of the Pokémon-clone Pocket Mortys. One thing that all of these games have in common is that they maintain the show’s penchant for fun and wacky adventures. This is seen in Merge Dragons with the exclusive cow-dragon hybrid featured in the crossover event.
Mortal Kombat 11: Rambo
While crossovers in fighting games aren’t exactly new, Mortal Kombat has always had a knack for creating interesting crossovers for their iconic fighting game. One way that they’ve done this is with the inclusion of popular film characters. The franchise has had everyone from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Jason of the Friday the 13th franchise appear in their games.
However, the latest iteration of the game may have topped all of the previous crossovers. This is because Mortal Kombat 11 features John Rambo of the legendary Rambo franchise as one of its available fighters. To add to this, CNet’s article on Mortal Kombat 11 details that Sylvester Stallone voiced the digital John Rambo. This is certainly a treat for fans of the popular action film franchise, as they can finally play as one of the most influential action heroes of all time.
Loot Crate vs. The Curiosity Box: A Beginner’s Guide to Subscription Mystery Boxes
With all the loot box shenanigans we’ve witnessed this year, you might have, while searching for more information, accidentally stumbled across something by the name of Loot Crate. Unlike the reviled loot boxes, Loot Crate isn’t a digital gambling scam. Instead, Loot Crate is a physical, subscription-based mystery box you receive in the mail that contains a bevy of geek-related material. Moreover, Loot Crate isn’t the only available service. Alongside the vanilla Loot Crate Classic, the Loot Crate company supplies geeks with anime-themed items with Loot Anime, gaming swag with Loot Gaming (Loot Crate also sells Halo, Minecraft, Fallout, Call of Duty, and Destiny 2 themed boxes), and film/TV merchandise with Harry Potter, Firefly, Marvel, and Star Trek themed boxes. Loot Crate also has a rival in the form of Geek Fuel, which is more expensive than Loot Crate Classic but contains more (and more expensive) merchandise. While I don’t have a Geek Fuel box to compare to a Loot Crate, I received a different subscription box for Christmas, The Curiosity Box. This mystery box is a joint venture between the company behind Geek Fuel and the YouTube Channel VSauce, which is admittedly cool. So, without further ado, let’s get into what sets apart a Loot Crate from a Curiosity Box and determine which is right for you.
WHAT’S THE SAME
On the surface, Loot Crate and The Curiosity Box seem similar. They arrive in big cardboard boxes and contain random items. Well, not precisely random; each box focuses on a different theme, and the items provided center around that theme. While a lot of geeks subscribe to these boxes for various bits of swag, perhaps the biggest draw is the exclusives. The companies behind these subscription services make deals with other firms to create unique pieces of merchandise that are literally impossible to find anywhere else, aftermarket/marked up eBay sales notwithstanding. Some of these exclusives are just color variants of readily available products, such as a glow in the dark Funko POP Groot figure and orange Quantum Mechanix Tribble.
Most exclusives, however, aren’t available elsewhere in any other form and include items like the The Walking Dead art print, the Yeti temporary tattoo, the tower of magnetic rings, and “collectible” pins.
Furthermore, while most exclusives are decorative, some are practical items, such as a pen shaped like the Sledge Saw from Dead Rising 3 and light-up beverage coasters with periodic symbols.
Finally, these subscription boxes have some of the most awesome, exclusive, geeky shirts this side of ThinkGeek or Hot Topic.
The exclusive items tend to be the best pieces of merchandise in each box and are usually worth the price of the subscription alone. Usually.
Let’s get this out of the way: the most obvious differences are the prices and subscription models. Loot Crate Classic is about $20 per box and comes once a month, while The Curiosity Box is well over $50 and arrives once every three months. More importantly, these boxes are designed for two completely different audiences. The Loot Crate (and likely by extension Geek Fuel) is aimed primarily at adults or older teenagers and provides geek-related decorations and practical items, such as the Dead Rising 3 pen, Star Wars and Deadpool fridge magnets, and a Mega Man car air freshener.
Also, Loot Crate tends to include non-exclusive products that are part of a series. Case in point, during my brief stint with Loot Crate, I received (among other things) a Kidrobot Glow in the Dark Ooze Action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle vinyl figure and a Funko ReAction Alien figure. I got Donatello and the titular Alien, respectively, but I easily could have found Leonardo or Ripley in my Loot Crate subscriptions instead. However, since The Curiosity Box is almost exclusively made up of exclusive items, there is no element of randomness and everyone receives the same merchandise.
While Loot Crate caters to the video game, movies, comics, television, and everything pop-culture side of geekdom, The Curiosity Box is more science oriented and is designed for the family. For example, parents who bought the Summer 2017 Curiosity Box got to enjoy a t-shirt, a set of periodic table beverage coasters, a magnetic ring tower, a t-shirt, and a Nikola Tesla (as a sloth) enamel pin, while children will have fun with a temporary tattoo, a unique embroidered sticker patch, a solar system wall decal and poster set, a mobile microscope, and a castle cross-sections book. Finally, the Summer 2017 Curiosity Box came with the Universe Sandbox 2 Steam game, which is fun for all ages.
Since each Loot Crate and Curiosity Box contains new themes and items, you might find the contents of one particular box more to your liking than another. For example, one Curiosity Box contained a “grow your own glow in the dark crystals” kit, while another included a plush of The Curiosity Box’s mascot, the orange octopus Inq. Meanwhile, past Loot Crates have contained a Batman mug, a Doom Marine Funko POP figure, and the One-Punch Man manga.
While I only have personal experience with Loot Crate and The Curiosity Box, they are not your only options for subscription boxes. Geek Fuel is another decent mystery box, and it has come with its fair share of good products, including a South Park: The Fractured But Whole shirt, a Loony Toons Kidrobot blind box vinyl figure, and an exclusive Legend of Zelda pixel sword power bank. While I cannot recommend the Loot Crate, Curiosity Box, or Geek Fuel (or other) subscription boxes enough, you should research each to know what you should expect from these services. Sure, you technically can’t know what to expect since each box is supposed to be a mystery, but look into each specific subscription and figure out which one is right for you. Which do you think tends to have the best exclusives? Which box caters to your interests? These questions are important and will severely impact your enjoyment. Of course, luck also plays a big role, but that’s also part of the fun.
Google Drive will Shut Down in 2018
It seems like yesterday when Google introduced Google Drive 5 years ago. Back then, people didn’t have a good grasp about what Cloud Storage did. Nowadays, there are many Cloud Storage services that it’s only a matter of preference to choose one for your file keeping needs. However, what struck me as an oddity was how Google Drive will pull their Google Drive service come 2018.
That’s right, Google Drive will completely shut down on March 12, 2018. With the software no longer being supported on December 11, 2017. People will have several warnings about this, for now, so they will have plenty of chance to switch to the new version of Drive, Backup and Sync.
This new program is basically a combination of the features between Google Drive and Photos. It’s readily available now for Windows and OSX systems and will be the new host for the Cloud storage. Alternatively, users can get a hold of Drive File Stream, which will become available on September 26, 2017.
The core differences between DFS and BaS come when you compare how they help customers. As shown in the image below:
A day without Google Drive.
It seems like users will have their first experience without Drive today though. Because as of this morning, the service was down for many users who constantly used the GSuit app. According to the independent site Downdetector, more than 7,000 users are experiencing issues with the service. This has been going on since 10:04 AM EDT, but the number of reports has been lowering afterward. You can check the stats here.
It’s a shame to see Google Drive go. To be frank, it was my preferred Cloud Storage option besides MEGA. However, it’s not a huge inconvenience considering they are not shutting down a Cloud Storage service altogether. So we at least have that.
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