Ferreting Out a Good Web Search
from the February 2000 Actrix Newsletter

by Jeremy Fairbrass

If you're ever wanting to search for a particular topic or keyword on the internet, the normal process would be to point your web browser at the web site of one of the main "search engines", such as www.altavista.com or www.excite.com, and enter in the keywords and wait for the results to appear. However if you do this a lot you'll probably find it to be somewhat tedious, as you have to wait for maybe a minute or longer for the results to display, and the results page will usually have various other graphics and text  that you also have to wait for. What's more, usually there will be only 10 results per page, so if you want to view the next group of 10 results you have to wait for the next page to load, with all of its extra graphics and text and so on. Wouldn't it be much easier to have just one page with all of the results on it, nicely grouped together with no additional text or graphics in the way?

There is an answer to this problem! It lies with something called WebFerret. WebFerret is a free program that takes all the hassles out of searching. Because it's a separate program itself, you don't have to use your web browser and a search engine's web site to do the searching. You just enter in the keyword(s) and WebFerret does the searching for you. But the biggest advantage by far, is the fact that WebFerret doesn't just search with one search engine. It simultaneously searches multiple engines (currently it uses nine)   including AltaVista, Excite and Yahoo!. It then displays the results in a big list for you. When you double-click on a result, WebFerret automatically opens your web browser and goes straight to that web page.

Another huge advantage is the use of "filters" within WebFerret. WebFerret can automatically filter out any and all search results that contain any swear words or any pornography-related keywords. These filters can be switched on or off, but can be password-protected which means you can switch them on and then prevent them from being switched off by anyone else who doesn't know the password (e.g. your kids).

WebFerret is a free program, but you can pay to buy its souped-up version, WebFerretPRO, which has the advantage of searching a vast number of additional search engines. Surf on over to www.ferretsoft.com to download WebFerret. Also check out WebFerret's cousins, AuctionFerret, InfoFerret, FileFerret, EmailFerret, PhoneFerret, NewsFerret, and IRCFerret - all of which are free and all of which have a PRO version for sale also.
    - Jeremy