Google has become such an integrated part of our lives that it has replaced Internet Search; you simply Google something instead of Internet searching something. I’m using Mac Safari as my web browser now and only laziness (to transfer bookmarks) is causing me to delay my switch to the better and faster Google Chrome web browser. With Google TV, Docs, Maps, Calendar, Mail, and Groups amongst the other products that I use on a daily basis, I thought it’d be good if I put together the top ten lesser-known tricks in our regular use of the Google search bar, to make virtual activities a little more convenient.
1. Definitions. Key in “Define [insert keyword]” and save some time there instead of checking via an internet dictionary.
2. Blog search. Pretty self-explanatory – search within listed blogs only. (It’s pretty interesting when I see how WordPress reveals how people end up at my blog.)
3. I’m Feeling Lucky. Ever wondered what this button is for?
4. Products. Type in “Better than _[insert keyword]_” and you will get an idea of how good something is. Remember the underscores. If you are someone who’s frugal and wants a good buy, try Froogle. (Clever wordplay!)
5. Translator. This is so good that it translates beyond just phrases, but entire websites and even documents. The amazing thing is that it continuously learns.
6. Conversions. You could just about convert everything. For example, type “123 metres in feet” or “456 SGD in RMB”. Too bad it doesn’t convert pre-believers.
7. Time. If you have a lot of friends overseas and want to know what their local time is, type “What time is it in [insert country]”. Never call at the wrong time ever again.
8. Checking within sites. This lets you zero in on one website. For example, type in “site:joeyasher.com huiyi” to find every post with her being mentioned.
9. Bypass proxy. Not really applicable in Singapore but definitely helpful in Shanghai where just about everything is blocked by thegreatfirewallofchina, including Facebook and WordPress, and for a period of time, Youtube and Wikipedia. Type in “cache:website.com”. Also helpful for annoying company fire walls.
10. Chuck Norris. My favourite, of course, is to type in “Google Chuck Norris” and press the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. Have a good laugh at the result.
Some additional trivia… During the time that I was in China, Google actually legalised the download of music (simply because they can’t keep up with the country’s normalised piracy). But don’t bother accessing it via a Singapore IP address – you’ll be denied.
The groundbreaking thing about Google is that it is a learning organism. For example, everything that is being searched for, including the actual search results and what appears in the search field (i.e. the autofills) is a result of what people key in, find and eventually click on. Google then intelligently learns these search behaviours; that’s why most of time you actually can find what you are searching for within the first couple of pages – because thousands upon thousands of others have searched what you are currently searching for.
Like many others, I’m inclined to recognise Apple and Google as the leaders of our world today – their influence and impact on our society are staggering; they pave the way for change and have a say in just about how we look at and use things. For e.g. iPhone revolutionised the way we look at mobile phone usage and Google revolutionised the way we use the Internet. This phenomena is mind-blowing (and potentially devastating).
Now if only Christians could exert that kind of influence… Hmm…
All right, let’s do something fun for the third list in the “Top Ten Tuesdays”. Here are the programmes I’d personally recommend to anyone with a computer because these little works of IT genius have made my life a little better. Not all programmes are available on the PC and I won’t apologise for it because… WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING WITH A PC!?
The following are not mentioned in any order of preference. I’ll recommend whatever comes to my mind first!
1. Google Chrome – I use it on my work computer and I like it so much I might just choose it over Safari on my Macbook Pro in time to come.
2. YouSendIt Express – Drag, drop and send from your desktop; until I discovered Dropbox, YouSendIt was the best way to send big files to others.
3. Dropbox – Convincing, convenient and certainly confirmed for coolness this year; 3-thumbs up!
4. Adium – The first programme I installed in my (then) black Macbook when I first switched over to Apple nearly five years ago.
5. Skype – You should throw away your computer if you haven’t heard of Skype; and no, it’s pronounced “Skype”, NOT “Sky-pee”!
6. VLC – Seriously, do I really need to describe this? Which media file doesn’t VLC open? (Ok, I just did.)
7. WideMail – A tiny but significant improvement that doubles your efficiency in the way you use MacMail.
8. AppDelete – Conveniently deletes all files related to an application and stores it neatly in a folder in your Trash.
9. MacSword – Always good to have a virtual Bible that you can copy and paste (or read) from when you’re not connected to the Internet.
10. Quicksilver – This has to be the slickest and sexiest way of searching for files and applications.
(Disclaimer: I am not a tech-savvy IT geek, so I’m sure that there are better stuff out there that deserves to be mentioned in this Top Ten list!) Do let me know which ones you like and which other free programmes should be in this list. Let’s share the inner IT geekiness in all of us with all of us for all of us!