Monthly Archives: September 2014

A New Space for

As of today, has a new home. We are going to be working out of Rev Ithaca, a brand-new co-working/incubator startup supporter, funded by Ithaca’s three higher ed institutions: TC3, IC, and CU.

Rev had a grand opening this morning at 8:30, and the presidents of the three institutions were all present, and each shared a few words about Rev and its expected impact on their institutions and the Ithaca area. Rev will provide some great services to local startups, from seminars and connections with entrepreneurs-in-residence, to 3-D printers, laser cutters, and tools for creating prototypes of physical objects. Connections with other entrepreneurs will be vital; we had already created a number of useful connections while working out of the downstairs space before the grand opening.

After that, four companies that will be working out of Rev were highlighted, and we spent some time talking with folks from local and national news outlets. Here are a few stories I’ve seen so far; I’ll add more as I learn about them:

During the question session, a correspondent for Entrepreneur magazine asked a question about the “maker space” lab that is in Rev, and Tom Schryver, Executive Director of the Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell, had an excellent response. He pointed out that Rev is not a “maker space”; Ithaca has a great maker space in the form of Ithaca Generator. Rev is different; it’s designed to help people who are prototyping products to produce and sell. President Skorton of Cornell followed up on that to emphasize that the space is not meant to compete with other services in the region.

I spoke with folks from Time Warner Cable news, Ithaca Journal, Ithaca Times, The Ithacan (from Ithaca College), American Entrepreneurship Today, Entrepreneur magazine, and got photographed by the Cornell Daily Sun (Cornell’s newspaper). We’ll see what comes from all that!

Then, after everyone left, we all got down to work. It was a true Grand Opening; no one could have worked in the space before 8:30 this morning, and lots of people were at work after the media left at 10:30!

New feature: Introducing stopwords

One of the neat things about having an online database is that one can study data to figure out how to make the system work better. This wouldn’t be the case if this were, say, a CD-ROM product.

I can look at all the searches that have been done on the site in the past year or so. In doing this, it’s clear that a lot of people include terms like “USS”, “HMS”, “USCGC” and other descriptive terms in front of the ship name. Others include vessel descriptors, such as “schooner” or “steamer”. For a long time, I’ve wanted to have a way of ignoring those terms, because it will get users to the content they really want more quickly. However, as with most things, it’s not as easy as it seems.

It’s easy to have a list of stopwords — words that are ignored in searches. Many search tools do this, so when you include “the” or “an” in a book title, Amazon doesn’t bother to search for these words. Of course, they still need to make exceptions to deal with searches for the band “The The”, and the like. And in the case of, one still needs to be able to search for “HMS” in a name, since some ships do have that as a legitimate part of their name – though none of them are part of the British Royal Navy.

So anyway, I reviewed the list of search terms, and came up with specific words or phrases that need to be ignored. Then we (and by “we” I don’t mean me – I mean the excellent development team that turns these ideas into reality) created the tools to ignore these words, and also show a results message that says, basically, “We ignored this term, but you can repeat the search without ignoring it if you like.”

The result will be a significant improvement in the results that people see when doing their searches. Let me know if you like it or if you don’t.