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Search engines: Finding the needle in the haystack

The realm of “Geekdom” is growing and thriving beyond all expectations — what a rush.

For every person who has ever been made fun of because of their interest in computers, networking, and the Internet, we all cry out in unison: “take that you mere mortals.”

It was only a few years ago that being called a geek was an insult.

In most instances, folks like me would have to keep silent on our interest in fear of being made fun of or ridiculed. Now it’s the geeks who keep the world spinning — well, I can’t really go that far — but we do keep the computers, networks and the Internet in tact so everyone else can get their “stuff” done, play online games, send e-mail, and chat with each other.

We geeks can now wear our titles proudly, we can walk into a room full of strangers and merely mention the fact that we work with computers, and in just a few minutes time, have everyone in the room lined up clamoring for our attention.

What got me going on this track?

It’s the fact that a geek has now won over one million dollars on the television game show Jeopardy — a full-fledged, certifiable geek.

If you were to jump over to and type in the name Ken Jennings within quotation marks, you’d find over 800 news stories on the Web about this young man’s success on the game show. He has, in fact, managed to win an average of $33,000 per his 30 or so episodes.

You can also learn more about Jennings’ remarkable success by going to Web site visitors can also play the game online, or download a version of Jeopardy that can be played offline.

It’s time for all geeks to rally together, the timing is now just right — let’s take up our flash drives, let us fire up our PDA/cellular telephones, let us join our wireless networks together and conquer the world. I write about Internet search engines all of the time because they are worth writing about. They are also worth learning about.

The closest that you’ll ever get to finding a needle in a haystack, you will get with a search engine — they are that important. There are times I have been curious as to what my fellow Web surfers are trying to find on the Internet at any given time. My strange nosiness can now be satisfied at a number of different locations in Cyberspace.

First off, if you are similarly inclined, you might try the “Metaspy” feature of the Metacrawler search engine by going to — you’ll have two options at that Web site: “Metaspy green,” which utilizes a filter to keep the subjects searched “family safe,” and then you’ve got “Metaspy red” which comes unfiltered — you are on your own with that one.

You can also jump over to the very popular “Ask Jeeves” search engine by going to, and then by clicking on the “Top Searches” link at the bottom of the page.

Speaking of Internet searches, if you haven’t visited the “Dog Pile” in a while, you might check out Although most folks consider this site to be a search engine, it really isn’t. What the site is really designed to do is to take your search keywords, and then to apply those words to a simultaneous search of about a half-dozen major search engines on the Web.

Just make sure you wipe your feet off real good when you’re all done searching, OK?

Tom DiFrancesca III is a freelance columnist and a resident of Clovis. He can be reached at: tomdifran@ or