Become A Skilled Internet Searcher

You can buy almost anything or learn almost anything from the Internet. Would you like to get really good at doing this? If yes, then read on. It is easy and it is fun.

Communication on the Internet world-wide-web (www) is done with a language called HTML. A software program called a browser converts HTML to text and images, all properly sized, typeset, colored, bordered, and placed, for the computer’s video display. Your computer operating system came with a browser: Internet Explorer (IE) for Microsoft, Safari for Apple. (Actually, Safari and IE are available for both MAC and PC.) Other popular browsers include Firefox (Mozilla.com), Chrome (Google.com), Avant (avantbrowser.com), and Opera (Opera.com). The author is partial to Google’s Chrome browser. It is fast and uses less computer resource, thus leaving more computer resource for the user’s actual problems.

The Internet contains far more material than the largest library in the history of mankind. The challenge is to find what you seek from this immense cornucopia of online data. It is neither practical nor possible to search hundreds-of-thousands or even millions of documents manually, so we call upon a search engine (SE) to search for us. For our very first search, we will use Google, the most used SE, to search for more SE’s. We make a search happen by feeding a search string (SS) to a search engine (SE). Google is the chosen SE (automatic with Chrome; other browsers offer a drop down list to pick the SE). Our search string is [search engines]. The square brackets are for you, the reader; the SE neither requires nor notices them. Google returns the results and tells us it has found about 247 million documents which contain the words [search] and [engines]. Note that the SE assumes you want things with ALL of the SS words in them.

Do not talk to your SE. They do not speak English nor any other human language. They only match words in the SS with words in the document. Full matches with words that are prominent in the document get listed first. Less prominent matches and partial matches come later. The SE may use quality parameters to rank its output list. There will be an elongated text box at the top of the browser page, center for Chrome, right side for most browsers, to enter the SS. Type in [search engines] and hit enter or mouse the word search or a search symbol (such as a magnifying glass). SE’s generally ignore capitalization and singular versus plural; sometimes ignore articles (the, a, an), and other connective words, prepositions, etc., but we will also find exceptions.

The fourth item in our search return is “Comprehensive list of Search Engines – The Search Engine List”. We click on it and wow, are there ever a lot of search engines. We are at the site [www.thesearchenginelist.com]. Some of these search engines are general purpose and some are specialized. The far left column tells us the category. If your target is narrow, such as financial, find a specialized SE. If your target is general, use an all-purpose SE.

The term search engine, which we have shortened to SE, covers the entire search process from the software robots that crawl the web to make up the amazing indexes which feed our searches, to the servers which receive our SS, find the correct indices, and shoot us the results.

Staying with Chrome and Google, we enter [who]. The first item returned is “World Health Organization”. Google is good at recognizing acronyms and initial sets. Now if we enter [the who], the first return will be, the rock band site. Google is also good at recognizing social and cultural names, and it paid attention to the word “the”.

Suppose we want to find some edibles, so we try [candy]. Candy is very broad. After some thought, we change this to [chocolate candy]. This tells the SE to look for sites which mention both chocolate AND Candy. SE’s assume that all words are connected with AND. We decide we would also like toffee, so we need an OR. The SS becomes [(chocolate OR toffee) candy]. The OR must be in caps with a space before and after, and the parentheses ( ) makes clear to the SE what we are OR-ing. We decide that we would like to get rid of gifts, recipes, and places to shop, so the SS becomes [(chocolate OR toffee) candy -gifts -recipes -places]. The minus, which is a hyphen with a space in front of it, to assure the SE that we are not creating a hyphenated word, says to the SE, give me nothing with this in it.A