Today we’re going to talk about searh engines. Let’s list some examples of search engines. Some of the most popular ones are Google.com, Yahoo.com, MSN.com,DogPile.com, Ask.com (Ask Geeves), Lycos.com, and Teoma.com. What is a searh engine? Think of a search engine as a database. Information gets entered in the database through the use of automated tools called robots or bots for short (programs that continually visit websites) that make a note of what, where, and when they find information. That is just one side of a search engine. Just like any other database you are allowed to ask questions (queries) in order to find information that it may contain. Now this is a simplistic view of a search engine. They are, in reality, much morecomplicated than this. A search engine is not an address bar (you should not type www.deconfuser.com into a search engine, you already know the address) or a store front. A good search engine’s only job in life is to make it easier to find information.

For a long time now my favorite search engine has been http://www.google.com. Let’s examine some ways in which we can more efficiently use Google to find what we are looking for. Google makes this easy by providing us with some terms that we can use. All of these terms (or commands)are predefined words followed by a colon, a space and our search criteria. This will make more sense after a few examples. For instance if we want to find a spreadsheet that calculates our monthly mortgage payments we would then type into google’s search box filetype: xls mortgage. This strictly limits our search to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that contain the word “mortgage”. Likewise, we could search for a downloadable mp3 of Tim McGraw by typing filetype:mp3 “Tim McGraw”.This would strictly limit our search to mp3’s containing “Tim McGraw”. Incidently the double quotes around a term let google know to search for exactly what they contain. Now suppose we want to find the weather for North Wilkesboro. We could type weather: 28659into google’s search box. This would strictly limit our search to the current weather of North Wilkesboro, NC by using the zip code. As our final example suppose we would like the phone number for John Doe, we could type phonebook: Doe, John. This would strictly limit our search for all phone numbers registered to a John Doe. If you know the city and state of the person you are looking for you could include that in your search criteria as well.

In conclusion, I hope that this brief explanation gives you a better idea of what a search engine is and what a search engine isn’t. Visit the Search Engine List for a more detailed list of search engines.

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