Your own library. The word “comprehensive” doesn’t begin to
cover Martindale’s The
Reference Desk
. Imagine — all in one place — more than 10,620
calculators, 3,600 databases, 10,500 movies and countless maps,
dictionaries and other reference resources. There are sections on math,
chemistry, physics, astronomy, geoscience and many more subjects. (The
reader who recently asked about researching medical conditions might
want to refer to The Reference Desk’s 130,000 cases and 57,000
health-science teaching files.) Just think of the site as a library in
your computer.

I’m searchin’. If you’re a Web veteran, you probably know
about Search Engine Watch.
It provides more about search engines, including comparisons, reviews,
statistics and links to more search engines — including kid-safe ones
— than you ever imagined existed. But if you sometimes get frustrated
at having to wade through so much dross to find the gold you’re looking
for, Search Engine Watch will help you learn to use search engines to
locate exactly what you want — not 10,000 unrelated references. Anyone
who does Internet searches will find valuable help.

It’s a mystery. A reader who’s also a mystery fan noted a
reference to a new site in a recent column and wrote to recommend Mystery Guide. Its strength is its
reviews, but it also has nice author interviews and lets your browse by
sub-genres. If you’re a voracious reader, though, what you’ll like best
is the ability to find a book you’ve already read and enjoyed and click
on the “top 5 similar books” button to find other books and series that
you might not discover any other way.

Making money in the market. If you hear all the stories about
people making fortunes in the stock market and wonder why you can’t make
ends meet, you need Blue Collar
, which calls itself “a financial page for the common
investor.” In addition to a primer on mutual funds, it explains the
basics of many aspects of ordinary people’s finances — taxes,
mortgages, insurance among them. And it has a good article on why you
can’t get ahead.

Those who understand the market — or think they do — and want to
track their individual portfolio, as well as have SEC filings, real-time
(rather than delayed) stock quotes, stock charts, and investing articles
in one place will find a home at Raging Bull. It’s probably best
known, though, for its extensive message boards about individual stocks.

Rewards for reading. To encourage kids in K-8 to read more
often or for longer periods and with greater understanding, the
nonprofit Book Adventure site
offers prizes to kids who read and answer questions about any of 3,000
books it has online. Today the site kicks off its second National Book
Bonanza, with a family trip as the big prize. The real reward, though,
is getting your kids hooked on reading, and Bailey Bookmark and Rex
Reader make it appealing.

The place for kids. A reader requested more places for
youngsters to visit on the Web. One to add to the list of those given in
previous columns is KidTastic. It
offers games, movies, music, art, a computer center and lots of homework
help, including encyclopedias and dictionaries.

Get counted online. You’ve gotten the census form in the mail,
but did you know that until April 15, you might be able to fill it out
online at Census 2000? Actually,
whatever you think about the new census — and many have objections or
reservations about various aspects of it or how it’s being done — the
U.S. Census site is great if you have
a kid who’s preparing a geography report or needs population figures.
The site has maps, a gazetteer, the estimated population of the U.S. and
the world at the moment you access the home page and a handy little
feature where you pick a state and find out “quick facts” about it.

Get clipped. Lots of places on the Web offer free clip art for
your website. But the Clip Art
organizes the images better than most. That makes it easy
to find animated neon signs, buttons, icons or animated gifs, or simply
browse through the huge selection to see what you like. You will even
find links to sites that may help you build a better Web page.

Chuckle for the day. Let the Internet squeegee guy wash the
bug splatters off your computer screen.

Note: The promised answers to readers’ questions had to be
postponed for a week because the computer with that information on it
and I weren’t in the same location last week.

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