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Amazon's Search Engine Goes Live 196

scapermoya writes "Today was the official launch day of Amazon's search engine, which has been in public beta for some time now. It uses results from Google, and adds some personalized features, like bookmarks and search history. Its Java-heavy inteface reminds me of Gmail, which is nice. It doesn't seem like it was designed to supplant Google, but rather to flesh out some things that a certain demographic of people might like."
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Amazon's Search Engine Goes Live

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  • by DrunkenTerror ( 561616 ) * on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:17AM (#10290703) Homepage Journal
    The A9 toolbar only works in Microsoft Internet Explorer.

    A9 bowls a Googly []

    Karma: Coma, mostly due to Massive Attack
    • I read the article to which you linked. Does that not read like a propoganda piece? It puts positive spin on every feature except the A9 Toolbar where a neutral "only works with Internet Explorer" is used instead.

      I wonder if Amazon's marketing guys wrote this.
    • from


      *** Currently the A9 Toolbar runs only on Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or above. We are working to extend the toolbar to other browsers. ***


      Give them some slack, they said they're still working on making toolbars for other browsers, too.
    • According to the site itself []:

      *** Currently the A9 Toolbar runs only on Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or above. We are working to extend the toolbar to other browsers. ***


      Note: We are working on toolbars to support other browsers and other operating systems (and we're looking for great developers to join our team).

      If they are hiring people to port the toolbar over, we should see a XUL or similar port very soon. Which apparently is required for some of the more advanced features of the site,
    • By the way, "Googly" [] is a cricket term. Some leg spinners (who usually turn the ball from the leg side of the batsman to the bat side of the batsman) can turn the ball in the opposite direction (from the bat to the leg) using their usual action. Usually it leaves the batsmen confused. So to "bowl a googly" is used in the sense of "play a trump card" or "leave the opposition confused".

  • java!=javascript (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:18AM (#10290708)
    not the same thing, not even nearly.

    • by g_braad ( 105535 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @12:23PM (#10291045) Homepage
      But the page IS made on Java Server Pages/Servlets. So the reference to Java is correct. That it also uses Javascript is very normal... (Still, Sun and Netscape made the first implementation of Javascript together (First Netscape named it LiveScript). Javascript would 'supplement' Java applets. Javascript looks even a little similar to Java itself. Netscape even had a project to write Java dynamically in the form of Javascript: LiveConnect)
      • If the reference is correct then it is irrelevent since it makes little difference to the end user whether the HTML pages themselves are generated by a Java, PHP, Coldfusion or Perl set of instructions.

        Alternatively, it can be relevant, but incorrect since one of the most distinctive features of the Gmail interface is the sheer amount of work that has gone into using JavaScript to build an e-mail client that loads in a Web browser, but which has little in common with the behaviour of most Web pages.

  • Font? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by modifried ( 605582 )
    Wow. Do some of the links look horrible on it for anyone else using Firefox 1.0PR? The font is so small that pieces of the letters are actually missing.
    • Re:Font? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Donny Smith ( 567043 )

      yes it does, and if you bothered to look at the few links they have on their home page, you would have seen you can set customized preferences which include font size setting

      Oh, well...

  • Two problems... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neiffer ( 698776 ) * on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:19AM (#10290720) Homepage
    I see two problems with this. First, let's face it, since they are searching text of Amazon books, it's an ad site. Sure, it's useful, but it's an ad site. Second, I tested it by typing "Helena" (my home town, the state seat of Montana) and there isn't a single picture of Helena, Montana among the first page but rather pages of women in swimsuits. I don't think adding images without asking for them adds much to searching, that's why I like Google as I can pick the content.
    • Re:Two problems... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ClippyHater ( 638515 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:25AM (#10290751) Journal
      Unclick the Images button on the right side. Problem solved. And since the service seems to cater towards personalization, perhaps it'll remember that you don't want images included in your results?

      The books button was not automatically selected for me, so you actually have to actively be looking for info in books, it doesn't just serve up Amazon results.

      So, in conclusion, pick the results you want.
      • by neiffer ( 698776 ) *
        OR...even better...just stick with Google. That's the point: if I have to play with the interface so much why not just go to the source of the important results?
        • Re:Two problems... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by baeksu ( 715271 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:33AM (#10290796)
          So don't play with the interface, sheez... The point is that this is not taking anything away from people who prefer google. It's just something that other people might find more to their liking.

          If you love google so much, stick with it. No one is forcing you to use anything else.
        • Re:Two problems... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ClippyHater ( 638515 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:36AM (#10290818) Journal
          Guess it depends on what's useful to you. I know a bunch of folk who despise google. They don't want to "learn" how to use an efficient search engine. They want buttons to do the majority of things they're interested in. They want a search history so that if they're repeatedly looking for things, they can find it.

          What's interesting to me is the meta data they have on sites. For instance, I typed a search on Gentoo, and, of course, the Gentoo home page was first on the list. But then I saw a "Site Info" button next to the link. Clicked on it, and was taken to an Amazon (?!) page that told me semi-interesting facts about the site. For me, very cool!

          With the A9 toolbar, the site becomes even more useful to those folk it's targeting. The ability to take notes on sites seems like it could have interesting possibilities.

          Anyway, I think the sites pretty useful. Since I have broadband, the "bloat" doesn't bug me one bit. I also compile modules into my kernel :)
          • Re:Two problems... (Score:3, Informative)

            by moonbender ( 547943 )
            The web site information is provided by Alexa [], a subsidiary of Amazon. They are an internet directory of sorts, they also have a ranking of the most popular web sites. On their homepage is yet another web search engine... powered by Google.
    • Re:Two problems... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dollargonzo ( 519030 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:26AM (#10290753) Homepage
      what you are saying doesn't really make sense. how are you picking the content with google any more than a9? doing an image search on google gives the same results (not suprisingly) as a9 images do.
    • It's like Google and Yahoo had a bastard child. Sickening.
    • Re:Two problems... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by psyco484 ( 555249 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:36AM (#10290815)
      Because I hadn't used it before and didn't need to search for anything, I just typed in asdf []. The results contain a weird picture that may or maynot be 'safe for work.' They should think about incorporating google's safesearch if they want to include images with every result. Definitely can't use this search engine from anywhere but home if there's a chance a pair of tits are going to flash on the screen when I'm searching for something from the library or my workstation...

      Other than that it seems to work as expected (I'm not noticing the problems other firefox users are complaining about?), maybe in another few months.

    • I live in a small town called "Porn" in Russia. When I searched for it on google and A9, all the results were naked ladies!
    • I wonder if it's worth mentioning that the same search for "Helena" in Google produces the same result [] you're complaining about.

      So I guess you have to give up on Google now too? :)
    • I wonder how many 'Helena'-searches that post triggered...
    • Since the Internet is 90% naked girls, 9% girls in swimsuits and 1% all-the-other-stuff and at least a few of those girls are called Helena I'd reckon it's inevitable that your home town is going to get lost in the noise.

      You could try searching for 'Helena, Montana'. Or you could move. The possibilities are endless.
  • by fresh27 ( 736896 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:20AM (#10290724) Homepage
    ...A9 is pretty bloated. It looks nice, but its a little too much for me compared to the slick and minimal style that Google has. A search for 'America' yields a 52.64 KB result page in A9, while that same search yields a 4.36KB page in Google. Size isn't necessarily a problem for me, but I think A9 is trying to pack too much stuff into what should be a simple process. If I want to find movies, I'll go to IMDB, if I want to find books I'll go to Amazon. A9 complicates it rather than simplifying things.
  • by bgarcia ( 33222 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:21AM (#10290729) Homepage Journal
    If you log into Amazon, and then go to and do a search, you will then get an automatic pi/2 discount on every purchase you make at Amazon!

    More details available here []

  • by jpkunst ( 612360 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:22AM (#10290732)

    Its Java-heavy interface

    You mean Javascript-heavy interface?


  • by ferrellcat ( 691126 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:23AM (#10290737)
    You mean I get to tie ALL of my web searches to a verified identity of myself (Amazon account) complete with credit card and mailing address??? OH BOY!!!!
  • so basically.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpootFinallyRegister ( 787720 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:23AM (#10290738)
    ...its google repackaged with some amazon ads thrown in and plenty of bloat. gee, where do i sign up?
  • CNET- (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thewldisntenuff ( 778302 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:23AM (#10290740) Homepage
    Had a blurb on this....Apparently it brings porn to your searches.....

    For example, if you search "Frontpage SEO", pr0n shows up in the image toolbar....I've seen it, but haven't played around with it much.....

    Link to the story []
    • Re:CNET- (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iotaborg ( 167569 )
      If you care to do the google image search for "frontpage seo", you will also find that it gets porn. In fact the images are pretty much the same under google's 'moderate filtering' from what you get on A9 (seeing that A9 uses google...)
    • Re:CNET- (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 )
      well.. just try to search for "girls" :)

      what's different in this vs. google is that when you keep all the bars on you're quite likely to see the porno without even trying to get to see it.

  • Today? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 )
    Today was the official launch day of Amazon's search engine
    Sorry to be pedantical, but I see no changes since ars technica announced the official launch a few days ago. []
    • Re:Today? (Score:3, Funny)

      by bjpirt ( 251795 )
      that would be "Sorry to be pedantic..." then ;-)
      • It doesn't have to be--although rarely used,pedantical [] is a perfectly acceptable adjective meaning the same thing. I like using it--would-be pedagogues can learn that I'm not "stupid," but rather a "stupid-ass."
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:24AM (#10290742) Homepage Journal
    Its Java-heavy inteface reminds me of Gmail, which is nice.

    with that statement. I don't entirely agree with using "heavy" JavaScript/etc for simple webpage based applications like search engines, which should be as lightweight and minimalistic as much as possible, allowing me to access results without having to rely on helper applications or specific interfaces

    I should be able to use lynx or other interfaces (Google API) to access results without undue overhead, if I so desire.

    It's sad lynx comes up with the following when pointed to

    Alert!: Unable to connect to remote host.
    lynx: Can't access startfile

  • Old News (Score:4, Informative)

    by moofdaddy ( 570503 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:25AM (#10290748) Homepage
    Didn't we already read about this a couple of days ago? []
  • Skewed results? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dealsites ( 746817 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:26AM (#10290752) Homepage
    Amazon has one of the best affiliate programs in existance. Anyone with a website can easily sign up with Amazon to make some money off selling items. I wonder if A9 will automagically find sites that have amazon links and rank them higher? It seems like they could help mazimize their revenue that way.
    The Sunday deals are rolling in, check them out live. []
    • I wonder if A9 will automagically find sites that have amazon links and rank them higher?

      You might just as easily wonder if Google automagically finds sites that have Google Adsense ads and rank them higher.

      If A9 does this, and it is less useful as a result, people aren't going to switch to it.

    • I honestly doubt that this was the motivation behind A9. I say this because there are a ton of assholes who make money as amazon affiliates endlessly spamming google to make their worthless pages appear as legitmate search results. If pointing to affiliates is all Amazon is trying to do, it would be far less expensive to just publish a free e-book on google spamming and update it on a regular basis.
  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Just typed in linux and saw that you also get to see pictures and what did my unbelieving eyes find? jp g

    Great, just great!

    Now I don't dare to search for IANAL...
    • Reminds me of an old one from back in Netscape's heydey that had a picture of nickel-plated 45 caliber automatic and the caption "Download Netscape Negotiator now!"
  • A9 seems a very good tool in searching some decent naked pictures. If by any chance it finds two similar pictures in a row then you can be sure there is whole series you're dealing with.
    Unfortunately I've also found it to a perfect tool for all sickos. When I enter "nude girls" or similar term, plenty of the pictures showed girls that weren't even in their teens.
    Of course I had all the content filters turned off, but I had no intention in watching such pictures and still I had to.
  • Er... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by herichon ( 599152 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:27AM (#10290761)
    From their current privacy policy here []:
    Use of Third Party Service Providers: We may, from time-to-time, employ other companies and individuals to perform functions on our behalf. Examples include sending e-mail and analyzing data. They have access to personal information needed to perform their functions, but may not use it for other purposes.

    Business Relationships with Third Parties We Do Not Control: We work closely with some third parties. In some cases, we will include offerings from these businesses on In other cases, we may include joint offerings from and these businesses on Click here for examples of co-branded and joint offerings. You can tell when a third party is involved in the offering, and we share customer information related to those transactions with that third party.
    My Amazon history + my credit card number + my web searching history (all searches are saved on A9 servers) + Amazon's stated intent to share information with third parties = a little too close to home for me. No thanks, A9... I'll stick with the relative anonymity of Google.
    • (Score:5, Informative)

      by starling ( 26204 ) <> on Sunday September 19, 2004 @01:17PM (#10291299)
      From the same policy:

      If you would prefer not to be recognized on our site, we recommend that you use our alternate service located at On, we will not recognize your cookie and we will not save any information stored in your cookie other than your column preferences, which are stored in your cookie and used by Information we gather on will not be used in our data analysis (other than to detect abuse) and will not be used to personalize the services we offer you.

      That seems anonymous enough.
  • by rainman_bc ( 735332 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:34AM (#10290804)
    I use google as my home page for a few reasons, but the main one is size; I hate waiting for my browser, and I'm notinto about:blank.

    Google's 1.9kb. A9 is 20kb. Doesn't sound like much, but Google just loads faster because of it.
    • No it doesnt, not unless you're on a SLIP 8000baud connection from iraq. On a modern connection with a modern computer, they both load within the same timeframe: instant.
      When you're on a 3mbit connection (average cable) with a reasonably fast machine they'll both load far faster than you'll be able to notice, something to the tune of 500ms

      If you can actually notice a difference in loadtime, its time to upgrade. Even after going through mozilla's adblock filters it still loads just as fast as google.
      • Hmmm... Don't forget your browser needs to parse the html and render it to your screen. That also takes some time. Granted not much, but ever used as your home page? It'll feel like shit because your browser has to work that much harder to parse it. And is the same size as
    • Hate to reply twice, but also: whats the point of using google as your homepage? you can type search terms into the google bar (firefox or downloaded ie plugin) just as quickly. Frankly I've not even used a homepage since back in the days when lynx was my primary browser. In windows (or KDE, probably a gnome alternative too): Star->run-> and just launch your browser directly to the website. Why load a start page that you dont intend on using?
  • Not that interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Eriky ( 724600 )
    They just combine a few searches, like image searches and web searches. The movie search function just searches IMDB, which I can do perfectly well without a9 by just going to I don't need a search history either, my google toolbar takes care of that. (or the saved form info on any other browser). In my eyes, this is just an attempt to increase amazon sales, by getting some free advertising from the launch of this search service and hopefully (for them) getting some people who will actually keep
  • search for "amazon" (Score:3, Informative)

    by coshx ( 687751 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:50AM (#10290873)
    A search for "amazon" gives me the ad:

    How to Cheat Amazon []

    and a search for "used books" doesn't even show amazon on the first page of results.

    so either:
    1) they're being fair and not taking advantage of their position (yet)
    2) they're not business savvy enough
  • insane? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gstone ( 236734 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @11:54AM (#10290898) Homepage
    Here is my user experience:

    ummm ... OK? Seriosuly, are these guys insane including unfiltered image search results by default?
    • Seriosuly, are these guys insane including unfiltered image search results by default?

      Sounds sane to me. Default censorship of naked people sounds more insane to me. But then again, I'm not from USA.
  • I did a search for lol [] and got Japanese porn within the first 3 image results

    I've been won over :P

  • java != javascript (Score:2, Informative)

    by Suppafly ( 179830 )
    Its Java-heavy inteface reminds me of Gmail

    Neither Gmail nor A9 have java-heavy interfaces, infact neither use java at all in their interfaces. Anyone who doesn't know the difference between java and javascript has no business submitting stories to slashdot.
  • Go Anonymous (Score:5, Informative)

    by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @12:27PM (#10291063) Homepage Journal
    If you don't want Amazon tracking your searches, use [], which doesn't look like it even sets any cookies.
  • ..that it apperantly has access to all your Amazon related cookies? I tested a9 on one computer and just went there for the first time on this one and it remembered me.

    Scary how they can track you across multiple locations.

    • That's the whole point of It's for them to offer you stored searches on the server side and be able to "help" you by tracking everything you do.

      Before you dismiss it as bad, which it may well be, at least consider it. Because what made Amazon so great was that by simply using the site, it got to 'know' you, suggest items etc. I love that feature. I think it's awesome that the site frequently suggests things I own or want to own.

      Perhaps enough searching on Debian troubleshooting and it will sug
  • USENET search (Score:3, Informative)

    by cmeans ( 81143 ) * <(moc.raftni) (ta) (snaemc)> on Sunday September 19, 2004 @12:32PM (#10291082) Homepage Journal
    Unless I missed it, there's no searching of USENET/ This is a's the primary place I do my searching...

  • Resist A9! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by comforteagle ( 728960 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @12:49PM (#10291143) Homepage Journal
    DataLibre []

    Amazon, or any other one entity, must not own the semantic web:

    Applying Distributed XML to The Open Source Paradigm Shift [],
    DataLibre (was: Resist A9) [],
    & The Future of the Semantic Web is Here Today and is Evenly Distributed []

  • Site Speeds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Sunday September 19, 2004 @12:59PM (#10291208)
    Something I discovered is when you click on the "Site Info" button, one of the statistics it gives out is a site's speed. I found this pretty interesting. is listed as "Slow". is "Very Slow". is merely "Average", but is "Fast". is "Very Fast", so go figure.

    The slowest site I could find so far is, in the 4th percentile. The fastest site so far is (don't ask) in the 97th percentile.
  • Always nice to have an alternative in the event you can't get to Google [] for whatever reason. Bit of redundancy and competition never hurt anyone.
  • "Its Java-heavy inteface reminds me of Gmail"

    There is no Java in's interface, and thank god for that. There is only the misnamed "javascript", which is not strongly typed and is really nothing like Java.
  • java and javascript are two different things ro animals..

    You would think by now that slashdot contributors would wise up or at least the slashdot overseers would pick up on this obiovus big gaffle..

    Should we test slashdot contributors for reading comprehension?

  • Google search licensee has web site. News at 11.

    Oh my god, they put a couple of other things on the results page. Somebody call the President!

    I have a little Google search box on my web site. Does that mean that I get a Slashdot article announcing the launch of my kewl search technology too?
  • Bah, forget using A9 for searching your bookmarks. If you want a good full-text search for your bookmarks, just use a service that specializes in that, like Simpy []. You can try a live demo using a demo account here [].
  • Even though the a9 toolbar is IE-only, get the sherlock plugin that makes it work in Firefox from here [].

    Don't like the personalization features? Then use the generic search page [].

    Lastly, amazon's offering a discount to all a9 users []

  • This is perhaps one of those things that I shouldn't articulate, but am I the only person who thinks that the Amazon logo (and the logo they put under their subsidiary company names/logos) looks like the underside of an erect human penis?

    I know this is filthy and obscene to all right-thinking people, but the phallic symbolism is too obvious for me not to notice. And the fact hat Amazon is a global brand makes this observation even more ludicrous.

  • What for they name it after Scotland's longest and most dangerous major road, the A9, which stretches from Perth to Scrabster?

Forty two.