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Some of the lessons that Alan Pattinson, president of Pacific Websites, taught in 2001. We could teach you or your staff similar information in a classroom setting or one-on-one. Become more efficient with your computer!

How to Search the Internet     COPYRIGHT 2002 - 2008

written by Alan Pattinson
Review (Cheat Sheet)

New! How to eliminate side-to-side scrolling and other computer Tips

There is lots of information available on the Internet, but how do you find specifically what you are looking for? This short introduction will show you the basics of using Search Engines and Directories to find information. Efficiency and shortcuts are needed to sift through over a billion web sites. Overall, remember these three things:

  1. Be specific as possible
  2. Try not to get distracted
  3. It gets easier the more you use it!
What you need to know:
All Names mentioned on this page are followed by .com. (e.g. yahoo means www.yahoo.com)

WHAT ARE SEARCH ENGINES?

Search engines are huge databases of web page files that have been assembled automatically by machine. Each one has its own characteristics. There are two types:

Individual Search Engines compile their own databases. Examples: Altavista, Google, MSN Search, AskJeeves, and WebCrawler (simplest).

Metasearchers do not compile databases. Instead, they use the databases of many individual engines simultaneously. Examples are: MetaCrawler, Dogpile, Search, and Copernic (Canadian, requires free download, but worth it)

WHAT ARE DIRECTORIES?

Directories, unlike search engines, are created and maintained by human editors, not electronic spiders or robots. They tend to be smaller than search engine databases, typically indexing only the home page of a site. Their advantage is they give more rounded results than individual search engines. They may include a search engine for searching their own directory (or the web, if a directory search yields unsatisfactory results Examples: Yahoo, and Open Directory Project (Dmoz).

Today, the line between search engines and subject directories is blurring. Search engines no longer limit themselves to a search mechanism alone. Across the Web, they are partnering with subject directories, or creating their own directories, and returning results gathered from a variety of other guides and services as well.
Back to index at top

BOOLEAN SEARCHES

Use double quotation marks ("like this") around phrases. EXAMPLE: "Bye bye Miss American Pie" would probably find the song but not include pie recipes.

Use the plus (+) and minus (-) signs in front of words to include or exclude words in your search.
EXAMPLE: +anorexia –bulimia (NO space between the sign and the keyword)

 

www4.MyBC.com/white
  • Find a person’s phone number and address

MapQuest.com

  • Find a map for any address.

PRACTICES:

1. Find your own telephone number

2. Do a "reverse lookup" of your number

3. Find a map for where you live

MORE HINTS AND TIPS

To find exactly where on a page your word is, use the "Find" command on that page.

Example: Internet Explorer has Edit / Find (on this page)

PRACTICE:

Using the Find on your browser, look for any information about Comox on this page: http://www.boat-links.com/linklists/boatlink-19.html

How to eliminate side-to-side scrolling.
Problem: You have to use the scroll bar, left and right, to see a web page on your screen
Solution: Change your computer's Screen Area!

1. Minimize or close all open programs, so your screen shows only your Desktop (which usually has some icons on the left side)
2. Right click on a clear area on your desktop to open the Display Properties box.
3. Click on the tab marked "Settings"
4. In the "Screen Area" box, drag the slider so it shows 800 x 600, or try 1024 x 768. The larger the number, the more you will see on your screen, but the smaller the print will be.
5. Click OK, and OK again in the next window, and then "Yes" to "Do you want to keep this setting?"
6. Viola! Your new setting! If you don't like it, try moving the slider up or down again.


ANOTHER setting which goes hand in hand with this one is the "View/Font(Text)" setting:
Bigger print: Use the View / Text Size / Largest at the top of Internet Explorer

Translating: German, Spanish, French, etc. can be translated at: http://world.altavista.com/

AskJeeves: allows you to ask a question in plain everyday language. For example, you can type in

Where can I find information about the Comox Valley?

and Jeeves will give you a list of answers. You may still get better results using key words and phrases, though, even when using this "natural language" engine.

Use Lower Case: Enter your key words in lower case letters (unless you know the words will always be capitalized as with Comox Valley above). Engines will then look for the word in both upper and lower case. If you type the key word capitalized, the engine will look only for sites where the word is capitalized.  Back to index at top

Guessing URL’s

Sometimes you can guess the address (Universal Resource Locator, or URL) of a particular site. Most, but not all, business sites on the Web begin with www. and end in .com. The next step is to guess the domain name, for example, you could guess that the domain name for Coca-cola would be www.cocacola.com

Your browser should automatically put the http:// in for you, and most of the newer browsers even put the www. in for you.

PRACTICE:

What do you think would be a good guess for the web site for Telus? Microsoft? Esso?

Another method of guessing a company’s web site is "backing into" the URL.

If you find a page that has /folders/htm after the .com or .net in the URL, backspace on the address until you get to the root URL (that ends in .com or .net, etc.)

Of course, you can also look for a HOME link on that page.

 

Back to index at top

PRACTICE:

Do a search for Comox Valley Marine History on either Google or Dmoz.

When you find the Comox Valley Harbour Authority History page, on the URL address bar, backspace to take off the page7.html and you will be left with the root URL.

Click ENTER and you will go to that site’s home page.

Search Engine Resources:

Basic navigating the web: http://www.valleylinks.net/help/surf.html (link not working)
Tutorials: http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/tutorials.html
Reviews: http://www.kcpl.lib.mo.us/search/srchengines.htm
Top level domain names: .com commercial business site
.net networks, ISP’s, and others (loosely regulated)
.org U.S. non-profit organizations and others
.ca Canadian

Error Messages: 404 Not Found, etc. What do they mean? See the Valleylinks guide: http://www.valleylinks.net/help/error.html (link not working)

9 HOT SHORTCUTS Use
Back to previous site Backspace
Open a link in a new window Hold Shift when clicking on a link
Minimize or Open a window Click the program on task bar
Close a browser window Ctrl/F4
Change font size Hold Alt/V/X/L makes font bigger
Copy a highlighted area Ctrl/C
Paste a highlighted area Ctrl/V
Ignore an error message Esc
Finish entering a form, login Enter (rather than using your mouse)
Resize Your Desktop, or,

How to eliminate side-to-side scrolling.

      NEW!

Problem:
You have to use the scroll bar, left and right, to see a web page on your screen
Solution:
Change your computer's Screen Area!
1. Minimize or close all open programs, so your screen shows only your Desktop (which usually has some icons on the left side)
2. Right click on a clear area on your desktop to open the Display Properties box.
3. Click on the tab marked "Settings"
4. In the "Screen Area" box, drag the slider so it shows 800 x 600, or try 1024 x 768. The larger the number, the more you will see on your screen, but the smaller the print will be.
5. Click OK, and OK again in the next window, and then "Yes" to "Do you want to keep this setting?"
6. Viola! Your new setting! If you don't like it, try moving the slider again.
ANOTHER setting which goes hand in hand with this one is the "View/Font(Text)" setting mentioned above.
OK, OK, you can't find it.......here it is:
Bigger print:
Use the View / Text Size / Largest at the top of Internet Explorer

 

REVIEW 

Individual

MetaSearchers

Directories

Good Searchers: WebCrawler
Google
Search.MSN
AskJeeves
Altavista
(basic)
(simple)
(common)
(easy)
(big)
MetaCrawler (Great)
Dogpile
Copernic (Usable offline)
Yahoo (big)
Dmoz (no ads!)
Addresses and
Phone numbers:
www4.mybc.com/white
Get maps: Mapquest.com
Use "quotes" to search as a phrase
Use + to include a word

Back to index at top

 

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Alan Pattinson, Internet Consultant
1484 Dogwood Avenue
Comox, British Columbia,
V9M 2Z5 Canada
Phone: 250-339-2687
Monday - Friday 9 AM - 4 PM
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