Quick Web Searches from the Command Line

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In Reader to Reader: "Whois on NT" (May 2001), Bill York provided a simple solution to address Windows NT's lack of a decent Whois command. To work around having to log on to a UNIX shell account or navigate through Network Solutions' Web site just to run a Whois command on your domain, he suggested that you type the following command into Notepad and save the file as whois.cmd:

@echo off

start http://www.netsol.com/cgi-bin/whois/whois?STRING=%1^&SearchType=do^&STRING2.x=14^&STRING2.y=11

This whois.cmd file lets you type


at a command line and automatically go to a Web page that provides the Whois command's statistics.

You can use the same technique to easily perform most repetitive searches from the command line. At least, you could if the command processor didn't directly parse symbols commonly used in HTTP addresses. The three common characters that cause problems are the ampersand (&), percent sign (%), and dollar sign ($). To work around this problem, you can insert a caret (^) in front of the special characters.

For example, if you go to the Windows 2000 Magazine Web site and search for Minasi, you end up at http://search.win2000mag.net/windows/query.html?col=windows&qt=Minasi. To use the workaround to search, first create the .cmd file. Simply open Notepad and type start followed by a copy of the previous URL. Replace the & with ^& and replace Minasi with %1 so that the modified command line is

start http://search.win2000mag.net/windows/query.html?col=windows^&qt=%1

Save this file (e.g., I saved it as w2kfind.cmd). Then, you can quickly check the Windows 2000 Magazine Web site for any one-word term simply by typing

w2kfind <searchterm>

at a command prompt.

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