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July 30, 2004

Google Missing Manual

BN -- Every week I discover a time-saving technique using Google. I just thumbed through a book that will add another 30 timesavers to my skillset. This week, I was interested in songs by Irish artists that dealt with "home." Google allows you to do a phrase search even if you don't have an idea of what the complete phrase looks like. Wildcard search allows one to use an asterisk for any word that's missing. Google will fill it in automatically. This technique is very useful if you're on a radio quiz show trying to find lyrics for the last word of a verse.

Once you discover a few shortcuts with Google, you treat the search engine as your friend. I use shortcuts for dialing area codes in the States, ISBN numbers, UPC numbers, flight numbers, Fedex/UPS/USPS tracking numbers as well as vehicle ID numbers.

Two of Google's less frequently used services, Groups and Answers, reveal many time-saving tactics. Few know that Google runs a paid service that can help you if you're just stuck with no results. Moreover, once the answer is posted and someone has paid for it, Google allows all the visitors to browse it for free, and some advice, for example, in small business section, can save a trip to the lawyer or paid consultant. The book takes the reader through the process of setting up an Answers account (which is actually the same account as the one for Groups) and asking informative questions requiring additional research.

Sarah Milstein and Rael Dornfest have written an easy-reading book. They include buckets of screenshots. Each chapter is clearly market. They really tame Google for the uninitiated.

I think the book is essential reading for our first year multimedia degree students so I'm integrating it to the curriculum. It's one of those purchases that will hold good residual resale value. It's priced for students (€20) and it will make novices into experts able to offer important clues that answer questions beginning with "Where do I find...?"

Sarah Milstein and Rael Dornfest -- "Google: The Missing Manual" ISBN 0596006136
Alex Moskalyuk -- "Google: The Missing Manual"


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