Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Search Me

I'm going to take a break from what has become maybe a little common for me, I guess--some degree of dissatisfaction about the direction of the country, the state of politics, the perfidy of the Right, the general deterioration of just about everything--except, dare I say it, not the Texas Rangers' season at this point: my team has won 8 of the last 10 on the wings of simply great pitching for this team. They won another tonight, beating Seattle 7-1, down in Arlington. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me when my baseball team is going great!

But back to the point: a break from the usual focus to talk about technology. Specifically the search engine that's become a verb. Google.* How many times today did you google something? Did you know you can find out? Yep: www.google.com/history. You might have to enter your Google password, but you only have to do that once. And then you'll have a whole world of information open up to you. All your searches--images, maps, web sites, etc.--when, if you clicked on any results, etc., etc., etc. Try it. By the way, as of this moment, I've performed 7,357 total Google searches.

And while you're at it, check out the new features that are now on just the regular ole search. You can read about them here and here. I cannot let these enhancements to everyone's searching life pass by without just a few words. But check it out yourself. We're talking about just a plain old garden-variety Google search. You can specialize searches in a whole bunch of ways. Look in forums, videos, reviews. Think how easy this makes finding out about that new book, movie, CD you just heard about. Think about how effortlessly you can find Van Morrison videos. You can isolate the time frame for searches--yesterday? last week? in the last 30 days? And there are some other helpful and fun bells and whistles: a time line feature. I tried "Vicksburg" and found search hits with material back to 1860. (Chicago Trib archive site.) You can also view search results with your term the hub of a spoke of related search subdivisions.

Did you know there's a whole bunch of other things you can do just right in the normal Google search window? Get definitions, do math, convert currency, get the weather, get the time at other places in the world, get sports scores, and more, more, more. Okay. I'll be the first to admit it. I love all this stuff. I've been an information junkie all my life. I'm a historian by profession. I eat research up, and anything that helps me ferret out the useful but obscure source . . . well, I'm for it! So Google's always been fun for me, as well as useful. So new features? Bring 'em on.

(How do you like the Oklahoma Google logo above that I found with "Google logo" as the search term for an image search?)

*There's a ton, a TON, of other Google specialized tools besides the standard search. Ones that I find particularly helpful are: news, bookmarks, Earth, books, scholar, archive--this one searches news archives.
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