Yahoo! Hacks. The Good Kind…

  • Posted January 23rd, 2006 at 7:04 am by Yahoo! Search
  • Categories: Guest Bloggers

yahoo hacks
Hey All, Yahoo! turned the keys of their blog over to me for one
post so I can tell you about a book I put together called Yahoo!
Hacks. If you’re not already familiar with O’Reilly’s href="">Hacks Series, don’t worry, the
book isn’t about breaking into Yahoo! without permission. Instead, the
Hacks Series is trying to reclaim the word “hacks” for the good guys,
using the word in its original geeky sense of describing a cool
technical shortcut, useful bit of code, or a clever use of an existing
application. Each hack is a tip, trick, or project you can put
together that uses Yahoo! in a unique way—ranging from using
simple shortcuts to fine-tune searching to adding new features with href="">Yahoo! Web Services.

Here’s a quick example. I like to change my desktop
background. Most of the time I spot something on the Web at random,
right-click the image, and choose “Set as Desktop Background…” from
the menu. This method isn’t perfect though because most of the time
the image isn’t quite the right size for my desktop. So I have to go
into my desktop settings and choose “stretch” or “center” to see which
is the best way to display the background picture. Stretching the
image usually means the picture will look blurry or distorted, so
ideally I’d like to find images that are the right size for my

Yahoo! Image Search is
great for spotting new desktop backgrounds. Yahoo! has already done
the work of gathering thousands of images from across the Web into one
interface for browsing. And if you know a few of what Yahoo! calls
Search Meta Words, you can specify the size of images you’d
like to see. Try a search for href="">cityscape,
and you’ll find thousands of images of all shapes and sizes. Say your
screen resolution is set to 1024 x 768, you can specify that with the
width: and height: Search Meta Words. So the query href="">cityscape
width:1024 height:768 will give you only images that are a perfect
match for your desktop background.

In Yahoo!
, Hack #83 shows how you can take this idea a step further
with a bit of code to set a new desktop background automatically when
you start your computer. So you specify a word like cityscape,
and Yahoo! Web Services will deliver a random image to your
desktop. It won’t always give you a background image that you’d set
for yourself, but it’s a fun example of using Yahoo! to bring some
randomness into your life.

Another of my favorite Search Meta Words is aspect: for href="">Yahoo! Video Search. The
term aspect ratio refers to a video’s display width divided by
its height. As HDTV is taking off, more and more video is available in
a widescreen format which is represented by the 16:9 aspect
ratio. Standard television video has a 4:3 aspect ratio—almost a
square, and computer monitors 5:4. With a little math, you can tell
Yahoo! Video Search which aspect ratio you’re looking for. You take
the video width multiplied by 100, then divide by the height and round
down. That means widescreen movies and HDTV have the computed aspect
value of 177.

Here’s a quick way to see how it works. Try a search for href="">Matrix
at Yahoo! Video Search and you’ll get over 20,000 results. Now specify
the aspect ratio by searching for href="">Matrix
aspect:177 and you’ll get under 100 results, but each result is in
widescreen format. (Usually a bit higher quality than 4:3 videos.)
There are quite a few Search Meta Keywords for Yahoo! Video Search,
and Hack #11 in the book explains them all.

Many thanks to the fine folks here at Yahoo! Search Blog for
letting me tell you a bit about href="">Yahoo! Hacks, I
hope you’ll check it out. And happy Yahoo! hacking (the good

Paul Bausch


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