Digital Thoughts for Non Techies – a monthly column in Skerries News
“Just Google it!” That’s what many of us do when we come across something we don’t know, or to settle a dispute. That actor in the movie everyone seems to be talking about. The difference between cappuccino and latte. Ray O’Shaughnessy. Ham Sandwich. Population of Fingal.
Over the years, search has gotten a lot simpler, and a lot more sophisticated at the same time.
You can now just type in questions, and Google makes sense of them for you. Like:
How to draw a minion, how to eat a pomelo, how to bleed radiators. (All of these were among the top 10 “how to” searches in 2015!)
Google even personalises search results, based on what it knows about you – some people find this useful, others creepy. I tend to be more on the “useful” side – as I teach coding to kids, for instance, the “Scratch” I’m interested in is the one to do with computer programming, not the one to do with DJs, nor the one dealing with the paint of cars; and when I type in “Doctor Who Episodes” I get results relating to a certain BBC television programme, not something about a doctor who deals with episodes of, say, influenza.
Google also knows where you are (if you allow it to see your location), so when I for example type in “weather,” it shows me the current temperature in Skerries. Handy!
Beware, however, of advertisements that look like search results… A lot of the time, the top links have a small yellow rectangle on the left-hand side, with the word “Ad” in it. And these are not the actual results (also known as “organic search results”), but – you guessed it – ads! Especially when looking for flights or insurances, you might end up in the wrong (and more expensive) place…
By the way, if you see something on the internet that you’d like to search for, simply select the word(s) with your mouse, then right-click and click on “Search Google for”…””. Google will open up a new tab with the results for you. No need to type!
There are some other great search tricks – such as:
- get information on a flight if you know the flight number – try “EI105” – very handy if picking up people from the airport, you can easily check if the plane is on time!
- get the weather forecast for any place – try “forecast Vancouver”
- set a timer (type in “set timer 10 min”)
- type in “translate [foreign word]” and you’ll get the translation straight away, no need to click anywhere else, Google will even find the language for you – try “translate do rogha”
- type in a maths problem – the answer will be in the search results, together with a calculator app! Try “56088 / 456”
- find out when your favourite series is on again, or was on last: “ros na run episodes”
This one is also great if you want to quickly get to a recap of an episode you may have missed.
Insider Tip: Seven search terms for those who like the (slightly) unexpected…
Type in (or of course select, right-click and select “search Google for…”) the following and see what happens!
- Do a barrel roll
- Google in 1998
- Blink html
- Fun facts
- zerg rush
- Atari Breaktout [then click on image search]
And possibly my favourite:
– A long time ago in a galaxy far far away
Did you try any of the suggestions here? What do you find Google most useful for? What would you like me to explore in one of my next monthly columns? Let me know!
This monthly column on all things digital from a Skerries perspective is written by Sabine McKenna, who has been using computers since the 1980s, and set up Creative Computing Classes Skerries in 2012. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions for future columns, you can contact here at Sabine@cccSkerries.com