Thursday March 3, 2005
GuruNet was pretty good at answering factual (who is/what is) questions, but you had to pay for it. Now you can go to Answers.com, which is powered by GuruNet, and get them free. The advantage over searching Google is that you don't have to pick the right answer from millions of links that include masses of rubbish. Answers.com just searches "150 authoritative, credible reference works: premium dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, almanacs, glossaries, etc," including The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia and Wikipedia. Windows users can also download the 1-Click Answers software that gets an answer for any word on the screen. You may already have used Answers.com, because if you click on a blue underlined word in Google's Results line (next to the search time), it now sends you to Answers.com.
Google is beta testing the third version of its popular popup-blocking toolbar. The new features include a spelling checker that works on web forms, a word translator, and an auto-linking feature for US users. WordTranslator will translate single words from English into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, Italian, German and Spanish. It won't translate the other way into English. Toolbar 3 requires Microsoft Windows 98 or later, and Internet Explorer 5.5 or later.
Sorry you missed it? Christo and Jeanne-Claude's amazing project, The Gates, an art installation in New York's Central Park, is well documented on their site, and on the website of their exclusive photographer, Wolfgang Volz. You can also buy official prints, signed or unsigned, from Global Gallery. Finally, there are huge numbers of personal photos publicly available on the picture-sharing websites, Fotolog and Flickr.
A message that says "Loading Java" is usually enough to get me hitting the back button, but Name Voyager is an exception. It is fantastic. It shows the incidence of popular male and female names in the USA over the past century, in thin pink and blue lines. As you slowly type in a name, it eliminates all the ones that don't start with the same letters, until you end up with a graph that shows the popularity of the name rising and (usually) falling dramatically. It could be a big help naming a baby, and it's a fascinating social history.
If you have a bit of time to waste, Nancy Dell'Olio is hosting an online trivia quiz in aid of the British Red Cross. Quiz Queen pits you against up to four other layers, so you also have to be quick to pick the right answer from the four offered for each question. It costs 35p a game, but you get £5 "practice money" when you sign on, and you can increase that by winning a few games. If you don't fancy Nancy, the site has more than 20 other games, and Chain Reaction is worth a look if you like Bubblets. You have to provide an email address to register.
Design a T
Spreadshirt.net lets you design and sell things like T-shirts from a free online store, set your own commission ... and you don't have to buy your own products. If this sounds like a familiar idea, perhaps that's because Café Press has been doing it since 1999, and has been used to create more than 6m designs. Spreadshirt started in Germany in 2002, and opened a UK site last month. However, Café Press lets you create books and CDs, as well as shirts, bags and mugs. Also, it has a great searchable Yahoo-style directory so you can browse the weird and/or wonderful designs netizens have dreamed up.
I have previously mentioned Quacktrack, a Yahoo-style directory of web logs. Now there's another at Bloggernity. Both are somewhat primitive, and Bloggernity's lack of structure is a bad sign, but it does let visitors review and rate the sites listed.
Six of the best for Mother's Day
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