Reflections of a ModemJunkie

September, 1997

A Matter of Time

by Leonard Grossman

This month a reverie and a review -- LIKSE a useful Web search and browsing tool.

Just the other day a friend noticed that it's beginning to get dark early. Then the editor of WindoWatch sent me a note reminding me that the September column was due. I wrote her saying I seemed to have lost a week somewhere. But really, it seems like I have lost a summer. This strange summer, with periods of intense heat, then prolonged rain and a pleasant cool August. My yard has never been so green. Yet where has it gone? This last summer with our daughter at home before she goes overseas to college. Perhaps wishing it could stretch has made it go even faster.

I had promised myself that this column would be a reverie, an ode to my daughter. I've been thinking about it at odd moments all summer long, But it never got written. Perhaps I am still in denial. She can't be old enough to leave. She is so accomplished, so beautiful and yet, at times so young. Perhaps... perhaps.

Fortunately I also promised to write a software review. I haven't done that yet either. I rushed to download the software weeks ago. I tried it right away. But somehow I lost the summer.

Well, in Chicago, school started today. I taught school for ten years. In those days even the idea of going back to school before Labor Day would have been anathema. But there it is. School opened today. Summer is over. Time to shape up.

My websites need shaping up, too. I can't even count how many sub pages I now have. Dozens, I think. And on my hard drive I have duplicates and triplicates of many of the pages. Early drafts, backups, ideas and experiments. It is getting impossible to keep track.

As I have written before, the counter service I subscribe to, DBasics has changed its IP address again. What a pain. Now the address has to be changed on each page. Last time they did this, I discovered a perl script that would do the job. I ran it on one file. It searched for the old address and replaced it with the new one. So I telnetted in and tried it with a global wildcard. In one instant I had trashed my entire website. That's the thing about computers. They can be very efficient. Every file with an htm extension had been nulled. Fortunately I had backups on my own machine. I searched through and identified the latest version of each page and eventually the site was back up and running .

But I don't want to go through all that again. I did manually change the most important pages, but I don't even remember which of the lesser pages were coded. How long would it take me to search through all of the files in my \html directory to find out which ones needed to be changed? As I wrote last July, I don't want to go through all of that again.


Those of you who have followed my columns know that not long after I started creating web pages I discovered DiDa, a small simple HTML editor written by Godfrey Ko. Since then 90% of my web editing has been done with DiDa or it's big brother DiDa Pro, which has a number of advanced features. I soon made DiDa available for download on my homepage. I have been slightly amazed the significant number of hits my homepage gets for an informal, personal page. But, recent analysis of those hits show that about 40% of those hits are attributable to people searching for DiDa. Well over 10,000 copies have been downloaded from my page in the last year. If I deduct the hits recorded when I look at my own site, probably more than half my visitors come for that reason alone and not to read my words of wisdom. Quite a blow to my ego. DiDa is still available there.

Well, during that time Godfrey Ko has not been sitting still. He has been creating additional tools for web developers. One of those is NavRoad, an offline HTML browser, very useful for demonstrating web pages stored on a local machine without going on line. But the most useful of his ingenious creations is LIKSE. Not only does it let you view offline. But, above all, it can be used as a small portable, powerful search engine for html files on your local machine.

As I said, I have lots of files. Keeping track of what I have done and where it is, is almost impossible. I really wanted to know which files had that DBasics coding in them without having to open and search each file separately - - LIKSE to the rescue.

All I had to do was open LIKSE and click on search. Up came a screen quite similar to that on many of the more popular search engines with a few important additional options. It is possible to select the drive or path to be searched and also to indicate whether or not to search subdirectories. Additional choices are available such as whether the search should be case sensitive or not.

I simply typed in the old DBasics IP address and told it to search all subdirectories on the appropriate drive. Within seconds a hypertext screen appeared with a listing of all of the relevant files and the first line or two of text from the page. A click on the listing and the page opens for immediate viewing. If you have used relative paths, all of your local links and graphics will appear as well. And the links will work.

(In my early pages I didn't know about relative paths so I included full path statements for each link. Now I am stuck; although with LIKSE the problem of finding those old path statements so I can edit them will be much simpler if I ever get the energy.)

Back to the DBasics problem. I simply printed out the list created by LIKSE and used it as a guide in selecting the pages I needed to update. I suppose I could have left the LIKSE window open. Indeed, I could have run DiDa or Notepad or another editor right from within LIKSE. Like Godfrey Ko's other applications it is very easy on resources, but this way I could scratch out the irrelevant pages and check of the ones I had edited.

I then opened DiDa and entered the old IP address in the "search" field and the new address in the "replace" field. Going down the LIKSE list, I could now open only the relevant files and do a simple search and replace. Not as fast as a script that would have let me do a global search and replace of all the files. But much safer.

LIKSE also supports simple boolean search terms permitting fairly sophisticated site searches. I have used it to discover where I have used certain terms on my pages. I understand the application can also be used over an intranet as a local search too. That could be extremely useful for heavily text oriented sites. However, I have not had an opportunity to try it in that mode.

LIKSE is also small enough to fit on a single floppy together with a number of pages and graphics files - making it an excellent way to not only distribute and display whole websites, but to enable the viewer to search them as well. The compressed file is only 300 k. Expanded and ready to go it is under 800 k leaving over half a meg available on a floppy for your html and graphic files. That is really quite a lot if you are judicious in your use of images. My largest pages are rarely over 25k in text. I once even won an award for creating a complete page, including background graphics, in under 10 k. Take a look at A Note to Teach.

LIKSE can be run from a floppy or a CD-ROM without a Winsock.DLL. It supports client side image maps. It toggles easily from search engine to browser and has many other features.

My only gripe is that although searches can be made based on file age, file type and file size, the listing prepared by LIKSE does not tell you the date the file was created. Are you listening Godfrey Ko?

LIKSE comes in both 16 bit and 32 bit versions and is shareware. The basic shareware licence is $50. Site licences and royalty free licences are also available. For more information and to download the product go to the LIKSE page.

I still have lots of other catching up to do. At the summer Internet Expo I discovered a fascinating site analyzer which tracks every link on your site and not only tells you if it is broken but gives a wealth of additional information in a magnificent graphical form which is amazing to watch. After 10 minutes of exploring my site in incredible detail I let the demonstrator off the hook. I knew I couldn't afford the nearly $500 the application cost.

Then I ran across something more to my needs: CyberSpyder Link Test. Unfortunately the timed demo I have downloaded has expired so I'll have to grab a more recent copy before I can give a full review. Still, if I remember correctly the cost is around $35.00. It doesn't do nearly all the things that the huge commercial application did but it returns a heck of a lot of information about your site. The one night I played with it I learned quite a bit. If you can't wait, go to CyberSpyder. Note: At over 3 meg CyberSpyder will never make my Great Lite Software list, but it is still very useful.

For more than 30 years, before I became a labor lawyer the Labor Day weekend has always meant it's time for a fresh start. For over thirty years I was either a student or a teacher. I still have dreams of the first day of school and I quit teaching 20 years ago. So: Happy new year. I'll catch up on those summer projects. I suspect I'll write that ode to my daughter as her departure for Jerusalem comes closer - - or after she leaves and it really sinks in.

Copyright 1997 Leonard Grossman

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