Personalizing Yahoo

March 2002

Now my life is complete: I have Doonesbury. I'd enjoyed this cartoon strip in graduate school, but hadn't had access to it in the local paper since then. And now this infamous comic strip appears every day in my browser's home page, which is set to point at My Yahoo.

OK, so maybe you're not a fan of Doonesbury--not a liberal, commie Democrat. But you ought to be a fan of My Yahoo. It offers you an amazing collection of personalized news and tools--even cartoons.

My personalized area of Yahoo offers news headlines, my stock portfolio, local weather, scores from my favorite sports teams, my Yahoo e-mail account, and my selected cartoons: Doonesbury and Oliphant.

I check back during the day to see how the stock market is doing or to see the latest headlines. If one of my favorite teams is playing, I sometimes check back for the latest score, which is constantly updated if the game is in progress.

And I'm always finding neat new features. Once on a winter night with a strong wind and subzero temperatures, the electricity went out in my building. Not only was it frightening being in the cold and dark, but also I had planned to watch a little of the Iowa basketball game on TV. Big disappointment.

So I'm sitting there wondering how long it will be before the lights go on (it eventually took four hours), wondering what you do in a dark, cold, candle-lit room, and wondering what the score is. I sit down at my battery-powered laptop and fire up my modem connection to the Internet.

I go to My Yahoo to see the score in the game, and notice an icon that says "Audio." So I click on it and am delighted to find that I can listen to the game via audio streaming. There I sat in the dark, all bundled up, surfing the Internet and listening to the basketball game.

You can see why I like My Yahoo.

Everything is customizable. You can select what types of news headlines you want to view in categories such as Headline News & Politics, Business & Industry, Entertainment, Health, Music, Sports, and Science & Technology. I have mine set up to view the top four headlines in these sections: Top Stories from Reuter, Top Stories from AP, Tech News from CNET, Tech News from Mac Central, and Tennis.

The huge amount of content available to select from includes TV Listings, Movie Showtimes, Ask the Doctor, Best Fares, Buzz Index, Deals of the Day, DVD & Video Releases, Health Tips, Lottery Results, Maps, Package Tracker, Ski Report, and dozens more.

You can choose the content, arrange where the items appear on the page, and select from various color themes. You can have more than one page, with each additional page conveniently appearing as a tab on a border near the top.

When you create a new page, you have the option to choose one of six templates, or you can simply select all your own content. Of the templates available, be sure to check out the one that says Yahoo Tools. It gives you a nice overview of the very useful tools available to you for free.

For example, Briefcase gives you 30 megabytes of free storage for any type of computer file, including photos. Your photos appear in albums and can be shared with other Internet users, using a simple address such as http://photos.yahoo.com/jkarpen. Or you can choose to keep them private.

Other free Yahoo tools include Yellow Pages, White Pages, Calendar, Address Book, Notepad, Calculator, and Horoscope.

You can set up a maximum of six personalized pages, each with up to 20 content items. You could, if you wanted, have a page devoted to sports, with a range of sports headlines and scores. Or you could have a finance page that would include your portfolio, headlines related to business and finance, and content offerings from Yahoo such as Company News, Market Summary, Upgrades/Downgrades, Earnings Surprises, and a Currency Converter.

Or maybe a humor page that includes cartoons, such as Bizarro, Boondocks, Cathy, Foxtrot, and Ziggy. And if Doonesbury isn't your thing, there's always Garfield.

I hope you'll give My Yahoo a try. And if you're already registered at Yahoo, try setting up a personalized page. And if you've already done that, then maybe it's time to update it--and add Doonesbury.

© 2002 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

E-mail Jim Karpen