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Cool Things You Can Do With Google

Cool Things You Can Do With Google
Google Tips

No one would argue the fact that Google is one of the most useful sites on the Internet. Unfortunately, most people only use about 3% of its power.

Smart Google users, on the other hand, know how to turn Google into a quick calculator, translate foreign sites, create their own customized search engine, and search for movie reviews and stock quotes with special search queries. In this article, we’ll show you how to do all of that and more.

Turn Google Into a Quick Calculator

Google enables you to perform a number of math operations including
addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and percentages.
All you have to do is use some calculator operators, which include:

  • + (addition)
  • – (subtraction)
  • * (multiplication)
  • / (division)
  • % of (percentage of)
  • ^ (raise to a power)

Here a few example queries to get you started.

Take Notes while Browsing the Web with Google Notebook.

This note taking application allows you to organize all of your online research quickly and easily. With Google Notebook, you can clip text, images, and links from web pages while browsing. Your notes and clips are saved to an online “notebook” that you can access from any computer, and may also be shared with others. So whether you’re planning a vacation or writing a school paper, Google Notebook makes it easy. To get started, go to Google Notebook’s main site.

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Translate Foreign Sites

A large portion of the web sites on the Internet are not in English. This means that you’re missing out on a big portion of the Web. Fortunately, Google has provided a solution.

First, translate the word you want to search for into the desired language. You can do this at BabelFish. Next, go to Google, enter your search query, and press enter.

On the results page, you should see a link that says, “Translate this page” to the right side of the search results. Click on that link and Google will automatically translate the page to English
for you.

I have used just this one tip to discover a number of great new sites that I never would have had access to if it weren’t for Google’s translation tools.

Looking for Movie Reviews?

Google’s got you covered. Simply go to http://www.google.com/movies and type in your favorite movie. Here’s an example of my most recent search for Shrek the Third:

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Google Movie Search

Google also has lots of specialized search portals catered to technology enthusiasts.

Are you a Mac junkie? Google will allow you to search for all things related to Mac and Apple at http://www.google.com/mac.

Search for all things Microsoft at http://www.google.com/microsoft/.

Not a Microsoft fan? Google’s got a special Linux search engine waiting for you at http://www.google.com/linux.

Forget the Weather Channel.

Who needs television when you’ve got Google? To get your local weather, simply go to www.google.com and type in weather:”areacode”. Fill in your area code and you will be given a 4-day weather forecast and today’s temperature, wind, and humidity.

Looking For a Stock Quote?

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Find it quickly at Google by typing in: “stocks:msft”. This search query will give you a quick snapshot of Microsoft’s stock performance. To find other stock information, just change the stock symbol.

Create your own Customized Google Search Engine.

Google is allowing everyone to join in the fun with Google Custom Search Engines. This Google product allows anyone to create their very own search engine.

You get to choose the sites, invite others to contribute to your search engine, and even customize the look and feel to suit your preferences.

You could make your very own customized search for jobs, videos, digital camera reviews, and more. The possibilities are endless.

Start building your own search engine at http://google.com/coop/cse/.

Hidden Google Pages

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There are also a number of hidden pages on Google that you’ve probably never seen before. Here are just a few of them:

Google Moms – A tribute to Google moms for Mother’s Day.

Google Dance 2004 , Google Dance 2005 and Google Dance 2006. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but Google has their very own dance. They’re packed with plenty of food, drinks, games, product demos, and a hotspot where you can meet the engineers.

Google Holiday Logos – About the only thing that spices up the Google homepage are their cool logos. They’ve dedicated a special
page to commemorate all of the holiday logos dating back to 1999.

Dilbert and the Google Logo – Check out the first and last Dilbert cartoon on Google.

The Future of Google

Google always has new ideas brewing in the Google Labs. Everything from Experimental Search to Google Voice Local Search. Find out what they’re up to at http://labs.google.com. Play around with their prototypes and then send in some feedback. Who knows, maybe we’ll see your ideas in the next Google tool.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 Essential GTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and Free Yourself From the Inbox.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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