The Little Engine That Could!

In doing research on e-commerce for this column, I use a variety of free ‘tools’, including subscriptions to a large number of electronic commerce oriented magazines, trade publications, free research papers, etc. However, my main research tool has been the Internet itself. Traditionally, I have used a ‘mixed bag’ of search engines to locate needed information, and have just recently been made aware of a ‘search engine’ that I now use exclusively. Copernic 2000.

Copernic2000 is, in my opinion, one of the best of the best. And the best is that it is a free download, requiring only a few minutes of modem time., formerly C Technologies Inc., a Canadian intelligent agent software developer, has just released Version 4.5 of Copernic 2000, and claims that over 5 million copies have been downloaded, and anticipates that usage will hit 10 million users by year end. There are multiple versions of Copernic available, including the ‘non free’ ones (Copernic Plus and Copernic Pro), but I can’t imaging my needing more ‘bells and whistles’ that are currently imbedded in the free version.

Now, on to why I like this product… First of all it uses up to 80 different search engines for every search, ranking results by relevancy, eliminating redundancies, and removing out of date documents. One of the slickest features is the creation of a detailed search history database within your individual P.C., allowing the user to download the results of their search. Once the search has completed, you are able to browse through all of the returned results, and page back and forth, reading the summary information that has been returned. All relevant keywords are highlighted in yellow, and the various fields of returned summary information (relevance, search engine name, URL, etc.) can be used as sort fields.

The free version allows the user to search the Web, newsgroups, e-mail addresses, books, hardware, and software. The advanced feature versions, Pro and Plus, also include categorized searches among images, MPC, Multimedia, auctions, business, games, health, etc.The types of searches that can be performed include looking for a particular word(s), all words, any of the words entered, or in the form of a question.

The two advanced versions of this product (Plus and Pro), are reasonably priced at $39.95 and $79.95, and offer many advanced features such as the use of up to 600 search engines, e-mail alerts, spell checking, etc.

The company has also recently announced the availability (free beta version) of its latest product - Copernic Shopper. This tool will provide on-line shoppers with the ability to compare the products attributes as well as their comparative prices. The software has access to 250 information sources and online stores. Searches are performed by category, which provides more accurate and relevant results. The final version will be available within the next few months.

Bob Lewis is VP of IT at the Unified Foodservice Purchasing Cooperative (Louisville, Ky.).

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