Lighten up your search

Most search engines these days are the little engines that can't. Even if they think they can.

The Web has a wealth of information, but only a tiny percentage relates to what you want at any given moment. Maybe you should just stop looking and wait for the information to come to you.

Don't think it will happen? Northern Light Technology recently launched the beta version of a Web monitoring and electronic news service designed to do just that. Known as Search Alert, this service automatically sends users updates and information based on their individual search criteria. And it's free.

Working with a database of 175 million Web pages, Northern Light also provides information from select journals, books, magazines and newswires that you wouldn't normally have access to on the Internet.

Being a political junkie myself, I signed up for alerts on presidential candidates. Three times a day, the service sent me an e-mail message with a one-click URL listing my grouped results. Most of the links were relevant to my search. And, perhaps more importantly, it never became a nuisance.

"Unlike other clipping services, we don't bombard you with e-mails," says Susan Stearns, director of marketing for Northern Light. "You don't have to worry about interruptions during the day."

To focus an alert even more, you can perform a power search, a more advanced search tool that sorts results by subject, type of document, or date, depending on your preference. Basically, you're narrowing your search and making it more intelligent. It can be as general or as specific as you want it.

Northern Light expects to release the fully functional version in approximately one month. The beta version is currently available to everyone.

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