Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

6.25. Where can I find a program to do _________?

If you don't know the name of a specific program, but you do know that you want a program that does a specific thing, you can let your fingers do the walking with archive sites that maintain file description abstracts. Connect to your favorite archive site, find the directory that sounds like it holds the kind of program you're looking for, and look at a description of the files there. OK, so it's not high tech, but it works.

Most anonymous FTP archives include index files that briefly describe the various programs available at the site. Generally, each subdirectory has its own abstract file listing the programs available therein. Abstract file names typically begin with 00 and end with either .txt or .abs. For instance, 00index.txt. (I keep writing generally and typically because the folks behind the scenes at each FTP site are free to index the system any way they want--or not index it at all. Your mileage may vary.) Some FTP sites have a complete list of all the files and abstracts. Try looking for a file called something like /pub/00all-abstracts.

So, if I were looking for a freeware Tetris-like game for the Macintosh, I would FTP to, go to the directory /mac/game/arcade, and get the file 00index.txt. I would peruse the index offline and reconnect later to grab the files that interest me.

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