Computer Info You Can Live With January 28, 2002


Harness The Power of The Internet


Becoming a good detective!


here is very little that cannot be found on the Internet.  This vast organism that we call “The Net” contains millions of pages of information.  The question is, “How do you find the information you seek in a reasonable amount of time?” 


Fortunately, we have tools available at our fingertips called “search engines.”  Still, I get questions from clients and friends all the time regarding information they can’t find using a search engine.  After 11 years online, I’ve managed to acquire some useful tips on how to use a search engine to find what you want in a timely fashion.  Whether you’re an online pro yourself or a “newbie,” I think you may find something of value here.  So, please take a few moments and read through the tips I have listed and then put some of these ideas into practice.  I’m betting you’ll be searching more successfully in the future.


Tip #1  Don’t depend on just one search engine!  I have 10 search engines listed in my bookmarks (favorites) that are of a general nature.  Sites such as AltaVista, AOL, I-Won, Netscape and Yahoo are included. (At the end of this Newsletter you’ll find all my general search engines listed for your use.)  If you can’t find what you want in one search engine, try another!


Tip #2  Don’t limit yourself to just general search engines.  There are more specific search engines available depending on the subject matter.  For instance, if I want to find out something about a US Supreme Court decision handed down prior to 1975, I use the Flite search engine found here:  and not a general topic engine like MSN.


Tip #3  Learn the rules for whatever search engine you are using. Almost every search engine has procedures for making your search more accurate. As an example, most search engines have rules about the use of words like “and,” “or” and “not.” These rules are usually found under the Help topic beside the search window. Look at the AOL search window and you’ll see what I mean

Let’s say you wanted to search for information on First Lady Laura Bush but didn’t want to get all the sites that would be found involving President George Bush. In the search window you would type “Laura Bush” not “George Bush” with the quotes.    Knowing the rules for a search engine can save you hours of time when searching. Let me offer you one word of caution, however. These rules are not perfect but they will certainly cut down on the number of incorrect sites returned in a search.


Tip #4  Make use of the Advanced Search option. In the image above from AOL, clicking on the “Options” menu item will allow you to search for sites that MUST or MUST NOT contain certain words. You can also search for an exact phrase.

Tip #5  Anticipate that almost every search on the Internet will bring back some site containing pornography. It’s the nature of the beast. Rather than give up the searching that allows you to tap into the great resources of the Net, your best bet is to ignore such sites. Oh, I know what you are asking. How can you search for something innocent such as “Yolanda Drake toy doll” and have porn sites appear? Let me explain. All web sites use something called “Meta tags.” These are tags that help search engines identify a site and the subject or subjects to which the site relates. However, webmasters are free to put into the Meta tags whatever keywords they choose. So, a porn site may have the word “toy” and/or the word “doll” as keywords. Thus, the search engine will find these porn sites even though you are merely looking for a Yolanda Drake toy doll.

Tip #6  Use a variety of phrases or search words if your first attempt wasn’t successful. Let’s say you wanted to find out something about the origin of the word “quiz.” Suppose in your first attempt you entered “quiz origin” into the I-Won search engine. If you used quotation marks with the phrase, you’d get NO websites found. If you entered the two words without the quotes, you get 30,693 sites found. Think you could have those all checked out before next week’s Newsletter? LOL Instead, try another approach. Enter the words “origin of the word quiz” – with the quotation marks. This time, I-Won will return just two websites. The first site tells the Irish story of the origin of the word “quiz.”

Tip #7  Don’t be afraid to use bookmarks (i.e. favorites). (Next week’s Newsletter will focus on how to save and categorize your favorites so they can save you time when you need them.) Often, when you use a general search engine, like Yahoo, your search results will include a site that has a more specific search engine. Be sure to mark that website as a favorite so that next time you can go right there instead of the general search engine.

Tip #8  Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. In many cases, you can get more in-depth information on a subject on the Net than anywhere else. Don’t give up if you can’t find what you want right away. The more you use and experiment with search engines, the faster and more productive your searches will be.

Things That Crossed My Desk

Item #1.  One of my good friends sent me an inquiry about an e-mail that claimed the US Postal service is going to charge for e-mails.  He wanted to know if there was any truth to the e-mail.  It is a hoax and you can read all about it here:

Item #2.  (Actually from the week before but didn’t get it into last week’s Newsletter)  A client wanted to know how to remove a specific cookie from their computer without removing all of them.  You can find the answer on one of my “How2” pages.

Item #3. A virus alert - "myparty" Be VERY careful. This virus comes as an attachment but LOOKS like a web page. If you click on it, your computer will be infected by the virus. As a reminder, please make sure your virus protection DAT files are up to date! Read all about this virus here:

Well, that’s about it for this week.  Here are the search engines I promised you!


General Search Engines


Some Specific Search Engines

This page updated January 21, 2005
©2005 Keystone Keyboard