by J. A. Buxton
Some excellent Google sources for research
Google - A Writer’s Tool: Section IV
You better pour yourself some coffee or soda, kick off your shoes, and pull up a comfortable computer chair. This fourth part on Google may be quite long since I’m going to try covering a lot of information.
Books, Finance, Translate, Scholar, Blogs, YouTube, Calendar, Photos, Documents, Readers, Sites, Groups, Even More
The first category I want to cover is Books. Let’s go to this section and type the name of your favorite author. When you click the Search Books icon, you’ll find a long list of books by that person at the top with many other books underneath. Most of the books listed will then have a synopsis of the book, related web site links, and bibliographic information, but it’s a limited view of the book.
This might be helpful, but let’s go to Advanced Search. You will see a full page of ways to narrow the list down even further. Rather than go through all the options, I invite you to play around with them to see which suits you best.
You might want to learn what books a particular publisher handles with the hope of having your own work published there. In that case, try the next search feature, Publisher. If you don’t know any publishing firms, try Writer’s Digest Books. I own many of their books.
The Publication Date search is good to find book written within a certain time frame. Because I’m curious about books written one year only, I put 2010 in both boxes. To also get those published since 2000, simple put 2000 and 2010 in the boxes.
Last of all, let’s say you know the ISBN of a particular book, and want to find out more information about it. Delete any entry in the blue box at the top, and then type in the full number in the appropriate box. After that, click on the Google Search icon at the top of the page. You can use the number 1598242911 to test this feature. Yes, it’s another plug for my first novel.
Okay, everyone who doesn’t know what the ISBN is, raise your hand!
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, a 10-digit number that identifies the title and publisher of a book. It’s used for ordering and cataloging books and appears on all dust jackets, on the back cover of the book, and on the copyright page.
Now, aren’t you glad you raised your hand? My high school English teach told me to learn something new every day, and that’s MY golden nugget of knowledge for today.
Are you all still with me? Have I bored you to tears by now?
If not, let’s explore the next area called Finance. I find this section of interest because of how a country’s finances can affect personal savings. To keep track of my retirement accounts, I created a Google portfolio and check it every morning. I recommend only the strong of stomach do this. A few years ago, the value listed in my Google portfolio kept going down, down, down. Thank goodness it has bottomed out and has started to increase in value again.
If you feel you can handle the wild stock market fluctuations, by all means create your own Google portfolio. Always remember, though, these numbers are only on paper until you need the actual money.
Translate is useful and self explanatory. One of my seven AOL screen names constantly gets emails written in German. I don’t know these people, and I don’t know why they think I know German. This feature of Google lets me know I can buy watches or increase my body size, or at least some of it. Since I already own a watch, and don’t have that particular body part because I’m female, I simply delete that email after translating it to English. You might find something more helpful to translate, so have fun with this.
Scholar is listed next. I’m rather out of my element here since I know about few scholars or their works. Wait, what about Stephen Hawkings? I saw him once on the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation where he was playing poker with the android Data. I understand he’s a brilliant physicist, so let’s go with him. If you have a better choice, insert her name instead.
Type Stephen Hawkings in the box and click on the Search icon. From the list of books by and about him, I think any of them would make for some light afternoon reading, don’t you? There will be time enough later to read about black holes and quasars. Again, there are many options listed in Scholar that you can explore at your leisure.
Blogs is any area some of you might find more interesting. Let’s get political for this one. Type the name of our current President in the Search Blogs icon. When the list comes up, take your pick on which links interest you. You’ll most likely discover you agree with some and disagree with others. Just watch your blood pressure with the ones you dislike.
Once again using the name of our President, go to the Update section. Current information about him (or her) will come up. There are many ways to stay on top of current events, and this is just one of them.
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After that, Google gets into more familiar territory, so I’ll just skim over them.
I imagine most of you have checked out YouTube at one time or another. After clicking on YouTube, a blank screen will come up. Today, I’m in the need to watch some cute animal. How about you? Type funny cat and hit the Search icon. Oh, how adorable and silly these kitties are. Why do my cats do nothing but sleep and wash themselves all day?
Calendar is a useful feature if you have a busy schedule. After signing into your Google account, you can keep track of appointments and other important events. I use mine mainly to remember birthdays of my friends and family.
With Photos, you can share or find photographs using Picasa web albums. I searched on Machu Picchu and found some beautiful photos of this site. One photo is now the background screen on my laptop.
The Google feature, Documents, is apparently no longer valid. When I tried going there today, I got the message, The requested URL was not found on this server.
When you go to Reader, there is a short video that will explain this feature much more in depth than I have time or skill to do. Because I’m a news junkie, I’m seriously thinking of utilizing this feature in the future.
Another place some of you might find helpful is Sites. You will learn how to create and share web pages. Sounds a bit like Facebook, including having to type in a barely readable, wiggly security code.
I have used Groups for years and currently have four newsgroups listed. This is a fun way to keep in touch with people who share the same interests that you have. Lately, spam posts have increased on these groups, but maybe you do need some knock-up-brand shoes or cheap jeans.
Finally, if you click on Even More, you will find the above links plus even more listed in one place. What I’ve done, rather than keep half a dozen separate links, is bookmark this one page. In this way, I can find all the new products Google creates.
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I hope my “short” article was helpful to you. Using only the basic Google is probably all you’ll need most of the time. I equate using Google to eating ice cream. If you’re satisfied with plain old vanilla, stay with the basic. However, try the rocky road ice cream or more advanced Google options occasionally.
On that sweet note, I’ll end this with one last comment. The Internet, as well as Google, can be an intimidating place to explore. Stay alert and safe!