Interactive Internet Training Workshop Web Archives

MAP21: VERONICA

Posted by: Patrick Douglas Crispen
Date Mailed: Thursday, November 10th 1994 04:30 PM

MAP21: VERONICA


          "One must learn by doing the thing; though you think
           you know it, you have no certainty until you try."
           -- Publilius 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 10 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 on a temporary Gopher menu that you can browse through!
This temporary menu works just like any other Gopher menu!

Let's take a look at a basic Veronica search. I access my site's
Gopher client by typing "gopher" on the command line, and the following
menu appears on my screen:


     Rice CMS Gopher 2.4.0                            GOPHER.SQUIRREL.COM
     1/8
                                  (root menu)
     <document>  Information about the Squirrel Gopher Server
     <document>  What's new in the Squirrel Gopher
     <menu>      Network Resources, Services and Information
     <phonebk>   Squirrel staff directory
     <menu>      Squirrel Human Resources Information
     <menu>      Potpourri, Miscellaneous Topics
     <menu>      Local Squirrel Archives
     <menu>      Other Gopher Servers
     <menu>_     Search all of Gopherspace using Veronica - 4800+ servers


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 :)

I move the cursor down to the "Search Gopherspace using Veronica"
menu line, press enter, and the following menu appears on my screen:


     Rice CMS Gopher 2.4.0                                gopher.tc.umn.edu
     1/10
                  Search all of Gopherspace using Veronica - 4800+ servers
     <menu>      About Veronica:  Documents, Software, Index-Control Protocol
     <menu>      Experimental Veronica Query Interface: Chooses Server for You!
     <search>    Find ONLY DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via SUNET)
     <search>    Find ONLY DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via U of Manitoba)
     <search>_   Find ONLY DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via U T Dallas)
     <document>  Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) about veronica - July 29,1994
     <document>  How to Compose Veronica Queries - June 23, 1994
     <search>    Search Gopherspace by Title word(s) (via SUNET)
     <search>    Search Gopherspace by Title word(s) (via U of Manitoba)
     <search>    Search Gopherspace by Title word(s) (via U T Dallas)


Notice that not only do I get to choose which Veronica program site
I want to conduct my search through, I also get to choose between
two types of searches:

     1. "Search Gopherspace by Title word(s)" which will show me EVERY FLE
        AND DIRECTORY in Gopherspace whose title contains my keyword, or

     2. "Find ONLY DIRECTORIES by Title word(s)" which will show me ONLY
        THE DIRECTORIES (a.k.a. menus) in Gopherspace whose titles contain
        my keyword.

Obviously, the return from an "ONLY 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 an "ONLY 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.

The choice of which site I conduct my search through is completely up
to me. There should not be a difference between the sites and the results
that I will get (notice I said *should* not), so I can pick any site that
I want. Since my former best friend used to live in Dallas, I move the
cursor down to the "Find ONLY DIRECTORIES by Title word(s) (via U T
Dallas)" search entry, press enter, and the following appears on my
screen:

          Enter keyword(s):

The keyword I want Veronica to look for is "Roadmap," so I type

          Roadmap

press enter, 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                         veronica.utdallas.edu
     1/8
                   Find ONLY DIRECTORIES by Title Word(s)
     <menu>      Roadmap & Guide to Finding Information
     <menu>      Roadmap to Institutional Data
     <menu>_     ROADMAP
     <menu>      Roadmap to Risk (Graphics Files -- pict format)
     <menu>      Roadmap to Risk (ASCII)
     <menu>      Roadmap to Human Resources


COOL! Although each of these menus are located on different servers
around the world, I can access them ALL from this menu (although
further investigation shows that NONE of these menus have anything
to do with this workshop <<pout>>).

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 :)


ACCESSING VERONICA

If you wander around Gopherspace enough, you are bound to find a
site with a link to Veronica. Chances are, your site even has
its own Veronica link!

I would strongly recommend finding a Veronica menu somewhere and
planting a bookmark there. You will find that Veronica is an
ESSENTIAL Internet tool, and not having Veronica in your booklist
is going to be a BIG mistake.

You can find Veronica menus on most of the Gopher sites that you
can telnet to (see the list of telnet Gopher sites in MAP19),
and you can also access the Veronica menu through the University of
Minnesota's Gopher server (gopher.micro.umn.edu 70).


PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS

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 the other day. 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 was also attempting 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 :(


HOMEWORK:

     1.  Play around with Veronica :)

     2.  Find the "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Veronica"
         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 all of
         Gopherspace Using Veronica" menu on the University of
         Minnesota's Gopher server.


SOURCES:

     HOW TO COMPOSE VERONICA QUERIES - June 23, 1994: Steven Foster

     Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) about Veronica - July 23, 1994:
     Steven Foster and Fred Barrie .


   PATRICK DOUGLAS CRISPEN    THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS LETTER DO NOT
    PCRISPE1@UA1VM.UA.EDU      NECESSARILY REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE
  THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA      UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA - TUSCALOOSA

      ROADMAP: COPYRIGHT PATRICK CRISPEN 1994. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

   To unsubscribe from ANY Roadmap workshop, send an e-mail letter to
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