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SEARCH ENGINES -- WORLDS AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Have you tried using an Internet search engine recently? Far beyond simple search capabilities, most offer many free features you may not know about.

A feature that has recently grown in popularity is free e-mail accounts. E-mail accounts are used to send messages to friends and family members. You can have as many e-mail accounts as you want -- it's free! The benefits of multiple e-mail accounts include no junk mail in your personal account, more privacy and more variety. Besides sending text, you can also attach any picture or program under 32 megabytes.

How do you set up your very own e-mail account? On the Web browser, type in yahoo.com, lycos.com, excite.com,hotbot.com or snap.com. When the page comes up, click the "new account" button and follow the instructions. Your account is established as soon as the instructions are followed. It takes a few minutes at most. If you have questions or problems with your account, click on the help button that is usually located on the left side of your screen. Other Web sites that are dedicated just to free e-mail are rocketmail.com and hotmail.com.

Lycos, Excite, Infoseek, Snap and Yahoo have a chat feature that lets you talk to people with similar interests. Just click on the chat button and follow the instructions. You can use your e-mail address or create a new name to chat with. Interested in talking only to your friends? Use Yahoo Pager or AOL Instant Messenger (aol.com). This requires you to download the free software, which could take a few minutes. It's worth it, because once you are signed up, you can send private messages back and forth with your family and friends. Using buddy lists, you are automatically notified when a friend comes online.

Games are your game? Play or find out about live poker, checkers and much more with games from Yahoo, Excite, Lycos and Infoseek. First, click on the games button. Next, click on the game you would like to play. Sign up as a new user, or you could use your e-mail name and password. Once signed in, select a game room to play in and get ready to enjoy a good game.

Yahoo and Excite Classifieds get you in touch with people who are selling items and job opportunities all over the country. Click on the classifieds button to get started. Choose from one of the many categories of ads. Items available range from Beanie Babies to vacations. You can place your own ad by clicking on the "place ad" button. Job opportunities are listed as a separate function.

Who doesn't want the most accurate, up-to-the-minute sports coverage of all their favorite teams, from archery to wrestling? Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, Hotbot, Snap and Infoseek have you covered. You can see scores of games in progress and finished games. There are many sports articles available. Just click on the sports button.

Do you want to know the weather forecast? Snap, Yahoo, Lycos and Excite all have accurate forecasts for our area. Some search engines ask you to type in your ZIP code; others have you type in your city name. Click on the weather button and follow the instructions.

There are many more features included with search engines. Check out these great search engines and get ready to experience some of the best one-stop Web sites around!

Christopher Catalano is a junior at Olean High School.

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