by Hooman Azmoodeh
Calabasas, California

Alta Vista is the largest web index. Find pointers to your home page or perhaps the email addres of an old friend; find out what the other indexes missed. You have access to all 8 billion words found in more than 16 million web pages.

The web is so immense that if you only spend a minute per page and devoted 10 hours a day to it, it would take four and a half years to explore a million web pages, a lifetime to explore just this index.

Alta Vista is the result of a research project started in the summer of 1995 at Digital's Research Laboratories in Palo Alto, Calif. Digital made the site public last December. Within three weeks of launch, it was handling more than 2 million HTTP requests per day.

Alta Vista offers two different kinds of searches:

SIMPLE QUERY -- Searches the index in the database. Comparable to other search engines.
ADVANCED QUERY -- Allows you to perform complex queries by using syntax such as AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR.
SURPRISE -- More thrilling than channel surfing. Less predictable than browsing a directory. Choose a category and hang onto your keyboard.
SURPRISE page provides different areas of interest to choose from, such as hobbies, movies, interviews, weather and sports.
THE FRESHEST NEWS -- A full-text index of more than 13,000 news groups updated in real-time. It gives you the articles too.
TIPS -- Make sure you read TIPS. It has interesting and useful suggestions. Also check out the section on ADDING/DELETING URLs if you would like to make changes to how your pages are saved in their database.
HELP -- And last but not least, check out the extensive HELP available on the site on using the search engine and indexes.

To allow you to visit places in the web you would never suspect existed, Alta Vista provides random jumps to pages that exist in the Index in the category that you specify. You may find the pages entertaining, mind-boggling, bothersome, bland, informative, intriguing or shocking -- the web is all of the above.

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Last Updated: 11-Mar-96
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