July 11, 2007

Harry Potter: Now in (Ask)3D

I admit it, I'm a huge Harry Potter fan-- looking for the best in fan sites, news, and rumors. And this is a BIG month for us muggles. The seventh and final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, comes out on July 21st, the movie of the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix arrives in theaters today (July 11th), and finally, Harry has a birthday on July 31st (coincidentally also author J. K. Rowling's Birthday).

What does a search engine have to do with all this? Well, it's my way of keeping track of everything about the world that Ms. Rowling created.

On a quest for information about Harry, I've often used the related search feature - there are things other people are thinking about that I'm not. (If you've searched on Severus Snape or Draco Malfoy, we're talking lots of fanfic evidently!) Note: some links that appear may be NSFW or NSFC.

Obviously, I started with standard web search, but to do the serious detective work, I had to specialize.

Collecting Clues

Hint: book covers. There might just be something in the artwork that gives away something about the plot. And as you can see, there's US covers, UK covers...the book covers around the world vary.

Picturing the Characters

I have mental pictures in my head of every character, but I love to see how other people envision them. Using Ask Image search, I found how fans draw some of my favorite characters.

Sirius Black
(illustration by Tealin)

Remus Lupin (illustration by Fiendling)

Finding Movie Stills & Clips

I also get a kick out of the stills from the latest movies. It's one of the first things that pops up in search suggestions as you're searching for images.

Then I used Ask3D to find trailers for the new movie. Then I wanted to see if I could find any additional clips, and stumbled across the trailer from the SciFi Channel in French. Vive le video search!

Shopping for Harryphernalia

Normally it's the kids who get their parents into Harry Potter--not in my house! Suffice to say my whole family is involved. My daughter really wants a chess set. She may need to just save her allowance or wait until her next birthday.

Making Harry Potter Movie Premiere Plans

I have twisted a friend's arm to get pre-release preview passes, it still doesn't compare to seeing the show on opening weekend with a big crowd of fans. So I have plans to see the movie on July 13th. Here in the Bay Area, long waits in line for big movies isn't unheard of (I think it was six hours on Episode III opening night.) Which means, even if the show isn't until 8pm on Friday, I'll need to make certain food options are near where I plan to see the movie. Here's my first cut of looking for places to go that evening.

Making Harry Potter Book Release Plans

On the 20th, I'm considering a Harry Potter-themed dinner party. I'm encouraging costumes, homemade butterbeer, and a possible potion or two. (Felix Felicis, anyone?) And yes, you can find these recipes online. If only I could wait at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream shop.

Then I'll head over to the local bookstore at about 10:30 (more standing in line), to make certain I've got a good spot. I'll head home right after buying it, and jump straight into bed. I will probably read straight thru the night (I will admit to falling asleep at 3am during Half-Blood Prince and waking up at 6am to finish it.). Then I'll write my reviews and email them out to all my friends, minus key spoilers, which leads me to…

Searching For the Ending

Ultimately, we're all looking clues as to how book 7 ends, right? (and you did you know could look for something by ISBN number, right?)

As I said, I've been following the news and blog coverage. Because there's a lot of theories bouncing around. And worries. Will the prophecy come true? Will Voldemort die? Is Snape good or evil? And most importantly, will Harry live?

Ask's news, blog and feed search tools are my own personal rumor mills, I not only can see what the latest posts are, but where to go to read them.

I keep finding new and interesting posts, including several about Harry possibly being a Horcrux that I had to investigate.

Now, back to searching for some Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes; I'd like to find some way to vanish from my office and finish re-reading all six books before the madness begins.

Aside from that, I'm well prepared. Accio, Harry!

Carla Borsoi
Director of Research & Analytics

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August 16, 2006

Ask.com Goes to the Movies and Watches Some TV

Ask.com has been offering our users a number of Smart Answers with film information (awards, bios, and more) since 2003. Now, not only do we offer film info but also DVD and television data.

Here's a quick look at some of what we currently offer.

Movies in General

One easy way to explore the world of film is simply to type movies into Ask.com

At the top of the results page you'll find our general Movie Smart Answer. In it, we provide three quick search tool options that allow you to query specialty databases which contain a ton of information. We also offer direct links to Current Releases, Upcoming Releases, Top Box Office rankings, and Top DVDs. Pretty handy.

Why Don't You Just Tell Us The Name of the Movie You'd Like To See?

If you know the title of the movie you want to go see, for example searching for Talladega Nights, a Smart Answer for the specific film appears at the top of our results page with an image of the movie poster, brief synopsis, MPAA rating, links to reviews and direct links to the trailer and official movie site. We offer a zipcode search tool that helps you quickly dive into where and when you can see it near you.

Of course, you can also always cut right to the chase and search for the movie's title and the Zip Code to get the showtimes right at the top of the search page right from the get go. Our Movie Showtime Smart Answer see the other films playing at these Local theaters. When possible, we try to make going out to the movies even easier for you by providing direct links to buy tickets right within the Movie Showtimes Smart Answer.

Tip: Another neat feature Ask.com offers is disambiguation help if you enter the name of a city without a state and there is more than one city with that name. For example, this search for Talladega Nights, Springfield assumes Springfield, MA but also makes finding any other location named Springfield (Springfield, MO, IL, etc.) easily accessible via a pull-down menu.

Movie Smart Answers are not only limited to films that are currently showing in theaters. We also encompass most titles available on DVD. Here's an example for Citizen Kane.

For these types of films, we provide info about the DVD and a direct link to a massive set of reviews via the Movie Review Query Engine. Here's are two more examples. One for Alfred Hitchcock's classic, Rear Window and the other for Jaws. Wikipedia fans will be happy to learn that in some cases, Wikipedia entries are provided as Smart Answers for some films. Here are a couple of examples: Caddyshack or Anatomy of a Murder

Mad About Movies

Movie fans can quickly find Academy Award winners directly on results pages. Remember you don't need to ask your query in question format but if you do, that's not a problem.

For example, Academy Award Best director 1976 Best actor 1999 Oscar Best picture 1945

Second, we offer bios and other related links for some of Hollywood's greats. Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall , Judy Garland, Meryl Streep are among some of our more popular performers.

Tube Time

Similarly, we offer a large set of Smart Answers with info about for thousands of TV programs with links to episode guides, show overviews, and more.

For instance; Seinfeld, Entourage, Charmed, All in the Family, Carol Burnett Show

So, if it's movie showtimes, film reviews, award winners, or background about your favorite tv shows, Ask.com offers Smart Answers to make your entertainment time more enjoyable.

Have Fun and Enjoy Your Film or Show,
The Ask.com Smart Answers Team

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