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The internet is a window on the world; a search engine warps and tints it. And while privacy-focused search options like DuckDuckGo go further to solve that problem, Bing is the most full-featured alternative out there. People use it. Besides, what better way to evaluate Bing than drinking it up in its most distilled form? When you open the Bing app, the act of searching is almost incidental. A high-resolution, usually scenic photograph sweeps the display, with three icons—a camera, a magnifying glass, and a microphone—suggesting but not insisting on the different types of search you might enjoy.

Below that, options: Videos. Near Me.

TIME TRAVEL BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS!

Side-scroll a bit. These are the categories Bing considers worthy of one-tap access in And honestly, why not?

science fiction | Edmond Barrett

I like videos. I like fun. What lurks behind those taps, though, varies wildly in usefulness. You can also just scroll through Bing search results for a given song, most of which are also lyrics. Near Me , on the other hand, offers some genuinely interesting options. I did not. What to say about Fun , a parallel internet universe where casual gaming on AOL never died. You can play Chess or Sudoku or an online jigsaw puzzle. You can take a celebrity quiz or a news quiz or a geography quiz.

Below the traditional search and the retrograde Fun , Bing places an infinite scroll of news stories. It felt less like a curated news selection—algorithmically or otherwise—and more like an Outbrain fever dream. Initially, I wondered if that was because I had no search history with Bing, and it responded to a blank canvas by splattering whatever paint was nearest at hand. But familiarity did not breed success.


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A mid-July check-in yielded the following:. And so on. A Microsoft spokesperson says Bing deploys a combination of "algorithm signals" and human editors, who take into account both live search activity and real-time news events.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Which reveals less about how the features work than what purpose they serve. Bing appears to want, both on desktop and in its app, to be not just a search engine but a portal. Bing wants to be a destination, but search is a thruway. Spending even a second longer than necessary there is like getting on the New Jersey Turnpike to visit the Clara Barton rest stop.

I tested them both out of due diligence, and they seem fine. Google obviously has an app as well, which also shoves weather and headlines underneath a search bar, and offers voice search. But at least when I do, it knows enough about me, through years of my blindly handing over information and interests to Google, to serve up a tailored experience. When in doubt, they lost. Maybe, given enough time and attention, Bing would have that same level of insight into my online psyche.

And because it does some things that drive me nuts. Which is to say, if you want to find something online, Bing will almost certainly get the job done. Would you have found it faster on Google? Would another search engine show you the perfect link first instead of fifth? For the bulk of my Bing expatriation, I avoided Google entirely, but I switched to Google on mobile toward the end.

I've stuck with Bing on desktop. In some ways, I actually preferred the way Bing coughed things up. Anecdotally, it feels less burdened with ads. Bing does do this occasionally, with the kind of mixed results seen below. Bing can be a little slow on the uptake. A few months later, that same search yields better results. Bing does not always get you where you want to go, though.

In fact, it keeps you locked into Bing in strange and frustrating ways. Take videos. Bing tells you it sourced them from YouTube, but when you click on one, it takes you to the video, playing on a weird Bing wrapper page. Actually getting to YouTube requires another click from there. This is, again, not the end of the world. Bing insists on itself in a way that feels unseemly. This carries over to other corners, as well.

News story archive

Bing news results will sometimes pop you over not to the site that produced the story, but an MSN. Microsoft owns both Bing and MSN. A blogger who's name I can't figure out has created a very cool custom action figure of Aldair that is worth a look. To clear up a common point of confusion : the first two "Blues" novels, Pink Vodka Blues and Dead Dog Blues , are each standalone novels, and neither features the character Wiley Moss.

Pink Vodka Blues St. Martin's Press hardcover, pages.

It's a hilarious take on a classic situation. Russell Murray is the editor of a literary magazine in Chicago. He drinks way too much. And he's in big trouble when he wakes up in a hotel room with a beautiful woman just before two men come into the room and kill her.

They try to kill Murray, too, but he gets away. Things never slow down after that. Dead Dog Blues St.

Be disciplined in your search

Martin's Press hardcover. It's full of mayhem, keenly observed characters, sex, casual racist talk from some characters, brutality, and lots of humor. The writing is excellent, and fits subject and characters like a fine leather glove, the likes of which you aren't likely to find in old Pharaoh, Texas.