Navigating the Internet

Q: I am working on a Maestro 4625 cordless phone, which is not communicating between the base and the handset. I find no board damage in either unit. Can you direct me to a Nortel technical-support site?

Q: I am working on a Maestro 4625 cordless phone, which is not communicating between the base and the handset. I find no board damage in either unit. Can you direct me to a Nortel technical-support site?

Phillip Rich

Innovative Business Systems

Greensboro, NC

A: Go to www.nortel.com. Click "enterprise: telephone" on the fast-finder menu at the bottom of the screen and fill in the blanks.

People are always asking me, "How do you find this stuff?" Answer: "I used the Internet." Over 90% of the questions I receive are via e-mail. Most people are looking for information that is available via the Internet. I know, because that is where I find most of the answers.

Unfortunately, the Internet is a tool that comes with few instructions. Using simple keyword searching techniques, it is usually a cinch to find some documents on a given topic. But are they the best documents on the topic or all that the Web has to offer? Are they even about your topic? And did your search locate more documents than you care to read?

From my experience, I can assure you that learning to find information on the Internet using complex search strategies is worthwhile, but simple searching is usually not.

There are three primary types of search sites on the Web: search engines, Web directories, and metasearch and parallel search programs.

Search engines such as Excite and HotBot use automated software called Web "crawlers" or "spiders." These programs move from Web site to Web site, logging each site title, url, and at least some of its text content. The object is to hit millions of Web sites and to stay as current as possible. The result--a long list of Web sites--is placed in a database, which users search by typing in a keyword or phrase.

Web directories such as Yahoo! and Magellan offer an editorially selected, topically organized list of Web sites. To accomplish that goal, these sites employ editors to find new Web sites and work with programmers to categorize them and build their links into the site`s index. Since both approaches make sense, all the major search-engine sites now have built-in topical search indexes, and most Web directories have added a keyword search.

Metasearch and parallel search programs ride piggyback on the Web crawler sites. Metasearch sites go one step further. One of the problems with searching on the Web is that the searching vocabulary varies from search site to search site. For example, when you search for Nortel Maestro on Yahoo!, the search term should look just like that: "Nortel Maestro." But the same search performed at Infoseek would be more effective if you entered "+Nortel +Maestro." At the Galaxy search site, it should be "Nortel and Maestro." Metasearch sites, such as Metasearch.com, take care of this search step for you, letting you enter a term in a single field and then they automatically account for all the particulars for half a dozen or more popular search sites.

Parallel search programs launch simultaneous searches on all the popular search-engine sites, returning all the results in a single window. My favorite this month is Vironix Software`s WebFerret. It adds an entry to the find option of your Windows 95 start button, adding the option to find Web pages in addition to the standard files and folders. Enter your search terms, click on Match All Keywords or Match Any Keywords, and WebFerret will use your Internet connection to check several of the more popular search engines (Lycos, Alta Vista, Excite, HotBot, WebCrawler, Magellan, Infoseek, Yahoo!, and Veronica).

More-advanced searches limit the number of matches in total or by search engine. Once the results are returned, just double-click to bring up your browser and launch the page.

And may the surf be with you.

Donna Ballast is a communications analyst at The University of Texas at Austin and a BICSI registered communications distribution designer (RCDD). Questions can be sent to her at

Cabling Installation & Maintenance or at PO Drawer 7580,

The University of Texas, Austin, TX 78713;

tel: (512) 471-0112, fax: (512) 471-8883,

e-mail: ballast@utexas.edu.

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