• Dante: Had to find the original Italian for the line "Abandon all hope ye who enter here" from Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy." Fortunately, I can puzzle out most written Italian. Checked babelfish.altavista.com for literal translations of two different versions of the line, then found Project Gutenberg's online version in the original Italian and searched for "speranza," which is Italian for "hope" and appears in both translations. The word appears multiple times; copied out the most likely line and the verse immediately following it, made a very rough translation of the following verse, and then found the English version online and searched for "abandon." Found the correct line and checked the following verse to see if it seemed to match my rough translation. (10 minutes.)

  • Godard quote: Given a vague misquote, ("When I hear culture, I take out my checkbook"), looked for attribution. Searched on Hotbot for all the words in the quote, not as a phrase, and read the article it turned up to find the correct quote ("When I hear the word culture, I take out my checkbook") and the context (Jean-Luc Godard's "Contempt"). (About a minute.)

  • CFIDS: Searched Medline, wwcoco.com, immunesupport.com, and other medical/support sites for the latest studies on chronic fatigue syndrome; specifically the most recent theories as to the cause. (3 hours.)

  • Macquarium: Looked for instructions on how to convert old computer monitors into fishtanks. Tried all the major search engines and nerd sites. Took forever because predictable keywords like fish, bowl, tank, "computer monitor," old, guide, construct, convert, etc., didn't turn anything up; "macquarium" finally revealed all the right sites. (7 hours.)

  • Cola.gif: Searched for a picture of a generic soda can. Had to develop new techniques for finding pictures on regular, text-searching engines. (45 minutes.)

  • Library of Congress: Searched for the algorithm which the Library of Congress uses to catalog their media materials. (15 minutes.)

    It's not always obvious how long it will take to find something online. When I do a search for you, I check to see how many leads I can find and then email you with an estimate of how long it will take so you can cancel the search if you want to.

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