Web Search and Services

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This new Google-competitor records and analyzes past searches to help determine relevancy, favoring sites where surfers visited most frequently and lingered the longest. Search results are displayed on the left side of the page, while the other side provides a visual preview (which you can choose to view in small, medium or large). Ask.com offers previews too — courtesy of a little binoculars icon placed next to certain links — and boasts a new Blogs & Feeds search tool too.

Seamless Web
Working overtime? Order dinner for yourself and your officemates using this smart service, which counts 1,000 participating restaurants in New York City. The service has assembled similar-sized armies in nine other cities, including San Francisco, Houston and Stamford, Conn. The consumer side of the business - home delivery — is just getting started; for now, it's only available in Manhattan in New York City, but there are plans to roll it out elsewhere by year end. The ordering process is straightforward and thorough; menu selections allow you to be as specific as to request dressing on the side. You can submit special delivery instructions too, and put the tip on your credit card. Another helpful resource for New Yorkers: Menu Pages, a searchable database of restaurants that also lists them by cuisine and by neighborhood, posts reviews and ratings and provides menus formatted to print.

This engine uses artificial intelligence to "understand" the meaning of the keywords in your query in an effort to deliver more relevant results. Drop-down menus allow you to set some search parameters, such as business type and location; run a News search for recent articles, Business search for facts and figures, or a Web search for relevant links. PubSub is also useful; it lets you "subscribe" to a particular search, after which the engine will continue to retrieve new information related to your search as it appears on blogs, in newsgroup discussions or in SEC filings, automatically refreshing your search results so they are ready (one click away from the home page) when you want them.

This clever engine extracts images and videos from the RSS feeds of a variety of content providers, from YouTube to the BBC. Click on a source — say, The New York Times — from the "Browse Recently Added" box on the lower right-hand side of the home page, and you'll get a fresh batch of thumbnails, which serve as direct links to the material. Or browse by category to see the latest content to come online. Currently stocking some 10 million items in its searchable bank, Pixsy intends to have 1 billion items in store by year end. As a backup resource, there's always Google Images and Google Video.

Argali White & Yellow
Download the free software offered here and you can search multiple telephone directories (Google's SuperPages, WhitePages.com and more than a dozen others) simultaneously. You can elect to pay for a premium version, which delivers results without ads.

This specialized search engine scours more than 3.2 billion general web pages and divides its results into subcategories — the Health engine, for example, groups links under treatment, prevention, symptoms, clinical trials and others headings — for more efficient info-gathering. It's also built to deliver more relevant links, by pulling from the part of its index that makes the most sense (it doesn't bother with travel sites if the keyword is diabetes, for example). The specialized health search engine is the farthest along — it graduated from the alpha test phase to beta in February — but Kosmix has been busy adding new subject areas, including Finance, Travel and U.S. politics, and, most recently, video games.

Soon those old-fogy relatives of yours who still don't have Internet access (or even a computer) will be able to experience the brilliance of your blog without compromising their Luddite principals. Blurb's "slurper" tool uploads the contents of your blog (up to 400 8x10 printed pages worth) and reformats it into book form. You choose the design layout and other particulars; the company ships you the finished product (full color, hardcover, bound, with custom dust jacket for $29.95 to $79.95 depending on number of pages) then makes your book available on the site for others to buy. For now, the site's BookSmart software already can be used to make other types of books (cookbooks, baby books, poetry books) while the blog-to-book program, temporarily unavailable while 200 selected bloggers test it, makes it public debut in September. We're talking books you can page through and place on coffee tables. How retro.

McAfee SiteAdvisor
Here you'll find a free downloadable application that, once installed inside your own Web browser (it works with FireFox and Internet Explorer), aims to keep you out of trouble — or, to be precise, stop you from clicking through to websites where spyware, worms, and other cyber threats lurk. The program attaches tiny color-coded icons to links that appear on a list of search returns — a green check means it's safe to proceed, a red X means it's not; a yellow icon indicates nuisances such as spam or pop-ups. Why would you need this? Because simply clicking through to a suspect site can wreak havoc on a PC, and risky sites comprise a growing portion of search returns. If you want a service that will flag for inappropriate content such as porn, try Scandoo.