Thursday, March 1, 2001

I love it when a plan comes together


By David Gewirtz

Every so often, there's a catch phrase from the movies or television that just seems to stick in your mind and be absolutely appropriate for certain situations. Arnold Schwarzenegger made, "I'll be back," famous. Then, of course, there are Clint Eastwood's immortal words, "Go ahead. Make my day."

For me, the one that often seems to resonate just right is, "I love it when a plan comes together." I picture Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith of the A-Team, perfectly played by George Peppard with a sly smirk and a cigar jutting jauntily out of his mouth. He'd remark, "I love it when a plan comes together," right after a tough battle, where somehow he'd manage to make everything work, and the team, of course, came out victorious.

So, I gotta tell ya, I love it when a plan comes together.

PalmPower's search engine is up. So are search engines for DominoPower and PalmPower's Enterprise Edition.

Frankly, it was a lot harder to pull together a working search engine for ZATZ than I'd originally thought. First, we tried out much of the off-the-shelf software that was available. However, because our publications are generated via a content management system, only some parts of our Web site are suitable for indexing. For example, we wanted to index each article, but we didn't want to index the alternate forms of the articles (the EasyPrint or wireless versions). We also didn't want to index our table of contents pages, mastheads, or other non-relevant content.

"You now have, at your fingertips, the single largest searchable archive of original, edited, Palm-related content anywhere on the planet."

In theory, there's something called a "robots exclusion standard" that's supposed to specify to search engine spiders what directories are to be indexed and what are to be ignored. In practice, many of the off-the-shelf products ignored all or part of the standard.

So then we looked at the high-end commercial solutions, like those from Inktomi and Alta Vista. But most of the high-end suppliers charge a great deal for their products, including an increasing fee based on the number of searches and pages indexed. One of the reasons we're a successful "dot-com" is we manage our expenditures, and most of these products were way too rich for our blood.

There were also a bunch of search engine products available free on the Web. One of the best is available at (at For a small number of searches (for example, if you're running your own personal Web site), you can use their engine for free. All they ask is that you include their logo (and, of course, their ads, on the results pages). While a service like this isn't appropriate for us at ZATZ, I'd certainly recommend them if you're building your own pages and want a quick, easy, and free search tool.