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New Search Tools Make Life Interesting, Not Necessarily Easier

In a month that has seen the release of Bing and Wolfram Alpha, you might think that you're sated. But hang on, I've got some more search tools to fiddle with. And at least one of them might be useful, you know, for work.

Google Squared is the newest Google experiment fresh out of Google Labs, and its claim to fame is its grid-like roundup of facts and observations about whatever you choose to search for.

If you're looking up stuff that a fourth grader might want to know, like "presidents" or "poisonous plants," you'll get some coherent, logical results. Presidents, for example, are arranged in rows with columns for date of birth, political party, and succeeded by. You can add new columns, so I typed "wife," and was surprised to see spouse names flow into the table like magic.

But conduct a more practical search, such as for Windows 7, RAID 0, or the European Union, and you get, well, gibberish. Or nothing at all. In fact, unless you stumble upon one of the narrow scenarios in which the results are meaningful, you're likely to shake your heard at Google Squared and wonder what the heck it's even supposed to do. Skip this one.

At SimilarSites, enter a Web site and get a list of sites that are, well, similar. It's a fast way to find alternatives that might suit what you're looking for a little better. The site is powered by user rankings, and so you get the opportunity to vote up or down on all the options.

Not only is SimilarSites pretty cool, but there's a plug-in for both Firefox and Internet Explorer available as well.

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