More and more, obtaining information online is like uncovering the needle in the proverbial haystack--unless you know how to search. Not all search engines are the same; some are smarter than others, and each has its own quirks that you can learn to exploit. The good news for Web surfers is that with so many search tools out there, if you pick the right one, you will find what you need.
So what about the ubiquitous Yahoo!? Its strength is that it's not intended to be a comprehensive index of what's on the Web. Edited by actual humans, Yahoo presents only pages that make the editorial cut--its index includes only a tiny fraction of all the sites on the Web, so you don't get bogged down with hundreds of sites to choose from. Yahoo! is a good starting point, but if you don't get the results you need, move on.
To where? Industrial-strength searching is yours at AltaVista (http://www.altavista.com), which features a comprehensive index of Web sites as well as support for Boolean search techniques that allow for fine-tuning by using "operators" such as and, near and not as well as quotation marks around the specific information you need.
Still not getting the hits you seek? Try using a parallel search engine, which simultaneously queries a number of other search engines and then delivers the results to you. A top parallel search engine is Dogpile(http://www.dogpile.com), which queries Yahoo!, InfoSeek (http://www.infoseek.com), Excite (http://www.excite.com), Lycos (http://www.lycos.com) and others. Or try Mamma, "the Mother of All Search Engines" (http://www.mamma.com), which seeks information through Excite, InfoSeek, Mining Company (http://www.miningcompany.com) and several other engines. Metacrawler (http://www.metacrawler.com) does much the same. Try out several search engines, and bookmark the one that best serves your needs.
To contact Robert McGarvey, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org