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Next-generation search engines speed your search for information

June 9, 1996


Search engines, the must-have tools for finding what you want on the ever-expanding Internet, are finding new competition these days.

One of the best-known search engines is Yahoo!, but there are plenty of others, and more coming online all the time.

During a search, Yahoo! gives a summary of each Web site it has matched to your keyword(s). Though it won't give you every occurrence of, for example, the word ``cyberspace,'' the results Yahoo! provides are usually relevant to whatever topic you're looking for.

And even if your search doesn't find what you are looking for, Yahoo! gives you the option of automatically hopping to another search engine.

And the search engine that has online folks abuzz is Digital's AltaVista. With virtually millions of Web pages indexed, it performs very thorough searches with surprising speed.

While the information gathered in a search isn't summarized, the listings are ranked in order of relevance, making it a bit easier to weed out the ones you don't want.

AltaVista's impressive capacity and speed didn't go unnoticed. It has received a number of industry; this week, Yahoo! announced that it will soon be adding the search engine to its lineup on its World Wide Web site.

SPEAKING OF SEARCH ENGINES. The folks who create Wired magazine also have an on-line magazine -- known on the Net as a 'zine -- called HotWired.

The HotWired site is a very popular one and like the printed magazine, is pretty much cutting-edge material. Check it out at http://www.hotwired.com/

But they HotWired folks haven't stopped with a great 'zine, they've created a super-duper search engine they're calling a ``personal robot for searching the Internet's World-Wide Web.''

HotBot is the product, and hot it is. It claims more than 50 million Web pages are already indexed (beating AltaVista by 20 million).

The interface looks very slick, though be prepared to wait for it to load. Even at 28.8k, the HotBot home page seemed to take a very l-o-o-o-o-ng time to fill my screen. In fact, I already had my search topic in the type-in window well before the graphics finished loading.

But make no mistake about it, HotBot generated more "hits" than you could possibly visit during one surfing session.

STORMY WEATHER. It'll soon be hurricane season for those folks in states south of us, where many of us have friends or family living or vacationing.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a Web site devoted to tracking hurricanes and serves as a repository for storm data and information.

While there isn't much information there now, you'll definitely want to bookmark it for use later this summer. Point your browser to http://www.fema.gov/fema/trop.html

WE'RE NUMBER TWO. AT&T's entry into the Internet Service Provider business in late February caught many folks by surprise when they offered five hours free for its long-distance customers as a promotion.

And it was an effective promotion -- AT&T says they've received nearly 600,000 requests for its software since it announced its WorldNet Service on Feb. 27.

And the company has signed up more than 150,000 subscribers since then, making it the second-largest pure Internet provider. In fact, the company was caught off-guard by the avalanche of requests, creating delays in sending its software packages to potential subscribers, with waiting times now of roughly three weeks

Netcom Online Communications Inc. holds the top spot with 400,000 subscribers in the U.S.

ALICE IN CHAINS. If you're an alternative music fan, you've probably heard of the band Alice In Chains.

The band's new Web site, Dog's Breath, has been getting rave reviews -- but be prepared to wait, this site uses some pretty heavy-duty graphics.

Dog's Breath is deep in content, complete with an Alice In Chains trivia contest (I failed miserably); up-to-date information on the band, and even movies of the band in action.

CABLE COMPETITION? A new study by the San Jose-based company Dataquest Inc. predicts 1 million cable Internet modems will be sold by 2000. However its too early to predict if they will become the de facto standard method for accessing the Internet.

The phone companies are experimenting with new transmission methods that could provide consumers with ultra-fast Internet access over the existing copper wiring in your home.

The technology, Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, uses digital signal processing to filter out unwanted noise on existing phone lines, making it possible for extremely fast communications.

Like cable modems, ADSL isn't quite here yet, and with other technologies under development, the phone companies will first need to agree on a standard before there's any wide-scale sales.

So for now, Web users will continue to do what they do while visiting a graphics-intensive site -- wait.

NEW ON LINE. E-town Auto Auction is now on the Web. Larry Holthouser and crew have created an informative site about their business,

You'll find a list of recently sold vehicles, photos of vehicles for sale on their retail sales lot, and details on how you can buy or sell a car at one of their auctions.

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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