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Search engines, St. Nick on the Internet

Dec. 17, 1995


My first time on the Internet was in the fall of 1990. I was taking a computer class at Western Kentucky University, and each class member had an account on the school's VAX mainframe computer system.

My attraction to the Internet was then and is now simply this: information. But at that time, I was faced with a problem that I had no real answer to: I'm surfing, but where can I find information on what I'm looking for?

I poked around the Internet, but never found the all-important cyberspace roadmap. Lost in cyberspace.

The time spent exploring wasn't unpleasant Ï I had plenty of time, but it was frustrating. Much has change since then.

The rapid growth of the Internet (and the Web in particular) has spurred the creation of a number of on-line indexes of the contents of the World-Wide Web. These Web catalogs are called search engines, and several are currently available.

With most of the search engines, it's simply a case of entering in the topic Ï the word or words Ï you want to search for. After entering the information, the search engine looks over its database, and will respond with links to the World-Wide Web sites that match.

YAHOO! This search engine is a favorite of mine. It is fast and unlike other search engines, it provides a description of the type of information found on that particular Web site.

WEBCRAWLER. This Internet search tool will seek out matches to any word or phrase entered. It usually gives more matches than Yahoo!, but offers no description of what the site is.

This lack of a description matters when you come up with hundreds of matches. Fortunately, WebCrawler also ``weighs'' the matches, ranking them on a scale of 100 as to how closely they match the search parameter.

LYCOS. Created in 1995, Lycos searches its database for matches to key words entered by the user. Lycos also scores matches on their probable relevancy to your search.

Other search engines are available, and links to them can usually be found at the Web pages listed above.

Don't hesitate to try searching more than one, especially if you want to be sure of finding the greatest number of matches to your query. Getting your computer on line isn't any fun if you are unable to find what you are looking for.

CYBER SANTA. Twinkling lights, glistening tinsel, bright red ribbons and colorful bows are all parts of the Christmas season. And don't think for a minute the holidays have gone ignored on the World-Wide Web.

The Dear Santa Claus home page lets you send St. Nick e-mail. Select your age Ï ``over 21 but still a kid at heart'' for me Ï and you get a spot for your wish list (and plenty of room for wishes).

Santa's Workshop offers a nicely done site, complete with a look at his elves at work in the workshop, a view of his snow-covered church and a North Pole weather station.

The North Pole is a French-Canadian Web site dedicated to Santa's traditions with a Canadian flair.

On line you can reach classic holiday poems and listen to French-Canadian Christmas songs. This site is also quasi-educational. A stop in Rudolph's Kitchen offers a look at the lichen he uses for his favorite treat, ``Algae Newtons.''

NCAA BASKETBALL. If it's December in Kentucky, then it's the middle of the NCAA basketball season. The World-Wide Web has a vast number of sites devoted to the sport, as well as home pages created by colleges about their own teams.

· The University of Louisville has a home page devoted to the U of L Cardinals.

The page offers pictures of the team, box scores, a schedule, and notes about what is happening inside the program.

· Not to be outdone, the University of Kentucky Wildcats are a popular topic on the UK Alumni Association's Web page.

The group's Wildcat page covers all collegiate sports at UK, including baseball, gymnastics, soccer and rifle.

· A Web page that is getting a good deal of attention is the Dream Game home page.

Backed by a list of sponsors that include The Courier-Journal, WAVE-TV, and the Louisville Area Chamber of Commerce, Dream Game 1995 offers comprehensive stats on both teams, biographies, and the history of previous UK/U of L encounters.

Visitors to the page may e-mail questions about the teams to C-J columnists Pat Forde and Rick Bozich, as well as WAVE-TV's Bob Domine. The site also provides an opportunity to guess the final score and win a 25-inch color television.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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