Date: Wed, 4 Aug 1999 01:04:07 -0400
Sender: The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 03 Aug 99 - My, My!
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TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: My, My!
A few weeks ago, I was very disappointed when AltaVista changed the
look of their home page. I had been using this search engine as my
browser's start page for a long time, and I was upset when they
replaced the news headlines with a shopping section, and added a huge
amount of unused space near the top of the screen. I was ready to
dump AV altogether, but fortunately I discovered "My Altavista".
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The "My" trend is happening everywhere. All the major search engine
sites are offering customization based on your geographic location,
and I'm impressed at some of the offerings. In today's issue, we'll
look at the "My" offerings from AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, and Yahoo.
AltaVista has always been my favorite search engine, but now they've
earned the right to become my favorite portal and start page.
You can "go local" just by entering your zipcode on the My AltaVista
screen. Happily, there is no need to create an account or login.
What do you get in return? A customized screen with these goodies:
- local weather
- yellow pages for your town and surrounding area
- links to local community groups
- lottery results for your state
- nearby movie theaters
I especially like the yellow pages feature, since you can easily
find local stores, banks, restaurants, churches, attractions and
other things in a snap. For example, you're only one click away
from a list of restaurants near your house. You'll see how far away
each one is, and the closest ones are listed first.
In addition, you'll see national news headlines, a customizable stock
tracker (check stock prices and see your portfolio value), and a Sports
section that lets you select your favorite teams and see the scores at
a glance. All in all, it's a great way to pull together just about
everything the web has to offer that pertains to your locale.
I was also impressed by the My Excite offering at:
You'll find many of the same features here (after a mildly annoying
"create an account" login process) such as news, customizable stocks
and sports, but the local weather is the only "local" thing on the
screen - at first. Using the Personalization Manager, you can add
local TV, Movies, Events, and Lottery to your My Excite screen.
What makes My Excite unique is the high degree of customization you
can achieve with the Personalization Manager. In addition to the
local features, you can add features such as:
- Daily Living Tips
- Sunrise, Sunset, Moon phases and Tides
You can also personalize the layout, colors, and add your favorite
photo (or one from Excite's library) to your start page. If you like
to fiddle endlessly, you will be happy with My Excite.
My Lycos is another worthy contender in the My Wars. It's not too
much different than the others in terms of features, but it does seem
to excel at automatically customizing your page, given the zipcode.
For example, you get a long list of local sports teams, newspapers,
and convenient links to local lawmakers and government offices. Try
out My Lycos at:
We're fast approaching the "been there, seen that" stage, but I have
to mention My Yahoo for one important reason: They seem to be the
only "My" portal that understands the fact that there are a few billion
people who live outside the USA. Instead of requiring a US zipcode to
join the fun, My Yahoo asks for your city, state/provice and postal
code before doing its localization magic.
Depending on your country and city of residence, you will see varying
levels of local customization. For example, I pretended to be from
Montreal, Canada, and My Yahoo showed me baseball scores for the
Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos. When I registered as a resident
of London, England, I chose "UK English" and the screen showed "Message
Centre" instead of "Message Center".
I also tried out the service from a German perspective and found that
My Yahoo speaks German, and offered me a Currency Converter showing
the value of the German Mark in Pounds, Yen, Euros, Dollars and
Francs. Nice touch. If you're not a US resident, My Yahoo is your
That's all for now - see you next time! --Bob Rankin
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