Search tips

Reverser's Nofrill
Web design

02 December 1998
How to search the web

Surreal5's Introduction and First lesson
February 1998

Surreal5's Second lesson
February 1998

Surreal5's examples from my own last search lesson
February 1998

Surreal5's snippets of information
March 1998

The continued irc experience.
Pro's and con's from a searching standpoint

December 1998

Surreal5 's Search tips

Surreal5 's Search tips,  courtesy of Reverser's pages of reverse engineering.

I've tried to organise this (provisorial) essay so, that both beginners and
advanced users can get something out of each lesson, and can almost
directly use it. Even if you are already an expert on how to find the
example types i used, you may get something out of it, a different
perspective, something you hadn't thought of. I like Robin Hoods tutorial,
he has a broader experience than i do, but i feel my lessons give faster
results, with less effort spent on learning boolean ,and other tool
specifics. Consider this a crash course if you will. Consider it a
preliminary to Robin Hoods tutorial. Consider it an alternative view from a
lazy guy who wants results fast ;)


I'm no hacker, i'm no cracker,  i don't need to be, i know how to locate
and manage the combined sum of knowledge and resources people (including
hackers and crackers) have put on the web, deciding wether it's worth
trying to understand or having to learn how they did it, or just use
whatever they have put online for my leeching. ;) The point is i can find,
or learn, anything i want, whenever i feel i should need it. I've been
online for about 16 months at this point,so i may not be one of the best
searchers around, but i do feel i'm good enough to teach others. ;)

I'm one of the few people who does not know the URL's of his own webpages.
I do not need to remember, i know the keywords i entered. If i need a page
on Reverser's site, i know he updates to Exite, and use the view by url
function. It's only two clicks instead of the three or four on reverser's
site you need to go trough. Sites that are navigation hell, and contain a
lot of info that i need often, i add/update the url to a search engine, and
navigate from the engine. 

If you want to get the information you need from the web,  you should have
your personal toolbar folder full of search tools. Your bookmark file
should be as empty and as managed as possible. There's a point when you
find the page you need faster with a search engine, than going through your
huge and  messy bookmarks file. Make a temp folder for pages you need to
visit later that day or something, and empty that folder every so often.  

There's a lot of discussion about which search engine is the best. I'm not
going into that, you need a lot of search engines, and some are better for
some types of searches than others. I use Infoseek as standard, you should
by all means  keep on using yours. Use the others if you don't find what
you need, and you will soon find out which is the best engine to put under
that home button, for the type of search you use most. 

A lot of search engines have very specific users. You'll find a lot more
kiddie crack archive pages on say alta vista, than on other search engines,
but you may also find some doom clan page instead, from the kid who got
scared, replaced his page,. but didn't update his keywords or his url to
the engine. You'll find more mama's and papa's on exite. And you'll find
more business and science pages on infoseek. Forget yahoo completely, it's
the internet equivalent of a tv remote control zapper, not a program guide.

Deciding wether you will use any search engine should include: how well you
can use it already, how good it is as a search engine (what
functions/filters does it have?), but also what is the amount of
relevant content added to the engine... 

Make your standard search engine your startup page, or at least #1 on your
personal toolbar folder, and add at least two others to your personal
toolbar folder, the others should have functions that your 
standard engine doesn't have, or different percentages of content. Always
add deja news and ftp search there as well, or put them in a top dir in
your bookmark file, for easy access.   

ready ? 


Lesson 1: finding a crack/serial.

Finding a crack or serial is probably one of the most common searches ;).
Many people can find cracks, yet many people have trouble finding that one
crack they're looking for. Note that an experienced searcher has no use for
saving cracks or serials, or maintaining lists with serials. Getting the
serial/crack again from the web when you need to re-install, should
eventually be a lot faster and easier than wading through your
harddrive/cd-R's/zips crack name files, or even faster than going through
your huge dbase with outdated serials. (and maybe having to sort it). (save
'em for now though ;) )

step 1: targeting.

Defining the type of program should influence your search strategy for the
crack or serial. It may all seem like a lot to do now, but it will come
naturally in time, involving miliseconds instead of minutes.

a) is it a popular program ?
b) how old is the program ?
c) does it have any previous versions ?

- if it's a popular program that doesn't have many versions,  -> step 2
- if the program  has many previous versions, your search could be more 
effective/faster with a search engine that includes a date filter. -> step 3 
if the program is very popular AND has many previous versions -> step 4
- if the program is not popular or very specific, very new or elusive ->
step 5 

Step 2: the two keywords approach.

with infoseek:
a) search field: 
b) glance at nr of hits, too few ? then you're back to step 1.
c) search field: serial  [ or crack or serial OR crack]
(tag search these results only)
d) analyze hits

with your preferred search engine:
a) search field:  AND serial 

Analyzing hits takes experience, speed is the most important in this step,
so ignore all headers/descriptions that are too obvious, ("WAREZ WAREZ
WAREZ!!!") anything that says "FREE" and anything that includes "XXX".
They're 90% smut site hit gatherers. Go for the hits that show other
program names and serials, or "ABCDEFG...etc" in the descriptions first. 

Remember speed is the most important in this step, if there are many hits,
your crack/serial is on many many pages, so don't wait for slow pages to
load, they could be dead, don't bother with heavy pages or frames. just hit
the next one that catches your interest. 

Step 3: the date filter approach.

Your program has too many versions and you run into old expired serials,
and cracks that no longer work on the new version. If your program is
really popular, skip and go straight to step 4.

It's time to use an engine with a date filter, i'll use altavista advanced
query as an example.

a) search field:  AND serial 
b) from field: 

If your program has many previous versions, set the date to any time when
you think the crack you need was released and minimum 2 or 3 days ago,
since that's usually how long it takes for the url to be indexed. It will
eliminate most dead links, though i prefer not to use it as a standard for
this reason, because you usually end up with more smutsite (who update more
often) noise, in a date filtered search, than with dead hits in a standard
two keywords search. Also Altavista sorts oldest hits first. and you end up
spending too 
much time on doing new searches with new dates, it's often easier and
faster just to click your way through noise...

C) analyze hits (see step 2).

With the exception that speed becomes slighlty less of a priority.

Step 4:  The search as a phrase option.

Your search still generates too much noise, your proggie is too popular...
It's time to go back to your own search engine.

a) search field: " Vx.x" AND serial. 
experiment with placing/ not placing a space between the program name and
version #. , and leaving the "V" out.
b) analyze hits.

or with infoseek:
a) search field: " Vx.x"
b) search field: serial (tag search only in these results)
d) analyze results.

Step 5: re-targeting

your crack is elusive, because the program is...

a) too new -> step 6
b) too specific, not popular enough -> step 7
c) too old ! ->. step 7, -> C

Step 6: the usenet approach.

go to deja news and enter in the search field: (leave the rest default).

crack ^ 


 ^ crack

repeat with serial as nessecary

This will result in a lot of hits from posts by people requesting a crack.
Check the RE: headers first, hit the view thread button, you may find the
name of the crack. if you do... enter that name in your search engine ...
duh :)

If you don't, or do get the name, but don't find the crack,  start up your
news reader, subscribe to all crack groups and make a general filter
autoselecting all possible keywords. It may take you a few days or weeks,
but if a crack exists it will eventually show up. Don't post a request ,a
searcher never begs,  he watches 
others, and intercepts. ;) keep monitoring the groups, and combine with
seaching the web with step 3 - the date filter approach.

Or go to lesson 2, and use the warez/mp3's/passwords strategy on your new
crack search. 

Step 7: the puzzle approach.

Your program is very specific. this is the most difficult type of
crack/serial to find, and it could be worthwile learning how to crack for ;). 

With this type of search, signal and speed are no longer priorities, 
and every dead link, or noise link, may hold a valuable clue. There isn't
really one place you should look first anymore. Your clue to succes could
be anywhere. Still, my favourite is... 

A) dejanews filtered search.

-Add in the groups field: *crack*, *2600* etc etc 
-specify nothing else.
-hit create filter.

enter in the search field:

Again it's likely only requests will show up. view the threads, sift
through the replies. note the request headers and do a searches or make a
filters on them, and repeat.
B) Brute force search: 

Do a search on meta crawler (be prepared for lots of noise) or try all
popular search engines, try some noise, try the dead links that had the
keywords right, try to figure out the id of the page owner. try a parent
dir, examine the description in your search engine, and do a search on page
titles, handles, keywords etc... 
C) search for program fan pages.

Search for:
"the unofficial  homepage" , fanpages, etc etc
one of them may actually have the crack or serial you need, especially for
old programs this is often the case.

go back and repeat in different order, some clues found with one strategy,
may shed new light on the search, 

.....have fun ;)


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