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The Internet

Northern Light Technology Makes Deal WIth C.I.A. 125

Llywelyn writes: "The C.I.A. has evidently written up a contract with the group Northern Light Technology to develop a search engine that can sort through the C.I.A's increasing mound of unprocessed data. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of this is that Northern Light's public search engine is fated for destruction later this month. " It's inevitable, IMHO, that some of this happen - the search engine world is overpopulated right now, and with the economic downturn, more and more companies will move to where they can survive.
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Northern Light Technology Makes Deal WIth C.I.A.

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  • Top Ten (Score:2, Funny)

    by InfinityWpi ( 175421 )
    I -so- want to see the list of the top search terms for that...

    "pr0n"
    "Where is Osama?"
    "missing equipment"
    "JFK"
    "Castro"

    ...et multiple cetera...
    • Re:Top Ten (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Alien54 ( 180860 )
      A comprehensive, yet highly targeted, crawl of Web sites identified by classification experts will be used to create a database of all the relevant information while excluding sites deemed to be of little value to an organization's goals.

      Probably the biggest online version of "Where is Waldo?" known to man

  • Lets hope there is no mixup between the two sources of data.... could make it a very popular search engine...
  • very first line of the article states it's one of their contractors -- In-Q-Tel
    • by lorax ( 2988 )
      They aren't a contractor, they are fully funded and run by the CIA. I think they are also the venture capital arm of the CIA as well.
      • to me though, a contractor is a private entity [hired | created] for a job and funded by the sponsoring organization. Here, the private entity is In-Q-Tel, sponsor is the CIA.
        • How about this definition: A contractor is a private entity with a contract.

          Duh.

          The CIA gives In-Q-Tel orders, they don't sign deals.

          • The CIA tells In-Q-Tel what they want, and IQT delivers it. How they do that (for the most part), doesnt matter to the CIA, as long as it's done within the given requirements. In this case, Northern Lights is being hired by IQT to handle some of the jobs related to IQT's CIA contract to handle data processing. Therefore, it is IQT hiring on Northern Lights, not the CIA.
            • Contractors get paid, and they get to decide how they are to fulfill their requirements. In-Q-Tel has no autonomy: anytime the CIA wants to change its marching orders, it just says aye.

              We have a similar concept here in Canada: We call them Crown Corporations. The CBC (and its bigger cousin the BBC) is not a contractor, providing television services for the government of Canada. It's a part of the government. It's just not organized like a typical government agency, but rather organized like a corporation.

              I wonder: Have you ever worked for a government contractor, or in government? The difference is pretty huge. (I've done both.)

              • you walked yourself into your own trap:

                Contractors get paid, and they get to decide how they are to fulfill their requirements

                IQT is being paid by the CIA for data processing. They chose to hire Northern Lights to supply a search engine to help handle the data given to them. i rest my case, rebuttals shall be ignored.

                and btw. yes, i too, have worked both as a civilian and contractor for the government. as a matter of fact, i'm still a govie contractor.
                • Northern Lights is a contractor. (We're not arguing about that. We're technically arguing about whether they're a sub-contractor.)

                  You seem to believe that everything that receives government money is a contractor. This would make, for example, the BBC a contractor. This is my final post.

  • Harry Callahan: you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?
  • You think they'll let me pay a little extra to make sure my sites go to the top of the list?

    I could use the hits..
    • Actually, I'd rather pay to have my sites further down the list considering that this is going to be the search engine for the CIA. :)
  • or they'd never let me back into the States.

  • If this [internet.com] is the search engine they'll be taking down. I can assure you, no one will care that its gone nor will the CIA ever accomplish anything.
    • This search engine [northernlight.com] is what they're taking down.
      • ...and having just tried it, it's actually pretty good.

        Searching on my typical 'handle', 'webwench', for example, I usually get about 100 hits out of Google off one site -- atTheFaire.com, mostly. That webwench is apparently pretty busy. I can click through page after page of results and not find one about me.

        In Northern Lights, I get one search result for AtTheFaire, rather than tons, and one result for each of several sites, and I'm the subject of #7.

        I have to say, I like it. Just in time for it to go away.
  • by pgrote ( 68235 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:27AM (#2823298) Homepage
    .... will still have access to the site for a fee. The agreement isn't with the CIA for exclusive use.

    One of the neater features of Northern Lights was the folders. I liked how they organized the info and let it flow out of your continuous clicking.

    What is funny is that Northern Light is actually a better search engine than Google for specific info. Northern Light drills down on the subject only and doesn't take into consideration links to the info as Google does.
    • I was surprised last night to find that NL had literally 100 times as many hits as Google for the children's story, "The Hobyahs". Two for Google vs over 200 for NL.

      Now, that's unlikely to be what's driving the NSA decision but it sure makes me wonder how "deep" Google really is.


      • I don't mean to be Google's official defender/apologist, but searching Google for The Hobyahs results in 323 hits [google.com]. It displays 171, with an option to also show the rest which are filtered out as duplicates. Must've been a server problem when you tried. (Itself not a good sign, but I've never seen a failure like that myself.)

    • Users who like highly organized websearch results and despair at Northern Light's policy change could try instead http://vivisimo.com, which accomplishes a similar goal using document clustering, which organizes a small set of search results (e.g., 200) dynamically without using any pre-defined categories. It works by analyzing the
      words & phrases within the search results, and then uses a built-in general understanding of what makes for good cluster labels (e.g.,
      phrases) to do its thing.

      Besides web search, there's clustering of lots of other internet content at http://vivisimo.com/html/demos/index.html

      such as corporate websites (Microsoft, Sun, Cisco, HP), government, universities, science, news, ebay, etc. etc.
    • Northern Light is actually a better search engine than Google for specific info


      Bull.


      How's this for an obscure query: How many nanoseconds long is a shake?


      Try it in Northern Light [northernlight.com] and be fuddled for a while. Now try Google [google.com] and WiseNut [wisenut.com]. You won't even have to follow the hits. The answer is in the summary of the second or third hit. Not bad, IHMO.

  • I mean, at least they didn't get google.
  • Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why does Northern Light have to shutter its public operation in order to handle the CIA's content? Surely there has to be a way for them to separate the CIA's stuff from their public index. Or is the announcement of the end of their public service merely coincidental to the announcement of the CIA contract, and not a condition of it?

    I too feel there are too many search engines. It is extremely rare that I don't find what I'm looking for on Google, but it's not good to put all your eggs in one basket. While Google may be the best today, there needs to be competition in every market (well, almost every market).
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

      by demaria ( 122790 )
      http://boston.internet.com/news/article/0,1928,200 1_950451,00.html [internet.com]
      Public free search engine didn't pan out for them.
    • I don't think the two are related in any way...

      Northern Light does a great deal of enterprise work (from my understanding...) that predates the CIA work for a long time. I think it is totally coincidental.

      I mean, it's the beginning of the new year, they probably made the decision sometime last year to close the public site as it just wasn't brining in any cash - who makes money from web advertising? nobody. you can't sustain an army of engineers on a free public search site. at least you can't when the competition is tight, and though the Northern Light search engine is very powerful, more precise and relevant than Google, it's just not as popular. Less eyeballs = less $$$ per click from advertisers. And Northernlight kept their integrity and never sold out like AltaVista (The advertisement search engine), and kept it "all about search", and relevancy, for so long.

      You can't give away something for free if it is costing you alot of money to do it forever.

      On the other side, enterprise search, classification and what they call "content integration" services (see their press releases on northernlight.com) probably make a lot more money, and since their site has shown how GOOD they are at search and classification, and selling premium documents, probably puts them in a really good position in this market.

      I think it is a wise move for them as a business, though I will miss the search engine. ;(

    • Northern Light is a good search engine, but they don't know how to design for the masses. There are too many choices on the home page, Joe Average would never know where's the best place to search, and searching a couple of times in the wrong place would send him packing to one of the many other choices with just one serach box. And the design is cold/institutional, as if you were visiting a bank.

      All this is fine if they want to appeal to an elite niche market, but there's no way to survive on that.

  • Has anyone ever read the book CIA and the cult of intelligence [barnesandnoble.com] ?

    Anyone notice the blank line at the top of this article?

    What's going on here? I smell a censor!

    The cia has [deleted] civil liberties

    [deleted] Former Director [delted]

    without any thought

    [deleted]

    won't stand for this!

    (please don't mod this down if you haven't read the book)
  • not necessarily (Score:2, Interesting)

    the search engine world is overpopulated right now, and with the economic downturn, more and more companies will move to where they can survive.

    according to this [slashdot.org] article posted back in August.. there should be even more search engines popping up in the future.. most of the ones on that list are still in beta mode.. personally, i like Teoma a lot :-)
    • I'm personally waiting for search engines to be integrating into a "Passport" like system. While I don't necessarily agree that Microsoft's implementation of Passport is the way to go, I think search engines being able to display results that are behind a restricted portion of a website that you currently have access to would be a great technology advance. I can imagine a Passport search that knows that I have a login to the Cisco CCO site, and returning results that are only available to CCO members. This would enable me to use any search engine I choose to index restricted sites that I have passwords for.

      • An even greater advantage to users would be a search engine that "knows" your subtle preferences; i.e., if you're with H&R Block, you want TCP to mean "Taxpayer Compliance Program." Also might be a great medium for targeted advertising, without spreading your private info all over hell and back.

  • There are other search engines out there besides google? ;)
  • The CIA and FBI (and others) have masses of data so large that their entire staff reading for 100 years couldnt possibly sort it all.

    It makes you wonder about the QUALITY of the data they are collecting,

    Are they going o index their HOWTO's aka
    HOW TO WIRE A CAT WITH A MIC (Seen previoulsy on slashdot)

    As they teach you DAY ONE in Naval Intelligence
    Everything is simply a piece of a puzzle, expect nothing monumental, no matter how small it is a detail of a bigger picture.

    Now without addressing information in this manner and looking for ONE big hit , the process of intelligence gathering is broken.

    YOU NEED SOMEONE to al least try to review this data before its all clumped into a selective search engine and forgotten. The CIA has horrible record retention policies in place. My bet 10:1 this is the worst possible fate of this data.

    Probably just be better to auction it off to some willing buyer and hire more spooks to gather more data to auction off again, then maybe then the CIA could be considered usefull at least as a govt profit center :)

    • I don't know about that, it seems to me that data in a search engine becomes only more powerful. Each document is still available to be read in toto, to a larger potential readership (anyone with access). And patterns undiscernible to any single reader (like the same names appearing in 50 out of a million documents) can be found and assembled from their diverse sources.

  • This is a very clever direction to turn in. Given the vast amounts of data that has been collected in recent years, systems like this are going ot become required and more advanced. Perhaps what Northern Light learns while working on this project could eventually turn into the Northern Light 2 internet search engine which will be more efficient and provide better results.
    • This is a plug:

      Lots of companies have vast amounts of data, both text and otherwise to which they need access. The company I work for, Maxim-IT, Inc [maxim-it.com] focuses on search technologies for non-structured data (like CAD files and the like).
  • Depending on the stats and reporting capabilities of the new search engine that Northern Light Technology develops, perhaps the CIA could come up with its own version of a "Ten Most Wanted" list.

    Of course, this would be a bit different than that of the FBI's list, with a ranking of search strings rather than people. I would predict the top three being:

    (1) where hell Osama bin Laden Cave Country
    (2) bad-guys terrorists attack United States not nice people
    (3) Natalie Portman hot grits petrified
  • A few months back I pointed out that the economic model of search engines is a bit flaky. Here's yet another carcass in the search engine war to prove the point.

    Intriguingly, according to some the growth of the web is slowing. The last search engine to index the web before it reaches quiescence is the likeliest candidate for survival.
    • Except that this was exactly how a lot of the search engines said that they would make money. They would advertise themselves by setting up the free web-search services, and then make deals with private organizations to index their files. The public search becomes an ad for the moneymaking indexing venture.

      That was how OpenText and that crew wanted to make their first billion, anyway, IIRC.

      It's just that they thought that lots of companies would want their services, and not sign them to exclusive contracts as it appears the CIA has done here. So they'd keep the public sites up to attract more clients. The exclusivity of this contract makes the public site redundant.

  • On Intelligence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Proaxiom ( 544639 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:46AM (#2823398)
    This brings to light a large misconception about intelligence.

    As much as the focus tends to land on it, information gathering is not by any means the weakest link in the intelligence system. Probably we hear most about it because
    a) it is glamourous (think James Bond), and
    b) it often affects our civil liberties.

    But the real problem with intelligence is the processing of retrieved raw information. They gather so much of the stuff it's extremely difficult to sort through it to figure out what's relevant and what's not.

    That is why whenever something bad happens (like Sept 11) the intelligence community looks sloppy. In retrospect they can dig out wads of unprocessed information that would have given advance warning of the disaster. Then they take a lot of heat for missing it, even though they may not really be at fault. Sometimes it's a matter of finding a needle in a haystack.

    It's a little more interesting to geeks because it's an issue of pure computer science. Processing raw data into meaningful information is computing at its best.

    But developing better algorithms as a response to a national disaster is never going to be a solution that catches the public's imagination.

    • Intelligence has an impossible job. If they do it perfectly, no one knows, and they get no money, credit, or attention. If they don't do it perfectly, they get lambasted.

      Kinda like that scarecrow that scares off the giraffes. What? You don't see any giraffes? Must be working then ...

      One thing I will say is that I give these terrorist orgs more credit than to think that they have truly useful data somewhere online. I don't know if this is really going to help the CIA, or if it's just a public showing of action, but I can't imagine /too/ much relevant info coming out of this. I /definately/ hope it doesn't turn into witch hunt where innocent people who've had anti-american literature online get targeted and monitored, and possibly get made scapegoats out of. Of course, the CIA's track record here isn't that great either ...
      • Re:On Intelligence (Score:2, Interesting)

        by DarenN ( 411219 )

        Er.... I thought this article meant that it would be searching the CIA's own databases for the mounds of information that they can't quite link together to find the master plan.
        Like the way the KGB could never find Bond, despite the fact that he always introduced himself as "Bond, James Bond".

        If they can link all their data together (e.g searching transcripts for Osama (not Bin!) might have an interesting result).

        Maybe that'd just make too much sense.
      • > I give these terrorist orgs more credit than to think that they have truly useful data somewhere online

        google has some cached already [google.com], so why not? ;-]

        No, they aren't going to prowl the internet for intel on terrorists, they need technology to analyse the mountain of info they have already collected, but don't have the manpower to analyze.
    • Which is why, when someone proposes that the CIA monitors every email,phone call etc - I have to laugh. What good would that do? If you can't process the information in real time the backlog would just keep growing at an explosive rate.

      It would be useless.

      Chet
  • Illumination (Score:2, Interesting)

    It seems that Northern Light may be the magic lantern they have been looking for. Perhaps they will find some illuminating facts nestled in their databanks.
  • by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:50AM (#2823420) Homepage Journal
    "Unfortunately, one of the consequences of this is that Northern Light's public search engine is fated for destruction later this month."

    According to fuckedcompany.com, they will be converting their search-engine service to a paid-only model.

  • Too bad. Northern Light was my primary search engine for a long while, and was my secondary recently (no need to say what #1 was.)
    The really nice thing was Northern Light's categorization of hits. It was often far more useful than trusting Google's "sort by relevance"

    Damn this is sad.
  • by andy@petdance.com ( 114827 ) <andy@petdance.com> on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:55AM (#2823448) Homepage
    with the economic downturn, more and more companies will move to where they can survive.

    You make it sound like working for the CIA is some odious move of last resort. Perhaps the management and staff of Northern Light is excited about working with the intelligence agency. Perhaps they see it as a way to help their country. Perhaps the processing of terabytes of data is a thrilling prospect from a purely intellectual point of view.

    The standard /. dislike of all things governmental is not necessarily mirrored through all geeks.

    • The standard /. dislike of all things governmental is not necessarily mirrored through all geeks.

      I'll say. I like the Government! The Government (through DARPA) paid for my Masters' degree. That's Your Tax Dollars At Work, circa 1998. Thank you, taxpaying Geeks!

      • Indeed. I'm wary when anyone blames "The Government." The goverment is a mechanism.

        Now, the people currently in the mechanism... Them you can and should look at. Closely. Find out who's doing what. So you can go right for the cancer and leave people who are doing a good job, actually serving the people.

        And no, it's not easy, it's an eternal struggle. But it's better to take thoughtful action than to just go "The Government did it!" and forget that the also paid for imadork's education. Better to find the good people in the CIA who wanna shift through the pile of data to stop another 11/09 from happening and encourage them them group them with the idiots in the organization selling drugs.

        I'll start before I REALLY ramble. Gah.
  • by Nick Arnett ( 39349 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @10:59AM (#2823465) Homepage
    In-Q-Tel is a venture capital fund set up by the CIA to invest in technologies that may serve the intelligence community. This is not a CIA contract for search technology. The CIA was Verity Inc.'s first big customer and as far as I know, they're still mostly using Verity internally (I managed Verity Internet products for years).

    And the article misspelled Gilman Louie's name...

    Nick
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Gilman Louie, for those who don't know, is the man behind the Falcon flight simulator series. He's also the man who helped drive Microprose straight into the ground.

      (a former Spectrum Holobyte/Microprose employee)
  • by jargon ( 75774 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @11:05AM (#2823496) Homepage
    the search engine world is overpopulated right now

    This is just not true. Over the last year, more and more search engine companies are effectively consolidating - by licencing "search engine technology" from another company. The real down side of this is that the more popular (popular by the licencing...not by users) are a "pay" engine, whereby companies can move their listings higher in the rankings by paying a fee.

    This has two main side effects.

    One, there are a lot of search engines out there that are really the same search engine. Same query, same results.

    Two, when you search with them, you're not really getting what you asked for, but what someone payed for.


    I understand why companies are doing this - there isn't a really strong revenue model for search engines right now; banners don't cut it.

    I suspect that soon, good search engines will just be a (hopefully) inexpensive pay site, where you pay $30 a year and can use that search engine.

    • by unity ( 1740 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @11:49AM (#2823744)
      I suspect that soon, good search engines will just be a (hopefully) inexpensive pay site, where you pay $30 a year and can use that search engine.

      But can you imagine all the bad possiblities if they were able to actually tie all your searches together and see WHAT YOU searched for? Sure they can do it by i.p. or cookie, but an actual account, probably verified by credit card?

      On the otherhand, a search engine is a basic need to use the internet. And I'd be quite surprised if some of them didn't start heading this way, REALLY CHEAP though. Incidently I don't know exactly when google.com became my ONLY search engine, replacing altavista.com, but it happened. Probably because of the excellent results (not perfect though) and the light interface.

      On another note, I get the BEST referrals from google.com to my site. I get the MOST referrals from msn.com to my site. I say BEST from google.com, because the people that find my site through them, most likely want to see my site, and end up staying. MSN's referrals are usually pretty broad topics.
      • I switched from AltaVista (which I always ran in text mode) to Google when AltaVista started shoving paid links in with the regular results. Google has sponsored links (I even click on them, if they seem relevant), but they are clearly separated from the actual search results.
  • Signs of convergence (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PHAEDRU5 ( 213667 )
    There's a lot of stuff out there on the web. So much so that the question now is to find exactly the stuff you need. It's almost as if you need an observor monitoring your actions, constructing semantic nets and offering suggestions.

    Microsoft is making a stab at this using SmartTags. Of course, the intent there is not to make the web more useful, but more Microsoft.

    Then there's the w3 symantic net (http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/), and finally there's the grand daddy of them all: Xanadu (http://www.xanadu.net/).

    No real thoughts here, just an observation.
  • Anyone who has something on their site that they don't want the FBI knowing about will just block northern light's spider at their router or better yet, use apache rewrite rules to serve only "safe" pages to the spider...

    Pretty stupid if you ask me. I doubt they are then intelligent enough to change the spider agent string and route the spider through various innocent proxies to disquise it is the FBI spider...

    I mean, what does the FBI do? Enter in "warez" into a search engine and go out and bust heads depending on the results returned?

    You know what I really thin@~.~.~.~.~.~~~..~~#~~
    NO CARRIER

    • Re:End result... (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      please go read the article before spewing ignorant comments - this isn't about searching the net, it is about internally searching the intel the CIA has already collected.

      "Ahmed, have you posted all our secret plots to the website yet?"

      "Yes Jimal, just as you have instructed. And I have modified the robots.txt to keep the great satan's search engine crawler from discovering our plans!"

      "Allah be praised!"


      Sheesh, oh and it isn't the FBI either.
  • If you read the linked story, this doesn;t seem to have anything to do with "processing the CIA's data" at all... It's funded by the CIA's VC arm, but is going to target "large companies and government organizations". This could mean anything, but unless you're a real conspiracy theorist, it's hard to see this as something exclusively CIA-related.
  • I had completely forgotten about Northern Lights until I read about their GeoSearch feature [northernlight.com]. I gave it a shot and loved the results. I know about lasso (or whatever) but didn't like it. Is there something else out there as good as Northern Lights Geosearch?
  • At the end of last year Kuro5hin went down. Part of the reason for this was a post in which one person detailed how easy it would be to whack a certain high ranking official in office right now. Soon after that post was made the Secret Service was banging on that guys door. The internet is not a secret place, it is not an anonymous place, and lots of people are interested in what happens on it. Don't delude yourself into thinking otherwise.
    • It's true that someone on K5 was questioned by the Secret Service (hmm, I almost abbreviated that 'SS' -- not the best name for a govt organization) but it didn't have anything to do with K5 going down. The server had hardware issues. It also sounded like the questioning was pretty routine and non-threatening ("we just wanted to talk to you and make sure you aren't serious about doing this"). His post certainly isn't threatening, but still seems reasonable to follow up on anyone who is discussing (even theorectically) how best to kill the President, VP, and cabinet members with biological weapons.

      More info (the Lee's own desc of what happened to him) can be found here:

      http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/12/20/211923/84 [kuro5hin.org]
  • Anyone else remember "Snow Crash"? Where there's all that information-gathering so that "it got so there was no real difference between the CIA and the Library of Congress, so they merged and kicked out a big stock offering". Book was before the internet became big, but this sounds like the way it's going to go! :-)

    Grab.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      When we hear of the Library of Congress overthrowing a thirdworld despot, we will know that the merger is complete.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        When we hear of the Library of Congress overthrowing a thirdworld despot

        The CIA doesn't overthrow third-world despots, they put them into power so that politically connected companies keep getting richer (under the guise of "stopping the commies"). Hmm, I guess that needs updating now... I know! Replace commies with terrorists.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Actually, the CIA has helped overthrow third world despots or has helped prevent or thwart the efforts of colonial powers to attack thirdworld countries. It has nothing to do with "politically connected companies": this is a myth long ago dispelled and is only believed by a politically uninformed 1 to 5% or so of the population.
          • Actually, the CIA has helped overthrow third world despots or has helped prevent or thwart the efforts of colonial powers to attack thirdworld countries. It has nothing to do with "politically connected companies": this is a myth long ago dispelled and is only believed by a politically uninformed 1 to 5% or so of the population.

            Sure... and Augusto Pinochet saved us from the terrible threat of Argentina invading the United States.
            http://www.lakota.clara.net/

            Wait... I've got a better one... Manuel Noriega
            protected us from fierce banana-weilding attackers.
            http://www.cnn.com/resources/newsmakers/world/na me rica/noriega.html

            How about... Saddam Hussain?

            Or... Peru's President Alberto Fujimori?
            http://www.csrp.org/rw/rw1081.htm

            I can go on and on.
            Just search Google for CIA dictator.

            All petty tyrants served up by the CIA to do a few basic deeds: Provide growth & processing of narcotics for the George H.W. Bush drug-smuggling empire and provide a cover for the Nazi-controlled CIA to bankrupt nations so they may buy up mineral rights, oil land, media control, political elections, and crush the thinking majority under the thumb of the insane Nazi minority. The CIA has no interest in protecting America and is in fact the biggest danger to freedom and sanity in the world.

            Peddle your fraud elsewhere shill.
  • Yawn.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lagrange5 ( 267948 )
    Northern Light downgraded its relevance about two years ago when they weren't generating enough capital and decided to charge its visitors for "premium" articles. At that point, NL effectively ceased to be a search engine and became an information broker. Nothing's really changed.
  • Too bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phatlipmojo ( 106574 )
    NL is my second-favorite search engine (second to the mighty google), due in large part to its massive index and its ability to use complex Boolean (try that on google). When you really need to drill down and/or cut through a major noise:signal ratio, there's no better engine on the web, in my experience.
    Anyone know of another decent engine with a good boolean implementation?
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @01:01PM (#2824322) Journal

    Reporter: You mean, the procurement officer paid $6,000,000 for grep?

    Guy with face hidden: Yes.

    Reporter: What happened to him when they found out?

    Guy with face hidden: Well, they were going to hit him with a hammer, but they decided that would be hypocritical...

    • Flooz (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      but the 6 million was paid in Flooz, not real dollars. Saw the man walking with a wheelbarrow full of 20 meg hard disks loaded with Flooz money walking down the street.
  • I couldn't care less about the search engine going away. I just always liked the AP News Feed they had there.

    I hope it will still be available. I've tried others but not found a better one. Anyone else?
  • with the CIA.

    I think his name was Fidel..

    haha..

    gallix
  • ePairie.com seems to have some "reliable gossip" (what is that anyway?!?) to think NL might be bought out by a Chicago based company. The "activity" might actually have something to do with the CIA deal -- or maybe a Chicago company is buying the CIA :) http://www.eprairie.com/news/viewnews.asp?newslett erID=3261
  • what with Google, Yahoo, and ... MSN?
  • FWIW, NL is second-best in my book.

    Not as good as Google; better than Altavista.

    Altavista used to be second best but NL overtook it.

    The problem (for NL) is that second best is not good enough: I only use Google.

    Of interest (???) to slashdot readers: isn't NL one of the last VMS diehards?

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