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Web Watch by Leslie Walker
Blog This: Google Zaps Ads

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_____Live Online_____
Transcript: Columnist Leslie Walker discussed the latest technology trends with DEMO conference producer Chris Shipley.
_____Recent Columns_____
Search Engine Rivalry Brings Improvements (The Washington Post, May 16, 2004)
Iraq Prison Scandal At Its Most Graphic (The Washington Post, May 9, 2004)
Russian Site Peddles Music By Megabyte (The Washington Post, May 2, 2004)
Web Watch Archive
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By Leslie Walker
Sunday, June 29, 2003; Page F07

Internet search star Google keeps adding the darnedest tools. The latest include a pop-up-ad zapper, an auto-fill tab for quickly filling out Web forms and a "blog this" button for automatically posting a note to a Web log about whatever Web page you're visiting.

Google added all three last week to its tool bar, a free program that adds a skinny strip of useful buttons across the top of Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser.

Google's Toolbar 2.0, available in trial form (toolbar.google.com/index-beta.php), also continues to offer the original tool bar's features -- the important one being an always-accessible Google search box.

Google's new ad zapper is quite elaborate. The company claims it will stop most pop-up ads from being displayed and signal when they are being blocked by changing the appearance of your cursor briefly and altering the appearance of the ad-blocking button. Moreover, the tool lets you add sites whose pop-up ads you want to see to a "white list" of sites that the blocker won't thwart.

The new auto-fill function lets you store your name, address and credit card information and choose when you want it automatically entered in Web forms. It encrypts the information and stores it on the user's computer, not on Google's servers.

And the "blog this" button is the result of Google's acquisition a few months ago of Blogger, a tool for creating Web logs ("blogs" for short). Blog authors typically link to material others have written around the Web and add their own commentary. The "blog this" button automatically copies any text you have highlighted on a Web page to your blog, along with a link to the page where it originated. It requires the user to have an account at Blogger.com.

Google's tool bar works only with Internet Explorer 5.0 or newer for Windows. Free to users, it's designed to drive additional search traffic to Google, which earns its revenue through ads shown alongside search results.

Simpler Internet Phone Calls

Net2Phone Inc., a Newark Internet telecommunications firm, debuted a new service that lets subscribers place long-distance phone calls over the Internet from regular phones, without having to punch in a personal identification number.

Subscribers to two Net2Phone calling-card services can preregister up to five phone numbers from which they will place calls. When they call a Net2Phone access line from one of those numbers, the system will recognize them using caller ID, then let them place calls over the company's Internet call-routing system, which dispenses with more expensive phone circuits to transmit calls as digital packets.

www.net2phone.com

In Search of Fat Files

Under new ownership -- Since Overture Services Inc., the pay-per-click search engine firm, bought it in April, the AltaVista search site has expanded the Web images, audio and video that it indexes. It now claims to offer the largest searchable multimedia index online, with more than 540 million images and 11 million video and audio files. Users can now search this index by file size, which often serves to indicate the quality of image and sound files.

images.altavista.com

audio.altavista.com

video.altavista.com

E-mail Leslie Walker at walkerl@washpost.com.


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