Build Your Own Portable, Personal Search Engine

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.

askSam SurfSaver

Search Headlines

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.

State Loses Case Over Generic Domain...
Content-Wire Nov 27 2001 12:02PM GMT
Portal to the World... Nov 27 2001 10:20AM GMT
HALs Legacy examines state of artificial intelligence... Nov 27 2001 6:39AM GMT
Getting Your Site Listed in UK Search Engines...
Traffick Nov 27 2001 2:44AM GMT
Google PageRank Explained...
Rank Write Nov 26 2001 9:50PM GMT
Search Engine Optimization Copywriting Case Study Wrap-Up...
Rank Write Nov 26 2001 9:50PM GMT
Kevin Spacey loses pivotal cybersquatting court case...
The Register Nov 26 2001 8:23PM GMT
Google, others dig deep--maybe too deep...
CNET Nov 26 2001 1:23PM GMT
Government acts, spammers get devious...
Seattle Times Nov 25 2001 12:32PM GMT
Law and the Internet: more worries than hopes... Nov 25 2001 5:17AM GMT
Dot-info becoming hot new domain on Web... Nov 24 2001 11:54AM GMT
Ask Jeeves may offer deep search services using Teoma technology... Nov 24 2001 8:49AM GMT
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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was's Web Search Guide.