Friday, May 20, 2011

Google Lab Tools

Don't know about you all, but every so often I go poking around in the Google labs to see what those guys are cooking up lately. I always find something interesting, and quite often I find tools that are more than just interesting. Take, for example, Google Squared. You can use this to list characteristics of an item or facets of a subject. The home page has examples. I tried "kitchen spices" and "chess grandmasters" and "pork chop recipes" among others. You can save the lists, share them if you want. More than just entertaining.

Really downright useful for information junkies like me is Google News Timeline. The name is a bit of a misnomer, not because it doesn't describe the tool, but because it gives no indication of its vast scope. You can push the dates of queries back on this thing for centuries. And wonder of wonders, one the magazines it gloms in on is Baseball Digest, which is really slick for a guy who does baseball research. Best thing to do with this one, and with all of these tools, I suppose, is to play around with them. Push buttons, add and subtract categories. See what happens.

Like many Google tools, things that aren't meant to be tools are very cool too. Take for example Chrome Experiments. You can just get lost in this thing. Try Ball Pool, for example, and tell me this thing doesn't hook you in. Experiments will only work for you if you use the Chrome browser to access the Net--and just as an aside, if you have not given Chrome a whirl, you should. Only Firefox comes close to it in quality. Forget Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It's been out of the race for a long time.
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