Six Useful Things You Can Do With Google

By  |  Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 11:21 am

Steve Bass's TechBiteYou use Google, sure, but if all you’re doing are searches, you’re just scratching the surface. Here are a few things you might not know about Google.

Life Magazine’s Old Photos

You might see it as a time waster, but I love digging through Google’s gazillion historic photos from Life magazine. Google lets you use the photos for personal use, so it’s terrific for grabbing an image when you need something cute in an invitation or newsletter.

Search Me a Special Search

Google has a search site specifically for Linux users and another for those of you who can’t get enough of Microsoft. Check out the rest of Google’s special search sites. If you like poking around with Web tools, Experimental Search gives you five new ways to search, each aimed at tightening and focusing on specific results.

Google Squared is another exciting experimental search tool. Stick in a couple of words, or a short phrase, and watch Google try to create a spreadsheet of results. For instance, try entering California dog parks or earthquake and volcano types.

Alert me!

Google sends me an e-mail every time it sees a new occurrence of “steve bass,” “earthquakes,” and keywords about my various hobbies and interests. If you haven’t tried Google Alerts, you’re missing out on a terrific service.

Thematic Google

I have a Google home page and the color scheme used to be white bread. I just switched to a very cool Jackie Chan theme and amazingly, my productivity soared (wife, please take note). Choose from truckloads of themes (click on Newest and Hottest for more). [Thanks, DolphinWoman.]

Number, Please?

It used to be easy to remember area codes. (“212” is New York, “312” Chicago, and “213” Los Angeles.) That’s history because area codes are added frequently, like every 20 minutes or so. Next time you’re stuck trying to figure out an area code’s location, give it to Google. Just type the three-digit code and you’ll get a top of the search answer.

There’s more: You can track FedEx, UPS, and U.S. postal service shipments just by sticking the tracking number into Google’s search field; do the same with ZIP and area codes, vehicle IDs, patent numbers, airplane registration numbers, and even UPC codes found on products.

Calculate this

You can use Google Calculator to crunch numbers and figure out conversions. Try entering 12*12 and see what happens; you can also run more complex equations, like G*(6e24 kg)/(4000 miles)^2. Google Calculator handles conversions of all types, such as ounces into tablespoons, dollars into euros, or GB to MB.

[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. shawnhcorey Says:

    I use Google for spelling and word meanings; it has become my dictionary. It is especially useful for new words not yet in the dictionary. 🙂

  2. Geordie945 Says:

    Google is intrusive and very lax with peoples personal details
    I don’t know if the option is still built into Google but at one time people were able to enter a phone number and every known item about the person owning that phone number was available to the reader

    This is an intrusion on personal information without the persons knowledge
    Where did they get this information ? this brings public records into question on their security

    No company should hold information on people without their consent or knowledge


  3. kayos Says:

    It only popped up publically available information. If you don’t like it, leave a smaller data trail.

  4. jacobyjd Says:

    Ah, the 717. Sadly, I don’t live within its warm embrace anymore, and only visit during Christmas…

  5. Geordie945 Says:

    Hi Kayos

    Google could not access my details as I have prtection agains personal info peddlers

    We in the British Isles have more security than they are risks LOL

    Mind the govenment screw up big time now and again LOL