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Magazines > Online > July / August 2003
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Online Magazine
Vol. 27 No. 4 — July/August 2003
DEPARTMENTS
Internet Search Engine Update
by Greg R. Notess
Reference Librarian, Montana State University

Internet Search Engine Update goes up on the Web at http://www.onlinemag.net as soon as it is written, approximately one month before the print issue mails to subscribers.

AlltheWeb has added a dictionary look-up. The search words on a results page are hotlinked to definitions at Dictionary.com. It has also added a "search spy" that shows 10 recent queries. Click on an empty search screen to see latest queries. AlltheWeb offers several shortcut keys that can be turned on via the preferences for use for quick access to the home page, switching to the multimedia databases. A calculator function works directly from the search box when entering numbers and mathematical symbols. The AlltheWeb Conversion Calculator also works from the search box by using a convert: prefix followed by any common unit of measure.

Ask Jeeves has launched Ask Jeeves 5.0. Changes include a new image database (from Picsearch) that is available from the main page as well as from a radio button after the search box. It is automatically invoked when the query includes "pictures" or "images." Spelling suggestions now appear at the top on some searches. The main page and results pages have been streamlined. Moving away from the tabs approach, Ask Jeeves has links on the bottom of the main page to its image, news, and products databases. In search results, search terms are now highlighted in boldface.

Daypop has expanded to include 19,000 more blogs, bringing its total to about 35,000 news sites, Weblogs, and RSS feeds. Daypop also now offers Blogstats, a service that shows a blog's Daypop score, number of citations, rank, last time cached, and lists of similar blogs based on link patterns. Daypop added support for a blogring metatag. While Daypop searches some RSS feeds from news sites and plans to add a choice for searching blog RSS feeds, there is another search engine that focuses just on RSS feeds from both news sites and blogs: Feedster.

Gigablast has been a one-person operation for some time. Recently Gigablast has expanded to include a chief management officer and a chief scientist. Hopefully, this will lead to a larger and fresher database and continued expansion of search features.

Google has purchased Applied Semantics (formerly Oingo). While this purchase appears to be more related to Google's role as an advertising agent, particularly for its content-targeted advertising, there may be some future impact on the search side as well. Google News has expanded beyond the U.S. and now is available at the international Google sites for Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, and the U.K. The other news sites show different stories on its front page, but search results are the same in each and still are limited to English-language sources. Google News no longer supports advanced syntax like cache: (to pull up a cached news story) or site: (to limit to a specific publication). For title searching, intitle: still works.

OpenFind, the search engine from Taiwan that became available in summer 2002, is no longer available with an English-language interface. The Chinese and Taiwanese versions still work for Chinese searchers, but the English-language version simply sports an "Under Reconstruction" message.

Overture has completed the acquisition of the Web search portion of FAST and AltaVista. So Overture now owns both AlltheWeb and AltaVista. About 100 jobs from the AltaVista side are being eliminated and a press release includes 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." Whether or not both will continue to operate separately after that time remains to be seen.

WiseNut is now promoting the use of Grub, a project in distributed Web crawling, to help its crawling. Grub distributes a screensaver that uses a computer's spare clock cycles to do Web crawling. LookSmart, the owner of WiseNut, bought Grub in January 2003 and started promoting it in March.

Xrefer has announced that its free xrefer showcase, which has provided searchable access to dozens of subject dictionaries and other reference books, will no longer be available after June 17, 2003.

Yahoo! now has direct access points for Yahoo! as a portal, search engine, or directory. The portal version is at the classic www.yahoo.com. The Yahoo! search engine is directly available without the surrounding portal content at search.yahoo.com. And if you want to focus on just its directory, use dir.yahoo.com. Other changes include streamlined results, new design and colors, and more compact listing of directory categories. Most results continue to come from a Google database, but its new advanced search has more options and does a better job of field search choices than Google's advanced search. New Yahoo! shortcuts use prefixes for quick access to frequently requested information like maps, weather, definitions, news, and ZIP codes. The definitions are available by typing define followed by the word, as in define online. No colon is needed and the definition is provided right at the top with a link to a more detailed record.


Greg NotessGreg R. Notess (greg@notess.com; www.notess.com) is a reference librarian at Montana State University and founder of SearchEngineShowdown.com

Comments? Email the editor at marydee@infotoday.com


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