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Cybernaut

Looking for Answers

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A little over two months ago a company called GuruNet launched a unique website called Answers.com that is quietly, calmly taking the Internet by storm.

It’s kind of like a search engine, but rather than include everything and anything in its responses, Answers.com refines its searches to focus on a few hundred authoritative sites such as online encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs and dedicated search engines.

There’s just a few million pages of information to access, a fraction of Google’s more than eight billion pages, but that’s why it’s such a valuable resource – no clutter.

For example, completely at random, I typed "Spider Monkeys" into the Google search window, and got a long list of zoo sites, tourism sites, university research sites, and random news reports featuring spider monkeys. All useful information, but I’d have to sift through a few dozen pages to get the same information that came up on the first page at Answers.com.

If I was doing a school report on spider monkeys, Answers.com results were a lot more relevant with dictionary definitions, encyclopedia entries, Wikipedia entries, family-genus charts, and a list of spider monkey sites on the web – a similar list to what I found on the first three pages of the Google search.

The Answers.com search engine is powerful, concise and extremely fast. It won’t replace Google as your default page, but it’s a powerful tool to add to your collection.

The homepage is also pretty neat with a word-of-the-day vocabulary builder, links to interesting stories, a list of celebrity birthdays, top news items, "Today’s History" and more.

Buying a better CD

The most recent edition of Wired.com has a story that may be of interest to anyone who has ever tried to burn a CD or DVD, only to have to throw yet another corrupted disc into the trash.

In the early days of CD writers some of this was the fault of the burners themselves as it was a new technology that had its slight imperfections. Disc burning software also left something to be desired.

These days most of those bugs have been ironed out, which means that errors are usually the result of flaws in the discs themselves, and problems are becoming increasingly common as production runs grow and prices drop.

According to the article, very few companies selling the discs actually produce the discs themselves. That task is farmed out to a handful of companies that have different manufacturing processes and standards. These differences are usually reflected in the purchase price, but not always – it’s still possible to find fantastic deals on the most high-quality discs out there, if you know what to look for.

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