Google Preferences that are definitely more preferable.

Well since I spoke of Google and the ‘+Show options‘ feature in my last article, let’s explore just a little more about how to get the best out of Googling.

For there are dozens of sneaky tricks and special modifiers you can add to narrow your searches down to practically a molecular level.

Nevertheless, the really advanced Google Particle Physics stuff can wait for another post. Let’s start off with some easy changes and a few suggestions that in all honesty, you will probably use more anyway.

The first thing to experiment with is your Google Preferences, because by default the big G hides away some of its better options. Such as it limits the number of results per page to just the 10, but you don’t have to be restricted to that, it’s easy to increase that number.

On the actual Google page itself, right by the Search button, you’ll see a little link for Preferences. Click that and you’ll be able to increase the number per page from 10 to 20, 30, 50 even up to a 100. It does warn that the more results per page, the longer it will take to load but it means only in nanoseconds, as a human with a normal perception of time you won’t notice any difference at all on 20 results per page.

And er, ladies, on that Preferences page, if you have impressionable children or an inquisitive husband to keep away from the saucy stuff on the internet, click the SafeSearch option “Use strict filtering (Filter both explicit text and explicit images)“. Then if he moans about it later, you know he’s been looking don’t you.

Plus while you’re there, I definitely, definitely recommend you check the “Open search results in a new browser window.” box. On modern browsers this opens any clicked search result in a brand new tab, so now you wont be condemned to the crazy back and forth between every clicked link and Google, losing your comparisons as you go.

Just make sure you save all Preferences changes before you leave this page though won’t you.

But as for the actual searching, I wonder if you’ve ever thought to do these…

The Reverse Phone Number. If someone phoned and didn’t leave a message but you 1471’d their number, have you ever thought to just type that number into Google. If it’s a business you’ll see straight away who didn’t even have the decency to say they called. Now you can righteously slam the phone down on them when they try again.

The Postcode Modifier. You may be used to adding your town or city name after certain search terms to act as a refiner, but it’s even better to replace that with your postcode. First it’s usually quicker to type and it narrows a search to a more local area.

So say you’re in the mood for a nice Rogan Josh, you can Google Indian Restaurant followed by a postcode and in a different look to the normal Google results, you’ll be presented with a list of 10 matches that are closest and a small map of their location. But you can do better, click where it says “Local Business For…” and be transported to a more specific page of those same results where you can even click a link to easily get the full Google Map directions to your curry house of choice, just by adding your postcode again.

The “When is the Film on?”. And if you fancy a film before your meal and want to know when it starts, you don’t need a cinema’s website. Just type into Google the full movie name of your choice and your postcode. The two most local cinemas will appear right there with all the start times. Click on the cinema name itself and it even provides the start times of all other movies showing as well, just in case your date doesn’t want to see a movie with giant robots in it.

Simple ways then to get more from Google, or not if you prefer.

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New options to make you a Time Lord of Googling.

When you perform a search in Google, what do you do?

Do you just type in a basic search query and then try to sift through the results or do you do the smart, time saving thing and add a few further refinements.

Well courtesy of a brand new feature to Google those refinements are easier to achieve than ever. But while this welcome addition to the Worlds most familiar website is in plain sight for all to see, it’s so modest in appearance you’ll be forgiven for not noticing it or realizing its significance.

Because hiding beneath the understated wording of  ‘+Show options‘ at the top of your results there lies a whole new raft of filtering methods to streamline your searching.

Options that will instantly revamp your results if you were just looking for a review of something, a forum relating to the topic or videos about it. (Although still the better options for Video is to click at the very top of the page, you’ll get the same results but you’ll be able to play them right there inside Google.)

GOOGLE3All very useful, but on top of this Google have now integrated a much needed method to refine your search to either recent results, to those within the last 24 hours, last week or last year and a very clever one to define your very own time period to select from, down even to looking for results from a single day, years ago if you wanted.

Because just think, if you Googled Dr Who, you’ve got 11 incarnations of our time travelling hero to choose from. But starting with the right keywords and requesting only results from a very select window of time you can narrow the hits to a particular period of Christopher Eccleston for instance.

Fantastic. Absolutely Fantastic. What can I say, he’s my favorite.

Plus you can do more, you can expand the text of each result from the traditional two lines worth, include images from those pages and there is the appearance of something called ‘The Wonder Wheel’. A fascinating ever expanding DNA representation of all the people, topics and linked terms that’s associated to your inquiry and far beyond.

There’s also a Related Search option and the inclusion of an amazing Timeline function, something to serve even The Doctor well if he ever needed to know precisely the years in history he had already thwarted the Dalek menace.

So the next time you’re searching Google, do try these new ‘+ Show options‘ functions for yourself.

You’ll get to your destination in a much quicker time and with a lot less rattling about than the TARDIS.

Google…not everything is the latest technology.

Those people at Google think of everything.

Because what do you do for the Street View feature on Google Maps when the streets in question are too narrow to send the Street View Camera Van down?

Obviously you pimp out a tricycle instead.

Witness these photos I took while on holiday in Italy recently.

And far from feeling my privacy invaded because I’d been caught on their camera, I followed the thing 50 yards to make sure my civil rights had been violated.

So in a short while, should you be using Street View at the junction of Piazza San Elena and Vico di San Cristoforo in Genoa, the only thing I will feel compromised by is how stupidly excited I might appear and how white my legs will look in shorts.

genoa2

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AutoPager. Whatever next, immediately.

Sorry Internet Explorer users, this is a Firefox only offering again.

I make no apologies, apart from that one above, for if you haven’t yet swapped web browsers to Firefox you should be blatantly confronted with your terrible error.

Because this time I’ll be explaining about making Google, admittedly available for several web browsers, even better if that browser is Firefox.

Actually I shall be telling you of a way of making the navigation of many sites easier on Firefox, although Google is the most obvious example.

Now then, while Google couldn’t be much simpler to use, the one thing that could definitely be improved upon is its basic navigation field.

It’s small, a bit fiddly and since you only get 10 results per page there’s a good chance you’ll be clicking on it back and forth several times per search.

autopager4Well not if you download a free add-on to Firefox called AutoPager, because now you’ll never need to click to the next page of Google again, it will automatically load for you!

That’s because with AutoPager the next page of Google will load right below the current page of Google almost simultaneously, stacking the pages one on top of the other, building an infinite scrolling content that you only need a mouse wheel or the browser scroll bar to whizz through page after page after page.

Trust me, it is so much faster using Google with Autopager you have to see it yourself to believe it. A process which AutoPager also applies by default with many other websites that utilise a Next button.

And you can even configure websites that aren’t automatically set up with AutoPager to act in the same manner, in fact whenever you see web pages with a Next button. Although I have to admit, while it’s not difficult to do when you know how, it’s not immediately obvious and is a bit too much to explain here.

Suffice to say that in the normal automatic detection mode, whenever a pop up message appears, just say ‘yes’ to allow AutoPager to work it’s magic and make sure it’s ‘enabled’ on your Navigational Toolbar via the AP icon that will conveniently appear there once you download it.

But getting any extra sites to work is just gravy on the main course that will keep feeding one page after another of continuous AutoPager goodness for sites like Google and Amazon.

So, hungry to sample AutoPager for yourself, just click this link to it’s Firefox add-ons page to do so.

Yet another good reason to turn the page on ever using Internet Explorer again as well.

Google Alerts. How Clive Owen made me a very happy man.

It’s a funny thing this blogging lark.

I toil away with every post, beads of creative perspiration dotted on my brow each time as I try to educate and amuse in equal measure and I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been lucky if I got 10 people a week come visit me.

But that’s ok, there’s a million Blogs out there and why should I think mine deserves any special attention, even if it clearly should.

Something happened with my last post though, something that suddenly sent my hits through the roof, well, the roof of a modest bungalow anyway.

And the thing that did it, the sole reason that propelled my visitors roofwards was all down to one happy accident…I mentioned Clive Owen.

Clive Owen, famous British actor and handsome bugger.

Now I like Mr Owen, he isn’t my type but when I needed a name to illustrate a point about someone appealing to women he obviously fitted the bill. Plus it was somehow funnier and not much longer to type than Brad Pitt.

And at the time I didn’t give it another thought it but I obviously underestimated how much our Clive does appeal to the ladies. Because within hours I could see that my hits had mysteriously shot up, and with the marvelous background wizardry they include with these Blogs I could even pinpoint the source.

That source being a Clive Owen fansite. A site that had somehow found my Top 10 Reasons You Need a New Web Designer post, saw Reason No. 4 which name-checked the man, liked it, borrowed it for themselves, but since they enjoyed the rest of the list did the nice thing of linking back to me as the author.

Now given that extra visitors are exactly what I need, and that this was the first other site to link to mine, I was very happy for the recognition.

But it did beg the question, how the hell did they find me in the first place, and so quickly?

Well, I discovered that like a lot of things on the web it came courtesy of Google, but not in the usual search engine way, oh no, and this is where I do get to my point dear reader, it was actually because of a entirely new and different kind of service called Google Alerts.

A kind of pre-ordering your favorite search terms by telling Google just the once about a topic of interest and then relaxing as they keep the results coming back to you with daily, weekly or ‘as it happens’ updates via email.

And it’s easy done, just fill in a simple 4 part form field, and from then on, any reference of Clive Owen for instance will come to you rather than you going to it. Plus you can have any number of different Google Alerts stacked up and sent to you.

As an example, I’ve now asked Google Alerts to let me know whenever there’s a mention of my web design company or this Blog. Or you might use it to receive news of your favorite Football team, or to find particular job vacancies in your area, or just like my new friend Lessy37 at Clive Owen_Daily follow every new reference of your favorite film star.

And when you think she found me by the merest mention of Clive Owen, that’s some powerful searching that Google Alerts is doing on your behalf, how long would it take on a regular Google search to find that?

But to find out out how efficient it could be for you as well, just click this link to Google Alerts.

Anyway, my thanks goes to Lessy, all the visitors from her fansite who followed that link back to me, the other Clive Owen sites who found me from Lessy finding me, and for her alerting me to Google Alerts.

Now all I need, since I also mentioned Spider-Man and Harry Potter in that Top 10 list, is for Marvel Comics and Hogwarts to link to me too.

Google Maps, all that’s missing now is a teleporter.

Have you seen Google Maps yet?

No, I know you’ve seen it, but have you seen it since it’s all changed?

Since they have added Street View, Videos, Photographs and even frickin’ Wikipedia entries!!!

It seems that gone are the days when maps were just a source of directions, now you need to feel you’ve already been to a place before you ever have.

Anyway, I’m not going to tell you how to negotiate Google Maps, you must know how to do get basic directions but to access all the funky new features you do need to click the ‘More’ button and check the boxes for Video, Photos and Wikipedia. And next to it there’s even a button to view live traffic updates or anticipated road congestion in that area as well.

Not that you’ll be able to even see your route anymore for all the tiny photo thumbnails, video screen icons and the Wikipedia logo covering the whole screen now, but they are easily toggled off from the same menu.

But the startling new feature is Street View, that is if you’re viewing one of the 25 cities in the UK that the Google camera van has so far trundled through, which allows you to swoop down for a 360 degree virtual tour of your location.

And you implement that uncannily enough whenever you see a Street View link or whenever the ‘zoomy-in-and-out-bar-thingee’, that’s the proper technical term, has a little yellow man displayed which you can drag to the part of the map you want to view in all it’s panoramic glory.

Then it’s just a matter of moving forward or back using the onscreen arrows, clicking and dragging the image to move the view around or doing the same with it’s circular navigational tool. But however you use it, you will surely be impressed with how seamlessly and quickly it responds.

Truly, Google Maps with it’s new features is an amazing use of technology particularly as the web becomes increasing mobile. It can be your means of orientation and your informative tour guide. And as it rolls out across the World you can check out an area to see if it’s worth visiting at all.

But I think the Street View will be used just as much as a nostalgic retro sightseeing device after you’ve already been somewhere. For instance, I’ve just enjoyed a weekend in London and I’ve been wandering down Memory Lane by clicking down Drury Lane.

Hold on though, when you think about it, that means using an application even when you don’t need it and you’ll be going from A to B via G even when you’re not leaving A. OMG!

Now can someone direct me to a psychiatrist, I think I just blew my mind.