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Yahoo! to the Max : An Extreme Searcher Guide by Randolph Hock

Jacket: Paperback
Pages: 256 pages
Publisher: Cyberage Books/Information Today, Inc. (September 28, 2005)
Genre: Reference
ISBN: 0910965692

Comments about the author: Randolph  (Ran) Hock has his own company, Online Strategies, which specializes in creating and delivering customized courses on Web research. His courses have been delivered to large and small companies, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, universities, and associations. He has trained searchers throughout the U.S. and in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. Ran has been a chemistry teacher and a chemistry librarian (at MIT), and was the first Data Services Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania.


Review: Yahoo! <http://www.yahoo.com> has always been at the forefront of the Internet Revolution. Ten years ago, this site was one of the first and best-organized Web directories, useful even for researchers with non-graphical browsers. Ten years later, Yahoo! has evolved into an astounding portal of resources, tools, and services. It also has serious competition - many popular Web sites, such as Netscape.com, msn.com, and Google.com, have also become portals in addition to their primary purposes. They freely offer e-mail, maps, weather and investment information, news, health advice, banking and travel services, science news, shopping, auctions, sports, and reference information, just to name a few options – all of which may be customized by the user. Thus it is possible to accomplish every online activity in one place. This is exactly what portal developers have in mind – much like Vegas casinos that offer guests every conceivable amenity to keep them inside. But instead of dropping money on slots and shows, portal users view targeted advertisements. In return, they receive more than just pure entertainment - portals do offer a bonanza of practical and educational information.

Randolph Hock, an admitted Yahoo! enthusiast, has written Yahoo! To The Max to present and promote Yahoo!'s seemingly unlimited possibilities. A professional Web trainer and former Librarian, Hock has also written Extreme Searching: Stretching Web Search Engines to Their Limit"" (1997) and The Extreme Searcher's Guide to Web Search Engines"" (1999, 2001).

Yahoo! To The Max is a portal guide, an unofficial sub-genre of Web manuals. Portal guides discuss all of the resources, tools, and services available on a Web site, rather than concentrating on just searching and directory capabilities. Yahoo! has never published an official guide, probably because the site content changes daily. Because of this, Hock has provided a companion Web page <www.extremesearcher.com> to post Yahoo! updates. This will be maintained indefinitely.

Like most portals, Yahoo!'s latest version is dense with links, images, and icons, which can be tough on the eyes and brain. Yahoo! To The Max breaks the site down into digestible chunks and explains them. There are nine chapters: overview, searching and browsing, My Yahoo!, groups, news, communications, shopping and auctions, finance, and other "seriously useful" stuff, such as Yahooligans! (for kids), Yahoo! mobile services, music downloads, people search, and photos. The chapter on searching and browsing will be of particular interest to serious online researchers because it covers Boolean logic, phrasing, and searching Internet fields with search prefixes. Also covered is Yahoo!’s Toolbar, which ensures a helpful, constant Yahoo! presence no matter where you are on the Internet.

Hock's writing style is not overly serious or technical. Any important terms are defined for the reader. He frequently suggests less-obvious sources of useful information in Yahoo! groups, news, and communications. Sometimes Yahoo! falls short of perfection, and the author duly notes the few problem areas he has discovered. Screen shots and tables illustrate the text, so it is possible to read Yahoo! To the Max without being seated at a computer. However, it is much more fun and interactive to click along on Yahoo! with book in hand.

It is also possible to skip around without reading the entire text from beginning to end. In fact, the author has intended this and includes numerous cross-references to more information in other chapters. A detailed index is provided.

Hock emphasizes that the best method for getting the most out of Yahoo! is to click on every feature and explore the possibilities. Technically, then, a manual is not needed to use Yahoo! However, Hock has already logged many, many hours on Yahoo! and presented his findings in a quickly-accessible format. It will save the reader time, point out Yahoo!'s possibilities and kinks, and clarify Yahoo!'s online Help information. Readers who are new to the Internet and learn best from manuals will probably benefit the most from Yahoo! To The Max. More experienced Internet users may decide to explore Yahoo! on their own, as the retail price is a wee bit expensive at $24.95.

Despite the price, it is very thorough and contains high-quality, well-organized information. In fact, if I were teaching a course on Yahoo!, I would choose this book as my class text. Yahoo! To The Max is highly recommended, especially for readers who prefer printed manuals or are new Internet users. Academic, public, and school Librarians should strongly consider purchasing it for ready-reference and circulating collections.

— Reviewed by: Lesley A Paul
sedgebee@gmail.com
Librarian, Herkimer County Community College [Herkimer, NY]

 
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