Is the Pope Catholic? Most likely you've heard that phrase uttered in disgust, as in, "The answer to your question is obvious, you idiot." And yes, obviously "the Pope" and "Catholic" go together like wafers and wine. But if you're searching for Pope-related documents on the World Wide Web and decide to use "Catholic" to widen your search, you're headed in the wrong direction. The word "Catholic" is rarely used in documents dealing with the religion's highest figure.

So where's a lost soul to turn? Consider letting More Like This, a software program from Knowledge Discovery Ltd. (Hong Kong, 852-2584-6135), be your Web-search guide. The program is the product of more than 15 years of research on word associations and two years of research on how words fit together on the Web. It interfaces with your Web browser and all major search engines to ensure that you get optimal search results -- even if you have no idea that "papal" should top the list when you're on a mission to find "the Pope."

Operation is simple. Before you begin your first search, you set the program to click into your search engine of choice. Next you type in a key word. The program automatically throws in related words, then searches the Web using the search engine you've selected. You don't even have to interface directly with your browser. Once it's running, you can flip back to, say, that report in your word-processing program, and a window onto More Like This will come with you. Never again will you have to break your train of thought on-line to find more information. You can even highlight a phrase in the text of your document and click on the "search" button in the window to send More Like This on the prowl.

The savings in time range from the mini (a few seconds) to the macro (half an hour), depending on the complexity of the search and your experience on the Web. But any increase in efficiency is a bargain, given the program's cost: you can download a free trial copy from the Knowledge Discovery Web site (; after 21 days, the company charges a one-time fee of $35. As Brett Moore, Knowledge Discovery's strategic director, puts it: "It's like having a clever reference librarian around all the time."

-- Sarah Schafer