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Yahoo cuts a useful sync service

By jbridges in Internet
Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 06:13:11 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Up until recently, you could sync your Yahoo Address Book with your desktop, or PDA or mobile phone.

You could use the Yahoo Yellow Pages to quickly add local businesses to your address book, and then download the results to carry around with you.

It was a fantastic way to fill up your mobile phone with all the local Pizza delivery, Chinese take out, and car repair places. An real example of a online service removing a little bit of drudgery from our lives.

In case you've never used the location centric Yellow Pages at Yahoo, here is a quick example:

I looked up Kuro5hin.org's office address at Register.com

I enter the address into Yahoo! Maps

I click on Find Nearby Services / Nearby Businesses

(I recommend Bookmarking the "Consumer Yellow Pages" for future reference, great for looking up something next time you visit Rusty).

Let's search for Pizza, the result is detailed list of all the Pizza places sorted by their distance from the Kuro5hin.org office.

Let's click on the first one, Villa Pizza

Under Address you will see the link Add to Address Book, if you are already logged in as a Yahoo user, all the info is added to your address book with one click.

It's great! (or was great)

But now it's become useless, you can only access those address book entries directly from Yahoo. It's no longer available in the Sync applications or the Export. They have blocked it. Now you are back to manually punching the entries into your PDA or phone... what a waste


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Local Pizza
o Frozen Pizza 6%
o Coupon or special, give me CHEAP FOOD, pizza pizza 6%
o Anyone who delivers 20%
o No chain pizza for me, but they have to deliver 12%
o I'll go pick it up to get a better pizza 24%
o I'll go so far I need to eat the pizza there 8%
o I order mine FEDEX from NYC or Chicago 9%
o I don't eat real Pizza, only healthy stuff 10%

Votes: 73
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o Yahoo
o Yahoo Address Book
o Yahoo Yellow Pages
o Register.c om
o Yahoo! Maps
o Find Nearby Services / Nearby Businesses
o Pizza
o Villa Pizza
o Add to Address Book
o Also by jbridges

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Yahoo cuts a useful sync service | 24 comments (21 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Shame, but... (3.00 / 2) (#1)
by Speare on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 05:59:32 PM EST

Data on that scale takes money to manage. And if you're not driving the service with advertising or subscriptions, then you're probably going to cut your losses at some point.

Your examples highlight a couple things that this kind of service faces:

  • When, exactly, do I want the ADDRESS, PROXIMITY or PHONE of the Kuro5hin offices? It's a website. I'll probably favor email or browser to phone, especially since I'm at the keyboard when I think about a website.
  • For those things that I do care about, it's a battle between not-enough and too-much. I don't want to choose twenty or thirty individual entries that will stay in synch (how often does Spanky's Pizza change numbers?), and even some small zip/postal code areas have too many pizza places to choose from.
  • Lastly, if I care about a phone number enough to carry it around with me, I'll probably just enter it into my desktop PIM and synch it to my PDA or phone. Which is what everyone else does.

[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
I'll probably just enter it into.... (4.66 / 3) (#2)
by jbridges on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 06:09:36 PM EST

I think you missed the point entirely.

I don't want to type in the phone number and address for 20 or 30 local businesses into my PDA or Phone. Up until recently, I didn't have to because Yahoo provided this service.

The Yahoo Yellow Pages allows you to quickly add all the business around an address (often your home or work office, I gave the Kuro5hin office address as an example) to your Yahoo address book.

You can still add those addresses, but Yahoo will not longer allow them to sync to outside devices. So they have made it useless unless you are sitting in front of a live internet connection.

As for "ALL" the local pizza places, it doesn't add all them to your address book, only the ones you specificly select. So for instance I have 4 pizza places in my phone, 3 chinese places, 2 tire shops, a couple hardware stores, a gas station, and a few other places I frequent. When I travel I do the same for the place I'm visiting.

I don't walk around with a live internet connection, I just found the yellow pages feature on Yahoo a great way to quickly add entries to my Yahoo address book. Now they've destroyed that feature, and I'm looking for an alternative to Yahoo for my online address book since they've locked up 1/3rd of my entries.

[ Parent ]
no, I got that... (3.00 / 2) (#3)
by Speare on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 06:14:42 PM EST

No, as I said, it's a battle between too much and not enough.

If I just care about three phone numbers, it's not a big deal to enter it into a phone, pda or pim.

If I want all the numbers of all the businesses in my neighborhood, it's going to exceed my phone's abilities. Even a 500 number memory phone is going to have serious issues trying to behave like a phone book when I'm on the road.

My zip code has about 300 businesses. I really don't care about 99% of them. One number for pizza, one for a video rental place, and one for a taxi service that's not even based IN my zip code. If the sync "proximity" is bigger than a zip code, the chaff ratio goes up.

[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
[ Parent ]
You don't have to enter "pizza" (5.00 / 2) (#5)
by jbridges on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 06:22:45 PM EST

You can enter "Nick's" or "Home Depot" or "Midas" or whatever.

I found it a quick way to add all the local business I use to my address book, and POOF like magic those numbers are in my mobile phone next time I sync.

Does anyone keep 500 numbers in their phone? No, I have about 80 numbers, but that goes up and down as I travel.

The whole point is, they had a nice service, it worked well. Now they have crippled the Yahoo Address book by preventing Syncing or export of addresses you added using the Yahoo Yellow Pages (which was an extremely easy way to find and add businesses to your Yahoo address book).

Of course I can manually lookup each business and manually enter them into the address book. You seem to be arguing that it's easier to do that than use the Yahoo Yellow Pages to do the same task?

Or are you arguing that it's not such a big loss because you would never use that feature because you only keep 2 or 3 business numbers in your phone, and don't care about addresses?

[ Parent ]
Article raises an interesting point (4.83 / 6) (#6)
by Carnage4Life on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 07:05:27 PM EST

In the cafeteria recently, a few of the other interns and I were musing on the fact that unlike the other dotcomms of its era eBay was a business from Day One while other companies gave away valuable services in order to accumulate worthless "eyeballs".

Yahoo has a number of services that must be expensive to maintain and code yet gave them away for free. I'd have gladly paid for
  1. The ability to sync my Palm with my Yahoo Address book and Yahoo Calendar.

  2. The ability to get driving directions to and from any location in the United States of America.

  3. The ability to find businesses near my physical location in the United States.
Instead Yahoo gave them away and now is stuck with these expensive services that people have grown to expect should be free and will probably cut them all off slowly instead of investigating alternate revenue streams.

Is Yahoo prepared to make it a pay Service? (4.00 / 1) (#7)
by jbridges on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 07:16:04 PM EST

I dug around, and couldn't find any kind of enhanced address book, or other pay service that would re-enable this "locked export" limit they've put in.

They already have some enhanced (for pay) versions of their other services like Email.

I suspect the problem is the source of the Yellow Pages data may be putting this restriction onto Yahoo. Much like record companies putting all sorts of copy restrictions on any kind of digital encoded music, you get the same sort of thing on Yahoo where you cannot use any of the export of sync features to "steal" the Yellow Pages data.

It's all kind of silly, since a dedicated yellow pages pirate could just write some scripts to get the data off the print address book feature... Much like the sillyness of the digital music protection (where you can use a replacement sound driver that writes a WAV file directly to disk for anything played).

[ Parent ]
Interestingly enough... (4.50 / 2) (#15)
by slaytanic killer on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 07:36:03 AM EST

Dave Winer had an article on the subject. A tip for Yahoo.

[ Parent ]
Actually, ebay used to be free. (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by vectro on Tue Jun 26, 2001 at 12:51:05 PM EST

Originally eBay was a company that offered a variety of services, all for free. One of them was called AuctionWeb - an online auction service.

Eventually AuctionWeb became very popular, so that eBay dropped the other services and focused solely on AuctionWeb. Then when AuctionWeb couldn't scale high enough, they rewrote it from scratch and called the new service eBay.

I don't remember exactly when they started charging, but it was when AuctionWeb was still around.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
My Solution (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by LukeyBoy on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 07:41:00 PM EST

While this sounds cool and all, I use a BlackBerry RIM (yet another PDA). I can browse the web and hit almost all the pages out there with no problem... And I'm always going to address/location sites to find directions and what not of places I have to be. I can even check my POP3 and web-based mail with no hitches. It's a great little toy, but the monthly cost is about 30 bones. You may wanna look into it.

Blackberry in your phone? (4.00 / 1) (#9)
by jbridges on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 08:17:51 PM EST

My PDA was a REX, and it cracked, I haven't replaced it yet.

Where I really enjoy the Yahoo Yellow Pages is adding numbers to my phone.

For instance I would never manually enter the number for the local 24hour Sav-On pharmacy. But with YYP it's added with a couple clicks.

Plus... I find it hard to believe that browsing web pages is practical to get a single phone number... it's got to be slow, and requires way too much interaction. I can handle dialing from my phone's memory while driving, I'm certain I couldn't browse the web.

[ Parent ]
Well... (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by LukeyBoy on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 09:11:39 PM EST

It takes a little getting used to, but data entry and performing queries on devices like the RIM get fairly easy (especially with the QWERTY keys). And it also has an address book and calendar that use standard IntelliSync software to keep it up to date with Outlook or whatever PIM software you fancy.

I also use my WAP-enabled phone to get phone numbers/directions. The phone sucks for entering info, but it pulls up a nice list of locations I can select from and call with the push of a button, and that is pretty sweet - I use it over 411 every time.

[ Parent ]
You had me till you said you use WAP.... (3.50 / 2) (#13)
by jbridges on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 02:24:31 AM EST

I've tried WAP on a couple phones, it's beyond painful. Everything takes 30 seconds or longer to respond, the display is awful, one word on a line?!

I'll stick with the dedicated phone book app built into the phone.

[ Parent ]
which sync service? (3.50 / 2) (#10)
by haakon on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 08:47:19 PM EST

Yahoo uses / used 3rd party software to allow you to sync to your PDA. The first one they used was Truesync by Starfish Software. Yahoo then added Intellisync by Puma.

Intellisync is the software I use and it was still working 5 minutes ago.

Which one are you using?

Add new entry with Yahoo Yellow Pages, then sync (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by jbridges on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 02:30:03 AM EST

Old addresses remain (since you already synced them).

When you add a new entry from the Yahoo Yellow Pages it has a special symbol next to it in the address book (which you can click on to go to the original yellow page entry).

I tried with the Export (which now has a message saying it will not export yellow pages entries), and with StarFish TrueSync, and the other Sync program.

[ Parent ]
You can still sync your data online... (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by kuru42 on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 11:25:34 PM EST

Well, I am sorry to see that I can no longer use Yahoo to sync with my Visor. I do however use @Home and guess I can move my addresses over to the excite servers. They seem to still support the Starfish product (although I will need to download another version of TrueSync to support Excite). I am not sure if this can be used on Excite by people who do not subscribe to @Home.

Yes you used to be able to sync YP entries (none / 0) (#21)
by jbridges on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 07:58:14 PM EST


Do you want the old CSV from Yahoo or an export of my Outlook data?

I've demoed this feature for several people who bought PDAs as a great way to quickly add local business contact info to their PDA. It works even with noname cheap PDAs (like Royal) with no Yahoo support because everyone can sync with Outlook. So you just sync Yahoo with Outlook, and then Outlook with the PDA.

Take my word for it, it's worked for a long time, and only recently changed. I don't know the exact date it changed. I discovered it when I noticed a new "Yellow Pages" icon next to a recent addition to my address book, and then found that item was missing from the Export CSV file, and would not sync.

I then removed all my old local business entries, and re-added them so they all had the Yellow Pages icon. Now NONE of them will export or sync.

[ Parent ]
You CAN still sync your own data. (none / 0) (#19)
by raygundan on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 06:11:32 PM EST

It's a few hours after this article was posted, and I can still sync my data from my yahoo account to my cell phone (among other things). I even tried adding new entries to the yahoo address book manually and syncing them, and everything worked exactly like it did for me before. I've never messed around with the "yellow pages" funcitonality that the author mentions, but you can still sync your data with your yahoo address book. The title of the article is a bit misleading, and should be clarified. This article had me pretty worried-- it's a very handy service, even if (like me) your yahoo account isn't your primary place to store stuff. It's extremely convenient to have all your stuff on the web for when you aren't carrying all your electronic widgets and want to look something up. If anyone knows of another service with email, address book, and calendar on the web with sync capability (and possibly encryption) please post!

Try the Yellow Pages, it's a nice feature (none / 0) (#20)
by jbridges on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 07:40:17 PM EST

It's really quite useful.

Even without the add to address book feature, I use it instead of 411 or a phone book.

For instance I found a local roofing contracter, someone just a couple blocks away who put in some vents for me. He had no idea he was listed on Yahoo, was thrilled when I showed him.

Also great for finding places you don't know the name of or the address. For instance a new Italian place opened up nearby. I don't know the name, but I just put in italian, and had it instantly. Same with a local used book store.

[ Parent ]
truesync still works (none / 0) (#24)
by rehan on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 12:33:50 AM EST

If you're talking about truesync, I thought it was broken too. However, after endless searching through the truesync support DB, I found out that it still works, you just have to try it twice in a row. It gives a "DNS" error the first time. You can only try it twice through the truesync app though, not the outlook plugin.

Interesting that yahoo supports Intellisync too now. Has anybody used both? Is it worth switching from truesync?

Stay Frosty and Alert

Yahoo cuts a useful sync service | 24 comments (21 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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