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Web Watch by Leslie Walker

Google Accommodates Search History Buffs

By Leslie Walker
Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page F07

Don't take this personally, but Google wants your Web search history.

A new feature offered by the Internet search leader invites people to save and view all the Web searches they conduct at Google.

_____Web Q&A_____
Transcript: .com's Leslie Walker hosted a live Web chat with Udi Manber, CEO of Amazon's A9.com search engine. They discussed the future of Web search.
_____Recent Columns_____
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Launched in trial form Wednesday, Google's "my search history" is designed as a kind of Internet memory aid, giving people new ways to find information they previously saw online and to repeat previous searches.

The search history is an optional feature that requires people to sign in, so Google can store their searching histories online and make them available later from any computer where they might sign in. People who already have an e-mail address from Google's Gmail site or have registered at its Google Groups site can use those log-ins; anyone can also sign up for a new account (www.google.com/searchhistory).

This history feature is surprisingly detailed, showing not only what terms you entered into Google's search box before, but also which matching Web sites you clicked on, along with date and time stamps. A calendar view lets you browse through previous searches chronologically as well.

While Google tracks your searches whenever you are signed in, you can ask it to avert its gaze temporarily by clicking a "pause" button. You can also sign out entirely to stop all recording activity until you sign back in. A "remove items" button will erase all or some of your prior searches.

Google is far from the first Internet service to save people's searches, though it offers a few more choices with its implementation. Yahoo, America Online, Ask Jeeves and Amazon.com's A9.com also offer search history services.

All provide a basic ability to scan through prior search histories while people are signed in, allowing them to limit a new search for, say, "cave men" to all the previous pages Google has shown them in response to prior queries.

Skype Expands Internet Phone Service

Internet telecom carrier Skype Technologies has started selling phone numbers for $39 a year that ring through to subscribers' computers, wherever in the world they may be.

The new SkypeIn feature, also available for $13 for three months of use, lets users of Skype software take calls on their computers placed from traditional telephones. It can be purchased in eight countries -- the United States,Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Norway, Sweden and Britain.

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