A Search Engine for Pages You’ve Read

Having problems finding that web page you saw recently? A new tool makes it easy to recall everything you’ve seen on the web, automatically indexing all of this content and creating your own personal web archive.

Seruku is toolbar-based application that helps you find and access any and all web pages that have appeared in your browser. Its simplicity, along with its ability to save plenty of time and aggravation, makes it a tool that will appeal to anyone.

As we “work the web,” most of us view and read hundreds of pages in our browser. Trying to go back and fined previously viewed material, however, can be time consuming and, in some cases, pretty much impossible.

Why? Reviewing your browser’s history file isn’t easy since it contains only URLs and page titles. And the ephemeral nature of material on the web can pose many problems. Pages you looked at on Monday can be gone for good the following Friday — if not sooner.

Seruku Toolbar ($24.95/Windows only/45 day free trial) solves many of these problems. As you visit web pages, it automatically makes a copy (called a snapshot) of every html web page you’ve viewed in your browser, stores it locally, indexes the content and then, when needed, allows you to keyword search the full text of this material. Very cool and very useful.

After downloading (3.5MB) and installing the program, you’ll be up and running in a matter of minutes.

The Seruku site offers plenty of background about how the product operates. In a nutshell, it’s really two separate programs: a toolbar and an indexing/database program that is completely separate from the Internet Explorer cache.

Those with privacy concerns will be relieved to know that these have been addressed by Seruku. The company mentions many times that all of the material you save is kept on your computer. No information about what you’ve saved and when you saved it is transmitted over the web.

Using Seruku is very easy. All html pages that appear in your browser are automatically saved — or recorded — into the database. Of course, you can click to toggle the recording function on and off.

Searching your local database of web pages is straightforward. Enter your search terms and go. Seruku uses an implied AND between terms. You can also limit your search by date. For example, you can search only those pages you’ve seen within the last three days, week, month, or between two specific dates.

A search result page includes links to live versions of each page along with links you can click on to view copies of the recorded pages.

The toolbar also offers a button that will run your query in Yahoo, Google and other web engines.

William Grosso, the owner and lead developer of Seruku told me that most users will use about 3-5 gigabytes of hard drive space a year. Of course, Seruku makes managing the database easy. For example, you can remove a specific page, a group of unused pages, and backup the database.

At this point Seruku is only available for Internet Explorer but a version for Mozilla is in development. Grosso also let me know that future releases will offer an option to add any web engine to the toolbar similar to what’s currently available from NeedleSearch or the Copernic Toolbar. Improving the format and content of snippets on result pages is also a priority. I’m glad to see that the development team realizes that work is needed in these areas. Improvements will make Seruku and even more valuable tool.

Other personal search products like SurfSaver or the web-based service Furl can also be useful tools for the web researcher. These products allow you to add keywords, descriptions and other info to each page after you decide to save it. You can also organize the saved material into folders. The problem is that you must first decide to save a page. The beauty of Seruku is that all of the saving takes place automatically. It’s always on and recording (unless you decide to toggle it off) what’s in your browser.

In his legendary 1945 essay, “As We May Think,” Vannevar Bush writes:

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, “memex” will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

Seruku is not exactly the memex device that Bush describes; it can only save html content. But it is certainly a useful step forward in realizing Bush’s vision in today’s web world. Kudos to Grosso for not only developing this product but also for making it so easy to use.

Seruku System Requirements

Internet Explorer 5.0 or greater on Windows 2000, Windows 2003, or Windows XP. Click here to run an automatic test that will determine whether Seruku will run successfully on your own computer. Or see the Seruku FAQ for more information.

Gary Price is the publisher of ResourceShelf, a weblog covering the online information industry.

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