A Closer Look at the Yahoo Toolbar

If you use a toolbar with your browser, I’m curious about which one and why. Some new patent applications from Yahoo have me looking a little closer at the Yahoo toolbar.

I don’t have enough screen real estate on my monitor to load too many toolbars on the browser I use. That’s partially why I split my browsing time almost equally between Firefox and Internet Explorer, with a little Opera thrown in for good measure.

Right now, on Firefox, I’m using the Web Developer Toolbar from chrispederick.com and the Stumbleupon toolbar. On Internet Explorer, I have the Google Toolbar and the AIS Web Accessibility Toolbar

The Web Developer toolbar and the Web Accessibility toolbar both have a lot of useful tools that make it easier for me to dig quickly through a website and see how it’s constructed and how it looks with and without java script and css and images. I can quickly see which links are on a page, whether or not it validates in html and css, what pages look like at different resolutions, and much more.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is traditionally a harvest festival where people thank God for the bounty that they’ve received during the course of the preceeding year. One memory of past thanksgivings that sticks with me is when I visited a friend’s house a few days after the holiday, and he showed off a school poster created by his young son which listed the things he was thankful for; “Shoes, a house, his mother and father.”

The past year has been an interesting and exciting one, in which I started my own business, and have watched it grow with the support of my family and many friends from around the world. I’ve had the chance to speak at a few conferences this year, learn from those who give so freely at Cre8asite Forums and other gathering places and blogs on the web, make new friends and share ideas with old ones.

Thank you for stopping by and reading this short message. I hope that you have plenty to be thankful for this past year.

Eye-Tracking Studies at Google

How much can eye-tracking studies tell us about the ways that people read and react to search engine results pages? What is a search engine like Google doing when it comes to using eye-tracking?

I have to confess that I’m skeptical when I read about some of the studies that describe a golden triangle of Google and show nice heat maps which attempt to indicate how people view search results. Why the skepticism?

It began with one of the more interesting eye-tracking studies that I’d seen over the past few years, where the Poynter Institute used eye-tracking to test the way that people read news web sites. Excited by the results, I wanted to find out more, and started searching around.

I came across a blog post from Frank Spillers which looked closely some of the many issues involving eye-tracking, specifically within the context of that Poynter research – Eye-Tracking studies- Usability holy grail?

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IBM’s Unstructured Information Management Patent

What are the differences between enterprise search and web search? Will developments in enterprise search someday enable search engines to be created that might index the web as well, or better than present web search engines?

IBM was granted a patent today on their Unstructured Information Management Architecture, which was made available to open source developers last summer. Sourceforge has more information about the open source nature of UIMA, as does IBM. IBM recently decided to move this open source development over to Apache.

Unstructured Information Management was the subject of an IBM Systems Journal in 2004, which contains some detailed articles on the topic. One by A. Z. Broder and A. C. Ciccolo is highly recommended, if you would like to get a grasp of the potential of this approach to indexing unstructured information – Towards the next generation of enterprise search technology. It describes some of the differences between enterprise search and web search, and provides summaries of the other articles in the issue. I found this snippet interesting:

The field of UIM may come full circle: while the unstructured search paradigm on the Web exploded in the consumer sphere before being adopted in the enterprise, we believe that the combination of semantic and linguistic annotations with unstructured search will follow the more conventional path of first being developed in the enterprise sphere before becoming pervasive in the Web world.

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Just Where is Yahoo Going? New and Old Acquisitions

Just what in the world is Yahoo’s vision of their growth and future?

That’s the thought that popped into my mind a couple of days ago after seeing some newly published patent applications from Yahoo seemingly developed, at least in part, by folks who worked at a company that Yahoo! acquired previously.

The company was one of two providing game technology that Yahoo purchased and integrated into their collective assortment of web properties within the last couple of years -Stadion (2005) and The All Seeing Eye (2004). Looking at what seems to have become of those companies, and how they’ve been integrated into Yahoo made me wonder what the search giant/portal is doing.

I didn’t expect someone from Yahoo to be asking the same question, in public.

There’s been some great drama going on at Yahoo! over the past few days, including a controversial memo from Senior Vice President of Communications, Communities, and Front Doors at Yahoo!, Brad Garlinghouse; the acquisition of a couple of companies; and the near purchase of a third.

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Microsoft Live Search Suggestions Stealing Google Queries? Or is it Firefox?

Exploring the query history information that Firefox maintains, and shares with search engines.

I gave a presentation on duplicate content at Pubcon yesterday. The panel I was on was well received, and Barry Schwartz covered the session at Search Engine Round Table: Duplicate Content Issues (Yahoo & Google). Joe Duck also has some thoughts about the session: Pubcon Las Vegas – Duplicate Content Session with Google and Yahoo. I’ve had a chance to meet some new folks, and say hello to some old friends. The Conference has been a real pleasure so far.

Predictive Searches

A new patent application from Microsoft describes a process that sounds very much like how Google Suggest works.

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