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This week in Google

Search giant Google is turning up the heat on its rivals--as well as taking some heat itself.

Search giant Google is turning up the heat on its rivals--as well as taking some heat itself.

In a move that could put Google in competition with eBay, the search giant is testing a new service that would allow people to post and make searchable any type of content. A screenshot of a page for "Google Base" gives examples of items that can be posted to Google's server: "description of your party planning service," "articles on current events from your Web site," "listing of your used car for sale," and "database of protein structures."

"This is an early stage test of a product that enables content owners to easily send their content to Google," a Google spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail. "Like our Web crawl and the recently released Google Sitemaps program, we are working to provide content owners an easy way to give us access to their content. We're continually exploring new opportunities to expand our offerings, but we don't have anything to announce at this time."

Google also launched a search tool that lets people quickly get to airline flight information. Users can type in two different cities, or airport codes, in the Google search box to bring up two boxes for entering departing and returning flight dates. Below those are links to the travel Web sites Expedia, Hotwire and Orbitz. Clicking on one of those links leads directly to flight options for your selected itinerary on that site.

The move comes one day after Yahoo debuted its new Trip Planner beta, which allows people to create, share and print personalized trip itineraries. Travelers also will be able to share photos on Flickr, exchange information on message boards and read and submit ratings and reviews of hotels, restaurants and other travel-related activities and sources.

However, the search giant is getting some open-source competition on the book digitization front. Google was noticeably absent from a party held by the Internet Archive, when that nonprofit foundation and a parade of partners, including the Smithsonian Institution, Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN, rallied around a collective open-source initiative to digitize all the world's books and make them universally available. Some supporters of the Internet Archive, based in San Francisco, took the opportunity to criticize Google's high-profile project to scan library books and add them to its searchable index.