Month: April 2005
Getting Over It
Last week I got a letter from a health clinic that I used maybe five years ago. The letter said some of their PCs were stolen out of their office, and on those PCs were the electronic records of their patients, including mine. They also sent a photocopy of the police report, for reasons I don’t understand.
On Monday, DSW (the discount shoe store) said that transaction information on about 1.4 million credit cards was stolen. Because the transaction logs just had name, credit card number, and amount, they didn’t have any easy way to contact the people whose credit card numbers were obtained (although they did contact the credit card vendors). But given the list of stores and the dates of the logs, I know my credit card number was among the ones obtained.
How long must we be diligent, checking our credit cards for fraud, checking our credit history? Years.
Just this past week, I discovered ZabaSearch, a free site for looking up information about people. Where they used to live, when they were born, their phone numbers — all right there. And background checks for $5. How convenient.
I wonder where this will end. Will there be a backlash against acquiring information, new regulations on handling it, more use of one-time identifiers (like virtual credit cards), more use of things like P.O. boxes, etc? Or will people just warm to the idea that we no longer have any privacy? Or, in the words of Sun CEO Scott McNealy, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it”?
Amongst the buzz around “we are not a portal” Google’s My Search History comes this mention from Bill Slawski (bragadocchio) at cre8asiteforums.com, who discusses Yahoo!s recent patent application regarding search personalization/optimization.
Privacy in Death
So a court has ordered Y! to turn over all materials belonging to a marine killed in Iraq after his family sued to get access. Y! News has the AP story.
To its credit (in my opinion), in order to comply wirh the court ruling, Y! turned over a CD of information (and will produce paper copies next week), rather than providing the account’s user name and password.
I’m on the right to privacy side on this one – if the marine wanted the family to have access, he would have provided it. But I’m not a lawyer…
Target Yahoo! Photos
I see that http://www.target.com/yahoophotos is live. It’s just a redirect to Yahoo photos – to a special URL, but (currently) without Target branding.
It turns out that Target is going to use Yahoo Photos as a co-branded site. At first I suspect Target stores will promote Yahoo Photos. In the fall you’ll be able to upload your digital photos to Yahoo and pick up the prints at Target.
Clicks and mortar, anyone?
X1 Search Engine Takes $10MM
I don’t see it on their web site yet, but search engine company X1 today announced an investment of $10 million, lead by USVP. X1 is the search engine that Yahoo! uses as the base for its desktop search product.
I wonder about the future of desktop search. Between Google and Yahoo providing free integrated deskptop-web search functionality (on Wintel, anyway), and Microsoft and Apple providing instant metadata indexing at the file system (in Longhorn and Tiger), is there a market for anyone else?
Apparently X1 wonders as well. They say the $10MM will go to their yet-to-launch enterprise search product, which I guess aims it squarely in the face of players like Autonomy and Verity.
Yahoo! Shopping – Gift Finder
Today Y! Shopping rolls out a recommendation engine, licensed by ChoiceStream. I checked it out, at Yahoo! Shopping – Gift Finder and randomly tried to find a housewarming present. I got nothing.
Then I looked at the source code for the resulting page, which had lines like:
xmlhttp = new ActiveXObject("Msxml2.XMLHTTP");
xmlhttp = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
Bleah. Maybe once it’s out of beta it’ll work on a Mac.
Yahoo! News Beta
Have you seen the beta of Yahoo! news? Right away you can see it’s a redesign. While it was in alpha, company employees got to test drive it. I looked at it briefly and switched back, but eventually I got used to it and now I love it. It looks a lot more modern.
Think the redesign matters? Oh yeah — very much so. According to Nielsen/NetRatings and ComScore, Yahoo! News gets more visitors than any other news site, including CNN.
Not only is it a redesign, but it’s got some great new features. I like that I can toggle between headlines and summaries. I love the tabs so I can see headlines from different sources quickly without a page refresh. But I really like being able to add news sources — and the “My Sources” tab remembers which sources I had open and which I had closed. For years I’ve used My Yahoo as my start page, but primarily as a custom news front page. With the new “My Sources” feature, and ability to change the layout (somewhat), I can honestly see myself switching my home page to Yahoo News once it gets out of beta.
But even if I didn’t switch my home page, I love the “Related Search Results” feature, as indicated by the larger words and purple chevron icon in the story text. This is the Y!Q search technology, well-integrated, but not obnoxiously so. Seriously cool stuff.
All the “+ My Yahoo” and “XML” badges are a bit much, though. It’s also definitely beta – some things are still kinda wonky. But I’ve already switched over to it. The old site looks so … old.
An Idle Thought
While browsing the Web today, I read the statement:
Web analytics are a necessity…
Is “web analytics” a collection of things (as the writer suggests), or a single thing?
ASPs failed? Oh really?
Rajesh Jain claims that ASPs Failed – But Are Now Making A Comeback. Most of the article discusses well-trodden areas, but ends up saying that web services plus focus on the small business will result in a rebirth of the ASP model. I have no opinion on his conclusion, but in a narrow sense, I disagree with the initial statement that ASPs failed. They certainly thrived in the web analytics market.