Web search is a whole lot easier than thumbing through a household copy of The Merck Manual when you're trying to find out what you're sick with. A simple search based on symptoms might steer you the right way, but several medical Web services have gone the route of attempting to emulate the kinds of questions you'd get when visiting a doctor's office. One of them, called MEDgle has quietly been offering up a symptom-based medical search tool for the last year.
The crux of MEDgle is the search tool, which either lets users type in what's wrong with them, or pick it out piece by piece by clicking on affected body parts or general symptoms. There are also tabs to hone down your search by drugs, procedures, and health care providers. The goal is to give you a list of conditions, along with pointing you the right way to places to get them checked out. What makes it interesting is that some of the results you get are actually hand-picked by physicians working with the service. Similar to the idea behind Mahalo , the hope is that you can get some guided search recommendations alongside the standard Web hits that have been tailored to the information you've provided on sex, age, and body type.
What makes MEDgle worth checking out is the results system. It'll first break down possible afflictions or conditions, then let you mouse over to get a quick overview of what it is. Each one is also rated on a five-star scale, which is tied in to the symptoms you've listed; the higher number of symptoms that match up to that condition, the higher the star count. You can then drill down by clicking on the condition, which will pull up the Web results, along with Snap-powered previews of each site.
While MEDgle lacks some of the polish and visual flair of WebMD , it's dead simple to use, and does a fair amount of hand-holding along the way, which I think novice users will enjoy. Until Google rolls out its own health search service and records platform, sites like these are a great place to bookmark for the next time you feel like doing a little research on what ails you without having to phone or visit your medical provider.
See also: Outlook healthy for health care Web sites, but use cautionNot for the faint of heart, MEDgle's symptom checker lets you pick out what's wrong with you visually.
Hewlett-Packard continued its sprint ahead of the competition in the second quarter of 2007, remaining the No. 1 PC vendor in the world . While Dell has continued to struggle, Lenovo, Acer and Toshiba showed positive signs, each outpacing the worldwide PC market growth rate of 12.5 percent, according to IDC.
HP continued its successful run of strong quarters, leading all PC makers by shipping 11.3 million units, good enough for 19.3 percent of the overall market. Dell's global shipments were down almost 5 percent--to about 9.5 million PCs--from a year ago, but remained in second place behind HP.
Dell has taken a hard fall, though it's at least taken steps to recovery. The Round Rock, Texas-based PC maker, in trying to reclaim its momentum with consumers is now offering a line of its PCs in Wal-Mart stores , a fairly bold move and a departure from its traditional sales model. On the other hand, adding color to its notebook lineup, announced last month, is a bit of a me-too effort. In both cases there hasn't been enough time to see whether pink laptops or Wal-Mart's pull with shoppers have had any real effect on demand for Dell PC products.
Meanwhile, HP has experienced "rapid growth, and they have room to run," according to IDC analyst Loren Loverde. "If you look at where they're growing, making big strides in the U.S. despite a relatively soft market. They're clearly taking advantage of Dell's misfortunes."
Lenovo has also rebounded well. The Chinese PC maker made good strides in the second quarter, taking back its third-place mantle from Acer , which slipped down to fourth. Lenovo made up a lot of ground outside of Asia/Pacific.
"Since acquiring IBM's PC , Lenovo shipments outside of Asia have been declining and weren't able to get any growth," he said. "So the last couple of quarters they've been able to grow, and that's a really excellent turnaround."
In the U.S. market, Dell still leads the pack--for now. With 28.4 percent of the market, its shipments were down more than 10 percent. HP is nipping at its heels with a 23.6 percent share, followed by Gateway and Apple and Toshiba with 5.3 percent, according to IDC.
Rival PC analyst firm Gartner places Acer in fourth place in the U.S. and knocks Apple down to sixth. Gartner shows Acer, which has only recently re-entered the U.S. market, with 163.9 percent growth over a year ago, shipping almost 900 million units, an astounding increase for the U.S., a market that just a few months ago was generally discouraging .
As part of a limited AdSense beta test, Google is offering new types of graphical and interactive advertisements to publishers, according to Jennifer Slegg, the Google AdSense forum moderator at Search Engine Watch.
AdSense is experimenting with interstitials, the full-page ads that come up when you click on a Web page, expanding ads that can be enlarged with a click or mouse-over, and floating ads that drift onto the screen from the side of the page, she wrote in a posting on her blog .
"If AdSense offered rich media to all publishers, it could really hurt competitor companies offering similar rich media ad formats because of the vast number of publishers that AdSense has," she wrote. "In terms of dominating the online advertising market, AdSense rich media could seal the deal to make AdSense the force to be reckoned with, by not only dominating the online text ad and graphical banner-style advertising, but in the entire online advertising market--definitely a story to watch."
A Google representative said the company has nothing to announce at this time.
Got a photo gallery you want to spice up? Check out TiltViewer . Like CoolIris' PicLens , it takes your photos and places them on a dynamic 3D wall that can be zoomed around with your mouse. Clicking any thumbnail will scale it up as big as your browser window is, and you can flip any shot to view the metadata--complete with customizable links that go towards that photo's sale page, or to download links.
The big difference between the PicLens and TiltViewer is that the latter doesn't require the viewer to have any sort of browser plug-in installed to see your shots, although setting it up on your page requires installing a small bit of code and linking it up with files you have hosted elsewhere.
To demonstrate the technology, there's a test page with the entire "explore" section of Flickr set up here . The tool is completely free, although leaves a small watermark on all your shots. A slightly more configurable pro version that's watermark-free runs at $45. Airtight Interactive , the makers of TiltViewer, also make a handful of other neat, or otherwise visually engaging Flash tools. You can check out the entire gallery of them here .
Spot Runner , an Internet-based advertising network that puts local business pitches on TV and radio, expects to announce Wednesday that it has landed another $51 million from investors including U.K. media company Daily Mail and General Trust , Spanish media group Grupo Televisa, institutional investor Legg Mason Capital Management, and the luxury conglomerate Groupe Arnault/LVMH.
Since its founding in 2004, the Los Angeles-based company has brought in outside investments worth more than $110 million. Previous investors include CBS, Interpublic Group, and Battery Ventures.
The deal underscores growing demand from investors for new advertising technologies for the Web and traditional media. Earlier this year, the open-source advertising network OpenX raised $15 million from Accel Partners, among others.
Spot Runner has also lured talent from major Internet companies. Joanne Bradford, who has headed the advertising sales efforts around Microsoft's MSN, recently joined Spot Runner as an executive vice president.
Spot Runner has built a system that identifies unsold TV spots on Bravo, ESPN, and the hundreds of other cable networks, and then sells 30-second spots to local businesses. The ads can be broadcast nationwide, but most small businesses buy ads to run only in their region, which costs less. It does the same with radio.
Spot Runner also helps advertisers put together 30-second spots from a collection of canned art.
Nick Grouf, CEO of Spot Runner, said that the funding will help Spot Runner grow internationally, as well as into new ad markets online and offline. It could also help the company acquire rivals. In March, Spot Runner bought Weblistic , a network for selling online ads to local businesses.
Gmail users now have some extra ways to make sure no one can snoop around in their e-mail accounts, a post Monday afternoon on the Official Gmail Blog explained. The Google e-mail service provider is introducing a feature so that members can see where they're logged in and then opt to log out if they want.
The feature is currently rolling out to Gmail members using the Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers.
At the bottom of your Gmail window, you will now see if you're logged on in any other locations, the post by engineer Erwin D'Souza explained. You can then click through to find out the other IP addresses where you're logged in, and whether those locations are Web-based, on mobile devices, or elsewhere.
Finally, in the event that you see your ex's iPhone listed as one of the IP addresses, you can click a button to sign out all locations other than the one where you're currently clicking around on Gmail. Then it's time to think about whether it's creepy that you know the IP address of your ex's iPhone.
"If you are anything like me, you probably sign in to Gmail from multiple computers," D'Souza wrote. "I, for example, occasionally sign into my Gmail account from a friend's house when I need to check an important email. Usually I remember to sign out, but every once in a while I wonder if I really did. Now I no longer have to wonder."
Advertising technology company Dapper is releasing a new tool, MashupAds , for creating banner ads that combine context from the site they are running on with specific content from the site of the advertiser. For example, a travel site advertisement running on a travel review site about Berlin could list either current airfares to the city or hotel deals.
Context-aware advertising is nothing new. It's what Google AdWords is all about. Dapper executives told me that what they do is different, though, especially in ad creation: The advertiser points the system to their site, and then at runtime, the Dapper ad gets the relevant information from the site and puts it into the ad. It's all dynamic.A site's content drives dynamic ad messaging.
These ads could be useful for products or services that have changing availability or prices . Or for any company that sells a large number of products. Previously contextual ads running against a large catalog would be time-consuming to code. The Dapper pitch is that once you set up your ad-to-service mapping, you're done.
The service can also incorporate other data into the equation, like geographic region or any demographic data the site on which the ad is running can pass back to the Dapper engine.
MashupAds is not an advertising network, so advertisers still need to buy and place their ads the old-fashioned way. But now instead of submitting your own hand-coded ad files, generally in SWF format, you build the file with Dapper and send that instead.
A lightweight version of the service will be available for free. The full paid version will have more features and control.
Coming later, the service will track users' interaction with ads so it can fine-tune the items offered . Also, if and when Dapper ads start running on social networks, the company will start working on ways to get data from the social graph into the recommendation engine.
Advertising is a tough business to be in right now; as spending slows, ad revenues will as well. But Dapper makes advertising more effective, and for either a zero or low cost. It's a smart pitch for the times.
Here's Dapper's own MashupAds pitch video:How Dapper MashupAds Can Save Display Advertising from Paul Knegten on Vimeo .
See also: Yahoo Smart Ads , Google Gadget Ads , Tumri .