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Tom Nelson DIGITAL CORNER

I've used search engines a lot to find Web sites that focus on my special interests. I use dogpile.com mostly. But now all I seem to get are commercial Web sites. Is there a search engine that looks for personal Web pages about specific interests. In my case it is usually fiber crafts and gardening.

— Ann

As you have found, simple searches usually bring up far too many sites in which you haven't the slightest interest. If your interests are narrow, frustration is the result. I don't know of any search engine that will return results for only personal Web pages about specific topics. You can, however, try some techniques to zero in on your topics.

Search engines take a simple search and bring back everything in their database that has some relevancy. Different search engines use different criteria to determine relevancy. Sometimes paid results are at the top. Sometimes the top results are determined by popularity. Usually there is an overwhelming number of sites for the user to wade through.

Sometimes information that is available on the Internet concerning a particular topic is not listed in the results. No search engine is capable of making available every Web resource. According to "Pandia," a search portal, there are probably more than 7 billion Web pages. The "Google" search engine indexes about 2 billion pages. While some areas of the Internet are covered by all search engine robots, there is a considerable difference in what individual search engines find outside of the common areas, which makes the case for using more than one search engine.

The solution to homing in on the exact information you want is to learn how best to use search engines. Most people just do simple searches. If they can't find what they want in about 20 minutes, they give up.

Syntax counts when it comes to searching, and each engine has different ways of handling syntax. You can use the + sign, the - sign and Boolean operators, which are "and," "or" and "and not."

Some search engines make it very easy to use advanced search techniques. It requires that you take the time to learn which engines to use and how to use them effectively.

With all that in mind, I will point you to an easy tutorial on searching. Go to http://pandia.com. Scroll down the page to a section called "How to Search the Web." Under that title, you will see the "Goalgetter tutorial." Click on it when you have a couple of hours to learn and practice search techniques. You will save time and frustration later by becoming an expert searcher.

Another excellent site to learn about search engines and how to use them is "SearchEngineWatch." Here is the address to the site's tips page —www.searchenginewatch.com/facts/index.html.

Putting it together Many digital cameras allow you to create movie clips. But the clips are short. So why don't you join them together? Knowing that you can join the clips will encourage you to create several short clips with continuity. If you are looking for a really slick, easy to use joiner, you might want to try a shareware product called "AVI/MPEG/RM Joiner." The name pretty much tells you with which file formats the joiner works.

I have used several joiners and this is my favorite. You shouldn't have any trouble joining clips from your camera. But downloaded clips are notoriously flaky when it comes to joining. They must have the same frame rate and be of the same video size. And even if the clips have these two exact same characteristics, they sometime fail to join. The $20 "AVI/MPEG/RM Joiner" immediately notifies you whether the video size and frame rate are the same in the clips you wish to join. It then very reliably joins them. And it helps that the user interface is clear and easy to understand.

No joiner can put together clips if there is something wrong with the clips themselves, even though frame rate and video size are the same.

If this software sounds like something you might be interested in, you can download the try-before-you-buy version at www.boilsoft.com.

Its tough to be a kid America's children are suffering from a slow-moving epidemic caused mostly by overeating and a lack of exercise. Before television and computers, kids found ways to entertain themselves, and entertainment usually meant physical activity. Those days will never return.

My mom never had to explain the benefits of an active lifestyle. All day, every day, all I wanted to do was play kick the can or king of the hill or dodgeball or marbles. As I got older, I wanted to go ice skating and pheasant hunting. Television was around, but I barely remember watching it. Probably wasn't very good. (Geez, I sound like an old fogey, but then I am regularly called worse.)

What I started to write about before I got sidetracked, was paying attention to the health of children. "KidsHealth.org" is a great site to help you explain to young children about: "Why Exercise is Cool," "What's the Right Weight for Me?," "I don't Like Sports, So How Can I Stay Fit?

This site doesn't just deal with exercise. You can find out about injuries, illnesses, dealing with feelings, how the body works and much more. The site's creators estimate the material on the site would fill a 25 volume encyclopedia. All of the information is presented in a way that is attractive to children — www.kidshealth.org/kid.

Computer need in Livingston I am the administrator at Livingston Health and Rehab in Livingston. We have been getting increasingly younger residents at our facility, and with that comes the need for activities that are more appropriate for this generation. We have asked for a donation locally in Livingston, but no one has been able to come up with something that was up-to-date enough to support the Internet. Can any of your readers help? We could come to Billings to pick something up.

— Stacey Ward

Can you? Her e-mail address is stacey_ward@kindredhealthcare.com.

Questions or comments are welcome. E-mail messages included in this column are edited for brevity and clarity. You can e-mail Tom Nelson at tnelson@billingsgazette.com. Fax him at (406) 657-1208.

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