April 2003 Archive
Overture announces that it has wrapped up the deal to purchase AltaVista. It will be interesting to see what comes from the following quote: "Overture plans to develop a common platform for its new Web search product before the end of 2003 and will continue to operate both AltaVista and FAST's search engines separately until that time."
I've finally updated the listings on my Other Internet Search Tools page which covers searchable sources for articles, forums, email lists, blogs, etc. Two new pages linked from there are the Reference Search Tools covering just a few selected free online reference tools and the Archives page with sources for cached copies of Web pages and other ways to find old or dead pages.
OK, actually Google has purchased Applied Semantics (the company formerly known as Oingo). Their press release quotes Sergey Brin saying "This acquisition will enable Google to create new technologies that make online advertising more useful to users, publishers, and advertisers alike." So the purchase is helping Google the advertising agent and will likely be used for their content-targeted advertising. Will it impact search beyond the ads? We'll have to wait and see.
Overture announces that it has completed the acquisition of the Web search portion of FAST. So Overture now owns AlltheWeb. There is still only the press release about it on the Overture site and no detailed product information.
Ask Jeeves launches a new version, Ask Jeeves 5.0. The changes include
- A new database for images from Picsearch, available from a link on the main page as well as from a radio button and when the query includes 'pictures' or 'images.'
- Spelling suggestions added at the top
- Streamlined look on the main page
- Ask has moved away from the tabs approach so common at other search engines. Instead, it has links on the bottom of the main page to their image, news, and products databases.
- Search terms are highlighted in boldface in results list
- Some suggested 'related searches' may show up in the right margin, but the Teoma resources (metasites) are not included.
- For certain popular queries, Ask offers 'Smart Answers.' For driving directions, acronyms/abbreviations, movie times, sports teams, and more, preselected content is included in a top red-bordered box.
Dan Chan has announced new ways to search RSS and and future changes to Daypop. He says that he will expand the drop-down menu choices from RSS Headlines to RSS News & Weblogs, RSS News, and RSS Weblogs. The current option only searches RSS files from news sources, not blogs. While waiting for the menu change, it is possible now to search blog RSS by doing search and then changing the end of the URL from &t=a (or w or n or h) to &t=p (which means type=posts). The advantage to using this trick is that the link will go directly to the blog posting rather than to the main blog page where the individual posting may have moved down or even into an archive already.
For another source for searching RSS, try Feedster which just searches RSS feeds (from both blogs and news sites). Daypop does not yet included cached copies of the RSS feed posting. Feedster does include a cached copy, but depending on the RSS feed, it may only be the first few lines of the posting.
It is good to see AlltheWeb still innovating despite being acquired by Overture. New today are several small but useful features:
- Dictionary look-up: just like at Google, search words on a results page after the number of results are hot links to a dictionary look-up at Dictionary.com
- New search spy: See the last 10 queries (presumably censored)
- New shortcut keys can be turned on for use at AlltheWeb for going back to the home page, switching to the multimedia databases, and more.
- Calculator: this may have been around for a while, but try a math query like 13*944 to get an answer and a list of functions.
Benjamin Edelman from Harvard Law School offers up a well-research paper, Empirical Analysis of Google SafeSearch, that shows that "SafeSearch blocks at least tens of thousands of web pages without any sexually-explicit content, whether graphical or textual. Blocked results include sites operated by educational institutions, non-profits, news media, and national and local governments." Filtered sites included Apple Support, NET Bible, Thomas (Congressional legislative system), and many more.
The preview of the new Yahoo! search that started Monday is now live throughout Yahoo!. One result of this change is that you can use Yahoo! now in three different ways: portal, search engine, or directory. The portal version is at the classic yahoo.com. The new search is directly available without the surrounding portal content at search.yahoo.com. And if you want to focus on just their directory, that is accessible at dir.yahoo.com. Also, they seem to have 'cached' links now for all of the results that Google has them for. Earlier, the 'cached' link did not show up for results that used the description from the directory.
OpenFind's English-language interface is down with an "Under Reconstruction" message. The Chinese and Taiwanese versions still work for Chinese searchers. My OpenFind review reflects how it used to work. Their database had not been updated for a long time, so we can hope than when they relaunch it will be fresher and more robust.
Judging relevance for search engine results is a very subjective judgement many times. All the search engines give relevant results for some searches and irrelevant results for others, and even more often, they mix the two. And many searchers would rate the same results at a different score. Be that as it may, Veritest offers up a new report on search engine relevance in which Inktomi has a slight lead over Google. Older reports are available for Inktomi, AltaVista, and Google. They all make for interesting reading, and the Inktomi results should be a reminder to try the Inktomi database at HotBot or MSN Search.
While it is not yet fully live, the new Yahoo! search is available today. The underlying databases, at least at this point, remain Google, internal Yahoo! content including their directory, and ads from Overture, but they have a new image database. The design and colors are new. Cache links (from Google but without a Google label) are now available for most results. Those without appear to come from a source other than Google. There is an icon for opening a new window, an advanced searched (which has more options and does a better job of field search choices than Google's advanced search), and customization via a preferences link with all of the Google preferences options (but only available for those with a Yahoo! account). The advanced search screen includes a link to a Froogle-like shopping search. The directory categories are still at the top, but they have been minimized further. See the Tour for details and the Yahoo! Shortcuts page for quick access to functions like maps, weather, define, news, and zip codes.
So how well are Google's new content targeted ads doing? According to a ContentBiz story, advertisers are not as pleased with the results of the new placement as Google may have hoped..