VPN and the Opera Browser

People concerned about privacy online might want to  check this news that the  Opera browser has a built-in virtual private network (VPN).

Opera browser now has a built-in VPN, and it’s powered by this Toronto company, CanTech Letter (Sept 20)

Oslo-based browser company Opera Software has implemented a free VPN directly in Opera 40, allowing users to create secure connections to one of Opera’s five global servers, located in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Singapore, and the Netherlands, to choose their location while using the Internet.

Not mentioned in this announcement is that a Chinese consortium bought the mobile and desktop versions of the browser in July. Chinese consortium buys Opera browser for $600 mn Phys.org (July 18) – Hmm – something to watch.

Travel with Google

Travellers can have at their fingertips a new app from Google – Google Trips, and they can plan their trips on the desktop now (as well as mobile) with Google Destinations.

See more, plan less – try Google Trips, Google Blog (Sep 19)

“Google Trips is a personalized tour guide in your pocket. Each trip contains key categories of information, including day plans, reservations, things to do, food & drink, and more, so you have everything you need at your fingertips.”

Google Destinations, Now for Desktop, Google Operating System (Sep 14)

“Search for a continent, a country or state you’d like to visit and the Knowledge Graph card has a “plan a trip” section which includes a travel guide, information about hotels and upcoming events”

Dealing with null results

Love this line from Greg Notess’ article Tips for Avoiding, or Celebrating, Zero Search Results in Information Today — “Only librarians like to search; everyone else likes to find”.

Notess examines the reasons for and the significance of a null set of results. Mostly, searchers need to know the structure and scope of the database; literary and academic databases are much different than Google; specialty searches such as for patents take special skills.

Researching ancestors through other people

Information about an ancestor might be uncovered by searching for people who lived nearby. Amy Johnson Crow recommends this technique in a recent posting – How to Find Your Ancestor by Researching Other People (Sept 15). Sources might be census records, marriage certificates, wills, directories.

Our ancestors did not live in a vacuum. They had extended family members, neighbors, business contacts, friends, and maybe an enemy or two. (Elizabeth Shown Mills refers to these “other” people as a person’s FAN club — friends, associates, and neighbors.)

Searching privately

Helen Brown gives us a good reason to use a search engine that does not track searches or pitch ads – Because it’s none of their business (Sept 8).  Of importance to the professional researcher, the filtering done by search and ranking algorithms may cloud results. Solution – use tools that don’t track but do have a broad reach. She offers a comparison of 13 search engines that indicates for an engine whether there are ads, personalized results, or  tracking.

Some to particularly note are:

Disconnect Search – web version of browser add-on. Operates through a proxy server to direct your queries to the search engine and the results back to you. See short video about the browser add-on. Also – more about Disconnect in Information Week — Disconnect Search: Google In Private (Mar 2014)

Duckduckgo – Bing-based but more of a meta search engine. Does not log any personally identifiable information.

Startpage – does not store personal history. But even more valuable is that  search results can be viewed  through the IxQuick Proxy. See StartPage Proxy Explained.

Oscobo in the UK claims to store no personal data. I suspect the web search results come from the Bing database. It also searches Twitter.

I have also used Carrot2, a meta-search engine developed in Europe (mostly Poland) that clusters search results by topic. Its web search uses Google and Bing. Carrot2 doesn’t promise privacy but as an intermediary it blocks personalization.

But for full privacy you may want to consider access through a virtual private network. Paul Gil at About.com explains why — 10 Reasons to Use a VPN for Private Web Browsing

Mobile searches over 50%

Desktop search has been declining for a couple of years – now down to less than 50% of searches – where Google still dominates with 63% of market share in the US and Bing, Yahoo, and Ask still hang on according to ComScore. Mobile search is a different story – Google is up to 94% in the US.

Billions served: PC search is down but query volume is way up for Google, Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land (Aug 31)