Power Searching with Google Quick Reference
How Search Works: Google looks for the word you
typed in, but sometimes also looks for synonyms or
related terms. Any words appearing in boldface type in
your search results are terms Google associates with
your search terms.
Ads appear in response to some queries and are
always labeled ads.
Aside from ads, website owners cannot pay to
influence the placement of their website in the search
Color filtering: Use color filtering within image
search. Click on the appropriate colored box in the left
panel (does not work on iPad and Android tablets).
Use image search when it appears in search results,
and use related image search to refine results.
Choose effective keywords: Remember to think
about the words you think will be in your desired
results page. Determine the most important words in
your search as well as potential synonyms.
Word order matters. Small words (a, the) matter,
like when they distinguish between two similar entities.
Punctuation that matters: $, #, and + (when used as
Punctuation that Google ignores: ¶, £, €, ©, ®, ÷,
§, %, (), @, ?, !
Quotes: Use quotes to search for a phrase.
Quotes glue words together; there can be additional
words before or after the phrase, but the phrase will
always stay together in the results.
Information panels: Information about certain topics
(e.g. landmarks, famous people, movies, chemical
elements) appears directly on the search results page
(top box on right-hand side).
Left panel: Here, you can filter results by different
categories (blogs, discussions, recipes, patents,
books, 3D models, scholarly sources, and legal
The left panel does not appear on tablet computers
(iPads and Android devices).
Find text on a page:
Windows computers: Press the Control and F keys at
the same time.
Apple computers: Press the command and F keys at
the same time.
Android tablets: In a browser window, touch the menu
button in the top right of the screen, then select “find
Safari on iPad tablets: Click the cursor in the search
box in the upper right corner of the screen. Directly
above the keyboard, a “find on page” box will open.
Translate: Translate words, sentences, and pages by
Foreign language search: Search in foreign
languages using English by clicking “More search
tools” on the left panel of your results page, then
select “Translated foreign pages.” This feature
chooses the best language in which to search and
delivers results translated back into English.
site: Return results from the specified site only; use
also within images and news results.
[site:edu] or [site:.edu]
[Jefferson site:archives.gov] or
filetype: return files of the extension you specify.
NO space between filetype, the colon, and the
[filetype:txt] or [filetype:.txt]
other types: swf, xlsx, pdf, gif
List of file types Google indexes: http://
minus (-): Eliminate irrelevant results.
There must be a space before the minus sign.
There must not be a space between the minus sign
and the word you want to eliminate.
Example: [tesla -coil]
plus (+): Does not mean “and,” nor does it force
inclusion of a word. Google can search for certain plus
signs after a word (e.x., C++ and Google+). A plus
sign before a search term, used as an operator, looks
for a Google+ Page by that name.
define: Identify the meaning of words. Example:
Also: Click on Search Tools in the left panel, then
Dictionary to define words that do not appear in
OR: Use OR to include more than one way of
expressing an idea.
Search by image: Visit images.google.com, or
any Images results page, and click the camera
icon in the search box. Enter an image URL
for an image hosted on the web or upload
an image from your computer. See: http://
Search by Image is supported on these browsers:
Chrome, Firefox 3.0+, Internet Explorer 8+, and Safari
5.0+. To Search by Image on an Android device,
use an app like Google Goggles to take a photo of
an object or image. Search by Image is not currently
supported on tablet browsers.
Shortcuts (search features):
Google search features include weather, time, flight
numbers, earthquakes, world capitals, sunrise/
sunset times, movies, stock quotes, sports scores,
package tracking numbers, medical conditions, and
medications. Check out the full list of search features.
These search features are available on cell phone,
iPad, or anywhere Google is available (like on your
phone while you are cooking in the kitchen).
Time/Date range: Limit results to sources published
during a specific time period by clicking on Search
Tools in the left panel, then selecting the appropriate
Time filters are available in Web Search, Books,
Images, News, Videos, Blogs, Discussions, and
This feature is not available on tablet browsers.
Math and Calculations:
Enter any math equation into the search box, and
Google will calculate your answer.
Verify the credibility of information you find on the
web. Just do one more search.
Avoid confirmation bias when conducting searches.
To verify the source of a piece of information, use the
precise information you have.
To confirm a fact, use a generic description for what
Example: [average length octopus] will give you
information about how long an octopus is. [18 inch
long octopus] will give you sources with examples of
octopuses of that length.
Search appropriate sources that offer authoritative
information for the type of information you are trying
WHOIS: query to identify the owner of a website.
The US Chamber of Commerce operates the WHOIS
search available at http://www.internic.net/whois.html;
alternative WHOIS registries also exist.
If you see a second company listed as a contact
on the WHOIS page, then a relationship exists
between the two companies; search to determine that
Example: [whois] finds WHOIS registries you can
use. Find the search box for the registry, and enter
[zagat.com]. See that Google is the registrant. Search
for [google zagat], which leads to the information that
Google acquired Zagat.
If you don’t know a company’s website, you can
search for the company’s name in Google and locate
the web address.
Sometimes search results offer information that
suggests a better or additional search.
Refine results by using different media types like
videos and news; these filters appear in the left side of
the search results page
Combine operators for stronger searches.
Operators can be placed anywhere in the query
without affecting the results. For example: [black cats
site:com] is equivalent to [site:com black cats].
Combine methods and approaches to find
Use tools that are not traditionally used for research,
like Maps and Streetview.
(On tablets, it’s best to use the Google Maps
application instead of looking at streetview in the
To keep updated on Google Search:
Pick a blog to read to keep up-to-date:
● Official Google Blog
● Inside Search
● SearchResearch (by Dan Russell)
● MindShift (posts by Tasha Bergson-
● Search Engine Land
Set up an email alert to notify you when there is a new
Try out the AGoogleADay game.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Gone are the days when we vacationed without our phones and portable PCs. Now they're as essential as shorts and sandals.
Planning for overseas communications
I do a fair amount of traveling within the U.S. — for business, personal pleasure, and visiting friends. I take it for granted that my digital technology always goes with me. Wherever I am, I can be relatively assured that my smartphone will find a local cell tower and my notebook will find Wi-Fi somewhere nearby.
But this summer, I'm taking an extended trip overseas. I'll be in places where my phone might not work — a problem that must be solved before I leave. My office and my aging father must be able to contact me in an emergency.
A few years ago, it was almost guaranteed that a U.S.-based cellphone wouldn't work overseas. However, newer phones, such as my iPhone, work internationally. In my case, I just need to call my service provider at least one day before travel begins and have an international plan added to my cellphone plan.
Because international calls can be expensive, I'm also adding a personal Skype phone number. At U.S. $18 for three months or $60 for a year, it will ensure that, no matter where I am, as long as I can get to Skype on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, my father can reach me relatively inexpensively. And Skype will give me a local number so he doesn't even have to call long-distance.
Of course, Skype-to-Skype calls are a free call, even overseas. So our first mode of regular communication will be at a set time, Skype to Skype, over the Internet.
Make adjustments to your phone before departure
I rely heavily on technology and have added various alert and messaging services to my phone over the years. These services will consume bandwidth and roaming charges while I'm overseas. So one of the items on my pre-departure checklist is to disable all push email services. While on the road, email will download only when I request it. Typically, this change is made within the phone's email settings.
On my iPhone, I can also use the Do Not Disturb option under Notifications. Two additional options in Do Not Disturb, Allow Call From and Repeated Calls, give me other choices. The former lets me control who calls me; the latter rings my phone if the same person calls twice within three minutes — a good precaution for emergencies.
I'll also adjust the phone's location services so it doesn't waste minutes/data by constantly — and unnecessarily — checking its current location. I'll also need to adjust some of my phone's apps. Some apps can sense when they don't have a full network connection and will wait until they're on a good network before synching the data back to online web servers. In my case, I'll have to adjust my personal fitness apps (RunKeeper and Jawbone UP) to make them less chatty while I'm on vacation.
I protect my phone with a passcode. If you haven't done so, create a passcode before you leave. Also enable any options for automatically erasing your phone's data if someone enters too many incorrect passcodes. And if your phone supports it, enable remote phone locking and wiping.
I plan to take my phone with me so I can use convenient tools such as Google Maps and translation services. But there is the option of purchasing an inexpensive phone that works only overseas. This temporary phone is no great loss if it's stolen or misplaced, but it will provide another emergency number for my office or my father.
The question is whether to buy this backup phone before or after departure. It's probably going to be cheaper overseas. However, it might make life a bit easier to have it in hand before leaving.
There are stateside phone and Internet companies that will rent international MiFi (or mobile hotspot; more info) devices with unlimited Internet use while abroad. That will give your traveling Wi-Fi-only devices an easy connection to the Internet. A review of many cruise and travel forums will provide recommended vendors. If you do a lot of traveling, purchasing a pay-as-you-go MiFi device would make more sense in the long run.
Part of my trip will be on a cruise ship. I'll be able to make calls on my phone while aboard — as long as the ship has electricity. (Not a given these days. The ill-fated Carnival cruise–ship passengers lost cellular when the ship lost power.) That said, using your phone aboard ship can come at a high price. Consider leaving the phone mostly off and enjoying the "solitude" — or use the onboard Internet to contact loved ones. (I'll keep my phone on in case of emergency, but I plan to rely on technologies such as Skype to stay connected.)
Back up all devices before leaving home
Before departure, fully back up all devices you plan to take with you. If any of the devices has sensitive information, ensure that the data is encrypted. On laptops, use TrueCrypt (site) or Windows' BitLocker to encrypt the hard drive.
That full-backup task includes your phone, in case it's lost or damaged. Tethering my iPhone creates a complete backup on my personal computer. You can also place key documents you might need while traveling — copies of reservations, for example — in a SkyDrive or Dropbox folder, where you can get to them at any time.
On the road: Use Internet kiosks with caution
Internet kiosks — pay-to-use public computers — can be useful when you want to do some online research on a full-size screen. However, they're also a favorite target for malicious keylogging software used to steal usernames and passwords. Never sign in to a sensitive site, such as your bank, from an Internet kiosk. Even checking your email could leave you exposed, if you use the same password for both email and banking.
If you must contact your bank, ensure it's on a trusted Internet connection. Better yet, simply call the international number on the back of your credit card.
Rutgers University published a helpful security guideline for traveling with technology on its website. Although focused on business travel, its suggestion for taking the bare minimum with you when traveling applies to individuals, too.
One of the Rutgers recommendations is to use a virtual private network (VPN) for transmitting sensitive information. So before you depart, consider whether to sign up short-term with a VPN service such as USA Proxy Server (site). A Google search will give many other VPN solutions.
Be especially cautious using public Wi-Fi
Several years ago, an acquaintance traveling overseas had to call his email provider to gain access to his mail. For security reasons, the provider blacklisted ranges of IP addresses for suspect countries. It's still the case that some countries have had their entire IP ranges dropped from the international Web presence. If you suspect one or more of the countries you plan to visit might be a problem, call your provider before departure and check whether it blocks email addresses from those locations.
As in the U.S., some hotels include Internet access with their room charges. For others, connecting to the Net is a separate charge. Be sure to ask about Internet charges when you check in.
In the U.S., you can generally assume that every coffee shop has Internet connectivity. That's typically the case overseas, too. Whenever you connect to one of these public nets, always set the connection as "Public profile" to ensure that your firewall is set for maximum protection. (In Windows 7, it's the "park bench" setting in the Network and Sharing Center window.)
Bring along your own portable power source
When traveling, evenings are when you have the best opportunity to recharge your digital devices. Most mobile devices can go all day on a charge — if you rarely use them. Turn on services such as mapping, and your phone or tablet power can drop like a rock. I travel with a portable power brick; it lets me fully charge at least one of my devices without connecting to an electrical outlet. Although several are available, I use one from Mophie (site). It's relatively compact and weighs about a pound. If you're driving, take along a small power inverter that will power 110-volt chargers.
Travel carefully with these battery-powered devices. Don't leave them in hot cars or in trunks where they can overheat and possibly explode.
Posting travel plans on social-networking sites
In these days of online social interaction, some of the information we post could be read by people other than just our friends and family — by potential thieves, for example. Among the many such tales on the Web, WBIR.com posted a story about a family that put all the details of their vacation on Facebook — before and during their travels. They returned home to find their house vandalized and burgled.
Never post where, when, and for how long you'll be gone. Law-enforcement authorities recommend posting recaps of your vacations after you get back. If you're traveling in a group, make sure you don't end up tagged in your fellow travelers' photos. An Ehow page gives step-by-step instructions for blocking tagging. Also, don't upload smartphone photos directly to public or social sites; they could contain specific location data in their metadata.
So that's my plan for traveling with my digital devices. I'll let you know how it goes — when I get back. (Following my own advice, I'm not about to say when or where I'm going.) Needless to say, I plan to thoroughly enjoy myself and not be totally off the grid (unlike my editor, who tends to travel to less civilized places). My digital devices will add peace of mind and enhance my vacation.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
No sound on videos
- Adjust the volume on your computer and speakers.
- Adjust the volume control located in the lower left corner of the YouTube video player.
- Restart your browser.
- Try turning up the volume for other video players (like Quicktime, Real Player, or Windows Media player).