One of the biggest search engine myths is "If you've found it once, you'll find it again." This simply isn't true, for a variety of reasons.
First, the major search engines are constantly fiddling under the hood, tweaking algorithms here, adjusting relevance rankings there, and generally trying to improve their overall performance. This means that over time, they may give you entirely different results for the same query.
Second, the web is in a constant state of flux. Millions of new pages are added each day, others are moved by thoughtless webmasters, and still others are removed from the web entirely. This has been particularly true since September 11th, with vast reaches of the web taken down by government agencies and other institutions concerned about making "sensitive" information too easily accessible.
Finally, as a searcher, your skills and abilities are also changing as you grow more familiar with the web. You're likely a much better searcher today than you were six months ago, and paradoxically that may make it more difficult for you to find something that you may have literally stumbled upon in the past.
So why not take a page from Google's playbook and create your own searchable cache of important web pages? SurfSaver from askSam lets you do just that, in essence letting you build your own portable, personal search engine.
SurfSaver is a free browser add-on which lets you store Web pages directly into searchable folders. Pages are saved complete with formatting, including graphics, frames, and active hypertext links. The Save dialog allows you to create folders, modify the title for the page, and add keywords and notes. There's also a "quick save" option that bypasses the dialog box and saves the page in a preset location -- very handy if you're grazing for information.
Beyond just saving web pages, SurfSaver gives you powerful search functionality. You search directly from your browser, using a pane that looks similar to the search pane in Internet Explorer. You can search the full text of saved web pages, or search only for the title, keywords, notes, URL, or date the page was saved.
SurfSaver also offers powerful advanced search features, including Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) and wildcards (* and ?). Particularly helpful is the NEAR command, which lets you find words which appear close to each other on a page.
SurfSaver is an excellent tool for researchers who need to have quick, reliable access to a customized library of web pages. It's less useful for people who want the most recent version of a web site, since saved sites may not be up to date.
The basic SurfSaver program is free; the Pro version is available for $29.95 with no banner ads and a number of enhancements for power users.
Requirements: An Intel-Compatible Computer with Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000 or Windows NT (no Mac or Linux version available), with at least 6 MB Disk Space, and Internet Explorer 4.x or Netscape 4.x or higher.
NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.
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