Get a Customized Browser Start Page and Search Experience With Favitt

So you have got a search engine’s home page bookmarked as your browser start page. You are not alone, most of the web users have a tendency to bookmark Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines as their browser start pages. This is because they want one click access to an interface where they can search for anything they want.

Why not customize the search experience a little bit and take it to the next level? Why not tweak some settings, add the features you use the most, remove those whom you don’t need and create a personalized search experience ? Favitt is one of the few sites which lets you do exactly that.

Favitt lets you completely customize your search experience and gives you a personal browser start page. You can add multiple search engines, popular websites and other sources in the Favitt start page and quickly use the tabs to search a particular site.

Imagine a scenario: You want to search Amazon for products, Google for blog posts, YouTube for videos, Flickr for images, Wikipedia for research and so on. You have to open all these sites in different browser tabs, type the keywords one by one and hit search. Favitt reduces this clutter and lets you search multiple search engines from one place.

When you go to the Favitt homepage, you see a search box, a list of search engines and a nice background, as shown below, you can also customize the  by uploading your own image and using it as a background.

favitt-browser-start-page

Type the keywords and select the search engine from the list to search a specific search engine. You can add or remove sources by using the More button placed at the right of the search box.

Once you perform a search, simply click the links of different search engines from the sidebar and the search results from these sites are fetched in the same browser tab. You don’t have to open multiple tabs and type the same keywords over and over again.

search-multiple-search-engines

If you sign up for a free account on Favitt, you get a personal browser start page for free. A personal browser start page has several advantages. First, your browser start page is accessible from any computer, you don’t have to install any extension or plugin to get started. All you have to do is type the vanity URL of your Favitt account and the start page is ready to be used.(see example)

Second, you can add a list of favorite sites in the start page and can access them with a single click. You don’t have to use an online bookmarking service like delicious or Google bookmarks.

Favitt also lets you upload images from your computer or a web URL and set them as the background of your start page. Upload a set of images and Favitt will automatically rotate these images on a daily basis. Cool!

Overall, Favitt is one of the best sites to customize your search experience, add or remove sources, spice up the page with backgrounds and more.

Fake Warnings and Hoaxes on Facebook – Are You Smart Enough to Avoid Them?

joker Every time I hear about a new scam or hoax on Facebook, I have to wonder how people can fall for these. Don’t be fooled, a few minutes of research can save you some embarrassment. Here’s an example of one of the hoaxes that’s been going around.

Fox 4 news reported… ATTENTION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! do not join the group that runs currently on facebook with the title “becoming a father or mother was the greatest gift of my life” This is a group created by pedophiles whose aim is to access your photos!!!!!!!…!!!!! Please rotate …this post to all Your Friends on Facebook xx

In truth, there were no groups started by pedophiles. It was all a big hoax, but it got passed along in Facebook and email so often that it took on a life of it’s own. Originally, there were no groups with that name or a similar name, but some other pranksters created similar groups, just to see how much trouble they could start. It even got to the point where people were creating groups to protest the original (hoax) groups. I was tempted to laugh when I read about this hoax, but I’m also sad that there are so many people ready and willing to post stuff like this in their Facebook page or email.

Read the truth about the Pedophile Group Hoax

Here’s another one – would you pass on this picture and description?

Whale swallows man in kayak

kayak-in-mouth-of-whale

Find out the truth behind this photo.

I found out about these hoaxes from an old friend of mine, Brett Christensen. He runs a website, newsletter and Facebook page that reveals the truth and the lies behind many of the rumors, hoaxes and scams you see in email and Facebook.

If you don’t want to be fooled, it only takes a minute or two in a search engine to find the truth. I recommend going to three different sites to perform a quick search before you pass on the next fantastic message you get.

Search Hoax-Slayer

Snopes.com

Scambusters

I also recommend signing up for the email newsletters from Hoax-Slayer and Snopes.

Hoax-Slayer newsletter (monthly)

Snopes newsletter (weekly)

In case you want up to date info, here’s the Facebook page for Hoax-Slayer that Brett maintains. Just post a question on his wall and he’ll probably answer back with all the facts he can find.

It’s not a sin to be fooled by an email or Facebook post. However, you won’t be gaining any friends and credibility by passing on stupid rumors and hoaxes. Take the time to check them out.

I’ve never been fooled by a hoax or a scam in Facebook (or email), have you?

Google Enables Encrypted Search Using SSL or HTTPS

Secure Sockets Layer which is regularly known as SSL is a norm for protecting data from being interpreted by third parties and has been in use for a long time. However, you might not be accustomed to seeing https on regular sites, but have come across them on a banking website.

To add to that, you can now also start searching securely using Google, thanks to the introduction of their new encrypted Google web search feature accessible at https://www.google.com

Google SSL Encrypted Search Beta

The search experience between the regular search engine and the encrypted search engine will almost remain the same, except for the fact that people will not be able to snoop in on what you are searching while using the encrypted search. A visible change users will see when using the encrypted search is the new logo as you will see in the image above.

So the next time you are thinking of searching for something and don’t want your neighborhood friendly salesman to know what you searched for, head over to https://www.google.com.

For more information on this, visit the official Google Blog post.

Google’s PAC-MAN Doodle Annoying Users To No End, May End Up Increasing Bing’s Market Share

I must start out with the fact that the PAC-MAN Doodle was probably one of the best I have seen in a long time, but for the next 48 hours there will be so many annoyed users who will switch from using Google to Bing, just because of the nuisance it creates.

Google Pacman Doodle

Google is no doubt celebrating PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday with a bang, however, the same bang can cause it to lose a good chunk of the search engine market in the next two days, which is how long the search giant is planning to run the Doodle on their home page.

There is no doubt that the Google Doodle is really cute and gives many people a chance to play the age-old popular game which is still famous, however, once everyone has had their fills, the annoying sound of the PAC-MAN game will come to haunt you when you want to search.

Take for example this recent comment where Julesc was so annoyed with the Google homepage that she decided to use another search engine, along with pointing us out to the fact that many users are now searching for ways to stop that annoying sounds.

This goes on to show that no matter what you do, you are bound to irk quite a few people on the way, however, I must admit that I personally don’t visit the Google homepage to search and use address bar to satisfy my needs, however, there will be several annoyed users who end up on Google.com and quietly make their way to Bing.com.

What was Google’s mistake in this, plain simple, they forgot to add an option to allow users to turn off the sound, which is forcing users to turn their speakers off. Now thanks to Google, you can expect Bing to rejoice with the sound :-).

Update: Google has now finally added a mute button to the home page, if you have found the PAC-MAN sound annoying just go and click the sound icon and the problem should be solved.

The Safest Search Engine on the Web

I would like to nominate WOT-SurfCanyon as the safest search site on the web. This might be debatable, because there are a few dedicated search engines for children. However, kid-safe searches will not show you search results that any curious adult will want to see.

I define safe searching for adults, as being able to see everything, and yet be protected against sites that deliver malware, trojans and spyware. If you follow my definition, the WOT-SurfCanyon site is a search service that you may want to use.

Here’s a look at some search results for the most dangerous item you can search for, screensavers.

surfcanyon-wot-search

Please notice that there is a little green circle next to each search result. This is due to the WOT (Web of Trust) service that SurfCanyon is partnered with. If those circles are yellow or red, the search result is either risky or dangerous for different reasons.

There are two options at the top of the search results page which exclude certain results by default. Un-checking the check-boxes will allow you to see those results.

surfcanyon-exclusions

SurfCanyon also includes an icon next to each search result. The SurfCanyon icon looks like a little target with a blue arrow in the bulls-eye.

surfcanyon-bullseye

Clicking on the SurfCanyon bulls-eye will show you recommended search results based on the result you’ve chosen. This is a very nice feature, but I have not found it as useful as the WOT icon. Clicking on the WOT icon will give you more details about the website behind that search result.

I recently wrote about the WOT addon for Firefox, IE and Chrome browsers. It provides this safe search feature, but it does require that you use the addon. If you don’t want to install an addon to your web browser, the WOT-SurfCanyon search is exactly what you need to stay safe.

Sometime soon, I’ll tell you how to set SurfCanyon-WOT as your default search engine in Firefox, IE, Chrome and Opera. Until then, search safely!

View Google Images Faster with clickGOOGLEview Chrome Extension

clickGOOGLEview-install-icon I think it’s safe to say that most people use Google Image Search when it’s time to look for images they want. There are many other image search engines, such as Imagery, Yahoo Image Search, Ask Images Search, MSN Live Image Search, AltaVista Image Search, but Google Image Search is the most widely known.

I haven’t seen very many complaints about the way Google Image Search works, but any trick I can use to find images there is always welcome. Now I’ll tell you about the latest trick I’ve learned. There’s a cool Chrome browser extension called clickGOOGLEview which lets you quickly see full size images you’ve found.

Normally while searching, you’ll see rows of image thumbnails for the search results.

image-results

When you click on a thumbnail, you are taken to another thumbnail image and a copy of the web page it is displayed on. You have to click a link labeled See full size imageto see the full size version of the image.

image-link-full-size

Once you’ve installed the clickGOOGLEview extension in the Chrome web browser, clicking on the image thumbnail on the results page opens up the full size image in a new tab. This saves an extra click and it also makes it easier to return to your search results.

clickGOOGLEview-install-dialog

Get the clickGOOGLEview extension.

That may not sound like a big time saver, but if you use it often, you will save big chunks of time. This is true, especially when you consider that you normally have to hit the back button in your browser to return to your search results.

If you use Google’s Chrome browser and Google Image Search, the clickGOOGLEview extension is something you’ll learn to love. If this extension isn’t something you need, be sure to check out our list of the Best Google Chrome Extensions and our reviews of other popular Chrome Extensions.

Hacker News Bans Google And Other Search Engine Indexing

Hacker News a social news website based about computer hacking and startup companies has just blocked Google and other search engines from indexing their site.

Hacker News Google Block Twitter Update

Hacker News is a social news sharing community by Y Combinator which is a startup funding company and is similar to sites like Digg and Reddit, where users can comment and vote on stories submitted to the site.

However, in a recent turn of events, Y Combinator has blocked Google and all other search engines from crawling the site. The news was flashed to all users through a  update.

Hacker News Google Block

There is no official confirmation about why Hacker News blocked Google, however, the Hacker News community is definitely not happy about it since there is no official announcement on why the block was put in place.

Google Is 4th Largest Traffic Source For Bing

Bing is definitely doing pretty good in the US market with 11.5% market share, however, guess who is sending Bing traffic? Well, there are no surprises in the top 3 traffic sources for Bing, which are MSN, and Windows Live Mail.

Bing Traffic Report For February

So where is the surprise then? Well, let’s call it Google. Google is the 4th largest source for traffic that Bing gets to their site. Wow, how?

bing_google_search_engines

Well, Microsoft purchases ads on Google for Bing using Google Adwords for popular terms like "Search Engines", and they also show up high in the search results for several terms, as seen in the screenshot above. This may be one of the main reasons of the traffic Bing gets.

Based on the recent traffic reports from comScore, Bing got around 1.6 billion users in Feb 2010, which implies that Google sent approximately 66.7 million users their way.

Now that big an amount of users would definitely cost a lot, especially when Microsoft is advertising on premium keywords. So no matter what the scenario Google are in, they still making money out of Bing.

The Nitty Gritties

According to the report by Hitwise, almost 43% of the hits to Bing come from MSN domains, followed by Facebook with whom Bing have a deal for search, and Windows Live Mail, which is the proprietary email service owned by Microsoft.

The surprise though is Google at 4th with around 4.1% traffic share, which is almost the same as Facebook and Windows Live Mail, but this might definitely mean that Microsoft has loosened its pockets a lot, and are advertising Bing aggressively on one of the biggest search engines on planet Earth. Yahoo with whom Microsoft signed a deal for search is there at 5th with around 2% of the traffic.

The Bing traffic was compiled by Hitwise and posted on at Twitpic. Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land, spotted the report and wrote the analysis on it.

How to Add a Right Click Search to Chrome Browser

Would you like to be able to highlight a word or a phrase on a web page and find out more about it? You can make this possible by adding search entries to the right click (context) menu.

Recently, I’ve posted articles telling you how to Add a Right Click Search Menu to Firefox and Internet Explorer. You might think that I have a real searchaddiction. It’s not an addiction, it’s a real need that’s based on the desire to save time. I spend large chunks of time searching the net for the things I want to learn and write about.

Now I’ll show you how to add a context search menu to Google’s Chrome web browser. chrome

1. You must be running version 4 of Chrome or higher.

2. Go to the ChromeExtensions site and install Context Search.

chrome-context-search-site

3. To add your own custom search sites (providers), open the Extensions manager by using the Wrench pull-down menu.

chrome-extensions-wrench

4. Click on the Options button for Context Search.

chrome-extensions-options-button

5. In the preferences, you can add/remove and edit existing search providers. To add a new provider, click the Add newlink.

chrome-context-search-add-new

6. Here you can see how I’ve added my favorite search provider. Don’t forget to use the Savelink when you have everything entered. (read why I like Scroogle Search)

chrome-context-search-add-scroogle

Tip: How do I get URLs like the ones shown above? I go to a website (such as Twitter) and perform a search there, using an easy to identify keyword (such as TESTSEARCH). Then I find the keyword and replace it with %s.

URL displayed in address bar after searching Twitter for TESTSEARCH
http://twitter.com/#search?q=TESTSEARCH

URL after replacing TESTSEARCH with %s
http://twitter.com/#search?q=%s

7. When you run across a word or phrase on a page, highlight it and you’ll see a little triangle beside the highlighted text. Click on it and you’ll see your search providers listed.

chrome-context-search-shown2

8. I’ve noticed that the little triangle doesn’t appear on some web pages. When that happens, right click on the highlighted text and you’ll see your customized search providers listed.

chrome-context-search-shown

That’s all there is to it. Now you’re ready to beat Chuck Norris at searching. Oh, I forgot – Chuck Norris doesn’t search, the results come to him.   (bad joke)

Bing Market Share Up, Yahoo Goes Down, Google Stable [Search Market]

The search market share for February 2010 is in, Bing has once again managed to increase their market share in the month of February by gaining 0.2% share for a total of 11.5%. On the other hand, Yahoo has continued their downslide by falling 0.2% to 16.8%.

search_engines

On the other hand, Google seems to have not been affected and has instead gained 0.1% market share for a total of 65.5% share.

The data in question comes from comScore, which said that the total US search volume has increased 10.4% in February 2010 for YoY data. Other search engines like Ask lost 0.1% to end up at 3.7% and AOL stayed flat at 2.5% market share.

Bing has shown a decline in search market only once since it has launched, however, this could be attributed to their recent deal with Yahoo. However, Microsoft has not been able to make a dent into Google’s market share and has been consistently eating into that of Yahoo.

It will be interesting to see how the search market pans out in the next 3-4 months and whether Bing is able to snatch some share from Google. Consider that Microsoft is pouring pocketfuls of money into advertising Bing, it is high time that they start seeing some good results too.

All data is for US markets only.

[via Business Insider]