The New Web Challengers

Late News, Fresh Info

Amazon A9: You can browse for days and see nothing but the same old Web sites, but then stumble on a site like A9 and remember how much fun the Web can be. A column of buttons lets you refine your standard Web search results to include the contents of books, or information related to movies, references, or images (see FIGURE 10

Figure 10: Broaden your Web search to include the contents of books, as well as movies, images, and other non-Web references, at Amazon's new A9.com search site.
). Each set of results displays in its own panel. If you install the A9 Toolbar, you can scribble quick notes about your search results. (This feature requires an Amazon account to store your history, bookmarks, and diary entries.) Hover the mouse pointer over a listing's Site Info button to view valuable "People who visit this page also visit:" references. When the screen becomes too cluttered (and I promise, it will), grab the edge of a panel and resize it; A9 will remember your window preferences and reopen in that layout

All the News: Spyware plagues nearly everyone surfing the Web. I use Topix.net to feed me the dirt on the latest spyware trying to infiltrate my PC. Aside from technology, the site covers 11 other primary news categories, including gadgets, health, and local news based on your zip code. Visit Topix.net for your daily dose of spyware news, subscribe to the site's daily or weekly e-mail alerts, or sign up for its RSS feed.

Secunia: Next to spyware, Windows' security weaknesses are the biggest threat to PC users--and they seem to pop up far too regularly. I use Secunia to search for details on specific security flaws in Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Windows. The site tracks security holes affecting 4000 other products, including programs from Cisco, HP, and Novell. Sign up for the site's weekly e-mail missive, or subscribe to its RSS feed.

OldVersion: Have you ever suffered from Upgrader's Remorse? The disorder occurs when you regret a software update because the new version creates a conflict. You'll find the cure at OldVersion, which houses about 500 old releases of over 50 products, both freebies and commercial programs. On the flip side are people who want to know immediately about the most current version of practically any program. If you belong in this group, visit VersionTracker to make sure that your system is up-to-date with all the latest Windows, Palm, and Mac software.

Daily Rotation: So you say you're a technology news junkie? Me too, and that's why I swing by the Daily Rotation page each morning. The site serves up headlines from almost 200 news feeds, such as BetaNews, Microsoft Watch, and Neowin News. To keep from being overwhelmed, I configure Daily Rotation to show headlines from only about ten key sources.

Google Scholar: If you ever need to dig up details on a doctoral dissertation or find a specialized research paper hidden in the academic universe, try Google Scholar (currently in beta). You won't have to wade through endless, irrelevant results, plus you'll get valuable cross-references and citation rankings--essential tools for academicians. By the way, the first thing many people do on this site is to conduct an ego search (and no, my thesis wasn't listed).

Clusty: The new Clusty metasearch engine from Vivisimo blasts your request to other sites based on what it knows about the strengths of individual search engines. For instance, Clusty entered a search for "Pasadena Doo Dah Parade" on GigaBlast, Lycos, MSN, and other sites, while a search for "migraine" added Overture, Wikipedia, and Wisenut to the mix. Click any of Clusty's five tabs (News, Images, Shopping, Encyclopedia, and Gossip) to bring up related topics, or add tabs for blogs and Slashdot.

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