Chapter 4. Searching the Web


DO OR DIE:

  • Find stuff on the web

  • Find more stuff on the web

  • Come up with ways to find still more stuff on the web

  • A fun web searching game

No matter how recently you started surfing the web, you've likely been overwhelmed with the amount of information available. (If you're like me, you've also thought that the web is living proof that too many people have too much free time on their hands.) Given that there are at least 40 million websites and over 8 billion web pages to choose from, finding the right piece of information requires some sophisticated search tools.

Firefox has incorporated some of the best search technology availablethe Google search engineinto the navigation toolbar. Searching is built in. The Firefox address field looks like any other address field: it's a field you enter a web address into. Ho-hum. But if you enter a search word or phrase, Firefox looks up the phrase using Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" option and takes you to the page Google thinks will most likely meet your search criteria. For example, entering "Mason Williams" takes you to MasonWilliams-online.com, the official Mason Williams web page.

This feature is really helpful (I'm lazy and I hate having to always type in the "www." and ".com" for basic addresses), but you don't always get what you expect. While the "I'm Feeling Lucky" option frequently takes you to the domain of the same name"banjo" goes to www.banjo.comthis isn't always the case. While you might expect that entering "Weavers" would take you to www.weavers.com or maybe a website about weaving or even the Tannahill Weavers, currently it takes you to a NASA web page for the NASA Advanced Supercomputing division. The word "Weavers" is nowhere to be found on the page, which seems to make no sense at all, until you look up "Weavers" in Google and discover that this page is a redirected web page from the address www.nas.nasa.gov/NAS/WebWeavers/. Okay, now it makes sense... sorta.

FRIDGE

"We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million keyboards would eventually produce the Complete Works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true." Robert Wilensky, UC Berkeley (who actually thinks someone else said it first but is glad to take "inappropriate" credit for it).


There is a downside to "I'm feeling lucky" searches. For example, if you entered "whitehouse" as a search term, you'd probably get what you want: http://www.whitehouse.gov, the President's website. However, until recently, entering "whitehouse.com" would take you to a wholly unexpected and quite child-and work-unfriendly website. Sometimes entering the plain search phrase gives you what you want but adding ".com" to the end of the phrase doesn't.



    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage (Garage Series)
    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage
    ISBN: 0131870041
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 185

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