Search Search

Sep 27, 2004

With the changes in Atomz Search that I mentioned in my previous post, I have been left in a bind because I used it on several sites that I do. I’ve started to check out some free alternatives for site searches and I also found out that Atomz actually does have an option that might work for some mid-sized sites.

I contacted Atomz and found out they will allow you to buy the search for $250.00 a year, which is a price point that is more within reach for a small to mid-size business. If it’s within a site’s budget, I think it is worth it for the quality search tool that Atomz provides. For that amount you basically get the same features as Atomz Express Search, except no advertising and they have also bumped the page limit to 750 pages. Strangely enough they are not going to officially offer this as a product; you can only get it by asking for it. When I asked them why they wouldn’t offer it to the public, they told me they used to have a mid-level product called Atomz Prime, but they got turned off by that market because it was too much of a hassle getting people to pay.

As for those who can’t afford to pay, here are some of the alternatives I’ve come across:

  • mnoGoSearch
    This is used on MySQL.com which gives it some instant credibility, although I’ve read that the documentation they offer is “a bit dodgy”.
  • Google Google has a various options, but I get the impression they will either be very expensive or the search results page will be a Google page instead of your own, which isn’t going to cut it on many sites.
  • PhpDig
  • ht:/Dig
  • Picosearch
  • FreeFind
  • Make Your Own with MySQL and PHP or Perl
    MySQL 4.0 has enhanced FULLTEXT searching – of course you’d need some background with MySQL and some type of server scripting language.

For most of the sites I do, I had the following requirements:

  • Must have an indexer which I can run whenever I need to
  • If the results page is on a different site/server(which is ok), I must have access to the templates so I can match the layout of any site
  • A PHP front end would be nice also. mnoGoSearch gets extra points because you can choose from several different types of front ends, including PHP and Perl

The Best Free Site Search Tool Just Became Useless

Sep 23, 2004

I got some bad news today in an email from Atomz, whose free Atomz Express Search I’ve been using for a few years. I’ve been using it to put a search on work and personal sites. Up until now the main tradeoff was you had to have a small Atomz logo at the top of your results and you could only use it for up to 500 pages. That was acceptable for a free, very good search, but they are now going to change that:

“For five years as a service to the Internet community, we have provided Atomz Express Search at no charge and with no advertising. To help offset the cost to continue to provide this service, we will be adding contextual advertising before and after the search results. This advertising will be delivered by Google, our advertising partner. The ‘sponsored links’will be purely text-based and will be driven off the search keywords entered. They will be visually distinct from your search results, so your visitors know what results are for your site, separate from the advertising.”

Atomz Search has been one of the better web softwares of any type that I have ever used. It’s results have always had excellent relevancy, it’s very tweak-able and you have total control of the results page appearance. I do understand they have to find a way to make money, but for most of the sites I do advertising links aren’t acceptable. In many cases my client’s budget would allow for buying some sort of Pro version of the software if they offered something like that. Unfortunately Atomz has no middle level product. All they have is the free version and a very expensive enterprise version. I once requested pricing for this enterprise version and it was $10,000 – $15,000. I doubt most users who were going with the free version will be able to step up to the next level with pricing like that. Atomz is really missing the boat because most small to mid-size organizations, who possibly would consider a Pro version worth buying, will turn to a different solution. Seems like a shame to turn away business. For me now, and I suspect many other web developers, because of advertising links and prohibitive pricing, Atomz is now useless.

Passaconaway’s Backdoor

Sep 18, 2004

Last weekend, in my continuing quest to hike all of the White Mountain 4000 footers, I hiked Mt.Passaconaway. The trail is mostly in the woods so there weren’t many views. Once you get to the summit it’s completely wooded and there are no views. When I was there though someone tipped me off that there is a trail going off the back of the mountain, that doesn’t go anywhere, but leads to a small lookout with a killer view. It was a good tip. When I found it, there was a little perch that seemed to have a view of the entire White Mountains. Click on the image below to see a picture I stitched together.

You’ll have to do a little horizontal scrolling – unless you’ve got one of those super wide Apple monitors.

On another note it was also “Flags on the 48” day, which is done every year in honor of 9-11. There have put up some great galleries of this year’s hikes and past years.

Links: 9-16-04

Sep 16, 2004

Demolition Derby

Sep 8, 2004

I went to a Demolition Derby for the first time in my life over the weekend. I am definitely not in New York City anymore. I kept waiting for the infamous Malachi Crunch to happen. Here are some pictures from it:

Demolition Derby

Demolition Derby