NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, June 2007
Yahoo! – Internet Powerhouse
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

(click to email author)

http://www.yahoo.com/r/xy - Everything Yahoo!

Back in the earliest days of the internet, in January, 1994, two Stanford graduate students created one of the first canonical websites "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" which was among the first searchable guides of websites. In April, 1994, Jerry Yang and David Filo renamed their website Yahoo!. By the end of 1994, while the internet was still in its infancy, Yahoo! had received over one million hits on its website. Now, according to Wikipedia (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo), Yahoo! is the most visited website on the net, with over 412 million unique users, and over 3.4 billion page views a day (October, 2005 data).

Yahoo!, which started as a menu based directory of internet websites, now is a comprehensive source of online services. According to an interactive directory on the main Yahoo! page at http://www.yahoo.com, there are just 21 distinct services listed, with over 100 total Yahoo! services listed on the “Everything Yahoo!” page (More Yahoo! Services) at http://www.yahoo.com/r/xy.

I have been an active Yahoo! user since it was “Jerry’s Guide” in early 1994, and made extensive use of its menu to located information on the thousands of websites then listed and categorized. Today the number of websites listed on Yahoo! is in the billions, and Yahoo! is generally considered as the second largest search engine, right behind Google.

In addition to its search functions, which many prefer over Google, I personally use several other Yahoo! services on a regular basis. On all of my computers the startup page displayed when my browser loads is My Yahoo! (my.yahoo.com). I have this page personalized to display my stock quotes, market summary, weather for several selected cities, dozens of selected news and feature categories, daily and weekly appointment calendar, lottery results, email summary, TV schedule, lowest airfares to the cities I fly to on a periodic basis, and several other items of choice. The My Yahoo! page also supports as a resource the now common “RSS” news feeds, which allows the current display of information from countless other sources. I have tried several other popular startup pages, but have always returned to My Yahoo! which is my personal favorite.

Yahoo! Mail is another very popular service offered by Yahoo! Millions of people have Yahoo! email accounts. I personally have two Yahoo! email accounts, and my wife and daughters also have Yahoo! Email accounts which they use to supplement the email accounts provided by their employers or schools. Yahoo web based email can be accessed from anywhere there is internet access, and is compatible with all browsers. Yahoo! offers a full featured free email service at mail.yahoo.com. The basic free account currently offers 2 gigabytes of mail storage, and one of the best spam filters in the industry. Yahoo! Mail also filters all email and attachment for viruses and other malware. The free Yahoo! Email also supports almost all email programs, for those that prefer a mail reader, rather than traditional web mail. I periodically download my Yahoo! web mail into either Eudora or Outlook Express, depending on which Yahoo! email account I am using at the moment. For those who still prefer using web mail, as millions do, Yahoo! offers two viewing options; the traditional web mail interface, or the new “beta” email interface that appears on the screen much as Outlook or other email reader would appear. It should be noted that Yahoo! also offers an upgraded (fee) email service for businesses and those with their own domain names. It has been rumored in the media that Yahoo! may start to offer email accounts with up to unlimited storage.

For those interested in investing, and who like to follow the latest financial news, Yahoo! offers a comprehensive and free financial news resource at finance.yahoo.com. Topics accessible by tabs include investing, news and opinion, personal finance, and “my portfolios”. Each tab opens a directory of relevant topics which provides comprehensive financial information. The personal finance tab connects to information on banking and budgeting, career and work, college and education, family and home, insurance, loans, real estate, retirement, taxes, and how-to guides. Active investors may find the “My Portfolios” tab helpful in that it allows the user to enter and save any number of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, as well as indices, and display the current (subject to exchange required delays) values. Charts, news, messages, profiles, statistics, and other useful information are provided on each portfolio item listed. For those who want nearly real-time portfolio valuations, the user can also enter number of shares, costs, and other information, which will then display a detailed table of gains and losses, as well as summary information.

I was recently visiting two of my kids out of state, and needed some information on shopping and restaurants. I went to maps.yahoo.com and entered their address, and generated a street map of selectable scale. On the screen I could select the type of business I was looking for, and the name and location would be displayed on the map. Clicking on the icon created on the map would provide additional information on the selection. We were able to read reviews of restaurants, and with a single mouse click we could generate detailed driving directions from the house to the restaurant or other desired business. I have found this service invaluable when staying in hotels and I want to know what is nearby. When driving directions between points are generated, the user can decide what to print and display, such as directions only, directions and detailed maps, or maps only. This service is useful to both the traveler who needs driving directions and information on waypoints, and the local user trying to find points of interest. According to a recent news article, in April, 2007, there were 29.4 million users of Yahoo! Maps, making it one of the top mapping services on the net. Yahoo also recently announced that it is adding detailed driving directions to Maps for 34 European countries, enhancing its broad appeal.

It should be no surprise to readers of this column that I am a very busy person. By choice, I use Yahoo! Calendar at calendar.yahoo.com. I can enter appointments, events, and other activities with starting and ending times. I can also have repetitive events, such as board meetings, automatically entered on the calendar by specifying “third Thursday” or some similar notation. Yahoo! Calendar and can also import and export information between it and Outlook, as well as most PDAs such as Palms and Pocket PCs. Items listed on the calendar can be kept private, or can be selectively displayed as public, such as if an organization desires a public calendar of events. Yahoo! Calendar also offers the free option of emailing reminders, or sending the reminder to a cell phone or other mobile device.

There are many other useful and mostly free services offered by Yahoo!, such as personal webpage hosting (Geocities), and excellent instant messenger program (Yahoo Messenger). I suggest that computer users from novices to geeks explore the offerings from Yahoo!. There is much to like and use.

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