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January 28, 2005

Sundance Searching

While stars frolic in the snow of Sundance, I sit here in Sunnyvale and track the buzz filtering down from the mountains. The beloved film fest is always a search favorite, and this year is no exception. Searches on "Sundance" are up 97% and searches on "Sundance Film Festival" are up 123% as producers and studios perform their annual mating dance in celeb-packed Park City. Top affinity searches for Sundance over the past week include:

As far as the films unspooling in Utah, a few have made an impression in search. Of the movies that have screened, a handful have popped up in searches including Happy Endings, Inside Deep Throat, Strangers With Candy, and The Jacket.

The celebs canoodling in the frosty climes are also grabbing a decent share of buzz. Every day, we've been tracking the stars of Sundance by looking at the actors appearing in the flicks making their debut at the film fest. So while you won't see Paris on our list of top Sundance celebs, it does tilt toward the beautiful females starring in the indies that drive the festival:

  1. Carmen Electra
  2. Keira Knightley
  3. Sandra Bullock
  4. Liv Tyler
  5. Keanu Reeves

Keep checking the Buzz Log every day for more dispatches from the world of pop-culture and search.

If you happened to be in Park City, you may have seen many of the celebs sporting the coveted Yahoo! Search "search me" shirts, printed onsite at Cafe Yahoo!. Overheard at a table at the Cafe earlier this week: Molly Sims entourage trying to come up with ways to boost Molly's 198k search results to 200k. Vanity searching is alive and well among the Hollywood crowd. :)

Check out the results:

Lisa Kudrow Kip Parduea

Erik Gunther
Yahoo! Buzz Index Editor

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January 24, 2005

Video Search Goes Mainstream

Since our initial release of Yahoo! Video Search in December, Video Search has been attracting a lot of attention (Steve Rubel, Joseph Scott, Marc Canter, and others), and the momentum has continued to build. Clearly a lot of you are interested in finding video on the Web.

As Gary Price said earlier today, we'll be adding a Video Search tab on the front page of Yahoo! tonight, making it easier to find and use:

We're also integrating it into tabs on search.yahoo.com.

As our video search index continues to grow, you'll see more content coming from our growing list of feed partners, which includes Real Networks, AtomFilms, and IFILM. In addition, you can already find video content that we've indexed thanks to content publishers adopting Media RSS (community). For example, try searching on blogs to see blog-related video content.

Our newest feed partner is TVEyes who will allow us to index closed captioned broadcast video content not previously available online, enabling you to "search inside the video." Their sources include broadcast video from Bloomberg, BBC, and BSkyB--that's just for starters.

Thanks for all the feedback and stay tuned for more from Video Search in 2005.

Andy Volk
Video Search Product Manager

PS. Our Media RSS evangelist, David Hall, was at vloggercon last week, and will be writing up his thoughts here soon.

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January 20, 2005

My Yahoo! on Your Desktop

When we first launched My Yahoo! in the summer of 1996, it didn't take long before we wanted to do even more with it. Back then, not everyone spent hours a day in their browser, so later that year we launched the My Yahoo! News Ticker to deliver the same personalized news, weather, sports scores and stock quotes directly to the desktop. (gosh, that was over 8 years ago)

Well, now the new My Yahoo! is here and it allows people to stay up to date with any of the millions of RSS feeds out there--from craigslist to Jeremy's Blog to The New York Times. And again we asked ourselves the same question: how can we make it easy for users to get their information on the desktop?

Answer: The Return of My Yahoo Ticker - this time with all the new good stuff. Today on Yahoo! Next we've put out a new beta version of My Yahoo! Ticker for Windows. It's pretty simple: just enter your Yahoo! ID and password and it will use all your personalized settings to scroll your headlines from Yahoo! and RSS feeds from around the Web. If you used the original My Yahoo! Ticker, you'll feel right at home.

Try It Out

Go download ticker to give it a try. Once you have, just right click on the ticker area to open the preferences dialog. In that dialog box, just enter your Yahoo ID and password. That's it -- you're done. Then, all your personalized info will start scrolling through the ticker.

Of course, it's not just RSS feeds. The Ticker pulls all the other content you'd expect to see in My Yahoo: new mail notifications, stock quotes, sports scores, weather forecasts, and so on. When you see a headline scroll by that grabs your attention, click it. Now you don't need to open a browser to keep up with all that info. It even works in screen saver mode.

Can't forget search...

This is the Yahoo Search blog, so it's fitting that we have built in search too. Just type your search and the results come up in a little window without forcing you to launch a browser or leave the application you are working in.

Since I installed ticker on my desktop, I've really started using the keyboard shortcuts. I just press "CTRL+ALT+Y" to access the search box. Even better, I can just select some text in whatever application I'm working in, then press "CTRL+ALT+Y" and "enter" to do a search on that text. There's also keyboard shortcuts for image search, news search and all our other vertical searches.

I hope you'll give the Ticker a try and let us know what you think.

Scott Gatz
My Yahoo Team Member and "RSS Guy" at Yahoo

P.S. A number of you have asked me about the new My Yahoo! It's been out of beta for two months now and we've also upgraded the SBC Yahoo! home page. We've been doing regular updates to the product and keep listening to feedback for areas we need to focus on. Thanks for helping us through it all.

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January 18, 2005

The Most Tumultuous Show On Earth!

Come one! Come all! Step right up and buy a ticket to The Most Tumultuous Show on Earth! GEOPOLITICS! It's a three ring circus and you're invited!

Greetings from the overtired folks at JibJab Media. We've been working day and night for the past few weeks producing our first post-election political romp - an animated short entitled "SECOND TERM!" Set to the tune of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain", it features President Bush, conservatives, liberals, Hollywood activists and dysfunctional world leaders duking it out for power and influence.

To try and stay as neutral as possible in this era of red and blue, we started our production with a list of three things we thought every rational human being out there would agree with (regardless of color affiliation):

1) George Bush is President for the next four years (barring any incriminating DNA evidence);

2) There are lots of Liberal-hating Conservatives and Conservative-hating Liberals out there;

3) World leaders can't seem to get their @#$% together.

From that simple list sprung the lyrics, music, voice performances and animation that we hope will keep you laughing for one minute and forty-five seconds (and maybe more if you watch it again to catch all the gags!).

Those of you out there in Interweb land who like to back people into corners and shout your opinions in their faces probably won't like it very much...but for those of you who (1) accept George Bush is President; (2) recognize people on both sides of the aisle can go too far; and (3) hope world leaders figure this @#$% out soon... we made this for you.

We'd like to extend an extra special thanks to the entire team at Yahoo! that worked like crazy to make "Second Term!" a success.

Hoping it rises to your expectations,

Grevan Spiridellis
Co-founder, Jib Jab Media

[Editor Note: What does this all have to do with Yahoo! Search? You can of course find SECOND TERM! using Yahoo! Video Search beta.]

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A Defense Against Comment Spam

I'm pleased to announce that Yahoo! Search is one of several organizations in support of a technique that should help combat weblog comment spam. Others involved are: Google/Blogger, MSN Search, Six Apart (TypePad, MovableType, LiveJournal), and WordPress.

By adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to hyperlinks, webmasters and weblog owners can tell search engines that the links are effectively untrusted. For example, this:

<a href="http://spammer.example.com/">buy now</a>

Becomes this:

<a href="http://spammer.example.com/" rel="nofollow">buy now</a>

We think this is a good first step toward significantly reducing the spam burden on bloggers and weblog hosting companies. It's great to see so many players on board. In the coming weeks you can expect to see the changes reflected in our web index.

Related Announcements:

Jeremy Zawodny
Yahoo! Search

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January 14, 2005

A Foxy Browser Scores in Search

When I first started working at Yahoo! seven years ago, Netscape was the browser. The tools we used weren't even developed to work with IE. Ah, 1998. Netscape was just beginning to see the bloom wither, and as the years passed most users (and fellow employees) migrated over to IE. Begrudgingly, I joined the crowd and gave up on Netscape's browser a couple years back after crashes and much gnashing of teeth.

But wait! There's a player on the scene that started attracting buzz in the hardcore webhead community in early 2004. Interest in the Mozilla-developed Firefox has spread to the point where the browser consistently ranks in our top 500 searches. Searches on the alternative browser are up 7% over the past week and a graph of queries over the past year shows a rather envious trend line:

The spike in November corresponds with a splashy Firefox ad in the New York Times. Following a seasonal dip when holidays took precedence over browsers, the alternative browser rebounded and looks to keep gaining in search share as 2005 wears on.

Jeremy posted some interesting numbers and graphs on his blog in mid-December about Firefox's growing popularity. The search numbers serve as confirmation that the open-source browser is starting to infiltrate the mainstream.

Top Firefox searches over the past week

Re-ignited browser wars? Stay tuned...

Erik Gunther
Yahoo! Buzz Index Editor

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January 10, 2005

Yahoo! Desktop Search Beta

As noted last month, there's been a lot of interest and excitement around Desktop Search products and technology. Today you get a chance to try out the beta version of what we call YDS (Yahoo! Desktop Search).

So What?

If you're like us, you might be thinking "Yet another desktop search product... What makes this one special?" Well, there are two ways to answer that. First, a quick rundown on a few of the features we like to brag about. Then we'll talk about our larger view of what searching your "desktop" really means.

  • Speed. YDS is really fast.
  • Instant Feedback. YDS provides incremental search, much like you find in Firefox. As you type each character of your search, the results are updated instantly. Not only does this mean less typing, but you'll catch spelling mistakes a lot faster too.
  • Comprehensiveness. YDS indexes a lot of file types. Over 200.
  • Built in Preview: YDS renders a preview view for most of the 200+ file types and enables you to page through the preview, so you don't need to launch the full-blown application just to see if you've found the right document. You can page through a PowerPoint, Word or PDF doc, examine individual cells in Excel, or even play an mp3 file--right there in YDS.
  • Actions. If you right click on a result, YDS provides a context-specific menu that allows you to do things with the email or document: reply, forward, print, open, etc.
  • Cost. YDS is free.

Going Beyond the Desktop

The notion of a "desktop" is changing. Most products are built with the premise that your desktop is just a way of seeing what's on your computer's hard disk. But in today's world, many of us create, find, use, and share information that lives in many places. Some of it lives on your computer, some lives on Yahoo! and other on-line services, some may live on other computers or devices on your home network.

We don't think you should have to think about where your stuff is stored in order to find it. That's where this is all headed. And as YDS evolves, you'll see that becoming more and more clear.

In the meantime, we need to know what you think of our first cut at getting there. Download YDS and let us know what you think. We've setup a message board for YDS discussion or you can leave a comment here.

Bradley Horowitz
Jeremy Zawodny

Update: PC Magazine reviewed YDS and gave it a 4.5 out of 5.0, calling it "an excellent choice." Thanks for all the feedback so far. Keep it coming!

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January 07, 2005

Yahoo! Picks of the Year

There's a closely guarded secret here at Yahoo!. Erik Gunther (our Buzz Index Editor) freely admits to it, but some Yahoo! editors strive to conceal it or at least feign indifference to it. But truth be told, the editors at Yahoo! are just like the rest of the Yahoo! Search community when it comes to pop culture. We share your fascination with the rising and falling stars of stage, screen, and DVD. And once a year we unashamedly reveal our preferences for the obscure, the unusual, and the sensational in Yahoo! Picks of the Year.

Since we first started the feature in 1996, our Picks of the Year shows that we're just as attracted to the A- and B-listers as everyone else who hits the Search box for the latest on trends and trendsetters. But we don't just look for the same old fawning celeb web sites. We scour the Internet to discover fresh, fun, or funky creations to spotlight every day as Yahoo! Picks. Over the course of the year, we feature hundreds of sites, from fascinating photo blogs to sophomoric stunts to intriguing innovations -- as an eclectic a mix as the Web itself.

So, while you may have joined the ranks searching for Britney, Atkins, or breaking news stories, we offer a daily dose of the sites you didn't search for -- the humble and human side of the Web as well as the famous and fantastic.

You can find Yahoo! Picks at http://picks.yahoo.com/ or subscribe to daily or weekly email. Or click Add to My Yahoo!to add Picks to My Yahoo!.

Laura Varteressian
Yahoo! Picks Editor

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January 04, 2005

A Look Back at the Top Searches of 2004

What a year. I've been following searches for five years, and I can definitely say 2004 has been the most interesting. If you don't believe me, take a look at our Top Searches of 2004 recap. While it doesn't detail everything we saw over the past twelve months, it's a great starting point to review the year gone by.

I love pop culture, so most of my favorite search stories of 2004 centered around some of the fluff that keeps the (search) engine chugging. Britney's meltdowns, Janet's breast, and reality TV were just a few of the items that made it an interesting year for me. And in 2004, we started covering search trends every day in the Buzz Log. I'd encourage you to browse back through the archives (starting in mid-June) as a informative complement to the eye-opening Top Searches page.

And as we head into 2005, I'd be remiss if I didn't leave you with a list of my own. From Andrea, my colleague in buzz, here are the top misheard searches of 2004. It's a short list, but a list that's sure to make you grin.

Top (sic) Searches of 2004:
1. Presidential Poles
2. King Author
3. Serious Satellite Radio
4. Eyes of March

Happy New Year and keep on searchin'!

Erik Gunther
Yahoo! Buzz Index Editor

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