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Improve your odds of finding what you want on the Web

July 28, 1996


Do you find too often that WWW means World-Wide Wait when you're surfing the Internet?

Using search engines can make your searching more productive, but there are differences between them.

For example, some search engines are actually directories; others have automated web robots that automatically index Web pages. Which one you use and how you use it can mean the difference between wandering through endless lists of hot links, or finding just what you are looking for.

NARROWING THE SEARCH. All search engines have provisions for narrowing your search. Some offer what's known as ``Boolean'' searches (using ``and'' and ``or'' to connect words or phrases), others just ask you to type in the word or words that best describe the topic you're searching for.

Its best to remember that a search engine is only as effective as the person using it; there are ways to narrow searches, though each one may do so by different means. Fortunately, all search engines have detailed instructions if you want to improve the effectiveness of your searches.

Not all search engines are the same. Some are actual indexes of pages that have been automatically searched and recorded on the Web. Others are better described as directories -- not as encompassing (meaning a search won't produce as many ``hits'') but they provide more detail of the sites they have recorded.

Search engines like AltaVista and Webcrawler are powerful tools that continuously index Web pages and add them to the site. But a search on these often results in thousands of matches unless you properly narrow your search criteria.

Yahoo!, Lycos and InfoSeek are directories that offer a description of the site that it matches to your search. I find these are often the best starting point for most any search.

To try out these search engines point your browser to:

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN'. Alliances apparently are the key to survival in the rapidly changing world of the Web.

Now AT&T has announced an alliance with Microsoft that would jointly distribute Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser software and AT&T's WorldNet Internet service beginning later this year.

AT&T's WorldNet will be included with new versions of Windows95 -- alongside software for CompuServe, America Online and Microsoft's own Microsoft Network. And AT&T will make Microsoft's Internet Explorer the Web browser of choice that it distributes to its customers (AT&T customers will have a choice between Explorer and Netscape's Navigator browsers).

GOLF ANYONE? If you enjoy taking walks that are often spoiled by a little white ball, you may want to check out Titlest's new Web site. The site has a complete catalog of products to improve your golf game (or at least improve the looks of your golf game if you count their accessories).

The neatest part for most techies may be the Evolution of the Golf Ball section, including a technology section that details what makes a golf ball fly. There's even an interactive section that helps you select the right Titlest golf ball for you.

Point your browser to http://www.titlest.com.

FLIGHT 800. A discussion list about the recent TWA Flight 800 disaster was created recently. To join the mailing list, or just browse through the discussion, point your browser to http://www.lsoft.com/flight-800.html.

ANOTHER SOAP. Add another on-line soap to the list I covered in last week's column. Microsoft launced its new ``914'' cyberdrama this week. ``914'' is based on the struggles of St. Anselm's, a small private school located in a fictional town in New York.

To check out ``914,'' point your browser to http://914.msn.com/

WEB SITE OF THE WEEK. If the name Duncan means anything to you, then you owe it to yourself to check out my pick of the week. Call it nostalgia, but one of the neatest Web sites I've bookmarked recently (and returned to again) is Jon's Yo-Yo Kingdom.

Now I've never been a virtuoso when it comes to these stringed toys, though I'll admit I've seldom been without one tucked away in a desk drawer somewhere handy for a litte, er, fling.

And Jon's Yo-Yo Kingdom recalls the days of when yo-yos were really the toy of choice for most boys. Jon's site is packed with not just lots of tricks to master, but links to every cool yo-yo site on the Web.

Yo-yo's have remained popular through the years, as evidenced by the fact you'll always find them in toy aisles of every department store (and I usually buy another for myself when Christmas shopping).

Jon's Yo-Yo Kingdom claims to have the largest list of yo-yo links on the Web -- and with the extensive list I saw, he's probably correct. He's even gone to the trouble to rate each site.

But better yet, the site includes a long list of how-to's for numerous yo-yo tricks.

Search your dresser drawer, dig out that Duncan Butterfly yo-yo, and point your browser to http://www.li.net/~autorent/yo-yo.htm

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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