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October 31, 2006

Putting the "Howl" in Halloween

Some of the funnier photos being passed around the Ask.com offices lately indicate an unusual inclination around the country: dressing your dog up for Halloween.

Oooo-kay.

We guess it makes sense. After all, many consider their pet part of the family. And dogs have the same candy-eating habits as most children. But whatever the reason, this year we're seeing this whole dog costume thing trending upward. Need proof?

Typing "dog costumes" into Ask.com returns more results than you can wag a tail at, including listings for canine costume parties from Albuquerque to New Jersey. You'll find plenty of pics of costumed canines in our Ask.com image search and our Pricegrabber pages--but if you have a low cuteness threshold, back away now!

 

The favorite ones around the office are the costumes with little fake human arms--which are much cuter and less creepy than they sound. Our top two favorites are Wonder Woman and Princess Leia, with the little fireman coming in a distant but adorable third.

What have we learned from this? That there are strange and creative people out there. That many of them are dog lovers. But most important, that Ask.com is your way to find them, learn all about them, and maybe even join them.

Happy Halloween!

--The Ask.com Team

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October 26, 2006

You Do and/or May, In Fact, "Ask" (or "ask")

Q: What do Ask, Google, and Yahoo have in common?  

A: They all have really good Web search. And they all have well-known brand names.

As our colleagues at Google work to protect their brand from becoming a generic term for Web search, we're receiving lots of mail and calls asking us to clarify the difference between "ask" and "Ask" (as in "Ask.com®")

Funny you should ask.

The origin of "ask" goes back to Old English, and back from there to the Germanic languages and then even further back. It's one of those words that's been around so long you can see its ancestors across lots of languages, from Sanskrit (icchati "seeks, desires,") to Aramaic (aic "investigation,")  to Lithuanian (ieskau "to seek.")

Seeking, desiring, and investigating. You know, "asking."

So "ask" is an old word. And it's used all the time. As you can imagine, it's proven very costly for us (both in time and money) to define its usage and keep tabs on who's doing what where and with whom.

Here's a little guide to help you watch your Ask.

The "Rules" (loose as they may be)

* "Ask" does not mean "ask." Ask means "Web search"   and "search tools" and "smart" and "up-and-coming-growing-market-share-but-still-relatively-small-why-not-check-it-out."

* You may ask Yahoo and ask Google.

* You may not "Ask" on Ask Yahoo or Yahoo Answers, though you may "ask."

* You may ask Ask, but you may also search with Ask. A full question like "How old is Madonna?" will bring her age directly on the results page, and a keyword search for "Madonna photos" will work just fine.

* Regardless of gender, you may, of course Ask Directions, for example. You can also Ask Blogs and Feeds and other stuff.

Usage

To understand our point-of-view on how to use the word "Ask," let's take a look at some use cases.

Usage: Ask as noun, referring to Ask.com.

Example: I went to Ask, and did an everyday keyword search like I do on other engines, and now that I know I don't have to ask on Ask.

Usage: The upper-case "Ask" as verb, referring to a Web search conducted on Ask.com.

Example: I pulled up Ask.com to Ask "pumpkin pie recipes."

Usage: The lower-case "ask" as verb, referring to posing a question.

Example: If I may be so bold as to ask, will you join me in the Jacuzzi®? 

Questions?

Q: Can I Ask on Google?

A: No, no, and no. You are welcome to ask on Google, however.

Q: Can I ask on Ask?

A: You can ask on Ask.com, but remember that you can also search on Ask.com.

Q: Do people Google on Ask?

A: Looking at our logs, people do seem to google on Ask.com. They type in "google" and go to Google. They also do this with Yahoo, eBay, Amazon etc. So you may find that you Yahoo on Google, eBay on Yahoo, and even Amazon on Amazon (if you were looking for books about the rainforest on that wonderful shopping site). Just this morning I Microsoft'd on the Ask.com Blog Search. Felt good.

More Fun with Verbs

The following examples are a bit more involved, but follow along to get the Big Picture:

Example: "I googled my date on Google. When we went out, I asked him about the night in Cabo."

Comments: Fine by Google, and fine by Ask. Though it would be smart in this case to also Ask about your date on Ask, to be thorough. And by Ask,  we of course mean "search the Web with keywords on Ask.com." For example, search "date name" cabo t-shirt contest.

Another example:

Example: "Timmy Asked on Ask for the link to Ask Yahoo. Later that day he also tried his question on Google Answers."

Comments: Note that Timmy did the right thing here-he used Ask.com to search the Web, and found his link to Yahoo to ask a question in plain  English. Here Timmy, Ask, and Yahoo all benefited. Google will share in the  fun too. Let's take a look.

Example: "While asking on Ask Yahoo, Timmy was referred to Google in hopes of googling for more answers. There he googled, and all was well."

Comments: What a wonderful time to be alive.

And a seasonal example to end with:

Halloween Example: "Looking for a swell Halloween costume, Sergey went to Ask and Asked "Halloween costume ideas" and received a Smart Answer at the top of the results page." Good work, Sergey, and good luck with your Olympic swimmer costume!

Remember, it's all there for the Asking.

-- Michael Ferguson, Ask.com: a funny guy with no actual knowledge of trademarks.  For real usage guidelines, click here

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Halloween: So Close it's Scary

Halloween. All Hallow's Eve. Samhain. The night before bags of Snickers go 50% off. Planning a party, a costume design, or a great trick-or-treating experience for yourself or your little ones? Better get cracking. Like Michael Myers chasing after Jamie Lee Curtis, it'll be here before your know it.

That's where Ask.com can swoop in, Nosferatu-like, to help. Come to us for all the information you'll need to prepare for this scariest of holidays.

Try a search for "Halloween" on our site or even in your new Ask.com search box within IE7. You'll get a cauldron-full of targeted results--but even better, you'll also get a Smart Answer that's your gateway to everything 10/31: recipes, costume ideas, safety tips, pumpkin-carving patterns and a hell of a lot more.

You'll find out where to buy costumes online, or how make your own. Check our image   search for dozens of thought starters. Need some spooky SFX for your party? We'll point you to them. Want some craft ideas or games to keep your kids or party guests busy? BOO! Here they are.

All the info you'll need to make your Halloween planning faster and more fun is a search away. So if you're looking for a good orange-and-black popcorn ball recipe, or want to dress your dog like Darth Vader, then enter our domain...IF YOU DARE!

The Ask.com Team

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October 20, 2006

Keep Ask.com As Your Steady with IE 7 and Firefox

Relationships. Can anyone get by without 'em? Take Ask.com, for instance. We cherish our time with you. We want to keep what you and we have going strong.

That's why we've made it easy to add Ask.com as your default search on the shiny new Internet Explorer 7 and the latest version of Firefox. It'll only take, like, ten seconds. We're totally low-maintenance.

You'll find simple step-by-step directions below. Let us be there for you at the top of your browser. We promise we won't crowd you!

Love,

-The Ask.com team

(Oh, and if you're looking for a real flesh-and-blood relationship, we recommend our kissing cousins at Match.com.)

TO MAKE ASK.COM YOUR DEFAULT SEARCH ON IE 7:

1. Point your IE7 browser to Ask.com. at the top of your browser, you'll see a prompt that tells you to click to make Ask.com your default search. Click "Add Ask Now."

Add Ask.com to IE7

2. You'll receive a windows-executable (.exe) file. When you get the download screen for this file, Choose "run".

3. The .exe file will change your default search to Ask.com, then delete itself   completely from your hard drive.

4. You'll see the change once you open up a new browser.

Done!

TO MAKE ASK.COM YOUR DEFAULT SEARCH ON AN EARLIER VERSION OF IE:

Just visit our FAQs for a simple how-to.

TO MAKE ASK.COM YOUR DEFAULT SEARCH ON FIREFOX:

1. See your browser search at the top right of your browser? See the icon on the left of the search field? Just click on that icon.
2. A pull-down menu will open up, offering you several browsers. Select "Add Engines…"
3. You'll be taken to a page of search engines. Click on "Ask.com" to choose it.
4. When asked if you want to add it to your browser, click the "OK" button.
5. Go back to the pull-down menu in your browser search and choose Ask.com.

Done!

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October 14, 2006

No BAD Karaoke Here – Just Great Search

The Ask.com team is having a great time in NYC this week at the DigitalLife consumer technology show. DigitalLife brings all the best products together from TVs, cameras, and printers to phones, games and, of course, Search.

In our booth, attendees are grabbing the extremely popular Ask.com bags, bidding against each other in our Search Game Show, testing out our brand new Ask.com Mobile, and learning how Ask.com really is making search better.

There is a lot of buzz and energy at the show, and honestly, some of the worst karaoke performances ever. Simon  was overheard saying, “Your performance was so bad that your singing should be illegal.” A few of us agreed: Leave Break Away to Kelly Clarkson  or consider singing lessons (or even signing lessons) before breaking out of the living room for the public stage.

All jokes aside, we are having a lot of fun. If you are in NYC this weekend, stop by and see us. You can’t miss us. We are right at the front the entrance of the show - after all, search is the gateway to everything that touches our digital lives.

The Ask.com DigitalLife Team

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October 12, 2006

Get out of my dreams. Get into my phone. Ask.com Mobile is here.

Have you ever heard something repeated so often during the day that you start hearing it in your sleep?  And then it plays over and over again so you can’t rest at all.

Well, for a while now my much-needed beauty rest has been disturbed by the question I keep hearing from many of you:

“Why can’t I search better on my mobile phone?
Why can’t I search better on my mobile phone?
Why can’t I search better on my mobile phone?”

Well guess what—I’m dumping out the chamomile tea, tossing out my Ambien and setting my alarm clock for noon tomorrow, because NOW YOU CAN!   

Today we are announcing Ask.com Mobile—a brand-new service specifically designed for searching the web from your phone.  Finally, your small screen and cramped keyboard won’t slow you down anymore.

Ask.com Mobile includes numbered shortcuts to access tools more quickly, remembers your recent queries so you don’t have to retype them, and “skweezes” web pages down to fit your phone’s screen so you can actually access and read them.

You’ll also find mobile-optimized Smart Answers and Zoom Related Search within our mobile web search results to help you find exactly what you are looking for as quickly and easily as possible. We’ve even made room for our popular Image Search, Weather and Area Code Lookup, Currency Conversion, Horoscopes, Time Zones, not to mention (ok, I just did) a link to Bloglines Mobile.

Last but not least, in order to help you find your way around, we’ve included our beloved Maps and Directions – including Walking Directions and Aerial Imagery – as well as Business Listings (with click-to-dial phone number display).

So break out your pink Razr or your new Chocolate phone and punch in mobile.ask.com (or just ask.com and we’ll know its you) and give it a try.  It’s what you’ve been asking for, all night long.


Emanuel Bettelheim,
Product Manager, Mobile

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October 09, 2006

Update: RSS Smart Answers are now available on international Ask.com sites

Since the launch of our sites in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch, we do our best to make sure that many new Ask.com features make their way into our international sites as soon as possible. Recently, our Blog & Feed Search  was launched simultaneously on Ask.com US and UK as well as on our 5 other European locales.

Now, we are excited to introduce a new feature that allows users to surface feed content when searching from the main Web channel. This new feature, recently launched on Ask.com in the US, is called RSS Smart Answers, and is now available on all of our European sites.

The new RSS Smart Answers make popular UK, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch blogs accessible on the main Web search channel. From now on, you can expect to see the three latest posts of many of your favorite blogs and RSS feeds at the top of search results pages. New items appear almost instantly in the Smart Answer after the author publishes an article. Of course, you'll also find a direct link to the blog to see the entire post.

Here are some examples of popular blog searches on our European sites:

Germany: Shopblogger, Ehrensenf
UK: The Register, Slashdot
Spain: Barrapunto, Microsiervos
France: C'est moi qui l'ai fait! Pointblog
Italy: Beppe Grillo, Macchianera
Netherlands: Geenstijl, Bieslog

The first set of RSS Smart Answers, selected from the most popular blogs list of our RSS aggregator Bloglines, gathers a vast number of blogs about different subjects, sometimes serious, sometimes funny, political, technical or simply trendy. You can expect even more RSS Smart Answers that will bring the world of blogs within easy reach from Ask.com's search results page.

The International Team

ps. You can also read this post in Dutch, French, German, Italian or Spanish.

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Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of IAC Search & Media and may not have been reviewed in advance.

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