A search engine for this forum?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

There is a lot of great info here but it needs a search engine. I can't afford to pay for the whole thing myself but there are many automated options available and I would be willing to donate $100 to the cause. I've certainly gotten that much value from this forum and I can think of a couple of technical subscription that I could drop - they don't give me near the value that this forum does. How 'bout it, anybody else think a search engine for the archived stuff would be valuable? Sysops: What are the options?


-- Arnie Rimmer (arnie_rimmer@usa.net), November 02, 1998


A search engine would be nice. I think there are several free ones out there though.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), November 02, 1998.

Yes we need a search engine for Jean, maybe just hardcode Deedah.

-- Richard Dale (rdale@figroup.co.uk), November 02, 1998.

With simple websites having static HTML pages, you can use Infoseek or other search engines to search only within a specified website. However this website bbs is essentially a database, and search functions would have to be added to it. Check with Philip Greenspun (philg@mit.edu) who set it up...he also has lots of good info on the design of the database website at http://photo.net/wtr/thebook/databases-intro.html

Alternatively, a program could be written to scan each topic, parse it into messages and store it in your own database. Fun!

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), November 02, 1998.

I'd contribute, .....


-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), November 02, 1998.

What is needed for efficient interaction with this HTML message database is not only a replicated copy of the database on the local internet client PC, but also a client robot module that keeps your local copy of the database automatically updated. The client robot performs these functions as it executes a systematic sequential examination of the server copy of the database:

This seems like a useful function to have, especially when it is adaptive to work with any database. Offline browsing and posting with occasional dialups for synchronization. Save your time and bandwidth. An implementation decision is whether to use the Access .mdb system or the Outlook .pst, either of which can be programmed with VB. (maybe both) An advantage of this approach is you can organize your own thoughts and send them out when needed. Outlook is a good choice because messages can be sent out just as easily by email or fax or posting to bbs systems. With a Front Page interface, selected messages can be published to static HTML pages for distribution.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), November 04, 1998.

And a person just asked where are the programmers...I think I just found her answer. Thank you for the reply, may I ask, from a user's perspective:

If I am "in a thread" how do I most easily "find" a related comment - not necessarily in the current thread - that would answer the current question. Ex: somebody brings up a question about banking requirements, I think someelse answered that for CA two days before - but not in the current thread. In fact, maybe not even in a thread already linked (registered) under banking. Pretend it was "government". How do find that reference to anwser the current question?

How could I use that reference if I were in the middle of writing an answer? Same way? What if I were in Word, and needed the information to be cut-copy-pasted into Word. Could I find it without the Internet link?

Second case: I'm reading your response, and want to "mark" it as "very important" related to perhaps "computer search criteria" as a reference. How could I set that "marker" (HTML point ?) and label it correctly?

Even more important [ 8<) ] I read somebody's limerick, and want to be able to mark that as "limerick". How can I find all "limerick" marks ans extract them?

Do-able within this design? Educate me.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), November 04, 1998.


You can accomplish what you want right now with IE4 and the Windows interface (you can do the same with Netscape by the way). First have an icon for your browser in both the lower horizontal taskbar and the right vertical Office taskbar if you have it. Just right-click the icon from the desktop to the bar, release the button and select Create Shortcut. Have at least two browser windows open at once, and let's use three for this example.

The first browser window will be the newer+category level index, http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=TimeBomb%202000%20 (Y2000) . If this shortcut is not already in your Favorites folder, select it in this message, copy it, paste it to the browser, then bookmark it (Add Favorites). The '%20's are designating a space character as part of the URL. Right click on a discussion topic and choose Open in New Window. In the new browser window you can do Ctrl+F and find a keyword if you want. When you find a discussion that interests you, type Alt+a, Enter, Tab, Tab, Spacebar to bring up the Add Favorite directory browser window.

Your Favorites data is nothing more than a series of hierarchical folders within C:\Windows\Favorites\ with Internet Shortcuts in them. You need to have a directory for each category and a Newest subdir at this level as well. All of these may be built up under a subdir such as Favorites\Yourdon\ etc. Eventually you have built up a hierarchy of folders and shortcuts, an HTML page URL shortuct for each discussion you 'bookmarked.'

You might want to create a Limericks subdirectory at the top level, up there with Newest and the categories. Yopu can make your own categories. To force a non-alphabetic sort, you can precede your directory or shortcut names with 1. 2. 3. etc.

In the Add Favorites dialog, use the four arrow keys to navigate around the Favorites subdir folder structure until you find where you want to add the shortcut/bookmark for the current discussion, then punch it. It is a good idea to use the keyboard shortcuts (saves a lot of time), but it's also good to use the intellimouse that has a small trackwheel for efficient browsing. With this type of pointing device you can roll the text up with the roller wheel or click it and roll by sliding the mouse up or down, with the more displacement, the faster scrolling. On the hardware subject, it's best to use 1024 or more screen mode for multiple browser windows.

When you find something interesting and want to look up something else, you can go to the Top level browser window (use Alt+Tab or Alt+Shift+Tab to move between apps) and right-click on the category of interest or the recent message, opening a new window. From the new window you can browse or go to the related bookmarked favorites with the pulldown menu or open open it as the left side panel (width is adjustable).

To mark a favorite as an 'extra' favorite or to classify it in any number of ways, you can modify the icon. Find the icon for the item and if you have a Windows95 keyboard press the pop-up menu key to the left of the right Ctrl button, or right-click and select properties. From here you can change the icon to a distinctive variation. If you don't see any suitable icons, you can get one from any file you find on browsing.

The favorites folder can be right-click dragged out onto the desktop from the c:\Windows directory window and set up as a Shortcut. Then use F2 to change the name to Bookmarks etc. Position this icon in the extreme lower right corner. Avoid covering it up with the multiple browser windows, and you have convenient access to your bookmarked discussions.

You can also right-click drag the Favorites desktop icon to the lower task bar or the Office bar and Copy or Create Shortcut (has same effect). When you pop open the directory window, you can sort by Name, Modified, Last Visited, or Last Modified, even Number of Visits

While you're at it, you can right-click drag out the Yourdon Discussion BBS shortcut (URL specified at the top of this message) from the Favorites folder to a Desktop Icon also in the lower right corner.

In the case of this system, the URL (which is the primary reference link of the shortcut) is referencing a tcl procedure, with its name followed by a question mark, then msg_id=alphanumeric code. That's why you have to wait for the discussion to reload, it does not cache.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), November 04, 1998.

More technique:

If you want to capture a copy of a discussion, you can save it in plain text with File, Save As and choose Text and a name that ends in .txt. This file will not be marked up with HTML. For HTML, it's best to go to View Source, then save the file with a name using either .txt or .htm, this will give better results with line feeds etc. You can also make a copy of the page (Ctrl+a, Ctrl+c) then go to Word, start a new doc and paste (Ctrl+n, Ctrl+v). This will preserve the links. If you want plain text in the word doc, use Ctrl+n, Alt+e, s, Down (to select Unformatted text), Enter. Once you have a word document you can compile and redact discussion topics and set up book marks. These edited files can be named in a convenient way and stored in their own Word Docs subdirectory.

If you want to reference another thread in a response that you're posting, go to the window that has the thread to link to, click the URL address box, copy it with a Ctrl+c, then Alt+Tab back to the Insert Message browsing window and paste it into the scrollable text box with Ctrl+v. If you want to be more advanced, type a 'less than' followed by the letter a and a space and then href=", then Ctrl+v, then a quote and a greater than, then Ctrl+c again, then the closing tag of less-than forward slash a greater than. Then it will be a clickable hyperlink.

Btw the alphanumeric code looks like a base 62 number (0-9, A-Z, a-z) representing the sequential numbering of the discussion topic.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), November 04, 1998.


A sincere and hearty Thank You!

You've managed to turn on a lot of "light bulbs" in that huge void in my noggin in a few short paragraphs.

One needn't be a bricklayer to recognize a Master Stonemason in action, and in that vein, I salute you sir.

-- Hardliner (searchwe@internet.com), November 04, 1998.

Subscriptions for offline browsing:

You can put a copy of the bookmarked threads into the C:\Windows\Subscribe folder. Use the right-click drag method between the opened directory browse windows for C: \Windows\Favorites\Y2k\Discussions for example as the source and C: \Windows\Subscribe is where it is copied to. Then set up the subscription parameters (frequency, etc.) for each thread. Result is offline browsing. It seems to work, I'm looking at this closer.

-- Jon (jonmiles@pacbell.net), November 04, 1998.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ