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Yahoo to the Max

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Extreme searcher Ran Hock has published a new book, this time taking an in-depth look at the wide range of tools and services offered by Yahoo.

Longtime SearchDay readers know that I'm an unabashed fan of Ran Hock's writing and speaking. Ran's previous books, The Extreme Searcher's Guide to Web Search Engines and The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook are both essential titles that belong in every serious searcher's library.

Yahoo to the Max continues in the tradition of taking a careful, thoughtful look at the huge amount of content and the multitude of services and tools available at Yahoo.

I can hear many of you asking why on earth there's a need for a book of this type when it's easy enough to explore Yahoo on your own. The answer is that Ran goes beyond simply describing what's available. The book is also full of tips, techniques and shortcuts that Ran has discovered that allow you to take full advantage of Yahoo's online offerings.

A key strategy Ran uses is simple but highly effective: When you really want to get to know a site, click everywhere. That's because all web sites, even those that are carefully designed by teams of usability experts like those at Yahoo, have hidden nooks and crannies that often lead you down unexpected paths that can be incredibly useful.

In applying this strategy, Ran has created a road map to the parts of Yahoo that may be unfamiliar to you or that you never knew existed.

For example, the chapter on setting up and using the My Yahoo service shows you how to customize Yahoo in ways that simply aren't possible at other major search engines. Ran argues that My Yahoo is the best portal on the web, and after showing you how fully take advantage of its features it's difficult to dispute his claim.

Yahoo News has always been a rich resource for keeping abreast of world events. The chapter on Yahoo news offers an excellent overview of searching for news stories, but also how to take advantage of other features such as creating news alerts, adding news to your My Yahoo portal, taking advantage of RSS feeds and so on.

Apart from being a search engine and portal, Yahoo also offers a range of communication tools. A full chapter takes you through the paces of setting up Yahoo Mail, Messenger, Chat and Message Board services—again, with a view toward helping you take full advantage of each service (for example, collaboratively searching the web with another person using Yahoo Messenger).

I found the chapter on Yahoo Finance to be the most useful in the book. Yahoo Finance is one of the best information resources for virtually anything related to money on the web. Although I've been a regular user of Yahoo Finance for years, I learned a number of new things about the service that I've been able to put to work straight away.

Other chapters offer cover basic and advanced searching techniques, buying and selling online using Yahoo, Yahoo Groups and a catch-all chapter entitled "Other Seriously Useful Yahoo Stuff" that more than lives up to its claim.

Even if you're a longtime Yahoo user, you'll find plenty of value in Yahoo to the Max. The book is an excellent guide that helps you fully explore the breadth and depth of a familiar site that's evolved from a simple list of links ("David & Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web," created in 1994) to a massive online resource that continues to grow and evolve. And to help you keep up with that growth, Ran is maintaining a blog of sorts that helps readers keep up-to-date on what's new and different with Yahoo.

Yahoo to the Max
by Randolph Hock
CyberAge Books - $24.95
ISBN 0-910965-69-2

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