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Stop Google(ing) Around And Get A Real Cyberlife

When Danny Sullivan, editor of http://www.searchenginewatch.com was asked if Google is widely considered the hands-down simplest, fastest, most accurate search site he responded with this answer. “Yes, if people haven’t tried Google yet, they must,” he says. He continues with the following advice. “But I always tell people to try a bunch of sites. Think of it this way: Just as we wear different pairs of shoes for different occasions, certain search engines may be better for certain searches. If you have been sticking to the same search engines for a while, you may be pleasantly surprised.”

With this in mind you may want to take a look at some great search engines that specialize. For example, when looking for prices of digital cameras a shopping engine like http://www.buyersindex.com will take you straight to the stores that sell them—far easier than wading through a one list of Web pages produced by a general search engine.

How do you find the right search tool for your needs? The search engine of search engines is http://www.lookoff.com. It tells you which of the sites are good for finding MP3s, stock tips, baseball stats, homework help and more. You’ll also find useful search tips and tutorials.

The following are other worthwhile engines:

  • ILor.com uses Google’s search technology to scour the Web, but goes one better by letting you conveniently create a list of links to visit without ever leaving the results page.

  • Teoma.com sorts results by topic. Search for “Brazil” for example, and you get headings such as “travel information,” “news” and “nature.”

  • Ditto.com search for pictures.

  • Yahooligans.com features kid-appropriate sites.

  • Backwash.com is an entertaining Web directory that sorts sites by personality types such as “Film Buff,” “Empty Nester” and “Frat Boy”.

The only other question is, if the plural of “geese” is “gaggle” then what is the plural of “Google”? Thanks for your business and please remember we welcome you comments and questions. For those responses just click on one of the corresponding links at the end of this publication.

Don Turner
VP Marketing & Authorized Agent Sales

How Digital Subscriber Lines (DSLs) Work
by comments@howstuffworks.com Curt Franklin

The Skinny Voice and the Broad Band

If you have read the How Stuff Works article entitled How Telephones Work, then you know that a standard telephone installation in the U.S. consists of a pair of copper wires that the phone company installs in your home. The pair of copper wires have lots of room for carrying more than your phone conversations. The wires are capable of handling a much greater bandwidth, the range of frequencies, than that demanded for voice. DSL exploits this "extra capacity" to carry information on the wire without disturbing the line's ability to carry conversations. The entire plan is based on matching particular frequencies to specific tasks.

To understand DSL, you first need to know a couple of things about a normal telephone line -- the kind that telephone professionals call POTS, for Plain Old Telephone Service. One of the ways that POTS makes the most of the telephone company's wires and equipment is by limiting the frequencies that the switches, telephones and other equipment will carry.

Human voices, speaking in normal conversational tones, can be carried in a frequency range of 0 to 3,400 hertz, or cycles per second. This range of frequencies is tiny. For example, compare this to the range of most stereo speakers, which cover from roughly 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz. And the wires themselves have the potential to handle frequencies up to several million hertz in most cases. The use of such a small portion of the wire's total bandwidth is historical -- remember that the telephone system has been in place, using a pair of copper wires to each home, for about a century.

By limiting the frequencies carried over the lines, the telephone system can pack lots of wires into a very small space without worrying about interference from one line causing problems on another. Modern equipment that sends digital, rather than analog, data can safely use much more of the telephone line's capacity. DSL does just that.

Most home and small business users are connected to an Asymmetrical DSL (ADSL) line. ADSL divides up the available frequencies in a line on the assumption that most Internet users look at, or download, much more information than they send, or upload. Under this assumption, if the connection speed from the Internet to the user is 3-4 times faster than the connection from the user back to the Internet, then the user will see the most benefit, most of the time.

Precisely how much benefit you see will greatly depend on how far you are from the central office of the company providing the ADSL service. ADSL is a distance-sensitive technology: As the connection's length increases, the signal quality decreases, and the connection speed goes down. The limit for ADSL service is 18,000 feet (5,460 meters), though for speed and quality of service reasons many ADSL providers place a lower limit on the distances for the service. At the extremes of the distance limits, ADSL customers may see speeds far below the promised maximums, while customers nearer the central office have the potential for seeing very high speeds in the future. For example, ADSL technology can provide maximum downstream (Internet to customer) speeds of up to 8 megabits per second (Mbps) at a distance of about 6,000 feet (1,820 meters), and upstream speeds of up to 640 kilobits per second (kbps). In practice, the best speeds widely offered today are 1.5 Mbps downstream, with upstream speeds varying between 64-640 kbps.

You might wonder, if distance is a limitation for DSL, why it's not also a limitation for voice telephone calls. The answer lies in small amplifiers called loading coils that the telephone company uses to boost voice signals. Unfortunately, these loading coils are incompatible with ADSL signals, so a voice coil in the loop between your telephone and the telephone company's central office will disqualify you from receiving ADSL. Other factors that might disqualify you from receiving ADSL include:

  • The presence of "bridge taps." These are extensions, between you and the central office, that extend service to other customers. While you wouldn't notice these bridge taps in normal phone service, they may take the total length of the circuit beyond the distance limits of the service provider.
  • Fiber-optic cables. ADSL signals can't pass through the conversion from analog to digital and back to analog that occurs if a portion of your telephone circuit comes through fiber-optic cables.
  • Distance. Even if you know where your central office is (don't be surprised if you don't -- the telephone companies don't advertise their locations), looking at a map is no indication of the distance a signal must travel between your house and the office.

Next month we will look at the types of equipment required for DSL to work properly and the cost and maintenance of said equipment.

Tim Kilkenny
Founder and CEO of FullNet Communications, Inc.

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