Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thing 29 -- Google Tools

PRINCETON, NJ - OCTOBER 13:  Princeton Profess...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Again, these are tools I am familiar with. I already use gmail and Google calendar, so I'll concentrate here on the search tools.

[An unnamed metro-area library] uses Google alert to find mentions of **L in the news, blogosphere, and other components of the comprehensive search. How do I know this? I mentioned them by name in my other blog, and I was severely reprimanded. I should have realized it was a no-no, but it was a positive post and I didn't think twice about it. I solved the problem, but it was a sobering experience.
I created a Google alert for this library just to see what things might show up. I also created one for Paul Krugman, Nobel-prize winning (economics) New York Times columnist.

This will be less useful to me, because I already look him up at the NYT nearly every time I log on.

I had a similar lack of interest in Google's Search Wiki. It is very unusual for me to replicate a Google search. If there is a web site I'm interested in, I set up a feed on Google Reader, or if unavailable, bookmark the site on I just haven't run into a search I do over and over. The same thing applies for keeping track of my Web History. That would be great when working on research for a school report, or any new topic. I am not doing any intensive research, so it doesn't sing to me right now. IT would, however, be a great application to put on the homework page of the library web site, and to remember to mention to customers doing that sort of work.

BTW, the picture on Paul Krugman is courtesy of the Firefox ap "Zemanta." As you blog, it presents you with related material. You can click on any thumbnail and add it to your blog. Zemanta also provides a clickable list of tags, and presents a list of links from which to choose. Just this once, I chose "apply all." In this casse, overkill. Still, an ap I will use often on my other blog. Very cool.

I can't get it to plug in more than one picture, and I think it should be able to, but that's a project for another day.
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Thing 28 -- Customized Home Page

I had already set up a Google home page. We use Google calendar to coordinate joint custody of two kids and their schedules--It works wonderfully for this! And I have seven tons of blog feeds in Google Reader, and gmail.

It was easy to set up. I added local weather, phase of the moon, a Chuck Norris quote generator, and some social link aps that have icons for all the social aps I use, for quick acess. These include ning, digg, facebook, twitter, blogger, and YouTube.

I use Shepard Fairey's Studio One artist theme, which I love, and selected before his Obama graphic made him a household name.

I pimped my home page and went a little nuts adding tabs and subjects. This can be a very useful page but as with all these aps, requires a considerable time investment to get beyond the bash and thrash investigation phase. Time which I have not had lately, so I'll let it rest for now in all its untamed glory.

DIGITAL DIVIDE: after much angst, I have upgraded from my ten year old iMac with an ASUS Eee PC series netbook. I hated to leave the Apple world, but I have used PCs at work for years, so it isn't too much of a stretch. The hardest part is typing on the significantly smaller keyboard! I'm getting better but still hit a lot of wrong keys. I also miss the 10-keynumbers pad. On the ASUS the numbers are available only on the row above "qwertyuiop."

In addition, we're shifting to wireless access from USI, the Minneapolis wireless network. A tech is coming on Saturday with the modem. I hope this will also increase page-loading speed.

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