AltaVista upgrade

Leading U.S. search site AltaVista has completed a major upgrade of its search capabilities, the most useful being a new photo and art search service provided by Virage. The AV Photofinder lets you instantly search through millions of photos on the Net by keyword, giving a page of “thumbnail” pictures to select from with a simple click. Considering it is searching for graphics, the PhotoFinder is very quick, and even allows you to set filters to ensure that inappropriate material is excluded..

Other enhancements to the AltaVista site include “AV Full View Search”, which combines three main search techniques index, directory, and question-and-answer. This new capability lets users ask questions in plain English and receive a short list of intelligently matched, confirmation questions, as well as AltaVista’s keyword-search results.

The new service uses “parsing technology” which determines how each word in the question is being used. When I asked it “How long will I live?” the service gave me a list of 19 million “hits”, and also told me that it had the answer to my question.

The answer? A website where you enter your sex and date of birth, and a program calculates your le expectancy. This wasn’t the answer I wanted, but it is intriguing.