Ask.com Blog and RSS Feed Searching

I found this great search engine today. Part of Ask.com, you can now select to search Blogs and Feeds. It has also been reported on various blogs but there is a major error that I have not seen others post about.
There are a lot of feeds and podcasts out there now and finding what you are after can be a nightmare. Ask.com seems to make this process fairly easy. You also have the function of searching just the feeds. I also noticed that the addition of podcast in the search gets you on the right track as far as searching for podcasts.

You also have a number of options to use as a filter in your search such as Posts, Feeds, News as search areas. Then the option of displaying the results; relevance, most recent and popularity. As well as showing the results within certain time-frames such as hour, day, week and month. A nice touch is the “Top Feeds” that display on the right side of the search window. Nice because it can cut down your time in the quest for quality and the fact that I only got one result when I search for our podcast and it was there! Cool.

Once you find what you are looking for you can hover over the binoculars and get a preview of the feed or the site. One bug I have found in testing this is the fact that searched for Global Geek Podcast and sure I got the right podcast. But the preview plane was anything but correct, it was displaying feeds from I don’t know where. But some of the previews were from sites that linked to Global Geek Podcast. So that error probably has something to do with how the results are assembled. I hope they are going to fix this, they need to fix it.

Lastly there is the option to subscribe to the feeds through various mainstream feed readers such as Bloglines, Google Reader, NewsGator, but there is also a plain old RSS link as well. You can also post the result to a few services such as del.icio.us, Digg, Newsvine and Bloglines. The convenience is nice with an obvious slant towards the web based applications that are becoming more popular.

With time I am sure that we are going to see more search engines like this one with more options and intuitive searching, exciting. This is absolutely crucial to podcasters and the subscriber; to get what they want in a timely fashion. Otherwise the saturated choice that people are left with will be so baffling that they will not bother, or are we there already? Will this help RSS, Blogs and Podcasting to get out of the “Geek’O’sphere”?

Must Have Firefox Extension!

I must tell you about a great Firefox extension, it also works with Internet Explorer. I don’t think anyone should use Internet Explorer so I am not going to focus on that, damn clunky awful piece of software that it is…

The extension is Site Advisor. As some of you might unfortunately know, these days you only have to visit a site to have something nasty exploit your browser and install some bastard software. It might be a virus or more commonly it is spy-ware or some other rubbish. Or it may be a site that requires registration, for which you register only to find that you start getting about 20 spam emails a day. Or you are unsure if a download contains some malicious software, not necessarily a virus but spy-ware or ad-ware; which in my opinion is no different. But your virus program doesn’t necessarily treat it as a virus. Step in Site Advisor.

Site Advisor DemoBasically what this extension does is places an icon in the bottom right of your browser and the colour changes according to the site’s rating that you are on. There are three ratings, green, yellow and red. You can read the definitions on the link to the homepage. But it is sort of like: cool, worry and panic – get me out of here type thing. The other thing that is excellent is that it displays the rating next to Google searches, with the colour and icon displayed (I do not find this interferes with my searching). Then you can hover over the icon to get the brief information or click for more detailed (the screen capture shows this feature). You can turn off this feature if you wish, but I use it everyday and it has saved my bacon more than once. Click the picture on the left to get the full size.

The good thing about green sites is that it is a requirement that they only link to green sites. So once on a link path of green then you know that you will stay on green sites. So it is a great reassurance. Unrated sites are grey in colour. They may or may not be safe, I have used grey sites as I have known their content. As the system is based on domain names it only takes someone to submit the domain and it is thoroughly checked. As I have had to do with globalgeekpodcast.com; which is currently grey. I have submitted the site and I will let you know how long it takes to get checked.

Of note is the acquisition of Site Advisor by McAffee as of the 5th of April 2006. I hope that this adds to it’s credibility and it remains free to all and continues to provide the safe surfing experience that I have had since installing it.

You do not have to be a user to submit a site and you don’t have to have the extension to manually enter in a site on their homepage to check it. But save yourself the pain in the butt and get the extension. It is my most recommended extension and I find that I love it and so do the people that use it.

It is a mine field out there do something to level the playing field. Also take a look around their site they have heaps of information about the extension, I even read the “why trust us” and other FAQ’s on the main page – worthwhile. I can not recommend this extension enough.

Safe Surfing.