Saturday, January 15, 2011

Googling Google

Google has brought about a change in almost everything we do online. From searching to emailing, from chatting to photo sharing and what not. It won’t be imprecise to state that google has become a phenomena in itself. I as a software engineer can’t imagine coding without google search by my side. We no longer even so much as glance at any of the other search engies, infact searching and googling have become synonyms; we no longer say we’ll search up on smoething rather we say let me google it.
But what we don’t know is that there is more to “googling” then simply putting in our search terms and hitting the “enter” key. There are a lot of ways you can make your searching experience more comfortable, several teeny weeny things to understand before you gear yourself up for your next search or research.
An online guide, by the name of Google Guide, provides comprehensive tutorials to help you enhance your search results. Here’s what Nancy Blachman, the mastermind behind google guide has to say;
“Google Guide is an online interactive tutorial and reference for experienced users, novices, and everyone in between.”

Below is a list of a few ways to optimize your search and obtain the best results in a short span of time. Adding particular terms to your search query or crafting it in a particular format; you can find what you are looking for easily and quickly.

Google Time:
Every time we had to make an international call we had to add in or take out a few hours from our Pakistan Standard Time so that we don’t end up waking people at ungodly hours. Thanks to google, there is no more a need to exercise our mathematics skills as just typing in:
Time <city/country name>
will give you the exact time in that city/country.

Unit Conversion:
I wish I had this back in my school days, or maybe I did and never knew.
Google can just as easily convert between different units as your next chemistry professor, or maybe even better!

10 Kilometers in meter
Would give you 10000 meters before you get time to scratch your head (that is, if you have a speedy internet connection).
By putting in these terms you actually activate goggle calculator. But here’s the problem, you might not be able to do that with every search term. For example, if you want to know your height in centimeters, just putting in 5’6’’ won’t be the right choice of words, you’ll need to enter
5 foot 6 inches in centimeters
to get what you want, so better try out different combinations if the first one doesn’t give you the required output.

Currency convertor:
Google is also a big help if you are in the money conversion business.
5 Canadian dollars to PKR
5 USD to PKR
would give you the Pakistani rupees equivalent for 5 Canadian and US dollars respectively.

Let Google define:
Sometimes we just need a quick definition of a word to jog up our memories instead of going through long articles on a topic and still not getting anywhere.
In such a case, just precede your search term with “define:”. This will bring up the definitions from different sources on internet.

The “I’m Feeling Lucky” syndrome:
Ever noticed the “I’m feeling lucky” button besides the “Google Search” button on the home page? Ever tried it out?

The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button takes you directly to the first page returned by your search (without showing the entire result).

Exact Query:
If you want the result set to be such that the pages contain your search query in the exact same order, then try putting your search term within quotation marks. But better be sure of the exact order otherwise you’ll get only a few hits.
This feature may be helpful while searching for a verse.
Stop Words and the “+” Operator:
Stop words are the words which frequently occur in our speech. For e.g. a, be, at etc. Google ignores all such words.
But what if such a word if ignored makes a drastic impact on your search results?
To stop google from omitting any word precede the word with the “+” sign.
“+” operator can also be used to force google to match exact term rather than it’s variant.
For e.g. favorite book would match both the words favourite and favorite. However,
+favorite book
would only bring results containing the word favorite and NOT favourite.
The “-“ operator:
To exclude particular words from the search, precede the word with the “-“ operator.
The ~ (tilde) operator:
To make google search for a term AND it’s synonyms put in a ~ just before the word. For e.g.  for
~lunch Karachi
google would search for lunch, dinner, eating etc.

For operators +, -, ~ do not put in space between the operator and the word.
There’s a lot more you can do with google. I would recommend trying out the ones mentioned here first, getting accustomed to using them to obtain the best results, and then try to learn more about how to get even better results. Take it slowly so that you learn everything and can use your knowledge to the best.
Happy Googling!

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