Wednesday, December 3, 2008

But wait, there's more

I don't have children so, as a result, I have missed out on the whole joy/terror (circle one) of homework, except tonight. Due to a strange set of circumstances that included a week-long illness and a broken computer, my nephew Sam was over at my house doing research on China. I set him up in the home office with all the essentials: Word, FireFox, Google and iTunes (well not all the essentials, he's too young for beer or coffee). After awhile he tracked me down and asked "how many feet is 5,000 kilometers".

Since starting the Advisory Bored my life has morphed into a series of bloggable events. This is one of those moments. Since he had Google up, he had the answer right in front of him. Yes, Google is a search tool, but wait, there's more.

Google's has a number of search features that allows it to interrupt your input into the search box and return to you the answer as a search result. It will look-up words, convert amounts to different units of measure, give you local info and even do math. Try any of these in a search box:
  • 233 feet in furlongs (unit coversions)
  • define: connectivism (definitions from online dictionaries)
  • time stockholm (local time)
  • weather oslo (local weather)
  • 83 usd in kronor (money conversions)
  • 1000*(1+.05)^10 (math)
If you are more of an "on the go" type person you can use Google SMS to search and perform many of the same features via text messaging. If you text "sea airport" to 466453 (it spells Google on many phones, but not my Blackberry), you'll get a text message back give you status information about SeaTac airport.

One of my personal favorites is Google Alerts. Here's how it works. You put in your search keywords, the type of search, the frequency of the search and the method of providing you the results (either email or RSS feed) and you are set. Google will run the search at the frequency you defined and notify you of any **new** entries to the result set. For example, a student in a current events class might want to add "obama cabinent appointment" into a comprehensive search run once a day and delivered via email so she is prepared with the newest information in time for class.

One of the really big problems of the information age to date is that the tools haven't kept pace with the information. As a result we are overwhelmed with data, so much so that it hides the information. Google search tools, like those mentioned here, can help students, teachers, parents and business people take back control. Let me leave you with this short video clip from Google on how to get the most from your search tools.

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1 comments:

Adventure Road Trip said...

Didn't know about the Google Alerts feature... I'm going to start using it now. Thx