Magazine article Information Today

Building Bubbles and Indexing Images

Magazine article Information Today

Building Bubbles and Indexing Images

Article excerpt

As time goes by, web developers are accomplishing ever-more impressive innovations. These days, the web can deliver experiences that once required costly software, such as Google Documents and Adobe Photoshop Express. Web crawling search engine bots have moved from simply reading text to recognizing images. This month, we'll look at a program dedicated to web-based services and an image recognition engine that's on the cutting edge of search.

Bubbles (

What is it? A site-specific browser that keeps web services running in the system tray

Who cares? Internet Explorer users who regularly rely on web-based services

How does it work? Bubbles uses Internet Explorer's rendering engine to create dedicated browser windows for a single website. From the My Bubbles window, users have two options for creating new "bubbles": They can enter a site by URL or choose from a pre-existing list of site-specific extensions. After creating a bubble, users can select options such as creating a desktop shortcut to it or having it launch automatically when Windows starts. The bubble sits in the system tray and can be opened with a single click on the icon. Closing the bubble simply minimizes it to the tray; a right click on the icon is required to actually exit a bubble.

If the bubble is a pre-existing extension, the system tray icon matches the site's favicon. For example, if I use the Google Calendar bubble for fast access to my schedule, its blue-and-white calendar icon shows in the system tray. The other benefit of the extensions is that they incorporate service functionality into the icon's right-click context menu. In the case of Google Calendar, when I right-click on the icon, several options appear, including the Day view, Week view, Month view, Agenda view, and Create Event. If this was a bubble that I generated by URL, my only options would be Create Desktop Shortcut and Exit.

Any bugs? I have encountered some memory leaks with the Google Reader bubble (that's when a process doesn't properly release the memory it is using, so after it remains open for a while, it begins to use more memory than it should). I've also encountered some crashes when moving between the Firefox windows that pop open as I click on items in Google Reader. Depending on which services are accessed through Bubbles, mileage may vary.

But the bug that made me stop using the current version of the product was when a pop-up ad created a new bubble to appear in while a story that I clicked in the Google Reader bubble was opening a webpage in Firefox. …

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