Ousted Iraqi leader proves popular online
By JIM BROOKS
Operation Iraqi Freedom has dominated news sites on the Web since
the war began a few weeks ago. The question "Where's Saddam?"
has yet to be answered -- unless you visit the eBay.com auction
site, where the deposed Iraqi leader has proven to be a hot item
for memorabilia buyers and sellers.
A search on eBay for "Saddam" turned up nearly 3,600
auctions featuring items related to the former dictator.
Elsewhere on eBay, domain name speculators were trying to auction
Iraq-related domains that in many cases had already lost their worth
or relevance. An auction listing for the LetsAttackIraq.com domain
name called it a "very timely website that could yield millions
of hits world wide." The week-old auction had yet to attract
a single bid.
Other Iraq-related domain names on the block included those on
either side of the issue of the war, both for and against.
But one of the hottest Saddam-related items on eBay is the country's
currency. Demand for Iraqi dinars skyrocketed the day the war started,
vendors say. The hyperinflated Iraqi currency has little monetary
value in the country, though the bills -- particularly ones bearing
Saddam's likeness -- have zoomed in value as collector's items on
Uncirculated Iraqi 10,000 dinar banknotes that garnered bids of
only $16 back in March were bringing bid as high as $400. The bill
has a value of about $7. Notes of lower value were bringing prices
in the $100-200 range.
There were lots of other items for sale on eBay, all related to
Iraq or Saddam Hussein in some way. Entrepreneurs hoping to cash
in while interest in Iraq and the war is high listed auctions for
Saddam Hussein dart boards, T-shirts promoting war or peace, buttons,
photos and more.
For more information, visit www.ebay.com.
YAHOO SEARCH MAKEOVER. With rising star Google nipping at
its heels, the Yahoo Web directory has unveiled its most ambitious
Web design overhaul in the popular Web site's nine-year history.
The Yahoo Web directory, which began as a simple list of two college
students' favorite Web sites, has evolved into a huge business concern
offering a wide array of online services. While its directory and
search engine has remained its heart, its business partner-turned-competitor
Google has grown fast in popularity.
The new Yahoo search interface is separate from the original Yahoo
page, and is found at http://search.yahoo.com. The new site is clearly
inspired by the ultra-simplicity offered by Google.
The new Yahoo search page features a simple window for a Web search
term, along with five additional navigational tabs to allow a search
focusing on narrow areas, including the Yahoo directory, a search
for news, images, maps, and even the official Yellow Pages.
Yahoo's new search page is devoid of advertising and links -- by
design. Yahoo is apparently following Google's lead by moving to
a business model that includes the paid placement of links in its
search-engine results. The value of ad banners and pop-up ads have
fallen dramatically over the past couple of years, and paid search
is seen as way for the company to increase revenues.
Yahoo isn't the first search site to redesign its Web page in the
wake of Google's success. AltaVista revamped its Web site layout
last November, moving to a site with no banners or pop-up advertising.
Yahoo sees plenty of growth potential in its new search site. Company
officials point to the fact that half of its registered U.S. users
don't use its search engine services, and a new media campaign is
being launched to promote the new Yahoo search page with new and
Even users of the "old" Yahoo will notice a change in
how search results are now displayed -- changes that haven't pleased
all of the site's users.
On searches that appear to be commercial in nature, Yahoo's results
first show related listings from its Yellow Pages partners. These
links are followed by paid sponsored results and lastly come the
unpaid search results. Some users critical of the changes say the
new Yahoo results have pushed the useful search results down the
page by excessive numbers of paid links.
To try the new Yahoo Search, visit http:search.yahoo.com.
NAME GAME. Consumer electronics giant Sony is one of several
firms hoping to cash in on the war in Iraq by applying for a patent
on the term "Shock and Awe."
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has 15 applications pending
from those who wish to register the term for use with products or
Sony's application was submitted the day after the war started.
The company's application states it wants to use the term for computer
games, video games and online games.
Others who have applied to use the phrase included a Texas pesticide
company, an Ohio fireworks company, a California T-shirt maker,
and a New York firm that manufactures beer mugs and decorate plates.
One Texas man seeks approval to use the term with a wide range of
goods and services, a sample of which include toys, magic tricks,
shampoo, jewelry, smoking jackets, alcoholic beverages and women's
NO MORE NANDO. One of the Web's pioneering news sites has
decided to cease its operation within the next 90 days.
The Nando Times, www.nandotimes.com, was launched in 1994 by The
Raleigh News & Observer as one of the Web's first online newspapers.
In the newspaper industry, Nando was one of the first news operations
designed expressly for the Web. The operation took its name from
its parent company (News AND Observer), though it was a separate
operation from the newspaper.
While news was Nando's early focus, its efforts were later eclipsed
in popularity by sites from major news organizations like Gannett's
USA Today and CNN.
Nando's emphasis shifted from news to providing content support
for newspapers owned by its parent company, The McClatchy Co. Though
Nando will disappear as a news operation, its support for McClatchy
print publications' Web sites will continue.