FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2001


THE DOC IS IN...

Search engine is a big 'computer in the sky'

In the last column we talked a little bit about search engines on the World Wide Web. I would like to expand on this because I still marvel at their power.

It is estimated that there are between 1.5 and 2 billion individual Web pages on the Internet. Admittedly many of these belong to individuals and contain little information of general interest. However, more and more interesting items are being put on the Web every day. Finding specific items of interest can be a daunting task. Search engines make this task manageable.

A search engine is nothing more than a big computer in the sky that works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, going out to individual Web pages and indexing their content.

As individuals, we access these search engines by going to their location on the World Wide Web. We find Google at www.google.com and Hotbot at www.hotbot.com. They simply are Web sites. We use them free of charge because, like everything else on the Web, they contain advertising.

There are many free search engines available to us. Google and Hotbot are two of the more popular sites that probably we read about in newspapers or magazines. Not surprisingly, to find other search engines, go to Google and enter the words "search engine list" (without the quotation marks). Some of the search results list hundreds of search engines.

Search engines really are the roadmap to the Internet. Not only do they search the whole Web, but many of them also will search the newsgroups for specific information.

If you want to have some fun with these engines, try entering your own name and see if you are on the Web. First try entering your name without quotation marks. In my case, the results I get will include pages with the names Arthur and Holub. There are lots of these. Next, enter your name with quotation marks, i.e., "Arthur Holub." Now you only will get results that show these two words together.

Using quotation marks is one of the many special search techniques that search engines use. Some of these techniques allow very sophisticated searches. To see how they work, click on "Advanced Search" in Google or look on the left side of the page on Hotbot. If you are looking for very specific information, these rules can be very helpful.

So far we have talked about using a single search engine. Sometimes it is possible to get better results using a variety of search engines. Special computer programs called "meta" search engines are available that allow you to search many search engines at the same time. One that I use is called "Copernic 2001" that I downloaded for free from the Web site www.copernic.com. Another popular meta engine is at www.dogpile.com. Try these and see if you like the results.

Someone mentioned another fun site at www.howstuffworks.com. This is not quite a search engine but is very interesting.

By the way, Phyllis brought in a newspaper clipping advertising the eBay University which is going to be at the Newport Marriott this weekend, April 21-22. If you are serious or just curious about buying or selling on eBay, the sessions look very interesting. More details can be found on www.ebay.com/university.

If you have further questions about search engines, or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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