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Ask Jeeves Looks to Outshine Google 271

bizpile writes "The AP is reporting that Ask Jeeves is looking to distinguish itself from its competitors by adding new tools for visitors to save and organize links to Web pages they find through the company's online search engine. "Google is not better than us," said Jim Lanzone, an Ask Jeeves senior vice president. "We are both operating at a world-class level. We just have a different flavor." This free feature is scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday." With Amazon's new search engine recently arising, it definitely appears to be a critical time for search engines.
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Ask Jeeves Looks to Outshine Google

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  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:06AM (#10308510)
    Pepsi operates "at a world class level", but they "just have a different flavor" than Coca-Cola.
    Burger King operates "at a world class level", but they "just have a different flavor" than McDonalds.

    We don't like monopolies in our marketplace, and as a result we always have a place for the perpetual also-ran. Never able to capture the #1 spot may seem depressing, but it's still possible to profit as a #2 and be lying in wait in case the #1 player makes real big mistakes.

    Google will have to seriously misbehave in order to give up enough market share so that Ask Jeeves can pass them. However, having Ask Jeeves parked in the #2 rank spot is enough motivation that hopefully Google will never forget its "Don't be Evil" policy.
  • by YankeeInExile ( 577704 ) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:07AM (#10308518) Homepage Journal

    The line Google is not better than us, we're both world class reminds me so much of Doctor Nick's "As Good As Doctor Hibbert" yellow page ad in the Simpsons.

    • Ask Jeeves' various search engines, which include Teoma, Excite and iWon, held a 6 percent share

      Even at a 6% share it's a huge market. It is however difficult to get a better position by solely giving users the ability to save bookmarks. I already have bookmarks integrated in my browser of choice, thank you very much.

      "Google is not better than us," said Jim Lanzone, an Ask Jeeves senior vice president

      Go tell that to the 36% of the people that are using Google instead of Ask Jeeves

      • If they manage my bookmarks, offering plugins for Firefox for instance, that allows said bookmarks to sit on their server and be available to all my browsers (home, office,...) in a "roaming profile" way... hell, I'd love that feature.
      • Yeah.. but my browser of choice at home (Opera) doesn't show the bookmarks in my default browser at work (Mozilla) nor those one whichever dev box I'm working on (Netscape, IE, Mozilla, Opera)

        Delocalized Bookmarks would be very handy for me, and once every fridge, PDA, Cel phone, GPS, Gameboy, Calulator etc etc has an integrated Web browser, it will be more important still.

        If they do it, and patent it in such a way that Google can't follow, that could very well give them an edge.
  • Flavor? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chagatai ( 524580 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:07AM (#10308520) Homepage
    "We are both operating at a world-class level. We just have a different flavor."

    Kind of like pork ice cream.

  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:08AM (#10308534)
    I use different search engines all the time, more for a laugh than anything. Frankly, they all find what I'm looking for. I like the fact that they don't all suffer from Google's inability to cope with wildcards.


    is more convenient than

    detect OR detecting OR detects OR detector

    for example.

    • Google now uses stemming technology. Thus, when appropriate, it will search not only for your search terms, but also for words that are similar to some or all of those terms. If you search for "pet lemur dietary needs", Google will also search for "pet lemur diet needs", and other related variations of your terms. Any variants of your terms that were searched for will be highlighted in the snippet of text accompanying each result.

      But I guess being able to explicitly do it yourself would be nice. A Google
    • by Haydn Fenton ( 752330 ) <no.spam.for.haydn@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:36AM (#10308809)
      What, you mean like ~detect~ [google.com]? Seems to have a wildcard function to me.. aswell as literally hundreds of advanced functions that almost no other search engines posses..
      • Hhmm.. actually it seems you only actually need to use the ~ symbol before words, not after. My bad.
      • > What, you mean like ~detect~

        Sort of, except ~protect~ gets me words which Google's algorithm decides are similar, such as "password", "defend" etc, and not "unprotected", although perhaps that's because it just looks like ~word~ means *word* but perhaps actually means word*. Hard to tell when it's not documented anywhere.

        > literally hundreds of advanced functions that almost no other search engines
        > posses..

        *Literally* hundreds? Where are they? Is the ~word~ thing documented anywhere? I did
        • Limited documentation is at http://www.google.com/help/refinesearch.html [google.com].
        • Documentation on ~ was only 2 clicks away from the homepage (the "more >>" link, then "web search features" at the side of the next page).

          As for the features of google, there's no way I'll be able to list them all here, but they can all be found by looking through the links in help pages and whatnot...
          Well, here's my attempt anyway: search within the url, search within the title, search within the page, search for similar terms, search for exact terms, search within ragnes of numbers, search within d
      • Google still needs the NEAR keyword, or something of similar functionality. This little gem allows you to search for a set of common words that are not necessarily a phrase but where the returned resultset should prioritize those entries where the words occour in close proximity to each other. It's the one feature I REALLY wish Google had.
      • by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @12:14PM (#10309241) Homepage Journal
        ... you mean like ~detect~? Seems to have a wildcard function to me..

        That's not wildcard, that's synonym searching. From the Google docs [google.com]:

        " ~" Searches

        You may want to search not only for a particular keyword, but also for its synonyms. Indicate a search for both by placing the tilde sign ("~") immediately in front of the keyword.

        For example, to search for food facts as well as nutrition and cooking information, use:

        ~food ~facts

        Google does do wildcards, but only in quoted strings. They don't seem to have documented it on their website, but I've found it here [squarefree.com], among other places.
        Google search tip: wildcard word (*)

        Google treats "*" as a wildcard meaning "any word". You can use it in phrases to: Ignore unimportant words

        * "all but * anything but" (vs, and)
        * "shanked * jengaship" (my, your, his jengaship)

        Fill in phrases where you don't know a word

        * "phyllis * tam" pomona (a middle name)
        * "the * family is my boss" (hard-to-understand song lyrics from a song in Office Space)

        See how people have filled in expressions and jokes

        * "185 * walk into a bar"
        * "friends don't let friends * *" (*'s at the end just keep the phrases from being cut off in snippets.)
        * "* is to * as * is to *"

        Crudely "search by proximity"

        * "The shareware version * 10 levels"
        * "The shareware version * * 10 levels"
        * "The shareware version * * * 10 levels"

        It's pretty powerful, but it's only in what google calls a ``phrase search''.
      • And of course we all know that the standard wildcard char is the "~".
  • What a crock of poo. (Score:5, Informative)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:08AM (#10308537) Homepage Journal

    "Ask Jeeves is touting its service as more user-friendly because it doesn't require the installation of any toolbars or software programs."
    FUD. Google and other search engines don't require toolbars or software installation.

    "The next generation of search isn't going to be about who can build the biggest indexes (of Web pages)," said analyst Charlene Li of Forrester Research. "It's going to about finding better ways to personalize search results and modify the way the results are presented."
    That's outright idiotic. I want the most relevant search results based on the largest index possible.

    I just 'asked jeeves' to look up my real name in quotation marks: 481 hits. Google? 1420. A quick glance to the last hits on Google are indeed relevant. What has AskJeeves missed? Google isn't going to rest on their laurels, AskJeeves will be playing perpetual catch-up. Now when have you heard "Ask Jeeves" used in the common vocabulary? What about Google? It's a used as a verb now.
    • What about Google? It's a used as a verb now.

      So is "ask" the trademark word pioneered by the just-as-good engine AskJeeves. It's even used figuratively outside the context of web searching - talk about capturing people's minds!
    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:28AM (#10308729) Homepage Journal

      Google and other search engines don't require toolbars or software installation.

      If you want to rate links you need the google toolbar.

    • I just 'asked jeeves' to look up my real name in quotation marks: 481 hits. Google? 1420. A quick glance to the last hits on Google are indeed relevant.

      Well, you're certainly a lot more famous than me!

      I suppose you'd have done even better Googling your nick, although most of the hits would probably be responses to "Aaaugh! Why did Fedora just blow away my Windows partition?"

  • Faliure. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Failure already. How can you hope to be a goood search engine, when the non-sponsored results are half way down the page? Give me a break jeeves, ask yourself why you are still trying.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:09AM (#10308546)
    It was certainly distinguishing itself in my logs... I recently moved to a "gallery.lazylightning.org" setup from lazylightning.org/gallery/. Oblivious to the problems this would cause w/my robots.txt I had every spider and their brother killing my webserver with requests.

    Anyway, so I create a new robots.txt file that includes all the individual directories from the gallery directories. AskJeeves apparently read the robots.txt the day before and thought it was then ok to index the site after that at its leisure. It spent the next two days indexing my site even though it was ignoring the new robots.txt put in place about 24 hours before.

    AskJeeves will no longer be indexing my site as I just banned their know IP ranges. If you are going to compete as a search engine you best make the people you are spidering happy.

    MSNBot was spending the time indexing my site as well but they didn't fail to ignore the new robots.txt that was put out there. Thanks! :)
  • Doesnt Jeeves use google as its backend?
  • Not better (Score:5, Funny)

    by Negatyfus ( 602326 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:10AM (#10308553) Journal
    "Google is not better than us," Jim Lanzone of Ask Jeeves said. "Google is nowhere near as good as we are! In fact, Google does not exist! They are nowhere near Bagdhad! And we have shot down one of their Apache helicopters!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:10AM (#10308554)
    ... by adding new tools for visitors to save and organize links to Web pages they find through the company's online search engine.
    I liked that feature better the first time, in the original Mosaic browser, when they called it "Bookmarks."
  • A Younger Jeeves (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheJavaGuy ( 725547 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:10AM (#10308555) Homepage
    It looks like Mr. Jeeves got a lot younger.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20030324210627/http://a sk.com/ [archive.org]

    http://ask.com/ [ask.com]

    • When they got Stephen Fry to play Jeeves in the TV series, people complained because he was too young to play the role. They had an older guy in mind from reading the books. But Fry knocked the role out of the park; maybe they were hoping for the same succeess.

      Sharp eye, BTW.
    • Not only younger, but you'll notice, he goes from a gray pin-striped suit (almost like a butler) to a more managerial, executive, corporate-friendly guy.
    • It looks like Mr. Jeeves got a lot younger.

      That's not necessarily a good thing from a marketing perspective.

      Captain Birdseye (logo of a UK food brand) used to be a snowy bearded old gentleman - an old duffer sailing around with a ship full of children. Perhaps because this might be misconstrued, they changed Captain Birdseye to a yound stud with a woman on each arm. It can't have done much good, because after a few years they changed him back again.

    • Been there (Score:3, Funny)

      by apankrat ( 314147 )
      Must be Atkins or something
  • by redfirebmd ( 815070 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:11AM (#10308561)
    I'm a firm believer that we need diversity and competition in the computing world if we want to see progress. Just as it is counter-productive for MS to have a monopoly on the OS world it is undesireable to have only one search engine out there.

    Just because Google thus far has been a very good company and used its power appropriately doesn't mean we should be satisfied with only one search engine. If we want to see innovation we need healthy competition, so I wish AskJeeves and all the others good luck.

  • How many others are going to throw their hat in the 'seach' ring? oh well, at least we don't have askjeevesmail or askjeevestunes (yet!) I can see how AJ is looking for a different target audience, as I think Google has the general one locked up, but what can they offer? Their 'natural language' search fell apart, so what will they bring that is truely new/unique to the table?

  • by nial-in-a-box ( 588883 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:11AM (#10308568) Homepage
    It all comes down to whether you appreciate a clean, uncluttered interface, or if you want anything but simplicity. Google has pulled it off the best. Ask Jeeves is currently basically a lame ripoff of the Google interface, and A9 is fairly clean but there is still too much going on for my tastes. Any other major search engine has way, way too much going on. And regardless of how amazingly fast A9 works, I am certain that plain old Google will continue to be the cleanest, fastest, and most efficient search engine. My only gripe is that searching on Google is still far from intelligent.
    • AJ did not 'ripoff' google...it was around before google, IIRC.

      They had their little butler dude logo (Jeeves himself) back in 96/97, I'm almost certain.

      I did just go check it out, and they have simplified the main page a bit, but I wouldn't say that's a 'lame ripoff' of google.
  • Who? (Score:5, Funny)

    by StevenHenderson ( 806391 ) <stevehenderson@gma i l .com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:12AM (#10308578)
    I had never heard of Ask Jeeves until I googled for it.
  • Seriously (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jetkust ( 596906 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:13AM (#10308581)
    Lets face it, people don't want to organize links. The only thing they want is to find what they are looking for. The one that does that the best is the best engine. The one that finds exactly what you're looking for every time. THIS is the next generation search engine.
    • Time for a plug. My favorite search engine is this [vivisimo.com]. Doesn't give you exactly what you are looking for, but it uses clustering technology. The clustering of the reulsts, IMHO, makes it easier to sift through the results than either Google or Jeeves.

    • I agree with this! I hate managing my links (aka bookmarks aka favorites aka the stuff in your browser that you can never find when you need something and never know which folder to file it under). However, I like having my own personal search engine that lets me full-text search the contents of bookmarked web pages. That's what I use Simpy for (see sig). Smaller index, my stuff, my 'neighbourhood', etc. Try the demo [simpy.com] and see for yourself (but be kind to this shared account). Long live search, death to
  • Is Jeeves Gay? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rjstanford ( 69735 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:13AM (#10308582) Homepage Journal
    Used to be that when you asked "funny" questions, you got "funny" answers. In fact, you can read the old result to this question here [ask.com]. So - they may have confused more potent technology with "growing up" in a way that Google, thankfully, has yet to do.
  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:13AM (#10308586)
    Ask Jeeves prompts the user to ask in plain language but the thing just parses out keywords and does a standard search. It doesn't interpret the intent of the question so all kinds of wierd results come back that have nothing to do with what you're looking for (just like a typical Google or Yahoo search). If it actually did try to figure out what you are really asking then it would be a lot more useful. Since it doesn't, why even pretend?
    • That's right.
      If you read their technology page you'd think they can read your mind [ask.com], but ask.com cannot generate answers, not even extract them; it simply responds with link lists like everybody else.

      In the old days, they had a feedback mechanism in place where you had to choose what you mean from a list of candidate questions that the system believed you wanted to have answered. It was cumbersome and is gone now, but there doesn't seem to be any improved Natural Language Technology in place (yet).


  • by revery ( 456516 ) * <charles&cac2,net> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:17AM (#10308619) Homepage
    "Google is not better than us," said Jim Lanzone

    They just deliver better results and are more useful to the average user. And if that makes them better... [whispers to aide]what was my point again[/whisper] ...we have a cartoon butler!!

  • by HealYourChurchWebSit ( 615198 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:17AM (#10308622) Homepage
    I remember when Google came out. Not much talk on their part about what they were going to do ... rather they just went out and kicked everyone's butt.

    I'm not quite sure if this annoucement isn't just to make investors happy or to make the Ask Jeeves more 'sellable' but if search.yahoo.com couldn't wack Google, what makes AJ think they can?
  • by thewiz ( 24994 ) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:18AM (#10308637)
    "Google is not better than us," said Jim Lanzone, an Ask Jeeves senior vice president. "We are both operating at a world-class level. We just have a different flavor."

    I prefer my Google with chocolate and sprinkles.

    If your favorite search engine were a flavor, what would it be?
  • by bwy ( 726112 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:18AM (#10308638)
    it deifnitely appears to be a critical time for search engines.

    It also deifnitely appears to be a critical time for dictionary.com.
  • Really? (Score:4, Funny)

    by jbrw ( 520 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:20AM (#10308644) Homepage
    "Looks to Outshine Google"? Well i'll be...

    I wonder how much boardroom time was wasted on trying to decided whether to announce the "Outshine Google" press release or the "Continue to Be Google's Bitches" press release?

    Thank god there are highly paid staff in place at Ask Jeeves who can make the right decisions for the stockholders!
  • All these search engines are great but they are nothing without content. Whoever successfully wins the race to get between the transaction of searching for content and the content itself is going to make a dookload of money. On your marks, get set.. GO!
  • by HerculesMO ( 693085 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:21AM (#10308654)
    Query: "Does AskJeeves suck?" First Hit Title: "10/19/1999: ASK JEEVES is the worst site on the internet" I'd say it works pretty well... :)
  • Yes they are.
  • "We are both operating at a world-class level. We just have a different flavor."
    To paraphrase Garth from Wayne's World:

    "If Ask Jeeves were an ice cream flavor, it would be pralines and dick."
  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) * on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:21AM (#10308657) Homepage
    They don't Get It(tm).

    That's all there is to it. Based on this blurb, I went to look at Ask Jeeves, and see what they had to offer. Ran a search, clicked on a result - and they lost me when they kept control of a portion of my browser window so I could run another search.

    I don't understand why so many companies don't understand such a simple concept: get off my back. Isn't Google's example clear enough for them? I like Google because it's fast and accurate, by and large. Because it's a simple page that loads quickly even if I'm somewhere on a dialup. It doesn't pop windows over or under my browser window. In short, Google acts like they want to help me, rather than like they want me to help them.

    That's all there is to it. I can't think of a feature a search engine could add that would overcome Google's interface advantage. To get my clicks, another search engine would have to have an even more simple interface, and I see that being hard to accomplish.

    Wait, I lied. If a search engine was able to somehow figure out what I mean conceptually rather than contextually, I would use it all the time...but since that would require an almost human level of language comprehension, I don't think I'll need to worry about switching any time soon. As it stands, AJ's "natural language" abilities were just "we won't tell you we ignored 'of' and 'the' in your search request."

    • I should also mention that this blurb caused me to go back and give them another chance despite them already being classified as "useless" in my head based on trying them out way back before I found Google. (Late nineties? Certainly before /. posted the "interview with Ask Jeeves" way back in the day...you know, the one with the bees...maybe I'll go ask Google to find that /. story, and then Ask Jeeves to find that /. story, and see which one gets me better results...maybe I'll also stretch this parenthetic
    • I don't understand why so many companies don't understand such a simple concept: get off my back.

      because very few companies are ran by people that understand what their company does, makes, offer's.

      the "invasive" company tactics are always put in place by PHB's and fresh CEO's that think their idea is great and refuses to get other input on it outside of his "yes" circle.

      The Good Boss and Executive seeks out those that hate his idea and will ask "why?" and "how can this become better?" and the rare.. "I
  • John Battelle has covered the new Ask Jeeves as well. You can read what he has to say about it at his site [battellemedia.com]
  • Satirewire.com "interviewed [satirewire.com]" Jeeves a while back. The results are nothing short of hilarious.

  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:25AM (#10308698)
    Jeeves people, read this if you want be distinguished.

    One of the most infuriating things about Google is that when there is a match to a Wikipedia page, there may be dozens of Wikipedia spam clones that show up first. Besides barraging you with unwanted ads, these spam clones are often outdated, and special symbols such as in math formulas tend to be corrupted. Once you suspect your match is in Wikipedia, you often have to do a site-specific search for Wikipedia even to show up on the list.

    Wikipedia is important enough that it deserves a special exception to whatever algorithm picks these spam clones first, if that's what it takes to do it. Google ignores this problem in spite of repeated complaints. Fix it, Jeeves, and I'll become a regular visitor.

  • Telling. (Score:3, Funny)

    by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @11:27AM (#10308720) Journal
    How can jeeves outshine google?

    First result of Ask Jeeves: Hmm? [ask.com]

    First result of Google: Ahem. [google.com]

    There you have it.

  • From ask.com:

    > Search Just Got Personal. Take the MyJeeves Tour!

    Ok, the whole line is the same style (plain red text). Why do I have to mouseover the last two words to figure out it's a link?
  • All this anti-google stuff is kind of weird, since a big chunk of Ask Jeeves profits come from Google advertising program.
  • And that's where Google still wins [google.com]. Jeeves has icons, Red Cross donations, and more. And to make all the various links less intrusive, they're in a tiny-tiny font; Google's search page links are normally sized and still don't intrude. Overall, Jeeve's page has a lot of visual noise.
  • ask.com started out as a pretty useful service where many questions had a human-prepared answer and if not you got aggregated top results of other engines. Ads had to come in and would be fine if they did it a normal way like Yahoo or Google. But now if you ask a question like "What to visit in Paris" you get no hosted answers and suspicious web links that mostly promote hotels, airline fares and so on. How hard is it to just say Louvre and Notre Dame?

    Was there a specific new CEO who did it or did they jus
  • With all of the people on this site who railed for years against Windows as a complete OS, instead calling it a GUI shell over DOS, I find it amusing that A9.com gets called, over and over again, a search engine when it's just a wrapper for Google, ads and all.
  • AskJeeves is adding, IMHO, useless features.

    "Like its rivals, the company is trying to develop new ways to persuade visitors to return more frequently and stay longer once they're there."

    What is nice about Google is that they don't keep you there. Once I have found what I am looking, I don't want to be in the search engine any more.

    "Users of the new MyJeeves features will be able to save Web pages by clicking on a clearly marked button next to every link turned up in a search request. The saved link

  • One feature that I really miss in ALL search engines is the ability to mark a link as "irrelevant to me", so that it doesn't appear in subsequent searches. Kind of: "Don't show this link again" or "Don't show links from this site again".

    Why is such a feature desirable? If you want to monitor the Web for an special topic, and you only want to see new results, it's always a pain in the neck to manually skip over old, known links or sites.

    Any search engine that implemented this feature would be a breeze!

  • The "save and organize links" is stupid in a web engine: you usually decide that a web page is worth saving after you have read it, and then you are no longer seeing the results of the search. It is far better to have a separate tool like Furl [furl.net] and Spurl [spurl.net], that you activate with a bookmarklet.
  • Is this "feature" for users who are too stupid to save Favorites or Bookmarks in their browsers?!

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @12:30PM (#10309474) Homepage
    In theory, if Jeeves actually did a good job of understanding natural language--as good as decade-old AI--it would be very useful for certain kinds of searches that are difficult on Google (without using a certain amount of lateral thinking).

    For example, there is a series of detective novels by in which the author Jack London, best known as the author of "The Call of the Wild," is a character (the detective, in fact).

    If you can't remember the author or title and want to find these books, it is very difficult to do so with Google. Most searches return mishmashes of results about the author Jack London and detective novels by other authors.

    If the premise of AskJeeves were correct, it would be perfect for this search.

    But, in fact, if you type in "What are some detective novels in which Jack London appears as a character?" you get exactly the same kind of mishmash as Google gives you. AskJeeves isn't, for example, smart enough to go in turn to amazon.com and search in "books" for "Jack London detective" (which returns "The Golden Gate Murders" by Peter King as the second hit).

    AskJeeves doesn't seem to do much more than throw away irrelevant words.

    If the "natural language" feature of AskJeeves worked, it would be part of my search toolkit. In fact, every time I've used AskJeeves, the results I get are inferior to those I get with Google or Yahoo.
  • http://gmail.google.com/gmail/a-9534e1b21b-1dfc9f9 595-01f1e218ff

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.