May 2000                                                                                                     

Web Master Wanderings
By Curt Potsic, Space Coast PC Users Group

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Update Note: Since this article was written has changed its name to ( The link is also conveniently located on our SCPCUG Search Engines page ( under the "Special" category.

Are you looking for something to boost your ego? Something to make you smarter? Maybe it's time for a dose of GuruNet! You don't have to be a Guru to use GuruNet but it will make you feel like one. GuruNet is a little 756 KB utility that makes you an "Instant Expert". It should prove especially valuable to users of cable modems with their "always on" connection, i.e. users of RoadRunner ( GuruNet is available at (you guessed it!), The reason I say cable modem users will find this program more valuable is that its one limiting factor is you have to be connected to the Internet to use it.

Let's get some of the installation requirements out of the way before we actually get into what this program is all about. I think most Internet users can easily meet these requirements. GuruNet works on Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000. However, if you are using Win95, you must have Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 (IE4) or above installed. You don't need to actually use IE4. The installed program only takes up 1.5 MB of hard drive space.

In a way, by telling you about GuruNet, I might be doing the SCPCUG website a disservice. After you have tried GuruNet you might have less of a reason to go to our SCPCUG Search Engines page ( So is GuruNet a Search Engine? Well sort of. It uses Search Engines but it is much more. The thing that really makes it unique is its implementation. The user just points to any word or term in a Windows application. GuruNet goes to work analyzing the pointed-to text in context and pops-up a small window with an explanation. You don't even have to leave the document you are working on. So what is GuruNet's "mission"? (The US Air Force, from which I am retired, liked to use the word "mission". Everybody and every organization had a "mission".) The Jerusalem-based company (with the same name) behind GuruNet states its mission is "to empower Web users with a Net-based browserless service that delivers instant information and e-commerce power in a simple one-click pop-up window within any Windows application". They are trying to "make the Web experience and information access easier, more consolidated, productive and fun".

GuruNet runs in the background while you are on the Internet. It works with all browsers and really all Windows programs (including MS-Office, e-mail, and Personal Information Managers). You don't need your browser up and running ahead of time to use it. You can be working in a Windows program other than your browser. For example, I could be typing this article in WordPad with my Netscape Communicator Browser closed. Say I type the word "movable" but I'm not sure if it's spelled "moveable" or "movable". Now I could open my browser, go to our SCPCUG Search Engines page, find the dictionary link and look it up, but GuruNet is a lot faster. I just place my cursor over the word (don't even have to highlight the word), press the "Alt" key while left-clicking the mouse and in less than 5 seconds (with even a 28.8K connection) up pops a little window with the proper spelling and definition. I did not even have to open my browser.

Example of Word Definition displayed by GuruNet

Such is the power of GuruNet. If I need a synonym I just click on "Thesaurus" on the left side of the GuruNet window and the window instantly displays the information. This program is very fast. No long waits for page loading. Now I don't do anything in the way of translation but the capability is there. Click "Translation" in the GuruNet menu and the word is instantly translated to German, Spanish, French, or Italian. More translations are on the way.

If the word happens to be something you want to search the Internet for, that capability is right there waiting for you. Just click on "Search" in the GuruNet menu. You can choose to do a search with a random Search Engine or choose from among twelve big name search engines including AltaVista, Excite, Google, HotBot,, and Yahoo. Clicking the "Search" button will bring up your default browser and take you to the requested search engine's search results page. Here you will have to wait for your browser to load and the resulting HTML page to load.

If you think there might be some books written about the word you selected, you can just click on "Books" in the GuruNet menu and similar to the "Search" you are given the option of "random choice" or selecting from, Barnes and Noble,, or Okay so maybe you are not literate and never heard of ( is (according to them) "the Internet's most comprehensive bookstore for professionals". Perhaps you may know them by their former name, claims to offer "a world-class selection of books, training materials and print-on-demand documentation for business, finance, math, science and technology experts". Guess that means you will not find any romance novels there.

Enough of that "high muckamuck" stuff. (Look that up in GuruNet.) A feature I really like is being able to type a stock symbol into the GuruNet window (or you could do the "Alt key plus left click" routine from within some document) and info about the company is immediately displayed in the GuruNet window. The GuruNet menu also changes to give you the following options: Company, News, Stock Price, Stock Chart, Financial links, Internet Keywords, Search, and Books.

The "News" option gives you a series of recent news links about the stock. Clicking on any of the links brings up your default browser and takes you to the location of the article. The "Stock Price" option instantly brings up (within the GuruNet window) the Last Price (delayed), Change, Percent Change, Volume, Open, Previous Close, Bid & Ask Prices and Sizes, and Highs & Lows for both the Day and Year. If that's not enough the "Stock Chart" option will give you within the small GuruNet window a yearly chart.

Example of Stock Chart displayed by GuruNet

To pursue your stock inquiry further just click on the chart. Your browser comes up and you are transported to ( where you have the same chart with much more information and charting options for doing an analysis. Such is the power of the Internet! To think only 30 years ago I was personally plotting my own stock charts by hand with graph paper. What a great technological age we live in!

The "Financial Links" option in the GuruNet menu gives you additional links for your browser dealing with things like Analyst Estimates, Options, Insider Trading, SEC Filings, Fundamentals, etc. I think any investor will be pleased with the amount of information available through GuruNet for stocks. I did find GuruNet lacking with respect to mutual funds. Typing in a mutual fund symbol returned a "not found". There is a way around this however. Type in a stock symbol first, click on the "Stock Chart" option, and then click on the small chart within the GuruNet window. Once your browser has transported you to you can type the mutual fund symbol in the search windows on Stockpoint's site to get fund information or charts.

GuruNet recognizes "Internet Keywords". Now I'm not big on conversational acronyms used in chat rooms and newsgroup messages. Actually I prefer voice chat to text chat so I have never been one to sit around madly typing away into little text chat windows. That attitude has lead me to be sadly deficient in knowledge of conversational acronyms. Thus, I was somewhat at a loss when reading an article about modems when the statement was made "This is not a winmodem AFAIK". GuruNet to the rescue. GuruNet told me AFAIK was an Internet Keyword meaning "As Far As I Know". Who says you don't learn something new everyday?

I have just touched on some of the things GuruNet does but there are more which you will have to explore for yourself. GuruNet has biographies on US Congressmen and Sports Names, Weather Information for US cities and International cities, and US Area Code lookup. As sources for information it uses among others the American Heritage Dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, and the Columbia Reference Encyclopedia. Technical terms use definitions from Sports data is gathered from STATS, and news, stocks and company profile information from NewsAlert.

Finally, here are a couple of follow-ups to two previous Web Master Wanderings articles.

In the last paragraph of my March 2000 article ( I gave you a couple of links for 4300 FM and 797 AM United States Radio Stations on the Internet. I have since found a better and more versatile list which includes search capability and has much more information. Check out the MIT List of Radio Stations on the Internet at It has links to over 9000 Radio Stations around the world.

My April 2000 article ( discussed the FreeSpeech Browser voice recognition program ( I have always found the more information you can gather about a program, the better equipped you will be for making a decision on that program's value to you i.e. worthy of installation because you will "really" use the program. Hence, I offer another review. I found a ZDNet review of FreeSpeech Browser at,4161,2394449.html. While there you might also want to check out the ZDNet Voice Recognition Guide at,7267,6000743,00.html.

Note: Web Master Wanderings articles contain links to external web sites. Web addresses are constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date beyond the date that this article is originally published.