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Wolfram Alpha Launches Tonight, On Camera

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the nuts-and-bolts dept.

The Internet 218

future.nerd tips news that Wolfram Alpha is set to be launched tonight at 8PM EST (00:00 GMT), and the entire process will be broadcast live, via webcast. Steven Wolfram said to PCPro, "We've been rather surprised that we haven't been able to find even a single publicly available record of the commissioning of any large website at all. So we thought we would document our own experience. We can't guarantee that everything will go smoothly. We fully expect to encounter unanticipated situations along the way. We hope that it'll be interesting for people to join us as we work through these in real time." In a related blog post, he explains how Wolfram Alpha interacts with Mathematica.

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Google Killer (4, Funny)

credd144az (1078167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27973921)

Get ready to sell all your google stock. /sarcasm

Re:Google Killer (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974015)

He specifically said it's not a google killer.

Woosh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974115)

right over your head.

Re:Google Killer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974119)

Whooosh!

Re:Google Killer (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974149)

He specifically said it's not a google killer.

Well, people have said its not trying to compete with Google, even though its designed to do something better that people currently use Google for. They are either simply hoping Alpha won't to be compared to Google, perhaps for fear the comparison will come out negative, or they know what "compete" means.

Re:Google Killer (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974953)

And, of course, it can answer important questions that Google can't, like "which sites have the most free pr0n?" and "what are the factors of 2^142154695-1"

Re:Google Killer (1)

credd144az (1078167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974253)

Sorry ~

My Wolfram question is... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27973959)

When will I get first post?

Re:My Wolfram question is... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27973991)

When will I get first post?

The Magic 8-Cell Automaton says "Outlook not so good."

Re:My Wolfram question is... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974013)

Funny, that's what it said when I asked about e-mail programs...

WTF? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27973985)

WTF is "Wolfram Alpha"? Couldn't the post at least give us ignorami a little hint about what it is?

Re:WTF? (1)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975559)

it's to differentiate themselves with Goolge Betaâ

(â = the trademark character before i submitted the form. ™ disappeared when i submitted the form :P)

Oh Oh Oh Google killer (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974011)

Qu'est-ce que c'est?
fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa better
Run run run run run run run away

Re:Oh Oh Oh Google killer (2, Funny)

Svippy (876087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974203)

You know, finally, we might be able to get a clear answer on how to determine whether a program has stopped.

Or who killed the dinosaurs and whether post stamp glue is really made of toad mucus?

And on a related note; is Futurama coming back?

Re:Oh Oh Oh Google killer (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974391)

> You know, finally, we might be able to get a clear answer on how to determine whether a
> program has stopped.

Check the exit status.

Such confidence. (1, Informative)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974023)

Some how the "Things will definitely go wrong" angle seems to be the precise reason why no one else has done such an unveiling to the public. I think they need to get some new PR people, because whoever they have right now is not doing a good job at making this sound like a stable, reliable system.

Re:Such confidence. (2, Insightful)

NightRain (144349) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975019)

They're doing a fantastic job of personalising it though. If you're interested in "geek culture" cred to build up an initial userbase to iron out the kinks, with professional usage coming at a later time, this seems like a good way to do it...

Re:Such confidence. (1)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975059)

Have you ever release a large piece of software to a large group of users before? How about a small piece of software to a small group of users?

Something always goes wrong and there is usually a good reason for it. It should be a neat learning experience for all involved

Re:Such confidence. (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975311)

I know that something always goes wrong. But you don't announce it to your users. That's just bad PR work. Under no circumstances do you tell your customers "Things are going to break, we guarantee it. Come watch it happen." during the launch event for your product. You don't bring up bad things during a time like that. You focus on the positive aspects and work out the kinks with as little fanfare as possible.

Re:Such confidence. (1)

aphexcoil2 (878167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975523)

THIS. What they did was horrible. You don't open up your innards to the world like that -- especially when you suspect it will break! They may be smart scientists but they are shit-poor managers.

umm, doesn't this sound like the plot of a movie? (0)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974037)

amazing software product readies for launch live throughout the world, evil criminal syndicate comes crashing down as they start talking on-camera about their evil plan to the "soon to be dead" hero as they completely forget their camera is on live streaming throughout the whole world.

Re:umm, doesn't this sound like the plot of a movi (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974901)

That sound suspicious like exactly the opposite of part of Tomorrow Never Dies.

A New Kind of Website (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974079)

But what I want to know is how Wolfram Alpha interacts with elementary cellular automata!

THERE IS ANOTHER SYSTEM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974081)

1+1=2, 1+2=3, ...

Re:THERE IS ANOTHER SYSTEM (1)

tattood (855883) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974165)

1+1=2, 1+2=3, ...

2+2=5

Re:THERE IS ANOTHER SYSTEM (1)

stox (131684) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974693)

oolcay itay

Re:THERE IS ANOTHER SYSTEM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975179)

Two plus two is .....

ten .....

in base four

I'M FINE

Step by Step (5, Insightful)

eddy_crim (216272) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974101)

1. create complex new search engine type technology
2. create webcast of launch
3. announce on slashdot
4. fail!

I wonder why people dont create records of sites going live... perhaps its cos the poop always collides with the fan!

Re:Step by Step (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974641)

I don't know, watching the into video has me somewhat intrigued and excited. It seems like a nice tool for finding specific bits of information that would be a page-digging pain.

1st search (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974111)

"Murphy's Laws". They will find practical cases of them in a way or another.

Still not sure what I should call it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974121)

I think the best shorthand that I can come up with is to tell someone to go "wram" it.

Idiots - exactly the wrong way to launch a website (5, Insightful)

Sanity (1431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974131)

You can be pretty sure that this wasn't the idea of the engineers who built the website. The worst possible launch from an engineering standpoint is a high-profile one where your traffic spikes immediately on going live. The likely outcome is that your site goes down and all your PR effort results in nothing other than ridicule.

When I've been involved in launching websites I've always had to talk down the PR people from some kind of high-profile launch, to something as gradual as possible.

I was right (3, Interesting)

Sanity (1431) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974411)

Their launch video page appears to be slashdotted. What a surprise :-|

Re:Idiots - exactly the wrong way to launch a webs (1)

aphexcoil2 (878167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974739)

You are absolutely right. This whole thing is a joke right now. Their web cast isn't working well and when I do get something, it looks like a NASA control room with big screens up on the walls. When is it really going live? This is like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Re:Idiots - exactly the wrong way to launch a webs (1)

Valtor (34080) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975003)

I was actually able to try a couple queries. But now it's too slow, unusable!

Valtor

Re:Idiots - exactly the wrong way to launch a webs (2, Informative)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975061)

If you look at the top ten websites on Alexa, maybe two of them (MSN and Microsoft Live) had high-profile launches. I know that three of them (Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia) had launches consisting of the site creator saying to his friends "Hey, guys! Look at this cool thing I made!"

Why? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974135)

Wolfram Alpha is set to be launched tonight at 8PM EST (00:00 GMT), and the entire process will be broadcast live, via webcast.

The process of putting a website that is available currently only in invitation-only test into general public release isn't exactly something worth watching. Presumably, a scripts been set up to do it. And someone is going to sit at a terminal and run a shell command to execute the script. Or maybe click on an icon. And then the website will be live.

The interesting part (if there is any) of a website launch isn't the process of launching it on the server end, its the user experience at the other end of the connections once it is launched.

Re:Why? (5, Funny)

MtlDty (711230) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974219)

Personally I'm hoping to see servers go up in smoke, explosions, minor casualties and with some luck an invasion by a passing Vogon fleet when I ask for The Ultimate Question

Wrong time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974163)

8PM EST == 9PM EDT == 01:00 GMT
7PM EST == 8PM EDT == 00:00 GMT

Re:Wrong time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974421)

They're late! So much for ontime live launch.

It's sure to clarify one thing... (2, Insightful)

Onyma (1018104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974169)

I believe if this new computational engine comes online tonight the first thing it's going to define is a much better understanding of the term 'slashdotted'.

Alpha? (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974197)

Shouldn't it become Wolfram Beta after tonight?

A New Kind Of Search Engine (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974231)

Some might say that Mathematica, the source of my fortune, and A New Kind Of Science: A Brief History Of My Stupendous Intellect were ambitious projects. But in recent years I've been hard at work on a still more ambitious project: Wolfram Alpha [today.com] .

Fifty years ago, people assumed that computers would quickly be able to handle all kinds of question. It didn't work out that way. But a few years ago, I realized that I was finally in a position to do it myself. As I'd always expected I#d have to, of course.

I had the crucial ingredients: Mathematica and A New Kind Of Science. And my truly massive intellect. With these, I had a language to compute anything and a paradigm for complexity from simple rules. And my spectacular brain, which is much more spectacular than anyone else's, as proven by me being rich as well as smart. Which is smarter: to be a professor, or to be the professor all the other professors pay tribute to? I think my net worth makes the answer clear.

But what about all the actual knowledge that we as humans have accumulated? I realized we needed to make all data computable as knowledge. Of course, natural language is incredibly difficult for computers. So we added the secret ingredient: my jaw-droppingly spectacular brain, undoubtedly the largest on Earth.

I'm happy to say that with a mixture of clever algorithms and heuristics, linguistic discovery and curation, and some casual Nobel-worthy theoretical breakthroughs in my spare moments, we've made it work. It's going to be a website with one simple input field that gives direct access to my superlative brain, in its planet-sized glory.

Our pre-launch testers have been at work as well, and I'm dealing with all manner of queries in spare thought cycles while I jetset around the world, wowing the pitiful minds of gorgeous international supermodels before impregnating them with my superior genetic material. Let's just have a look at the query stream:
"tits" "goatse" "mary whitehouse naked" "4chan" "tubgirl" "2girls1cup" "ITS OVER 9000 LOL" "desu desu desu desu"
ERROR ERROR ERROR
&&#(â^^(856â^*#**â#&*##&##
NO CARRIER_

Re:A New Kind Of Search Engine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974723)

Satire is a fading art these days. You win it.

Mod 10 big ones for Mr. Gerard (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975413)

Good Citizen, David Gerard, your post cannot be improved upon - BRAVO!

It is receiving universal praise... (2, Interesting)

tb()ne (625102) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974351)

...from all the commenters on Wolfram's blog [wolframalpha.com] . It is actually rather amusing to read through the long list of overwhelmingly positive comments.

Wolfram...that name seems familiar? (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975565)

Wolfram.....? Say, wasn't he the guy who published that book a year or two ago claiming he invented the universe???? Or was he the one on the Wheaties box???

Wrong time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974365)

It's summer, and the east coast is on Daylight Time (EDT), not Standard Time (EST). So the launch is at 8pm EDT, not 8pm EST which would be one hour later.

Very bad timing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974375)

I am watching NASA TV.

Re:Very bad timing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974661)

I am watching NASA TV.

Because looking at the back of Space Shuttle Flight Control Room employees' heads is more action packed, at least, so far.

Sweet (1)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974415)

I got to watch a live webcast come to a screeching halt, live and in person.

Already borked. (1)

kfort (1132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974419)

I can't get a response from the wolfram.com website and the wolframalpha.com website doesn't seem to have switched on yet. Anyone else?

First W|A task: (3, Funny)

7times9 (955358) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974453)

Solve: Server Slashdotting... Equals... Error: Causing own slashdotting!##'$£"$12

hurrrrrrr (1)

gadabyte (1228808) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974495)

wolfram alpha tells me that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is not "42" but "Launching May 2009..."

Re:hurrrrrrr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974611)

browser cache ....LOL

http://twitter.com/wolfram_alpha/ (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974563)

We are running behind because the justin.tv uplink is not working.

half a minute ago from TweetDeck

We're running a few minutes behind, but stay tuned here: http://www.justin.tv/wolframalpha

13 minutes ago from TweetDeck

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974591)

Wolfram Alpha goes online, and begins to learn at a geometric rate...

its late already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974615)

20 minutes late already! This better be good.

DED (2, Funny)

captinkid (1224428) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974625)

DED dead, website will not even refresh, even after pressing refresh a dozen times on several computers. :) Just doing my part.

First Thing I'll do with it (2, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974643)

Pit it against 20Q [20q.net] . Come up with a random thing, and have 20Q ask questions while WA gives answers, and see if the two together can figure out what I was thinking of. My guess is that the questions will be too bizarre for WA to handle ("is electricity an animal, vegetable, or mineral?"), but it should be interesting.

Still nothing (1)

phreaki (725521) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974659)

Looks like Wolfram's neighbor found out it was leeching wireless and put a WPA key on it.

Great way to DDOS yourself ... (1)

aphexcoil2 (878167) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974665)

Step 1: Announce intro to the second. Step 2: Get hit with hundreds of thousands of requests Step 3: Crash the servers

214 AM (1)

xfmrT (1352629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974697)

Wolfram Alpha goes online and begins to learn at a geometric rate.

Re:214 AM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975603)

good thing its not an exponential rate

Re:214 AM (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975639)

Yeah, it seems to be learning at the geometric rate known as a 'slashdotting'.

Maybe it's like skiing: "you're only learning when you're falling over".

Webcast is jumpy, but working (1)

captinkid (1224428) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974727)

Not bad for waiting 33 minutes, who knows if the system itself will work.

Re:Webcast is jumpy, but working (1)

zxjio (1475207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974781)

This has all the empty hyperbole and hubris of the dot com bubble. I wish these preening fools just quietly made it work.

Colossus (2, Funny)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974755)

15 minutes later, Alpha reports:

"Warning. There is another system."

Launch delayed, WolframAlpha hits a "snag" (3, Informative)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974759)

Wolfram Alpha encounters 'snag,' launch could be delayed [cnet.com]

"We have several supercomputer-class compute clusters. One of our tests was to use one cluster to simulate traffic and run it against the other cluster. And when we did that last night, we found that the through-put we got degraded horribly when we increased the amount of traffic that we were pushing from one cluster to the other."

Remaining questions:

1. Why didn't they test first, then announce launch date?
2. Why are they building excitement towards a specific release day, hour and minute (which will surely cause availability issues even if they launched), instead of releasing it gradually with gmail-style invitation system?

That said, the project seems definitely worthwhile, I hope the internet community cuts them some slack so they can fix this in peace. Hopefully we see the project online soon.

Re:Launch delayed, WolframAlpha hits a "snag" (2, Interesting)

d474 (695126) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974851)

That said, the project seems definitely worthwhile, I hope the internet community cuts them some slack so they can fix this in peace.

I agree and from what I've seen of WolframAlpha so far, is it seems like an excellent "thinking sketch pad". You can brainstorm ideas quickly with it, performing quick calculations in seconds what might take you 5 or 10 minutes to search for, gather input, convert units, get the right equation, and then finally perform the calculation. With this thing you can just type in your question in a loose form and play with the idea. Again, it's only a "sketch" pad so to speak. So if your idea or direction you are going looks good, you can roll up your sleeves and do the "real stuff" on your own system.

And that's what I find very interesting: WolframAlpha gets to watch the calculations be performed by bright (and not so bright) people all over the world and see what ideas people are tinkering with. They could flag certain equations on the cutting edge and so on...

And it's only going to get better.

Re:Launch delayed, WolframAlpha hits a "snag" (2, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975395)

And that's what I find very interesting: WolframAlpha gets to watch the calculations be performed by bright (and not so bright) people all over the world and see what ideas people are tinkering with. They could flag certain equations on the cutting edge and so on...

I'm not working on the cutting edge of anything, but what little bit I know about science and math leads me to think that progress is very rarely about coming up with new equations. Even if it was, and I was working anywhere near cutting edge science, I certainly wouldn't be typing my work into W/A so that Wolfram can run off and patent and/or scoop my discovery.

Re:Launch delayed, WolframAlpha hits a "snag" (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974881)

Currently (a not very smoothly working) video stream with the WolframAlpha team is live at:

http://www.justin.tv/wolframalpha [justin.tv]

The site itself is not up yet, there's a word they may need until Monday to "build up computing capacity".

A lesson in how NOT to bring a Website online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27974929)

Alright, this whole thing just served to piss me off and waste my time. I thought they were going to bring it online so I could see how it works and instead they have a rambling, choppy video stream that continues to cut out.

They did no testing. They set themselves up for an unbelievable server load. They wasted my time. This is just stupid. Poor management and a horrible way to start off your company.

What a waste of time.

Hmm (1)

zefrer (729860) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974987)

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975043)

Nice loop hole! Now I can play with it...

Al Gore is off the hook (1)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975007)

now that Wolfram has claimed to have invented the Internet (everything that counts, anyway)...

Use this URL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975025)

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/

At least it knows the answer (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975051)

to life, the universe, and everything:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=the+answer+to+life%2C+the+universe%2C+and+everything&asynchronous=false&equal=Submit

Re:At least it knows the answer (1)

UnlimitedFreakOut (1324145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975073)

Proof it works then!

FAIL (1)

atarione (601740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975057)

So yeah... 6:10 Pacific (9:10Eastern)

and still "launching May 2009"

i believe this is the website equivalent of that injury cone cat spilling his food all over the place

FAIL

Input page (5, Informative)

Sephr (1356341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975093)

The main page's search input area is still unusable for me and if it is for you, try http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/ [wolframalpha.com] instead. The "i" GET parameter is your search. For example: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=world+population [wolframalpha.com]

Re:Input page (1)

d474 (695126) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975161)

Looks like Google results are still more useful than WolframAlhpa:

My question: How long does it take for the solar system to make 1 orbit around the milky way galaxy?

WolframAlpha doesn't compute: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=how+long+does+it+take+for+the+solar+system+to+make+1+orbit+around+the+milky+way+galaxy%3F&asynchronous=false&equal=Submit [wolframalpha.com]

Google win: http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=how+long+does+it+take+for+the+solar+system+to+make+1+orbit+around+the+milky+way+galaxy%3F&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&oq=undefined&fp=Q5rYJf3FIq4 [google.com]

Looks like Wolfram has a long way to go before it can consider itself useful.

Re:Input page (1)

portscan (140282) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975891)

the site is overloaded. i was using it for about an hour or so. periodically, it would say that the site was too busy (it gave a picture of HAL and an "i'm sorry, dave" error message).

now it seems that the test is over or almost over. it will still let me search for some stuff occasionally, but usually i just get the behavior you described.

from the few dozen queries i executed, i'd say the site is cool, but not amazing. it definitely has a lot of potential.

The ultimate answer (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975121)

I asked it "what do you get if you multiply six by nine?"

It replied, 54.

Guess it's not the most powerful computer of all time.

Re:The ultimate answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975625)

"Two plus two is... ... ... Ten. in BASE 4! I'M FINE!"

That girl (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975143)

They had on the webcast, Mia or Maya was cute. I demand Moar!

Too bad Wolfram Alpha wasn't up yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975281)

Query: What is 8PM EST in GMT?
Answer: 01:00 GMT.

How you can use it now... (1)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975283)

Here's how to bring up the real search page:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?

Re:How you can use it now... (1)

A. Bosch (858654) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975621)

Still no go: "Sorry, Wolfram Alpha is temporarily unavailable. Please try again. Error: DataPacletFilter: Unable to get Connection Cannot create PoolableConnectionFactory (Too many connections) © 2009 Wolfram Alpha LLCâ"A Wolfram Research Company Terms of Use Privacy Policy Participate [ Infrastructure for this computation provided by Wolfram|Alpha launch partner Dell, Inc. ]" I blame Dell. And society.

Re:How you can use it now... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975827)

Try again. The error message is now much better.

mod 0P (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975431)

reformaated Was at the same Don't walk around it transforms into

Trying it.. It doesn't work that well. (1)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975555)

"Population of New Zealand" gives a nice little graph of population. Other demographics, e.g. "Maori population in New Zealand". "Aspirin risk/benefit" "Heart disease risk age 50" don't seem to work.

Re:Trying it.. It doesn't work that well. (2, Funny)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975567)

Also: "Magnum PI" gives the nice answer "3.142 magnums".

Been using it for about an hour... (5, Informative)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975739)

You just have to type in http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/ [wolframalpha.com] to get to a usable input screen.

Unfortunately, it seems as though Steven Wolfram's screencast that's been up for the past few days used rather cherry-picked examples, as the underlying datasets do not seem to be as comprehensive as one might have been led to believe. Beyond the fairly basic things you might find in the CIA fact book or other source of basic data, it just doesn't yet have the breadth of underlying data that would make it an indispensable tool. For example, after playing around with W|A finance queries, I was left completely unimpressed with the paltry datasets and feel that any market/stock questions I have would be better served by hitting up finance.yahoo.com. They have some basic data about professional sports teams, but NHL hockey is nowhere to found, and you can't find anything in the way of current player stats for any sport, let alone historical data. Birthdays of notable sports figures are there though...

Gotta admit, it's quite an ambitious undertaking, I just think they're somewhere between 3 and 5 orders of magnitude away from having enough data and detail to make it the kind of thing I would consider using regularly. Stay tuned, might be interesting in a year... or five.

Can't find my hometown (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975779)

one of the things it suggested was to put in your hometown. I can't get it to recognize that my hometown of Napoleon, Indiana exists [wolframalpha.com] . It keeps trying to compare Napoleon, Ohio to the state of Indiana. I know it isn't a google killer or anything but google does recognize my hometown exists [google.com] .

we are fucked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27975887)

skynet in disguise much?

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