February 21, 2004


People love talking about google. Its the most used search engine in the world.

Anyway in light of a recent slashdot article I compiled a list of interesting google features (with links!)

I hope you've all clicked on the underlined words in the "Searched the web for " bar right above the search results. They'll take you to Dictionary.com's definition of the given word. But if you search for "define:word" or "define word" you'll get a full page of definitions for the first search and a one line definition with search results for the second.

This is probably one of the most powerful features (besides search) of google. You can process equations like 2+2, 80 calories in joules, gravitational constant, mass of jupiter and even answer to life the universe and everything. It's very cool.

Search Trick
Now there are hundreds of tricks I'm sure, this is just one that I didn't know. If Google finds a tilde (~) in front of a word it searches for all variants of the given word. This is pretty powerful stuff. Here's an example. For the word "specific" it also found "Specify" and for "words" it found "word", "Dictionary", "Language", "names", "Vocabulary" and "list" just on the first page. This is bound to come in handy if you don't know how to phrase something correctly.

Telephone Numbers
This would be another search trick. If you search for a phone number (Its picky about format. It has to be (123) 456-7890 or it will treat the search like any other.) it will look it up and get you a map of the phone's location. Try it out.

Google Labs
Google Labs is where google publicly tests its up and coming technologies and services. There's a lot of ideas floating around the labs some have even made it into google (like the define: search).

Search by Location
Brought to you by Google Labs better then you'd think.

News Alerts
A Graduate of Google Labs News Alerts watches Google News and will email you when new headlines matching topics you request is found. Its a way to keep tabs on breaking news events. I'd find it annoying personally but I guess I could keep my friends names as key words and see if they ever become news worthy.

Google Toolbar and Google Compute
They're not directly related. I'll start with the toolbar though. The Google Toolbar is quite nifty. It blocks popups. Now it has a few other features (which google describes quite well on their site) which are handy but that is by far the most useful I've ever seen. It only works with windows and Internet Explorer (you don't really need it with other browsers and operating systems) and you can be sure it does its job and nothing else. Google is a name you can trust not to try to put spy-ware on your computer.

Google Compute requires the google toolbar and has your computer use its idle time (when you are not requiring its processing power) to crunch numbers along with thousands of other computers on the internet. "The first beneficiary of this effort is Folding@home, a non-profit academic research project at Stanford University that is trying to understand the structure of proteins so they can develop better treatments for a number of illnesses."

I have a few computers helping folding@home already. I find them to be a lot more worthy then little green men or breaking arbitrary encryptions.

And thats my round up. For a complete list of official google features go to http://www.google.com/help/features.html

Also you may find this interesting.


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