Microsoft has been pretty busy today, adding two third-party services to its consumer and business brands. The first is a new integration with Farecast [coverage] on MSN's travel site. Users get a new module, containing airfare predictions and deals, that offers a listing of cheap airfares as well as an airport finder. Instead of jettisoning you out to Farecast's site, it will open up right inside of MSN--similar to opening up an app in Facebook.
Fluther is a social question and answer site. Like similar services, it gives people a place to ask and answer questions amid a community of users. Fluther has taken this idea and given it an interesting twist, in adding a built-in tracking service. This service keeps track of your activity on the site and will let you monitor questions you've asked or answered in real time. The service also promises to direct questions toward so-called experts once they've successfully answered several questions in a certain topic or area of interest.
Oh, and if you're wondering what that … Read more
Ask.com may not be the No. 1 search engine out there, but it's been doing some interesting things with new Web technologies, including its mapping services. Ask.com Maps and Directions allows users to search and get directions in any city really quickly. What separates it from some other directions services is its capability to give you directions for both driving and walking. It works mostly for short hauls (obviously) and gives you turn-by-turn directions for getting around city blocks on foot. If you've ever been following a road map in the city and come … Read more
Ask.com tonight is launching a new interface and a few cool new features for its search engine, which it's calling Ask3D (see CNET News.com's story). The company's AskX experimental search interface previewed many of its features.
The first thing users will notice is an attractive new home page, with pretty buttons to narrow a search by type, such as images, maps, or blogs. Users can select one of several photos as a background image on the main search interface. (In the future, you'll be able to use your own image). When you begin to type in a query, a drop-down box gives you suggestions to fill it out.
The new interface splits up search result pages into three panes. In the middle, you get your ads (by Google) and your main links. If there's an editorially created "smart answer," as there is for a popular query like "Speed Racer," you'll get a useful little blurb above everything else. Ask.com's editorial team, like Mahalo's, creates content for the most popular results (Mahalo also curates search results, which is a useful additional service).
Many results have a spyglass icon, which will display a snapshot of the search result when you hover over it (like CoolIris.com does), as well as displaying useful stats such as the page size and the load time.
On the left of the main pane, you get links related to your search. For example, in the "Speed Racer" search, under "narrow," there are links to search on ringtones, facts, the Mach 5, and so on. These links do a very good job of conveying the context of the search you're looking at.
We realize not everyone uses Firefox to browse the Web, but for those who do, there's a really great extension that's been getting a lot of buzz lately. It's called Customize Google and it does just that. You can customize every service Google offers, from basic tasks such as automatically redirecting to the secure versions of Gmail, Google Reader, and Google Docs and Spreadsheets, to actually adding links to other search services such as MSN, Yahoo, and Ask.com. Social bookmarking nuts can also add links to services such as Reddit, Digg, and Del.icio.us, right … Read more
Citizendium, the new wiki project from Larry Sanger (one of the co-founders of Wikipedia) launched publicly yesterday. Citizendium is a lot like Wikipedia, but with more emphasis placed on responsibility and the policing of content--two things arguably lacking in Wikipedia. Before you can contribute to Citizendium, users must apply for access, and it's not just a casual name and e-mail address; you actually have to provide your real name and sell yourself to the service's content cops in 100 to 500 words.
The site's content is managed and controlled by community moderators called "constables." After being screened and chosen even more carefully than ordinary contributors, constables are given the power to manage user submissions and general content. Constables aren't paid or given compensation for their services, it's purely a volunteer gig. Likewise, contributors receive nothing besides the prestige of creating and editing content for the service.
There are just more than 1,000 entries on the site. This pales in comparison to Wikipedia's 1,700,000 plus, but Citizendium just launched. Wikipedia's been live since early 2001.
Citizendium is an interesting experiment (a term coined by its founders, not me). It's too early to say whether or not it will become a serious competitor to Wikipedia. To my mind, Citizendium is setting itself up for problems.… Read more
YouTube has launched the first ever YouTube Awards with 70 videos in seven categories. This week viewers can vote to pick their favorites of 2006. It's kind of like the Oscars, but for user-generated video clips such as Lonelygirl15 and Ask a Ninja. As of right now, there's nothing on the awards page but a bunch of comments from confused users who have made their way to the site to find nothing to vote on. Digging deeper, clicking on playlist shows a full listing of clips. We're assuming there will be a voting system similar to the … Read more
With Super Bowl Sunday just days away, plenty of tech blogs are highlighting the party gadgetry that they're recommending for the big event. Here at Crave, we're going to ask you: what are your recommendations for the ultimate Super Bowl party gadget? You can go with the obvious (um, an HDTV), the supplementary (a margarita mixer), or the downright ridiculous (does anybody out there make a Peyton Manning USB bobblehead?) Yes, it has to be a real gadget. Leave your picks in the comments.
We'll post your suggestions on Friday, so that you can spend Saturday waiting … Read more
One of the things I love most about Google is how it has made other search competitors focus on simplicity and elegance in their interfaces. A prime example of this trend is Ask X, which can be described as the better-looking sibling of Ask.com.
Ask X uses Ajax to provide users with a refresh-free searching experience. Clicking among various search options such as images or video automatically refreshes your results without having to reload the page. The same goes for any new search you enter. Ask X has three window panes: one for typing searches, one for viewing results, … Read more