Monday, June 20, 2005

General Information: Sotir: Super Searching

I know this may come as a surprise to many of you, but I spend a lot of time on the Internet. For legitimate reasons of course, but I thought some of my shortcuts for getting into sites might be helpful tools for others as well. For example...did you know that when you look at the address box on Explorer, there is a small 'e' icon in front of the address? (Netscape users will have an icon that looks like a bookmark.) If you click and drag that box into another document, such as a blog post, you don't have to spend the energy copying and pasting the address. Yes, this is a minor aid, but when you post as many Websites as I do, every little bit helps.

Many of you already use your 'Favorites' button to save sites. Try creating folders for like Favorites. This will help you organize your list and use it more effectively. You can also rename the title of the site to one that fits a category first. Simply right-click on the bookmark and choose 'rename' from the options. You can save an entire page, not just a link, if you use 'Add Favorites' and choose the box that says "Make Available Offline". Even if you are not connected, you can still view a page of interest, or if the page disappears, you still have the information it contained.

Portals (see other articles with the term RSS in them) are Websites that pre-select and organize links to other information on other sites. You choose the information you want and let the portals search the Web for those sites for you. If you wanted to (and why wouldn't you?) you could set up a portal to keep up on the new posts to this blog. You need to have sites with RSS addresses The RSS address for this blog, for example, is '. Add this /atom.xml address to a portal, and you will be automatically notified when the blog posts new articles, as well as other posts to similar topics. I have a portal entitled 'educational technology' and get a list of new sites that might pique my interest daily. The portals also tell you if nothing new has posted to the site in whatever timeframe you wish. I have mine set for 3 days. If a new post comes on, the title and when it was posted appear on my portal list. I like having technology do my work for me.

One of the other tools I like is the 'Advanced Search' option. Often I get requests for very specific kinds of Websites. I could put in just a regular Boolean search (using AND, BUT or even OR), but sometimes I want more specific information. Since a lot of information on the Web stays on in perpetuity, some of it goes out of date. If I want information that appears on the new GED test, for example, I can ask for sites published more recently. Sometimes I do searches for information on wider topics like 'blogs'. If I want general information,just typing in 'blogs' might be enough. However, blogs have really come into their own in the past two or three years, and the newer posts are more relevant to what I am looking to find. Use the tools to find more relevant data, or at least lessen the amount of data offered. I don't know about you, but 5,279, 345 hits is more information than I care to peruse.

Any other hints for making technology work for you? Post them...right here.