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October 2004 Reader Challenge

September 2004 Reader Challenge Winners

Congratulations to the winners of our September Reader Challenge, who won copies of "Windows Server Undocumented Solutions: Beyond the Knowledge Base," by Serdar Yegulalp (McGraw-Hill Publishing), and "Home Networking for Dummies," by yours truly (Wiley Publishing). Visit to read the answer to the September Reader Challenge.

October 2004 Reader Challenge

Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by October 28, 2004. You must include your full name and street mailing address. (Without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win.)

I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for a receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on October 29, 2004.

The October 2004 Challenge:

I receive many queries from readers about many different subjects, but suddenly I'm seeing a lot of questions about effective search procedures. I think the recent press about the success of search-engine providers, and the appearance of search engines for specific topics, probably motivated your interest. Many tricks and tips can make your online searches more efficient. However, based on the questions I see and what I observe when I peek over peoples' shoulders while they enter search queries, I think that many people lack knowledge about basic search techniques. Test your knowledge about basic search operations with this challenge.

Question #1:

By default, search engines use one of two Boolean operators. What are those operators?

ANSWER: The Boolean operators used by search engines are AND and OR. If you aren't sure which operator a particular search engine uses, specify in your search string the operator you want it to use, such as "kathy AND ivens" or "kathy OR ivens".

Question #2:

Two changes should occur in the search engine process when you enclose a search phrase in quotation marks. One change is that the words you enter are searched for in the order in which you entered them. What's the other change?

ANSWER: Common words (the, in, who, are, is, etc.) aren't discarded the way they are during standard searches.

Question #3:

Shakespeare wrote a poem titled "Who Is Sylvia?" What could this poem possibly have to do with understanding how search engines work?

ANSWER: The title "Who Is Sylvia" is a great way to test whether a search engine applies quotation marks properly (i.e., by not discarding common words). If you enter the title without quotation marks, the words "who" and "is" are discarded, and the results are everything on the Internet that contains the word "Sylvia". If you enter the title with quotation marks, you should see only results for the entire title

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