Tag Archives: Yahoo

Somebody, please put Google News out of its misery

I didn’t think Google News (http://news.google.co.uk/) could get any worse but I was wrong. The previous revamp was bad enough:?no more advanced search, useless and irrelevant personalisation options, and don’t even think about trying to set up sensible alerts. Alerts were never that good at the best of times but were not improved one iota by the changes. And then they altered the structure of the RSS feed URLs so that, supposedly, your existing feeds no longer worked. I don’t know why, but my old feeds are still delivering news and contain better quality information than the new ones I set up.?Google News

In the latest incarnation, Google News has lost most of my topics,? the “For You” is total rubbish as is “Local”, you can no longer manage and personalise the topics? (although that didn’t really work anyway), and the RSS feed buttons have gone.?I can only assume that this is? all down to the real time AI/ML that Google recently announced was going to be used to organize the news. (The new Google News: AI meets human intelligence ).

Existing RSS feeds still work, though and you can create email alerts for a news search if you run it from within the general Google results page. Run your search in “All” and then click on the News link. There is a Create Alert button at the bottom of your results, but one wonders how long that will last.

Someone should put Google News out of its misery, close it down and leave news searchable via the link on the main page.

And they may as well ditch Google Finance as well. That is a? shadow of its former self?: no more portfolios for monitoring stocks, no more historical data for viewing and download, no more news annotations on the price charts, and the comparison option only works for two stocks at a time. If you are interested in monitoring the stock markets or researching individual companies for free get thee hence to Yahoo! Finance (https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/).?? There was some doubt over the future of Yahoo! Finance when Yahoo! was acquired by Verizon and became part of Oath but, charting oddities aside, there does seem to be some development going on. The new “Sustainability” tab for example shows environment, social and governance (ESG) ratings from Sustainalytics (https://www.sustainalytics.com/).? There was positive feedback on it from some business librarians who attended one of my recent workshops.

So many of Google’s services are going from bad to worse to totally pointless and unusable. No wonder, then, that people are starting to look seriously at alternative resources.

Yahoo! bungles! it! yet! again!

Unbelievable! Just when I thought Yahoo could not do anything more stupid than they’ve done in the past we learn that Delicious (http://www.delicious.com/) is to be axed. The leaked information is on a slide shown at an all hands meeting at Yahoo following the latest staff cutbacks. More details and discussion can be found at Is Yahoo Shutting Down Del.icio.us? [Update:?Yes], R.I.P. Delicious: You Were So Beautiful to Me and Confirmed: Yahoo Closing Buzz, Traffic APIs – Maybe Delicious & AltaVista. Also for the chop are AltaVista and AlltheWeb.

I am not surprised that AltaVista and Alltheweb are to go. For a while they were used by Yahoo as test beds yet now they just sit out there on the web rotting away. But to get rid of one of the most widely known social bookmarking services is lunacy. Delicious has made its way on to millions of web pages with its ‘bookmark with Delicious’ buttons and inclusion in share bars. How hard can it be for Yahoo to make Delicious worth-while in hard-nosed business terms? Chris Keene has several excellent suggestions and comments in his blog posting Delicious. I doubt that any of his arguments would change Yahoo;s mind as Delicious is apparently “off strategy”. This does make one wonder what Yahoo’s strategy is or if it has really ever had one.

Yahoo started off life as a directory of web sites, and not any old web site was granted admittance. You had to apply to the editors with a description of your site and the categories under which you wanted to be listed. You then waited nervously for a couple of weeks for the yay or nay. I can remember the sound of champagne corks popping in my tiny little office at home when I heard the news that my site had been accepted. An entry in the Yahoo directory was the bees knees and worth far more than being picked up by the likes of Lycos (then a serious search engine) or Infoseek. My site is still there, although the directory is now difficult to find (go straight to http://dir.yahoo.com/) and has not been updated in years.

In the early days Yahoo was a serious contender for world search engine domination. For a while it used Google to power its web search before acquiring the technology to do its own thing, but it was ahead of the game in other areas. My Yahoo! offered customised start pages long before iGoogle was a twinkle in Page and Brin’s eye. (I still use it for weather forecasts, monitoring my share portfolio and currency exchange rates). Yahoo Finance – again pre-dating Google’s offering by several years – is? far superior in stock market coverage to Google Finance and more stable. The problem with both products is that not many people know about them and Yahoo has not done much with them since their inception. Google, on the other hand, constantly changes, updates and adds new features – sometimes to the great annoyance of users.

Remember AlltheWeb Live Search? This was a search engine that started to display results as soon as you started typing in your terms and the results changed as you entered more words. Sound familiar? Yes, Google Instant works in a similar way but AlltheWeb’s version was far superior and easier to use. Yahoo dropped it.

Yahoo Mindset? Another test search engine in which you moved a slider bar to change the emphasis of the results to sites that had more to do with shopping or ones that were more research oriented. It was very popular with those who knew about it. Yahoo dropped it.

So what are users of Delicious to do? The good news is that you can export your bookmarks and then import to other services. The bad news is that some have reported that the tags go awry. I vaguely recollect having this problem a while back when I was testing out social bookmark sites and how well they coped with exports/imports.? For further information on alternatives see Search Engine Land’s 10 Alternatives To Delicious.com Bookmarking. You may prefer to sit tight in the hope that Delicious is reprieved but at least export your bookmarks now so you have a backup, and start looking at the alternatives. Of course, those could? also disappear.

Yahoo seems to be on a downward spiral to the search engine graveyard. Which service is next on the Yahoo executioner’s list, I wonder? I can’t believe that it would drop Flickr but then I thought Delicious would be safe. Now, where do I sign up for Picasa?

Presentation: Internet Search – a challenging and ever changing landscape

CILIP in the Thames Valley, 6th October 2009, Great Expectations, Reading

The presentation I gave to CILIP in the Thames Valley on 6th October is now available in a number of locations. At least one of these should be accessible through your firewall!

PowerPoint presentation – RBA web site
Slideshare

Authorstream
Slideboom

Some of the slides have annotations from my blog and new comments so make sure you check out the notes to the slides. Many of the slides are screen shots so they won’t make much sense without the notes or unless you were at the live presentation.

Internet Search: a challenging and ever changing landscape

CILIP in the Thames Valley evening meeting

Date & Time: Tuesday 6th October 2009,? 1800 for 1830 hrs
Location: Great Expectations, 33 London St, Reading

Google threatens to go hyper with its “caffeine” search. Bing is taking over Yahoo. Image search options are expanding: creative commons, colour, similar images. More specialist search tools for the “hidden web” are emerging and Web 2.0 is now an essential part of the search mix. Karen Blakeman will look at the new services that are being pushed out by the major search engines and the alternatives.

This is a free event followed by free refreshments and networking opportunities with colleagues.

An invitation is extended to anyone with a professional interest in the topic

Contact: Norman Briggs, nwbriggs@pcintell.co.uk to advise attendance for catering purposes.

Searching for file types made easy

One of the Top 10 Tips that participants of my advanced search workshops regularly come up with is using file format options to focus your search. If you are looking for an expert on a topic, a conference presentation or a quick overview of a topic then seek out PowerPoint files; government and industry reports are often stored as PDFs; and substantial collections of statistics may be left in Excel format. Both Google and Yahoo have options for file type searches on their advanced search screens, but if you want a quick and easy way of searching both of these search tools for the four main file types (Word, Excel, PDF, PowerPoint), then head for DocJax.

Simply type your search terms into the box and DocJax will pull up a list of all four file formats in Yahoo and Google that contain your terms. You can then limit your search to just one file type by clicking on one of the four logos at the top of the list.

DocJax

I have only one minor quibble with DocJax, which is that it does not deduplicate the results. Other than that, it is an excellent tool for filetype searching. Many thanks to Peter Guillaume for alerting me to the service.

If you prefer to search Yahoo and Google separately, then try Browsys Advanced Finder. Select Files form the menu at the top of the screen, enter your search terms and click on Yahoo or Google for your preferred file type. There is no need to re-enter your search terms for each search – just click your way through the list.

BrowsysFiles

I usually berate such services for not including Bing (formerly Microsoft Live Search) in their lists because Bing does sometimes come up with unique content. Although not included in Bing’s advanced search options one used to be able to simply incorporate the filetype: command followed by the file extension in the search. On testing it today, though, I discovered that the filetype command no longer works in Bing. Like the link and linkdomain commands, it has been obliterated from their search system. Another example of Bing dumbing down their search. This does not bode well for Yahoo: as part of the recent Microsoft deal, Microsoft will power Yahoo search and as a result Yahoo will lose many of its current search features. I’m afraid that rather than stealing market share from Google, Bing’s current approach to search will encourage users to stay with the big G.

Free-to-use images might not be

You may have already read that Google now includes a creative commons license filter option in its Advanced Image search screen. Creative Commons is a series of licenses that can be applied to a variety of works such as images, video and PowerPoint presentations and they specify what you can and cannot do with those works. Information on the licenses can be found on the Creative Commons web site at http://www.creativecommons.org/.

Google does not use the CC terminology but has instead generated a pull down menu with the options: labelled for reuse, labelled for commercial reuse, labelled for reuse for modification,? and labelled for commercial reuse for modification.

GoogleCCImages

There is another option at the top of the list that is the default: not filtered by license. I had to think twice about this one because my first thoughts were that this was for public domain images. It is not. The “not filtered” option is all images. I ran the license options past a few people over the past week and they all immediately assumed that the default option is for images that you can use as you want.? A couple, though, then asked how “labelled for reuse” differed from this and then they became totally confused by the whole thing. To make it worse,? the licenses as listed by Google do not cover all the possible CC license conditions, for example attribution and share alike. So once you have done your search you still have to check the full license for the image that you wish to use. Furthermore, very few people are aware that you have to cite the license and any attribution as requested by the author.

Google says in its help files:

“By returning these search results, Google isn’t making any representation that the linked content is actually or lawfully offered under a Creative Commons license. It’s up to you to verify the terms under which the content is made available and to make your own assessment as to whether these terms are lawfully applied to the content.”

The accuracy and validity of the Google implied license was raised recently in The Register: The tragedy of the Creative Commons .?It comments:

“Since there’s no guarantee that the licence really allows you to use the photo as claimed, then the publisher (amateur or professional) must still perform the due diligence they had to anyway. So it’s safer (and quicker) not to use it at all.”

I disagree with that: I recommend using it as a first level filter but then check with the original web site regarding the details of the license. At least you won’t be spending hours wading through “all rights reserved” images.

If you do use the license filter you will notice that many of the photos come from Flickr, which is owned by Yahoo!. Yahoo! has had a Creative Commons filter on its Image Advanced Search screen for a long time but only on the US site, not the UK. A far better way of searching CC Yahoo images is to go straight into Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/.? This gives you a description of the different licenses and you can search images assigned that license. This assumes, of course, that the person who has uploaded the image is the owner of that image and there are stories that this is not always so. But how paranoid do you have to be? With respect to Flickr my approach is to take the photographer’s word for it unless there are serious inconsistencies in their photostream, for example the? meta data associated with the photos suggests that they were in Armenia, New Zealand and Peru on the same day!

So where do you go for images that really are free to use.? There is a trick you can use in Google? to pull up just public domain images. Carry out your search on the standard Image search screen and when the results come up add

&as_rights=cc_publicdomain

to the end of the string in your br0wser address bar, and press enter. (Thanks to Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land for this tip) . The test searches I have tried so far come up with photos from NASA, US government sites and Wikimedia Commons.? NASA is a safe bet for public domain images as are US government web pages, although there are a few exceptions but these are clearly labelled with any copyright restrictions.. A recent spat between Wikimedia Commons and the UK’s National Portrait Gallery? – National Portrait Gallery bitchslaps Wikipedia: Hands off our photos! – has thrown suspicion on the validity of CC and public domain licenses attached to its photos. This appears to have been an isolated incident, though, and the high resolution images have now been removed if you are accessing the site from the UK.

Another source of public domain images is MorgueFile, which is a small database of high resolution photos but you may have to play around with your search terms before you find exactly what you want.

If you are looking for photos of buildings or locations in the UK then head straight for Geograph.? This aims to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre of Great Britain and Ireland. Anyone can upload photos provided that they adhere to the guidelines and attach a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Geograph has saved me so much time. A few months ago I was trying to find a photo of the Great Expectations pub in Reading, Berkshire. Google, Yahoo and Live (now Bing) insisted on giving me photos of people reading a copy of? Charles Dickins’s Great Expectations? while sitting in a pub in Berkshire. The image I wanted was probably somewhere in the list but I was not prepared to trawl through hundreds of results to find it. I typed in Great Expectations Reading into Geograph and I was there in a couple of seconds. Brilliant!

GeographGreatExpectations

If you are interested in finding out more about finding and using images head for JISC Digital Media – Still Images.

Internet and Business Information Search Tips – Manchester, 26th March 2009

Here are the Top 10 tips from the Business and Internet Search workshop I ran for a group at Manchester Public Library on 26th March. They are the tips that the participants themselves suggested at the end of the day.

1. Site search

This one crops up again and again, but so many people have not yet discovered how powerful this command can be. Use the advanced site and domain search to limit your search to just one web site or a type of organisation (e.g. UK government, US academic). It is ideal for searching individual web sites which have diabolical navigation or appalling site search engines, and for searching for types of information, for example site:ac.uk for UK academic research papers on a particular topic. Use the advanced search screen in Google and Yahoo, or the ‘site:’ command as part of your search strategy in the standard search box on Google, Yahoo, Live.com and MSE360.com. For example:

carbon emissions trading site:ac.uk

If you are searching for PowerPoints or PDFs, use both Google and Yahoo. Google indexes the first 101 K of a document whereas Yahoo indexes the first 500 K so the results can be significantly different when it comes to larger files.

2. Filetype search
There are lots of goodies to be found on the advanced search screens of Google and Yahoo. Think about the type of information you are looking for and focus your search by file format. For example statistics and research data are often left in spreadsheet format (xls). If you are looking for an expert on a subject limit your search to PowerPoint (ppt, and also pdf as many presentations are converted into this format before being loaded onto the web).? Industry, market and government reports are often in PDF format.? Yahoo and Google have the more common file formats in a drop menu on their advanced search screens.? If? the one you want is not listed use the filetype: command followed by the file extension as part of your strategy in Google, Live.com and MSE360.com. In Yahoo, use ‘originurlextension: ”

3. TripleMe
http://www.tripleme.com/
Enter your search and TripleMe displays results from Google, Yahoo and Live side by side. The fourth column contains the inevitable ads.

4. Google Finance
http://www.google.co.uk/finance , http://www.google.com/finance
A worthy competitor to Yahoo Finance although it does not have the wide range of stock exchange coverage of Yahoo. It does, though, beat Yahoo when it comes to the share price graphs. The graphs are ‘annotated’ with labels at the appropriate time point and these link to news articles that are listed to the right of the graph. Both offer free, daily historical share prices in figures.

5. PIPL.com and 123 people.com for people search
http://www.pipl.com/ , http://www.123people.com/
As well as web sites, blogs, images and directories PIPL and 123People search social media and networking sites for a person by name.

6. Slideshare
http://www.slideshare.net/
A service that allows presenters to upload PowerPoint presentations? and make them available in various formats. Ideal if you are looking for information or an expert on a topic, a speaker for an event, or just some ideas for your own presentation.

7. Videos
Use services such as YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) to track down? “how to” videos and news. Also, why not create your own videos to promote your services or business and put them on YouTube?

8. Google CSE
Google Custom Search Engines (Google CSE) at http://www.google.com/coop/cse/
Ideal for building collections of sites that you regularly search, to create a searchable subject list, or to offer your users a more focused search option.

9. SCoRe Search Company Reports
http://www.score.ac.uk
A catalogue of current and historic printed company reports held in UK libraries. The catalogue does not provide links to digitised documents but is a very quick and easy way of identifying libraries that hold hard copy reports. The participating libraries include London Business School, the British Library, Manchester Business School, City Business Library, Guildhall Library, Strathclyde University and the University of Warwick. A full list is available at http://www.score.ac.uk/collections.asp.

10. Bureau van Dijk’s (BvD) “A Taste of Mint”
http://mintportal.bvdep.com/
A free directory from BvD giving basic information on companies world-wide. One experienced researcher at an earlier workshop commented: “It found the company I have been looking for when every other directory failed!”

New home page for Yahoo! UK & Ireland

… and it is GHASTLY!

It is Monday morning and on my of list of things-to-do when I fire up my laptop is to check My Yahoo! This is where I monitor stocks and shares, news headlines, weather forecasts and have tools such as currency conversion. Before going to My Yahoo I always go to the main Yahoo! UK & Ireland page to view the national and international headlines and see what’s new. This morning was a real shock. The home page has changed dramatically and not for the good.

Yahoo UK & Ireland new home page

Apart from the hideous colours and layout there is no direct link to My Yahoo any more. It is now under ‘All Yahoo Services’ (in very small type on the right hand side). The ‘My Apps’ on the left are definitely not My Yahoo apart from the weather forecast and the stock trader. The latter clearly does not work in this context as it tells me that today my stocks and shares are up GBP 270,165.49 and that my portfolios are worth 2,907,437.49. In my dreams! I am not interested in horoscopes, mailboxes, videos and eBay but there does not seem to be any way of getting rid of them.

Thankfully search.yahoo.co.uk is still plain vanilla. I have now bookmarked My Yahoo and won’t bother in future with the Yahoo home page. I am now wondering what Yahoo has in store for us next.

Yahoo! drops Boolean NOT operator

I go away on holiday for three weeks and on my return disaster strikes. ” Yahoo! drops Boolean support” was the headline that jumped out at me as I fired up my RSS reader.? The story, carried by Pandia Search Engine News, refers to a report by Greg Notess in Online Magazine.?I was not able to access the original in Online so had to make do with Pandia’s summary and test out the claims myself.

It turns out that it is only the NOT operator that has vanished. Not such a catastrophe after all as you can still place a minus sign in front of the term that you want excluded from the search results.?The posting goes on to say that nesting with parentheses has also been dumped. That was definitely not the case when I carried out test searches on both the UK and US versions of Yahoo. All of my nested Boolean searches worked, once I had replaced the NOTs with minus signs.

I shall wait a a week or so before assuming that the change is permanent.? Earlier this year, the link and linkdomain commands went AWOL. They were no longer available on the main Yahoo sites but still worked on AltaVista. After a couple of days they reappeared on Yahoo as suddenly as they had vanished.? Hopefully NOT will be back – it is easier to remember to use only Boolean operators rather than a mixture of Boolean and math signs – and fingers crossed that none of the other commands disappear.