Bill Bär /bɛːr/

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Bill Bär /bɛːr/
Bill Bär is a Senior Product Manager and Microsoft Certified Master for Microsoft Search, Assistant, and Intelligence at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.

Bill Bär /bɛːr/


Demystifying Topic Answers

Since the announcement of Microsoft Viva on February 4, 2021, I’ve come across a lot of questions and conversations surrounding Topics, specifically Topic Answers, and what a Topic Answer is… In the past I’ve posted quite a bit on Answers and their relationship to Microsoft Search, whether File Answers, Acronyms Answers, or something else - see To put simply, a Topic Answer, is just one of the many forms of “Answers” generated by Microsoft Search.
On occassion you’ll want or need to run your local development environment/site with HTTPS. For example, if your production site uses HTTPS, you may want your local development site to behave like an HTTPS site. I for one, like to aggressively diagnose any issues early in the development process before committing changes to production. Simply put, if you would like to use HTTPS with your local development site and access https://localhost or https://somedomain.
Getting Started This will be the first part of multi-part series on setting up an Azure Machine Learning environment on Apple Silicon. In this series we’ll evaluate webmentions using Python and Jupyter. I purposely chose this arrangement as it’s something I’ve been working on over the past several weeks here on this site. At each part of this series, I’ll explain what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what we hope to accomplish.

Taking forward back

Wow! It’s amazing to look back and realize it’s been exactly 19 years since I first registered this domain. Way back then, Opera and Netscape Navigator were the browsers of choice and many of us were still listening to the beautiful hum of our modems - animated GIFs were the equivalent of styrofoam cups…unavoidable, and Windows XP was just a few months old…perhaps most surprisingly Nickleback was leading the Billboard 100 with “How you remind me”.

Now serving webmentions

Over the course of the past several weeks as I’ve made the transition from dynamic (WordPress) to static (Hugo), I’ve been looking at ways I could not only decentralize social, but also build that overarching objective into the fabric of this site. Here enters webmention, a W3C recommendation as of January 2017. So what exactly is webmention? Well, as defined by the W3C, webmention is a simple way to notify any URL when you mention it on your site.
UPDATED 4/22/2022 A few months ago I posted on using Algolia Search with Hugo. As mentioned in that post, I currently use Lunr to serve the purposes of search on this site and am finally getting around to posting how to pull together the two. Lunr, unlike other search services, has no external dependencies and works either within the browser or on the server with node.js - at its core it’s a small, full-text search library for use in the browser.
As Authoratative Pages are scheduled to be deprecated in SharePoint Online, now is the time to start thinking about how to deliver similar functionality with Microsoft Search. For background, authoritative pages are those that link to the most relevant information as decided by the search administrator, specified as a URL. SharePoint search uses this list to calculate the rank of every page in the index. For example, if an administrator wanted to rank the companies HR site above ranked results, an authoratative page could be configured for https://contoso.
Over the past month or so I’ve been working more and more with Hugo as I rebuild and consolidate my old dynamic sites see At the onset I had initially elected Nova App as my preferred editor of choice, but most recently have started using Visual Studio Code. With Nova I had a shell script I would run in Terminal (macOS) when developing my site, but now that I’m using Visual Studio Code I decided to use tasks.
Last month we shared changes we’re making to Microsoft Search in SharePoint Online as we continue our journey of bringing Microsoft Search to your favorite Microsoft 365 productivity apps and services. As a result of this announcement, we’ve seen questions as to whether FQL (FAST Query Language) is being deprecated as a result of these changes. The simple answer is no, FAST Query Language is not being deprecated; however, there are some features of FAST Query Language that are being deprecated:
This is more or less a continuation of my previous article on moving to Hugo from Wordpress. When it comes to search and static site generators such as Hugo, there are a seemingly unlimited number of options available to you - one of most popular I researched was Lunr, and while I temporarily opted to leverage Algolia to support search on this site, I ultimately decided upon Lunr. That said, while Lunr supports my needs right now, I’m hoping someone will find some benefit out of how to use Algolia with Hugo (easily).
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