Win the Search Engine Lottery

Without the right search tool, the odds that you'll find what you want on the Web are about the same as your chances of winning the lottery.

But a search jackpot has cropped up in the form of a product called BullsEye 2 IntelliSeek. Released Wednesday, BullsEye 2 is a desktop portal and search tool that provides access to 700 search engines and databases.

BullsEye 2 offers many of the same features as its predecessor BullsEye 1.5, which costs US$49.95, but has one major difference: the price. BullsEye 2 is supported by ads, so it's free. The ads you see are targeted depending on your searches, but none of your private information is used or distributed without your consent, says Mahandra Vora, IntelliSeek's chief executive officer and president.

BullsEye 2 offers a redesigned, simpler user interface that resembles Microsoft Outlook. The new version of the tool lets you switch between several top-level views -- IntelliSeek, Search, Manage, Track, and Open Searches. You can bookmark or save search results to view offline, or convert them into a report or e-mail message.

In mid-February, IntelliSeek plans to release BullsEye Pro, priced at about $149. The Pro version offers what Vora calls high-end analysis tools: for example, if you search for Apple, the tool will know whether you're talking about computers or fruit.

Tackling the Wide Web

"We divide the Web into two parts. One is the indexable, crawlable Web pages (coded in HTML), called the visible Web. The other is invisible and consists of databases," Vora says. IntelliSeek claims to cover 60 to 70 percent of the visible Web, and about 30 percent of the "invisible" areas.

To search both parts of the Web, BullsEye 2 uses 41 visible-page search engines and about 650 database search engines.

BullsEye has an integrated browser, and uses agents to sort searches by categories such as news, shopping, multimedia, discussions (including Usenet groups and FAQs -- frequently asked questions), jobs, computers, business, and entertainment. Site reviews and categories are displayed on a split screen.

On Target?

I gave BullsEye a try to see if it hits its mark.

I searched for encryption FAQ pages using BullsEye's Discussion search area and received 11 results, all relevant to encryption. Two of the results, however, were duplicate sites.

My second search was for a printer driver. I clicked on the icon in the search section of the BullsEye Manager, then chose Find Drivers and entered the make and model of my printer. BullsEye returned no results. I tried again in the Advanced search area. Alas, no results.

I then tried one last search, for Led Zeppelin MP3s in BullsEye's Multimedia section, and found several new sites and a ton of MP3s.

One word of warning: If you start a new search, be sure to close or save the previous one or you'll have layers of searches stacked upon one another.

Keeping all those windows open zaps your memory, so you might not be able to run other applications. And because BullsEye uses so much memory, my PC ran considerably slower while BullsEye was open.

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