The Search - Part 2

 The story so far:

The time is the far future when Cyberspace has become a physical reality. People have invented a new sport called SearchDuelling where two people or two teams use their handheld computers to search the Net for a given word – the first person or group to find it are the winners. Losers are often ridiculed and bullied. A young boy who has lost a SearchDuel and is being pursued by two bullies meets up with an old man who promises to teach him the secrets of the art if he promises not to misuse his power. The boy agrees and his training begins …

Last time on The Search:

CyberChan: "Excellent! You are learning! But this is just the tip of the iceberg my boy ... there is a lot more!"

Cee Pee Yew: "Oh ... "

 And onwards to the continuing adventures of Cee Pee Yew:

"… I don’t think I need any more of your lessons! I can’t waste time learning stuff that I probably won’t even need! Now I know enough to beat those guys at a SearchDuel anytime!" said Cee in an airy manner.

"Yes, it is always thus with the young! Once you learn a little, you think that you have drained the oceans of wisdom! Ah the folly of youth!" said Chan sadly.

"Yeah, yeah! Now I’ve got to go and rub those guys’ faces in the dust! And … uh … thanks for teaching me all this stuff, ok?" muttered Cee as if an afterthought.

"Listen to me boy! Anger never solved anything! Don’t give into your dark side – you must not be swayed by your emotions, remember your promise to not abuse your powers!"

Cee’s answer to this was to merely shrug and walk away. CyberChan watched his protégé disappear down the road with a smile that seemed to say "You’ll be back! But …" and then he turned, sat down under a tree, opened his computer and began checking the predictions of the CyberOracle once more.

A scant half an hour later, the same setting – a person would not even be able to detect a difference in the scene for a while till he looked closely and noticed that CyberChan was nolonger sitting under the tree. Cee rushes into the clearing as if he is in a mighty hurry and looks around wildly as if searching for something … or somebody. He doesn’t seem to find what he is searching for and he rushes here and there, peering behind the VirtualTrees and the GrafixBushes as if somebody might be hiding there. Finally, he seems to give up but then sees a passing Cyberian and rushes over.

"Did you see an old man around here? His name is CyberChan …"

The passer-by shakes his head in denial and is about to pass him and go on when Cee grabs his arm to detain him.

"Please! Are you sure you didn’t see him? If I don’t find him I will never be a SearchMaster!"

"Hmm … a SearchMaster, eh? You want to be a SearchMaster that bad?" asked the stranger in a thoughtful voice.

"Yes! Yes!! So did you see him? Do you know which way he went?"

"No, I didn’t but … you say he calls himself CyberChan? Hmm … if he is who I think he is, then he wouldn’t have been able to teach you much anyway. Tell me, did he ask you not to abuse the power that you will wield when you become a SearchMaster?"

Cee gaped at the stranger in astonishment.

"How did you know that?"

"It doesn’t matter – he used to be my master a long time ago … but now I am the greatest SearchMaster there is! If you want to be a SearchMaster, I will train you!"

"Oh, will you?"

"Yes …" he purred in a voice as smooth as a baby’s bottom covered in oil, "but you must first tell me why you have come back after apparently leaving your former master"

Cee seemed to hesitate for a moment and even showed some signs of embarrassment.

"Uh .. er .. um .. I thought I knew enough to take on some guys who’d beaten me in a SearchDuel and left him to have a rematch. He told me not to but I didn’t listen!"

"Did you win?"

"No! They beat me so very easily!"

"If you are going to be my student, there is one thing you must learn …"

"Never to give way to my anger or to misuse what I learn?"

"No! To always win if you take part in a SearchDuel! This CyberChan you talk of used to be my master too but he wouldn’t let me use my power to the maximum and I left him to continue my education on my own. Now I am the most powerful SearchMaster in the whole of Cyberia! Now, tell me, do you want to be a miser like my old master and hoard your power or to go out in the world and enjoy it?"

"Does that require an answer?"

"Good! Now let us see how much my old master has trained you … find me a document about scopolamine as fast as you can!"

Cee was eager to impress his new teacher and whipped out his handheld and began typing in a query on his browser. He had got only as far as typing in "SCOPOLAMAINE" when the stranger interrupted:

"Stop! Is that how you spell scopolamine?"

"Well … I wasn’t too sure and decided to try it …"

"Don’t! If you aren’t too sure of the spelling but do know part of the spelling, you can use that. Here you could have just as easily used ‘scopol’ and got almost the same results. This can be useful when you want to search for different forms of the same word too. For example, if you want to search for both ‘Asian university’ and ‘Asian Universities’, you can query on simply ‘Asian universit’ and you’ll be getting both in one go. You must learn to use each and every advantage you can if you are to be a really good SearchMaster. Now do that again!"

Cee typed in the query but this time it was without the self-assurance that he had displayed the first time. He looked hesitantly at the list of items displayed but seemed uncertain as to whether he should proceed or not.

"Come on man! Go ahead try the page! You can’t afford to waste time like this if you are engaged in a SearchDuel!"

Obediently, Cee clicked on the first hyperlink to open up the documents and the stranger pounced again.

"Stop! You mean you just open up each of the results one by one till you get a match? Why do you think they give you a page heading and a page summary for each match? So that you can just glance at it and continue on blind? No, you are supposed to read the heading and summary and decide whether the site is worth investigating! Do it!"

The boy looked like a puppy that had been scolded when it tried to lick somebody’s hand. He bent over his terminal intently and read the page summaries, his lips moving to shape the words. Finally, he seemed to make up his mind and pointed at one entry on the screen. The other hardly seemed to glance at it but nodded his head grudgingly.

"Yes, if you know that scopolamine is a drug, then you are correct in choosing the document which seems to describe medicines. Now, find the word on that page."

Cee seemed to be apprehensive about being scolded again and looked furtively at his new teacher for a moment before opening the document and starting to scan down the document when his master pounced on him again.

"No wonder you could never win a SearchDuel! Nobody ever reads through a document to find a word – why do you think they provide you with the find feature? Most browsers allow you to simply press CTRL+F to pop up a dialog box where you can enter a word to search for and using this feature, you can find a word quite quickly. You might find that the dialog box obscures your view of the browser window, if so, just close the dialog box after finding your first word and then press F3 to get the next occurrence of the word. You can repeat F3 till you come to the end of the document."

Without waiting for any further prompting, the boy quickly pressed the key combination, got the dialog box and entered ‘scopol’ while his teacher looked on critically. The screen scrolled down automatically to display the word ‘scopol’ highlighted and the boy heaved a sigh of relief at getting it right and the stranger treated him to a chilly smile for the first time.

"Right! Now you are slightly more prepared to face somebody in a SearchDuel! Go out there and find somebody and challenge them. Come back only when you have won!"

"But how will I find you?"

"The people around these parts know me. Just ask anyone, they will tell you where to find me – ask them to tell you where Drak Nader is!"

Nader turned on his heel and stalked off without any further comments and Cee was left staring after him, wondering whether to forget all about him and go away, never to challenge anyone to a SearchDuel or to do as Nader had asked.

To be continued …

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