Business-like, isn't he?



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    Searching for Internet life beyond Google

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2005 First published in Business in Vancouver June 7-13, 2005; Issue #815, High Tech Office column

    People used to have preferences among Internet search engines, or recommended "metasearch" services that combined multiple search sites. For a while, my favourite was, because it offered users the ability to easily filter results: only Canadian pages since 2003, for example.

    Those in the know shared tips: how to put multiple words in quotes or manipulate plus and minus signs to get the most useful results.

    Google changed all of this, offering an interface that, magically, just works. Over time, Google has added services: a downloadable toolbar and desktop search, news headlines, local search, translation tools, shopping and maps. Along the way, it's become a verb: you "google" something by looking it up online. Googling "Alan Zisman" got 8,480 hits. Other search engines haven't gone away, however. Though it gets its results from Google, Amazon's A9 service ( lets you view several searches at once, arranging the results in collapsible columns. You can annotate your searches, saving them online along with bookmarks and diary entries. Loyal users earn Amazon discounts. (105 hits for "Alan Zisman".)

    The most powerful search engine of the early years, AltaVista is now owned by Yahoo and uses Yahoo's search results. There's a Google-like look, which has cleaned up what was a cluttered start page. The ability to filter image or music searches by file type or size can be useful, and the translation tools remain usable for translating a short phrase or an entire webpage. (13,000 hits for "Alan Zisman".)

    Like its parent organization, AOLSearch ( is long on user-friendly. As you type, a "smartbox" suggests what it thinks you may be looking for. When your results appear, there's a handy list of related searches in a column on the left. (Though it claims to be "enhanced by Google" there were only about 80 hits for "Alan Zisman".)

    AskJeeves ( started out promising "natural language" searches: just type a question. The problem, however, was that it didn't work very well. Still, AskJeeves keeps innovating, with Smart Search options for maps, movies, phone listings, stock prices and weather. (128 hits for "Alan Zisman".)

    Looksmart ( promises five million articles "not found in any other search engine" and lets you narrow results by topic. It may be worth a try to see if something worthwhile shows up (though my brief tests weren't promising: 14 hits for "Alan Zisman".)

    Internet classic Lycos hasn't adopted Google's clean lines. Its main search results now come from AskJeeves, while its news search repackages Google results. A nice discussion search feature peeks in a variety of online forums. Personal searches offer online biographies and resumés along with (not free) background checks. (128 hits for "Alan Zisman".)

    Microsoft's MSN Search ( offers a downloadable toolbar and a desktop search program, along with links to Microsoft's Encarta online encyclopedia. (A hefty 4,214 hits for your humble scribe.)

    Another old standby, Yahoo keeps a cluttered look, a wealth of features and more users than any service except Google. Its downloadable toolbar is bundled with Adobe Reader and Macromedia Flash, and it has strong customization and multimedia and local searches. (13,400 hits for "Alan Zisman".)

    While Google and Yahoo remain the most useful overall Internet search engines, you may find the special features of some of the other services waorth using. There is, it appears, life after Google.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan