IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO)  have partnered to provide a search engine for small businesses.

Using Yahoo's search interface, the engine works within in a business' internal network in order to give small and midsize businesses fast and easy access to their own information.

The engine can be used to search within the company's network, including databases and data-management systems, but also to search the regular Internet.

The service stands as a direct challenge to enterprise search software sold by Google and similar products offered by Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP.

Launched Dec. 13, the basic search engine is free, but IBM plans to charge for advanced-search tools.

Personalized Gift Cards

With holiday season in full swing, MasterCard Worldwide (NYSE:MA)  has unveiled a new online service that allows small businesses to personalize gift cards with their company logos.

Introduced Dec. 12 at, the gift cards can also be customized to include the recipient's name and an embossed message, and are available in any denomination from $10 to $500.

"We know that small-business owners are always looking for creative ways to positively showcase their business," Bruno Perreault, the head of MasterCard's Global Small Business and Mid-Sized Enterprises group, said in a statement. The gift cards are a "direct and easy way" to do that, he said.

According to MasterCard's research, 75 percent of small businesses are interested in having their company logo on a card.

Save Energy -- The James Bond Way

BioMETRX, a Jericho, N.Y.-based research-and-development firm, has announced plans for a new finger-activated programmable thermostat, designed for smaller retailers and restaurants.

The smartSTAT Thermostat will prevent unauthorized access to temperature settings.

In a time of rising energy bills, the product is designed specifically to address the problem of tenants or restaurant and store employees turning the heat too high or the air-conditioner too low.

Fully programmable and Energy Star compliant, the product allows an owner or manager to authorize up to 20 users to change the temperature settings.

Available next Memorial Day, the suggested retail price will be $229. By contrast, converting a company's HVAC system into a centrally controlled computerized system can cost thousands of dollars.