Category Archives: Search engines

Sensis Yellow Pages

Dug this up from a five-year-old draft:

Sensis are nuts. They’ve totally shot themselves in the foot, and they’ve only got a limited amount of time to plug the gap before their Yellow Pages foot falls off completely.

Yellow Pages on the web doesn’t contain entries for all of the businesses listed in the physical Yellow Pages. Sensis charges businesses extra to list on the web. Not many have taken Sensis up on that option, meaning that YPW has remarkably few businesses listed – and because YPW has few businesses, consumers don’t turn to YPW to find businesses. And because of that, fewer and fewer businesses are listing… and so the death spiral goes.

If anyone there had one ounce of sense (sic), they’d be giving web listing away for free, or even negative price. For a while, while the network effect was being established. Then the charges would start hiking up, and the profits rolling in. But no, they had to try to be profitable before the monopoly was established. Bang! bang! Wow, my foot hurts.

I don’t think I was wrong.  When’s the last time you used the yellow pages online to find… anything?


Google Inc today lost a copyright fight launched by Belgian French-language newspapers which demanded the web search service remove their stories, claiming it infringed copyright laws. … They complained that the search engine’s “cached” links offered free access to archived articles that the papers usually sell on a subscription basis. It was unclear if Google would have to pay a fine.

— Wire story: Google loses case against Belgian papers

That’s just stupid. You don’t need to go around suing search engines to stop your stuff getting into their databases. Every web developer who knows anything about this knows you just need to drop a robots.txt file onto your web site and it stops all search engines and archivers stone dead.

To ignore that, and send the lawyers in instead just looks like you’re not looking for a solution, you’re looking for money.

Google and MS Custom Search

Just a few days after Google released its new Custom Search Engine, allowing web site owners to use Google search, Microsoft have done the same, with the Live Search Box. I guess this means byebye to older engines such as Atomz/WebSideStory (though they appear to have bowed out of free hosting anyway, or at least have stopped offering it to any new customers).

I’ve installed the Google offering on one site, and it really is very easy to use. Happily it also includes an option to not display (or make money from) adverts.

AI Software forcing newspapers to be clearer and more relevant

The New York Times explains that journalists are now having to make their articles clearer and more relevant to gain search engine recognition, while subeditors are having to do the same thing to headlines.

I suspect that the Herald Sun’s trick of interposing an unrelated photo and a provocative headline (e.g. “Child molester caught” next to a photo of the PM) will eventually be affected by this.

Google Desktop V 2

Go download the new Google Desktop Search and run it in side bar mode.

I’m playing with it now and it’s pretty cool. It offers way too many things I’ll never use or simply don’t need (photo slide show, ‘web clips’ – come on, just call it RSS and be done with it, no weather for non-US cities, ‘what’s hot’) and some nifty features (check the Quick Find feature and the Outlook integration along with a great little scratch pad) in a download that now works with VET anti-virus programs.

MSN Desktop Search is a far more elegant search application and much more focused – it searches your stuff, and searches it well but for sheer geek fun Google delivers.

Using Atomz free search with WordPress

I’ve set up the Atomz free search to index both my old site and my personal blog at together. Atomz allows you to specify multiple entry points for its crawler, putting all the specified sites into the one index.

Given the free search only allows 750 documents in its index, the catch with WordPress is to avoid it indexing individual blog entries, but doing the monthly pages instead. This is done using the URL Masks feature, so for instance with my blog structure of I specify

exclude regexp*

The other ones I’ve excluded are RSS feeds (which it chokes on, and wastes processing time on), comments and category URLs.

exclude regexp*/feed/*

This keeps my current total number of pages (both domains together) down to 519, which is pretty good, and well under the 750 limit for the freebie version.

It’s also handy in that the crawler logs broken links. I’ve got quite a few that have shown up as I move my old blog archives into WordPress, so I can just work through the list and fix them.

Changing the default “Search For” engine in Firefox

As a follow up to Daniel’s previous post. If you want to change the default browser search engine in Firefox (say from to after you’ve installed the ‘proper’ English version of Firefox) it’s a simple procedure.

Type about:config in the address bar.
Scroll down the list to
Double click on this and change to – you’re done. All your browser searches will now run through the Australian version of Google, with correct spelling.

And if you want to remove/add/edit the search options in Mycroft (the search box at the top of the screen) there’s a great free utility at

Why Googlebomb?

Why are webloggers googlebombing online poker?

I assume it’s to reduce the attractiveness of spaming the blogs with the term. Wouldn’t you want positions 1-10, rather than just #1, and really shut the action down? I don’t see that it will. But wikipedia will be regarded as a more relevant site, and that’s gotta be good, right? Speaking of which, I must go check for vandalisim on my pages…


When I look at this site, in the Google Ad I consistently get public service announcements, or more commonly, an advert for a Word to HTML conversion tool.

When I looked at this site at Tony’s place, it came up with ads for AFL memorabilia on eBay.

Interesting, very interesting. Tony’s a big AFL fan, and I can only speculate that Google is doing some tracking of sites visited.

Other ad operators such as DoubleClick got flack when they originally started doing that, serving tracker cookies with their ads, building up usage patterns. I don’t recall hearing about Google doing the same thing, but I wouldn’t be surprised. After all there’s thousands upon thousands of sites using Google AdSense now, plus they could track your Google searches (it’s known that they do use a user cookie to keep your preferences). Might be time to trawl through Google’s T&Cs again.

PS. Okay, I just got an AFL ad. Maybe they’re not tracking?