From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      Tourbus - 21 Apr 04 - A9 / Free Ice Cream

TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP: A9 / Free Ice Cream!

Howdy, y'all, and happy Earth Day from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, the third of four terrestrial planets counting out from the Sun.

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

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On with the show...

A9 Audience: Everyone

Back in February I made the Yoda-like announcement that "begun, the search engine war has." Yahoo had fired a shot across Google's bow, introducing a new search engine at which was a rebranded version of the Yahoo-owned Inktomi [pronounced "INK-to- me."] and Overture.

Well, last Wednesday a new player entered the battlefield:

No, really. Amazon.

You can find Amazon's new search engine, called "A9", at

You may notice that A9 looks a little like a peach-colored Google. That's because it is a peach-colored Google -- Amazon took a portion of Google's search engine, changed the color, and added some extra stuff to the back end.

What extra stuff? Well, do you remember how, back on October 9th of last year, I told you that Amazon has a new "search inside the book" feature that lets you look at content from inside of some of Amazon's books? That's one of the features that Amazon has added to A9.

If you search A9 for Rosa Parks, you'll get 181,000 web page hits. Oddly, an identical search at Google yields 460,000 hits. So I guess A9 really is only using a *portion* of Google's database.

But, if you look on the right side of A9's results page, you'll see a tab that says "Open Book Results." Click on that tab and Amazon shows you 14,401 books that talk about Rosa Parks. Of course, Amazon is perfectly willing to sell you these books. But you can also browse *some* of the books' pages without your having to drain your beloved bank account. And to me, that's a pretty cool feature.

Now for the confusing/distressing stuff. First, you need to be logged in to your Amazon account -- that annoying Amazon page that asks you for your email address and password -- before you can see Amazon's "search inside the book" pages. No account, no "search inside the book."

Second, if you log in to your Amazon account not at Amazon but rather at A9, A9 will record all of your searches and place them in a personalized search history. That might be a privacy concern for some.

Fortunately, there's a way to bypass that. Instead of going to, head on over to

This is A9 without the search history and other personalization "features." You'll still need to login to your Amazon account at Amazon to see your "search inside the book" pages, but at least A9 won't be keeping a record of what you've been searching for.

That's really all I have to say about A9. It is a Google killer? Nah. But the addition of the "search inside the book" pages makes A9 a pretty powerful research tool for students and educators alike ... at least until Google officially deploys their own "search inside the book" feature [something we talked about in my last post.]

Two Days of Free Ice Cream Audience: Everyone who likes free, cold stuff

I love anniversaries, especially ones where someone gives ME something for free. Next Tuesday is the 26th anniversary of Ben & Jerry's "Free Cone Day." Just head to any Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop around the world on Tuesday, April 27th, between the hours of noon and 8:00 PM and pick up your free ice cream cone. It's as simple as that.

To find out more about "Free Cone Day," take a look at

Wait, it gets even better. Next Wednesday is the fifth anniversary of Baskin Robbins' "Free Scoop Night." That's right, folks. MORE FREE ICE CREAM! Head into any US Baskin Robbins on Wednesday, April 28th, between the hours of 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM and you'll get yet another free scoop of ice cream. Better still, for each person who shows up and nabs a free ice cream cone, Baskin Robbins will make a donation to First Book, a non-profit organization that provides books to underprivileged kids.

For more information about Baskin Robbins' Free Scoop Night, hop on over to

And, finally, after eating all of that ice cream, you might want to pay a visit to

and pick up a free, one day VIP pass to your nearest Gold's Gym. :P

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week and we'll talk again soon!

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