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Tweaking Tools from Google Fans

The WSJ has compiled a list of tools created by Google fans and critics that add features or remove ads. Google Logos and Google Mirror are missing from the writeup but they are another great innovations from Googe Fans.

The services were developed not by the search giant's engineers but by enterprising Web users with a bit of programming moxie. Many are hobbyists who design the tools for fun, then realize others might find them handy and give them away. Some are companies looking to make a buck by riding on Google's coattails. Still others are critics trying to draw traffic from the search giant's site. Officially, Google frowns on the services, but it rarely goes after the people behind them.

Marcos Weskamp created a graphical interface for Google News as a way to see how much attention is given to individual stories. A headline that has appeared in several publications is represented by a large box, while a story that is less widely covered shows up as a smaller square. The boxes are grouped by color into categories like business and entertainment.

Meanwhile, Paul Rademacher designed a site that combines listings on classified site Craigslist.org with generated maps. When the tool was completed, he posted it on a Web site, and wrote a note on Craigslist inviting people to test it. A week later, Google's official blog praised the site. It "had our engineers saying 'wow,' " the entry read.

A site called Scroogle strips advertisements from Google search results, while Butler gets rid of ads and adds links to other search sites. Another site called GoogSpy lets marketers track which search terms their competitors are bidding on. All are free.

A site called Google Fight invites users to enter two search terms. The winner is the one with the most results. Gizoogle, which appeared this year, delivers search results in the slang of rap artist Snoop Dogg.