Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Can Google Do For You? (Part I)

It goes without saying that Google has become everyone's answer-man. In fact, Google's proficiency in this has earned it "Kleenex" status, where it has actually become a generic word for its product category.

Coovo, did you get the xerox of my butt?
It made you cry? Here's a kleenex.
No, I don't have another. Try using this q-tip.
Woah - that looks like it hurt. Here's a band-aid for that.
If you're still upset, I'll get you a coke.
What do you mean you already saw my butt when you google'd it?

I know. That was stupid. I'm sorry. That's why I make Tim do this thing with me, gotta have some talent on this zeppelin.

Anyway, Google has plenty of other functions besides search, mail and maps.

Simple tools
  • Perhaps I want to find all urls with "theloopandthelou" in it (coincidentally, one of the more common searches on Google). Entering "inurl:theloopandthelou" as my search criteria will do that. Notice that in the example there is no space between your colon and theloopandthelou.
  • Want the definition of antidisestablishmentarianism? Use "define:antidisestablishmentarianism". Of course, you don't have to actually include the quotes in the search criteria. But if you're trying to define a multi-word term, make sure you put quotes around all the search terms, such as define:"al qaeda". Unfortunately, entering the term define:"Google" does not trigger an infinite loop that breaks the space/time continuum like I hoped it would.
There are many other search operators available for use for your amusement and/or education. And honestly, I think those operators will work on other search engines, too. But that's simple stuff, on to the bigger and better...

Google as your home page

Besides just being a search engine, Google can act as a portal for your content. "Portal" has many meanings. In the I/T world, a portal is a means to deliver personalized content to a user and allow the user to customize his or her experience. Do you have your own MyYahoo or MSN page? Have you told it that you want to see certain sports scores in the left column or stock symbols in the right column? That's it.

Google has the same capabilities. For the average user, I think iGoogle (the name of Google's portal), MyYahoo, and MSN are equally good. I use iGoogle because I use numerous other Google services and they all integrate nicely.

To try it out: sign into Google and start here. You can add as many Google "gadgets" to a page as you want (using the "Add Stuff" link) and create as many tabs as you want as well. Of course, if you want an easy way to stay updated on the ever-changing blog, The Loop and the Lou, you can add a TLATL gadget to your page. In fact, it's as easy as clicking this link: Add to Google

That's all for this edition of "roller the geek". Tune in next time when we'll look at some of the other cool tools Google has developed and gives away for free. And please feel free to share your own ideas for improving the web experience!

Closing poll: iGoogle, MyYahoo, or MSN?


Ryan said...

There are other fun ways to use Google. For example, are you afraid that all your creative thoughts are just taken from other people but then because you have a bad memory, you can't remember how you got them, so you assume you came up with them?

Like if you wanted to name something with a unique name, just Google ideas until 0 pages come up. Surprisingly hard.

For example, I am sure the new name I want for dog is original. I just googled "Zam Bollo" and nothing came up. Sweeeet.

However, a truly hard game to play on Google is googling stuff to get exactly one reference. I've never been able to do it, but I've heard about it as a leisurely pursuit. Funner than minesweeper at least. Furthermore, when this happens, a website chronicles it, thus creating a second reference. So if it happens, it a zen moment for you and only you.

That just blew my mind. Zammm

Roller said...

I must say I've never tried the single-result game, but I suspect it is about as hard as solving the rubix cube with one hand. At work I've definitely had a number of 2,3 and 4 result searches, but I don't know if I've ever had a single.

"adam schiff coovo" yields 2 results, which is a ripoff because one is from our article, and one is from our archive.

"mark mcgwire coovo" and "sammy sosa coovo" both yield 1 result. Dude, that game is easy. I suppose the lesson is, if you ever have trouble finding something in Google because of an abundance of results, just add "coovo" to your search criteria.

Ryan said...

Dude, you can't reference your own pages. That's cheating.

You're better than that Roller, you're better than that.

Roller said...

Actually I made that comment first (the link is actually to a different YouTube video, not my post). Then like all YouTube experiences I got a little trapped by the similar video suggestions and found the shy Matyas and the young LAS (Little Asian Sensation). So like I said in the post, I was a little lazy that day and took the easy way out.

Coovo said...

First, Roller, whatever Google is paying you, I want a cut.

Second, I just named my adopt-a-tunisian Zam Bollo.

Third, Minesweeper got me through college. Back off.

Fourth, I really like buffalo chicken tenders.