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12 March 2014

With about 700 stories on this site in a little over 15 months, finding things can be a challenge. So we provide a lot of ways to help you look. And our full text search box is one of the most powerful. So we keep trying to improve it.


Before we detail the latest tweak, though, let's review your options:

  • Headlines -- In addition to the current Headlines page, there is a running trail of older headlines you can follow back to the first one, organized by year. Just look at the bottom of the page for the older 2014 stories, all of 2013 and all of 2012.
  • Archive -- Although we'll probaby outgrow this arrangement, the Archive page contains the headlines of every story we've published. And since our headlines are not gimmicky adjectival acrobats but nouns and verbs, it's easy to use your browser's Find command to swiftly sail through them to the ones you're interested in.
  • Recent Stories -- The Headlines page (all of them, in fact, one for each year) has a quick list of the recent stories sorted by category in the left-hand column. So if you want to know what our latest reviews are, look there.

That's how you can navigate to any story we've published but Photo Corners can navigate for you when you use our full text search feature at the top of our Archive page and at the bottom of the left-hand column on our headline pages.


Say you just want to know what we've said about a particular topic (the Sony A7 and A7R, for example) and don't trust a mere headline to cover it? After all, it might be in an Around The Horn article, which doesn't display topics in the headlines.

Or say you want to know what we've written about a specific tool or technique? Like using the Clarity slider in Photoshop or Lightroom.

In that case you want to use our full text search tool, which we've just improved.

A full text search means exactly that: looking for your phrase in the text of every one of our 646 or so stories and reporting the results in context to you with links to the stories.


Behind the scenes, there are two ways to do this.

What the major search engines do is index the site every now and then and look for your phrase in the index. This is very fast (nearly instant) but it is not up-to-date, particularly for this site.

We update frequently (six days a week at the moment) but we aren't indexed by the major search engines as often as we update. So they're always a little behind.

The other way to do it is simply to scour the original files. And that's the way our home-grown full text search works, hereafter known as Mike's Method. That includes everything that's available on the site, no need to index.

The problem with that is speed. The first time through it takes our server a few heartbeats to read through all the files. Fortunately, it caches them, so if you do a subsequent search, it's nearly instant. Just as fast as an indexed search, actually.

We like that a lot.

But we realize sometimes you just want a quick report. So we're now giving you the option to choose the method you want the. A popup button to the left of the text field shows you the currently supported methods.

At the moment, you can check quickly using DuckGoGo. It's secure and if it's good enough for John Gruber at Daring Fireball, it's good enough for us.

Here's the new search box:

On the front page, our tiny search box doesn't provide an option. It uses Mike's Method, which understands regular expressions (like "Sony A7r?" for either the A7 or A7R) and looks into everything on the site.

But you will find the new option shown above on the Archive page. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

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