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Stop Wasting Time – How to Search Like a Pro

Stop Wasting Time – How to Search Like a Pro

    While using a search engine to find information on the web isn’t quite as much of an endeavor as it was in the late 1990’s, it can still be a time-consuming task if you don’t know how to make use of the tools available to you that can cut down the time you’ll spend searching.  I worked in a public library for the better part of the last decade and in that capacity I’ve been asked every question under the sun and am expected to come up with an answer in an instant.  Thank goodness for Google is all I have to say.  While library workers have plenty of fancy databases and books at their disposal (which is wonderful in-depth and specialized research), it’s hard to deny that much of the information we need to find quickly can be pulled up much faster online.

    Similar to the library catalog, Google allows its users to input search terms to help retrieve the documents and information that they are looking for. Except with Google you are not just searching a few thousands books; instead you are searching millions and millions of websites that are growing in number by the day.  But a problem arises – how do you sort through this mess and find the information that you need? How do you find something, and how do you find it fast? And how do you sort the questionable sites from the legitimate and reliable ones? Who do you trust?

    Searching the web can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By learning just a few simple techniques, you can be on your way to Googling with the best. It’s a skill that in today’s day and age you need to learn.

    Getting started with search, and narrowing down your results with operators and Advanced Search.

    Searching Google can be as simple as typing a word (or words) into the search box and hitting “Enter” on your keyboard. You can make your search as broad as you want, or narrow it down to specifics for a smaller pool of results. Searching for “dogs” will yield you a high number of search results – way more than you or anyone has the time to search through. So at this point you would want to narrow down your search, and there are several ways of doing this. But first, the basic Google search rules you NEED TO KNOW:

    • Punctuation doesn’t count. So don’t worry about it. (Punctuation referring to . , ! and the like. Does not include – or ‘)
    • Keywords aren’t case sensitive. Google considers uppercase and lowercase letters to be equal.
    • You are limited to ten words. Everything after ten words is truncated and ignored.
    • Avoid misspellings. You won’t get the same search results. However, Google will show you the correct spelling and offer you the opportunity to do a search with the correct spelling.
    • Be specific. The more targeted your keywords, the better your results.
    • Singular and plural forms are different keywords to Google. So if the singular form doesn’t provide what you are looking for, try the plural form.
    • Google ignores most common, short words like the, and, or, after in,, how, I, it, is was, will be, and so on. Google will notify you at the top of your search results if they have ignored some of your search terms. (Google will only recognize AND and OR when all capitalized and used as an operator.)
    • Google finds results anywhere in a document, not just in its text (eg- the HTML of a page).
    • Word order matters to Google. The first word is the most important word, and so on.

    Now that you know the basics, let’s move on to some more advanced stuff.

    Search Operators

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    If your search for “dogs” got you more search results than you know what to do with and you can’t find what you are looking for, you can try adding search terms, such as “English Dogs” if you are searching for a particular type, or “dog breeding” if you want to learn about dog breeding. If entering more search terms still doesn’t cut it down enough, try adding quotation marks around your search terms – this will return only results with BOTH or ALL of your keywords in it.

    The asterisk or * is a wildcard operator, which can help you find something when you only know part of a phrase. The wildcard can be used to match whole words, but not partial words. For example the search “ I left my * in San Francisco” would return many matches for “I left my heart in San Francisco”, and might possibly return results for other similar phrases, like “I left my blood in San Francisco.”

    AND, OR, +, and – are some other popular operators that can help narrow down your searches. You may remember AND and OR from traditional Boolean searches. The AND and OR operators work only when typed in all capitalized letters. The AND operator between two search terms tells Google that the terms on either side of the AND should be included in the search results. The OR operator between two search terms tells Google to match any of the terms connected by the OR operator. + is an inclusion operator, which forces Google to include the indicated word on each result returned. It must come before the term to be included without anyspaces. – is the exclusion operator, which tells Google to exclude the specified term from any search results. Like the inclusion operator, the exclusion operator must come before the term without any spaces.

    Advanced Search

    Another method of narrowing down your search is by using “advanced search” instead of just the regular simple search. You can choose this option by clicking on “advanced search” right next to the search box. The advanced search function allows you to narrow down your search to specific file types, publication dates, languages, specific sites, and more. The more options that you choose, the fewer search results you will receive, and the more likely they are to be what you are looking for. However, you want to be sure that you aren’t narrowing it down too much whereby you wouldn’t find enough stuff. If you don’t get enough results, then try removing some of your limiters. If you get too many results, try adding a limiter. Using advanced search will help you find what you are looking for faster because you don’t have to sort through as much stuff that is not what you are looking for.

    Understanding Search Results:

    Now that you have narrowed down your search and gotten your search results, how do you interpret them? How do you know that what was returned is what you are looking for? Understanding search results is a very importance aspect of research. If you know what you are looking for, you can save yourself a lot of time. Additionally, knowing how to read your search results can help you learn useful hints for refining a searching and finding what you are looking for.

    By default, Google returns only 10 results per page. However, you can change this by clicking on “Preferences”, or through the “Advanced Search” page. The pages are displayed in the order of their PageRank. Pages with the highest PageRank are at the top of the list. PageRank is determined by a number of factors to ensure that you get the best quality information.

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    After you have completed a search, the number of search results found will be displayed in the upper-right corner above the search results, as well as the length of time it took for Google to conduct the search. This number of results is not the precise number, but rather an estimate. Next to the number of results and the time it took to complete the search, you will also find links to each of your search terms. These links will take you to the word’s definition on Answers.com.

    Each result is represented by the page’s title and a snippet of text from the web page. The title links to the page. If a title is not available for that site, the URL will be provided. Beneath the site’s snippet of information, you will also see a Cached link and a Similar Pages link.

    Cached Results

    If you click the Cached link in a search result, a copy of the web page that Google has downloaded and saved in its cache server appears. It is a snapshot of the web page from a specific time- the date that Google downloaded it. It is very likely that the web page has changed since Google downloaded it. So why should you open a cached result? First, your search terms are highlighted on the cached page, so it makes it easier to find the specific block of information you are looking for. Cached pages open more quickly than the live site because Google’s servers are far superior to anyone elses, and if you can’t access the actual web page for some reason (it was moved, deleted, server is down, etc.) you will still be able to view the page.

    Similar Pages

    Clicking the Similar Pages link will return other results that are most similar to what you are you have found on a particular site. This will most often return competing sites will similar information, and when you are looking for information on a particular subject, but need more than one source, this is a great way to go.

    Evaluating the Source

    So you’ve found the information that you’ve been looking for, but how do you know if it is from a reliable source? Anyone can post anything on the web, so how can you judge the accuracy of the information you find?

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    Web Pages to Avoid

    Spam Pages. Spam pages are pages placed by sites that are deceptive in nature. They contain keywords intended to fool Google and essentially exist for the sole purpose of displaying advertisements. Google weeds out most of these, but sometimes one gets through. Fortunately, you can report it to Google at www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html so that they can eliminate it from their search results.

    Commecial Pages. These types of sites are obviously trying to sell you something, which is good if you are looking to buy something, but not good if you are trying to find reliable, unbiased information. These types of websites are typically not helpful to researchers unless you are looking to buy something or are looking for product information.

    Logon Pages. These sites contain logon pages, which usually means you have to subscribe to the site in order to view the information. Subscriptions may just require you to fill out a form and provide personal information, or they may cost you money. Unless this is your last resort, don’t waste the time. You can always come back later. These pages can be identified by those asking for usernames and passwords.

    Error Pages. These pages usually contain the word “Error” somewhere in the snippet and on the page and usually describe the type of error. There’s nothing useful to you here, so if you see “error” don’t go there.

    Page Moved Pages. These usually contain the words “page moved”, “site moved”, “redirect” or “redirecting”. Often times this means that the web page no longer exists and you are being forwarded to the main page of the site.

    How to Evaluate Resources:(AAOCC Guidelines Source: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ENGI/eval_criteria.html)

    Many websites exist simply to get you to buy into their point of view and disseminate inaccurate information. Although Google’s PageRank system does provide you with good results, it is still up to you as the user to determine the quality of the information.

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    In determining the quality of the information, following the AAOCC (authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage) guidelines laid out by the University of California Berkley and ask these questions of the website:

    Authority

    • Who are the authors? Are they qualified? Are they credible?
    • With whom are they affiliated? Do their affiliations affect their credibility?
    • Who is the publisher? What is the publisher’s reputation?

    Accuracy

    • Is the information accurate? Is it reliable and error-free?
    • Are the interpretations and implications reasonable?
    • Is there evidence to support conclusions? Is the evidence verifiable?
    • Do the authors properly list their sources, references or citations with dates, page numbers or web addresses, etc.?

    Objectivity

    • What is the purpose? What do the authors want to accomplish?
    • Does this purpose affect the presentation?
    • Is there an implicit or explicit bias?
    • Is the information fact, opinion, spoof, or satirical?

    Currency

    • Is the information current? Is it still valid?
    • When was the site last updated?
    • Is the site well-maintained? Are there any broken links?

    Coverage

    • Is the information relevant to your topic and assignment?
    • What is the intended audience?
    • Is the material presented at an appropriate level?
    • Is the information complete? Is it unique?

    When to Call in the Pros

    If after learning these search techniques you still can’t cut down the amount of time you spend searching for information, it might be time to enlist the help of a professional, such as a librarian.  Head on over to your local library, or if you’re digitally inclined, most libraries offer live online reference help these days.  Trust me when I say they’ll be more than happy to help you out.

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    Published on November 9, 2018

    How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

    How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

    Technology has taken the business world by storm. People and businesses are progressively reliant on technology world these days. As a result, the people with impressive knowledge and experience with a computer are in demand.

    Considering this growing market trend, if you too wish to bag a profitable job, this article is apt for you. Here, we will dig deeper into the business and technology world to look into what are the best computer skills one should invest in and what resources to get help from.

    So, are you ready? Here we begin.

    6 Most-In Demand Computer Skills This Year (and Beyond)

    When talking about computer skills, following are the 6 computer skills that can fill your mailbox with endless job opportunities (besides, having an English and Hindi typing speed of 40+ WPM):-

    1. Spreadsheets and Databases

    Considering the treasure trove of data companies are handling these days, Spreadsheet and Database management skill tops the list. It is considered the most wanted job skill in the market, with a salary of around $53,129/yr for an entry-level position. However, the spreadsheet skill does not confine to auditing data from cells.

    To get hired based on this computer skill, you need to become a Spreadsheet ninja. From storing data to organizing them, applying complex mathematics formulas, and creating complex macros, you need to be an expert at all.

    In other words, you need to have an expertise at working with:

    • Microsoft Excel
    • Microsoft Access
    • Statistics
    • Data Analytics
    • Adobe Campaign
    • Quickbooks
    • XML Database management system
    • Filemaker Pro
    • MATLAB
    • Hive
    • FORTRAN
    • RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)
    • SAS

    2. Social Media, Email, and Blogging

    Though people are socially active, not everyone knows how to use the social media tools on the professional front. In such a scenario, having an expertise at writing engaging yet professional emails, writing blogs, and managing social media activities is a ticket to entry in reputed organizations.

    Some of the skills related to social media, email and blogging that will have a leg up in the hiring process are:

    • Content Management System (CMS)
    • Google Analytics
    • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
    • Email Marketing
    • Web Page Design
    • WordPress
    • Digital Media
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • Campaign Management Software

    3. Graphic Design and Word Processing

    A solid grasp of skills to present the gained information in the much readable form is another market need. When considering this computer skill category, you need to enhance your skills at:

    • Adobe Photoshop
    • Adobe InDesign
    • Adobe Illustrator
    • AutoCAD
    • CorelDRAW
    • Microsoft Visual Studio
    • Maya
    • Microsoft Word
    • Microsoft Publisher
    • Operating Digital Cameras

    4. Software and Hardware Design and Development

    The Software and Hardware development, in simpler language, means designing, implementing, and testing the computer software/hardware applications. It is the most profitable computer skill, with a different job opening, including Software Architect, Software Analyst, Software programmer, Hardware configuration, etc.

    To be capable of developing and testing the software and hardware, you need to peruse your users’ needs and build an application that hits their pain points. You need to work with different web and mobile app coding languages for gaining the attention of your audience, some of which are:

    • HTML
    • C/C++
    • Java
    • Python
    • XML
    • UI/UX
    • LINUX
    • CISC and RISC architecture
    • Embedded Processor Hardware Design
    • Memory Management
    • PCB Layout
    • SQL

    5. IT Troubleshooting

    Working on computers is one thing and having a knack of looking into the associated issues and resolving them in real-time is another. There are various employees and graduates who work with computer systems in their daily lives, but get confused when it comes to dealing with frozen programs and performing routine maintenance.

    So, if you are familiar with the basic anatomy of computers and machines and know the tricks to perform such tasks to streamline the working process, enter the IT support arena. The prime IT troubleshooting skills one needs to work upon are:

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    • Backup management
    • Diagnostics
    • End User support
    • Client-Server management
    • Installation and configuration
    • Issue tracking system (ITS)
    • System administration
    • Tech support

    6. Enterprise Systems

    Many Enterprises have their own enterprise solutions like PeopleSoft for managing their data and operations.

    Becoming a master at using the enterprise solutions mentioned in their ‘Requirements’ area can also lessen the barrier to get a job.

    The Roadmap to Excel Your Computer Skills

    Now that you know the 6 most popular computer skills in the market, the first decision, you need to take is which computer skill you want to work upon. All the skills are equally considerable for making a career ahead. So, choose one as per your interest.

    Once done, look forward to the following resources for boosting your computer skills and getting a reputed, handsome job.

    Depending on the computer skill you opt, here are the online courses you can turn to for elevating your career opportunities:

    1. Become a Spreadsheet and Database Ninja

    a. Microsoft Excel Training Online Course – Basic & Advanced

    Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert at working with spreadsheets, this online course has something new for everyone to become excel efficient users.

    Divided into 48 interesting lessons, the course empowers you to learn the technique of using mathematical, statistical, logical and text functions, sorting and filtering the data, creating Pivot Tables, building macros, finding a value with VLOOKUp, and much more.

    b. Excel- Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials on Lynda

    This is another impressive course to unlock the power of Excel. Designed for people from all walks of life and familiarity with Excel tools. This course helps you gain in-depth knowledge from the experts about this data-analyzing tool and make the magic in spreadsheet creation and management process.

    c. SQL & Database Design A-Z™: Learn MS SQL Server + PostgreSQL

    Build a successful career in the data analytics world with this online course.

    Revolving around the two top databases, MS SQL and PostgreSQL, this course will give you a comprehensive knowledge of the working of the databases and understanding of all the related elements, including how to create, update, organize, and safeguard the data.

    2. Rule the Social Media World

    a. Free Social Media Course by HubSpot

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    Introduced by the top experienced inbound professors from Hubspot, here you will get a comprehensive knowledge of Social media marketing.

    From understanding how to build relationships on different social media platforms to creating a perfect strategy to engage them, leveraging the benefits of social advertising, and analyzing your social media ROI, this course will bring out the best out of you.

    b. Write Professional Emails in English by Coursera

    This online course will be the right weapon to look into the differences and similarities between different email styles, improve your English writing skills, write effective subject lines, maintain the formality tone in emails, and more to make a powerful impact on the receivers with your email.

    c. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

    Founded by Udemy, this online course will excel your skills to build a masterpiece everytime you write.

    Here, you will get the guidance from the editors of the top newspapers and websites, and understand what kind of words and tone to use for leaving a spellbinding impact on the readers.

    3. Launch Your Own Software or Hardware Equipment

    a. Hardware and Software Courses by Coursera

    From Big Data to IoT, Sensor Circuit Design, Embedded Software and Hardware Architecture, and Motor Control Circuit, this course will give you a glimpse of all the hardware devices, equipment, and programming languages to build wonders.

    b. Free Software and Web Development Certifications Online by Alison

    Become the software developer market demands with Alison’s Java, C#, Python, R, PHP, or MySQL database course. From backend to frontend development and software testing.

    The course helps you to learn how to design, develop and test software and working in a team while contributing to the team success.

    c. Free Online Software Development and MOOCs Course by Class Central

    The Class Central online course will make you a master of software development. Here, you will learn the basic concepts of development like Agile, Design Patterns, and Version Control with Git, along with gaining experience of working with the top programming languages.

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    4. Live and Breathe Creativity

    a. Udemy: Introduction to Graphic Design

    It is a top-rated program for the new learners and designers to explore the Graphic Design world.

    From the history of communication to the design principles, the course will help the students to learn everything specifically and implement in the real world.

    b. Canva Design School

    From a beginner to advanced level, this course will provide you with an elaborated and comprehensive knowledge of graphic design. In the form of 4 modules, this course will help the interested graphic designers to try out their skills at Graphics, ranging from fonts to colors, backgrounds, images, shapes, and layouts.

    c. Microsoft Word – Basic & Advanced

    62 personalized lessons, premium video tutorials, and unlimited tests and quizzes – this certified course has everything that will make your entry to the business world easier.

    d. Microsoft Office: Word, Excel and Access Productivity Bundle

    The course will make you productive in Word, Excel, and Access through video lectures, articles, and various other supplemental resources.

    Besides, it will offer you exclusive tips and tricks to enhance your skills at using Microsoft office.

    5. Raise Your Reflexes to IT Troubleshooting

    a. IT Troubleshooting Skill Training by Udemy

    IT Troubleshooting Skill Training will upgrade your logical concepts over technical components to find and repair faults.

    It will provide you with a methodological approach to learn the basics of troubleshooting, practice them via exercises and drills, and enhance your IT troubleshooting intelligence.

    b. IT Help Desk Online Course on Lynda

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    The Lynda’s IT troubleshooting online course will train you how to respond to the issues related to Windows 10, Office 365, JIRA software, and more, from a local as well as a remote location.

    Mobile Apps and Websites to Enhance Computer Skills

    The aforementioned online courses will undoubtedly train you for a successful career ahead. But, in case you want a long-term support, turn towards the following websites and mobile apps:

    • Duolingo – Duolingo app will improve your spoken and written communication skills in different languages. With the magic of gamification added to the study, the app will make learning a fun and addictive task.
    • Hemingway – Hemingway app defines the length, complexity, and common errors associated with the sentences. In this way, it helps you to write effectively and go ahead in the career.
    • Udemy – The Udemy, with its 2000+ courses, is a great platform to master new skills, advance your career and explore the newer technologies and programming languages. Enrol a course as per your budget and make a brighter future.
    • eDX – eDX is yet another commendable platform you can look forward to. The platform offers you the best of the tutorials prepared by the business professionals and technology experts, ensuring a great boost in your computer skills.
    • Excel Easy – Excel Easy, as the name depicts, will make working with Excel easier for you via their detailed tutorials and 300+ real-life examples.
    • GCF LearnFree.org – It is a one-stop platform for accelerating your future in the computer world. From graphic design to Microsoft Office, resume writing, enhancing adaptability, and much more, the top experts will guide you with everything on this platform.
    • QuarkXPress – The QuarkXPress will aid you to add soul to your design with its unparalleled collection of font style, size, and typography. The best part is that it is avails all the options in different languages, including English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian to name a few.

    Bonus: Tips to Accelerate Your Approach For a Better Career Ahead

    Though these resources will make you stand out from the crowd and get hired at once, you need to focus on various other things, such as:

    1. Practice, Practice, Practice

    It is common to forget what we learn. To ensure that you do not miss any opportunity just because you forgot, keep practising.

    Make it your routine. Polish your computer skills and you will surely end up getting an offer letter from a recognized firm.

    2. Work on Your Efficiency

    Remembering what you learned is not enough; practice to enhance those skills to do better.

    For example, if you take around 50 minutes to create a design, target for 40 minutes.

    3. Look for Shortcuts

    Smart work rules over hard work more often. So, look forward to learning shortcuts to do any task. This will increase your chances to crack an interview and get selected.

    4. Apply for an Internship

    Last but not the least, apply for an internship to see what’s trending in the market and how much you are ready for it. While doing an internship, pay attention to your weak points and work on them. This will ensure a success when you apply for your dream job.

    By the late, it’s never too late to be an intern or grab whatever opportunity to learn something new! Here’s how:

    How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

    The Bottom Line

    Seeing the current market scenario, it is evident that having computer skills is a boon for a better career ahead.

    So, rather than struggling with thousands of other things and trying to crack interviews, focus on the computer skills mentioned in this article. Utilize the resources and experts’ tips shared and look forward to having a successful and prosperous future.

    Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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