Roadmap96: MAP21 - Veronica
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"One must learn by doing the thing; though you
think you know it,
you have no certainty until you try."
-- Publius Syrus, Moral Sayings
Bouncing around Gopherspace, finding neat files and leaving bookmarks, is fun for a while. Soon, however, you are going to want to find a way to locate stuff in Gopherspace a little more quickly.
That's where Veronica comes in. Veronica -- Very Easy, Rodent-Oriented, Net-Wide Index to Computerized Archives -- is a search tool that allows you to quickly scan Gopherspace for particular files and directories.
Veronica is a program that you access through Gopher. Veronica asks you to enter a keyword, and it then searches through a database of over 5,500 Gopher servers and over 15 million Gopher "items" for files and directories whose titles contain your keyword.
What makes Veronica REALLY amazing is that it not only finds these files and directories, it also *GETS* all of these files and directories and places them into a temporary Gopher menu through which you can browse! This temporary menu works just like any other Gopher menu!
There are really only five steps to using Veronica:
- Start up your Gopher client,
- Go to a Veronica menu somewhere in Gopherspace,
- Pick a Veronica server through which you want to conduct your search,
- Type in a keyword that you want Veronica to search for, and
- Browse through the "results" that Veronica finds.
Let's take a look at a basic Veronica search. The best place to start is the "mother of all Gopher servers" at the University of Minnesota (gopher.micro.umn.edu). To access this Gopher directly from my command line, I type
and press the ENTER or RETURN key. BTW, this is just the
gopher <site address>
command that we talked about in MAP19.
Once I press the ENTER or RETURN key, the following appears on my screen:
Rice CMS Gopher 2.4.0 gopher.micro.umn.edu 1/12 Minnesota Gopher Server (Gopher.micro.umn.edu 70) <menu> Information About Gopher <menu> Computer Information <menu> Discussion Groups <menu> Fun & Games <menu> Internet file server (ftp) sites <menu> Libraries <menu> News <menu>_ Other Gopher and Information Servers <menu> Phone Books <search> Search Gopher Titles at the University of Minnesota <search> Search lots of places at the University of Minnesota <menu> University of Minnesota Campus Information
Since I used the UNIX Gopher client the first two days of this week, I figured it was only fair to use the VM Gopher client for two days as well. :)
Veronica can be found in the "Other Gopher and Information Servers" menu at the University of Minnesota, so I move the cursor down to the "Other Gopher and Information Servers" menu line, press the ENTER or RETURN key, and the following menu appears on my screen:
Rice CMS Gopher 2.4.0 gopher.tc.umn.edu 1/15 Other Gopher and Information Servers <menu> All the Gopher Servers in the World <search> Search All the Gopher Servers in the World <menu>_ Search titles in Gopherspace using veronica <menu> Africa <menu> Asia <menu> Europe ... %< snip snip snip %< ...
Hmm ... I wonder which menu I need to choose. :)
I move the cursor down to "Search titles in Gopherspace using veronica," press the ENTER or RETURN key, and the following menu appears on my screen:
Rice CMS Gopher 2.4.0 gopher.tc.umn.edu 1/16 Search titles in Gopherspace using veronica <search> Find GOPHER DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via NYSERNet) <search> Find GOPHER DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via PSINet) <search> Find GOPHER DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via U. ...) <document> Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) ... <document> How to Compose veronica Queries - June 23, 1994 <menu> More veronica: Software, Index-Control ... <search> Search GopherSpace by Title word(s) (via NYSERNet) <search> Search GopherSpace by Title word(s) (via PSINet) <search> Search GopherSpace by Title word(s) (via U. ...) Simplified veronica chooses server - pick a search type: <search> Simplified veronica: Find Gopher MENUS only <search> Simplified veronica: find ALL gopher types <document> how-to-query-veronica <document> veronica-faq
This is going to be a little difficult to explain, but you get to choose which Veronica server you want to use:
- You can choose a specific Veronica server (NYSERNet, PSINet, or U. Nac. Autonoma de MX) and run your search through that specific server, or
- You can do a "simplified" search and let Veronica choose a server for you.
There really is not much difference between these methods, so the choice is really up to you.
Once you determine which server you are going to use, you have to determine HOW you want to search through Gopherspace. You have two choices:
- "Search GopherSpace by Title word(s)" (or "find ALL gopher types") which will show you EVERY FILE AND DIRECTORY in Gopherspace whose title contains the keyword for which you are looking, or
- "Find GOPHER DIRECTORIES by Title word(s)" (or "Find Gopher MENUS only") which will show you ONLY THE DIRECTORIES (a.k.a. menus) in Gopherspace whose titles contain the keyword for which you are looking.
Obviously, the return from a "GOPHER DIRECTORIES" search will be much smaller than that from a "Search Gopherspace" search. If you are using a common word as your keyword (such as "Internet," "Gopher," "Economics," etc.), your best bet is to do a "GOPHER DIRECTORIES" search to keep from being flooded with returns. :)
I want to do a search of every Gopher directory on the planet that has the word "Roadmap" in it.
As I said earlier, the choice of Veronica sites through which you conduct your search is completely up to you. There should not be a difference between the sites and the results that you will get (notice I said *should* not), so you can pick any site that you want.
I'll just use the first site on the list: NYSERNet. I move the cursor to "Find GOPHER DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via NYSERNet)," press the ENTER or RETURN key, and the following appears on my screen:
The keyword I want Veronica to look for is "Roadmap," so I type
press the ENTER or RETURN key, prop my feet up on the desk, and wait for something to appear on my screen.
Eventually, the following menu appears on my screen:
Rice CMS Gopher 2.4.0 empire.nysernet.org 1/82 More Find GOPHER DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via NYSERNet) <menu> ROADMAP Internet Training Workshop ***NUEVO*** <menu> Roadmap for the Information Superhighway <menu> ROADMAP - Online Course on Using the Internet <menu> ROADMAP: an Internet Training Workshop by Patrick Crispen <menu> ROADMAP: an Internet Training Workshop by Patrick Crispen <menu> Roadmap Workshop on Internet and Popular Tools ... %< snip snip snip %< ...
COOL! Although each of these menus is located on different servers around the world, I can access them ALL from this menu! (BTW, searching for "Roadmap" turned out to be a bad idea because all of the menus that Veronica returned point to archives of the old Roadmap workshop, not to archives of the updated Roadmap96 workshop.) :(
Isn't Veronica NEAT?? There are a few more Veronica commands that you can use, but I'll let you discover them in tonight's homework. :)
I have personally had some problems with Veronica. I'm not sure if I am the only one who has had these problems, or if these problems are universal -- it is quite possible that I am living in a Veronica "black hole" and Veronica works perfectly well everywhere else but Alabama.
It is my personal experience that Veronica is so over-burdened that your chances of getting the Veronica program to accept your keyword on the first (or even the fifth) try are pretty slim. More likely than not, you are going to get a
*** Too many connections - Try again soon. ***
message. This can become very frustrating very quickly. Other times, you will encounter the now-famous
Empty menu; no items selected or nothing available
error message that we discussed in MAP19. This is also frustrating, especially when you have to retype your keyword every time this error appears on your screen.
The final error that I seem to encounter a lot in Veronica is the one that tells me that Veronica has found nothing matching my keyword. Unfortunately, experience has shown me that this may or may not be accurate.
There are a couple of things that you have to remember when using Veronica:
- Veronica is *incredibly* overloaded.
- If a Veronica keyword search does not work the first time, keep trying.
- When Veronica works, it is a thing of beauty.
- When Veronica doesn't work, it gives you error messages that may or may not be accurate.
- If you get an error message, try your keyword again.
- The most important ingredient in any Veronica search is *PATIENCE*.
While I was writing this lesson, I also attempted a Veronica search using the keyword "Crispen." After 32 attempts, I still have not been able to get Veronica to accept this keyword without giving me an error message. :(
- Play around with Veronica :)
- Find the Veronica FAQ and the "How to Compose Veronica Queries" documents and read them. These documents can be found in most Veronica menus. You can also find them in the "Search titles in Gopherspace using Veronica" menu on the University of Minnesota's Gopher server.
Originally written by Patrick Douglas Crispen