- David Pogue is a computer journalist for the NYT and CBS. He writes:
Meeting the Googlers
Set the TiVo! This Sunday morning, "CBS News Sunday Morning" will
begin with my report on Google, the Web search page-slash-cultural
deity that's expected to go public this Spring — the biggest in
high-tech history, with a valuation as high as $25 billion.
It was a real kick to interview Google's executives and staff. Along
the way, I asked each interview subject to name their favorite Google
tips and tricks.
Few of the tricks made it into the TV segment — but you, the shrewd
subscriber to this newsletter, get them hot off the press.
• Download and install the Google toolbar. Not only does it put the
Google search box into your browser full-time, but it also blocks
pop-up ads and fills in forms for you. For Windows at
http://toolbar.google.com. (Ad blocking, form-filling and Google's
search box are already built into the Apple's Web browser, Safari.)
• Phrase your question in the form of an answer. "After all, you're
not looking for Web pages that ask your question," explains director of
technology Craig Silverstein. "You're looking for pages that answer
So instead of typing, "What is the average rainfall in the Amazon
basin?", you might get better results by typing "The average rainfall
in the Amazon basin is."
• This is an old one, but very important: Put quotes around phrases
that must be searched together. If you put quotes around "electric
curtains," Google won't waste your time finding one set of Web pages
containing the word "electric" and another set containing the word
• Similarly, put a hyphen right before any word you want screened out.
If you're looking up dolphins, for example, you'll have to wade through
a million Miami Dolphins pages unless you search for "dolphins -Miami."
• Google is a global White Pages and Yellow Pages. Search for
"phonebook:home depot norwalk, ct," Google instantly produces the
address and phone number of the Norwalk Home Depot. This works with
names ("phonebook:robert jones las vegas, NV") as well as businesses.
Don't put any space after "phonebook." And in all of the following
examples, don't type the quotes I'm showing you here.
• Google is a package tracker. Type a FedEx or UPS package number
(just the digits); when you click Search, Google offers a link to its
• Google is a calculator. Type in an equation ("32+2345*3-234=").
Click Search to see the answer.
• Google is a units-of-measurement converter. Type "teaspoons in a
gallon," for example, or "centimeters in a foot." Click Search to see
• Google is a stock ticker. Type in AAPL or MSFT, for example, to see
a link to the current Apple or Microsoft stock price, graphs, financial
news and so on.
• Google is an atlas. Type in an area code, like 212, to see a
Mapquest map of the area.
• Google is Wal-Mart's computer. Type in a UPC bar code number, such
as "036000250015," to see the description of the product you've just
"scanned in." (Thanks to the Google Blog, http://google.blogspace.com,
for this tip and the next couple.)
• Google is an aviation buff. Type in a flight number like "United 22"
for a link to a map of that flight's progress in the air. Or type in
the tail number you see on an airplane for the full registration form
for that plane.
• Google is the Department of Motor Vehicles. Type in a VIN (vehicle
identification number, which is etched onto a plate, usually on the
door frame, of every car), like "JH4NA1157MT001832," to find out the
car's year, make and model.
• For hours of rainy-day entertainment, visit http://labs.google.com.
Here, you'll find links to new, half-finished Google experiments-like
Google Voice, in which you call (650) 623-6706, speak the words you
want to search for and then open your browser to view the results.
Disclaimer: It wasn't working when I tried it. (Ditto a lot of these
• Poke around the "Services & Tools" link on the Google.com home page
and you'll find some of the better-known lesser-known Google features,
if that makes any sense.
For example, there's Froogle (product search), News, Groups (Internet
discussion boards), Google Catalogs (hundreds of scanned-in product
catalogs), Images (find graphics and photos from other people's Web
sites), Blogger (publish your own online journal), Google language
translation, Google Answers (pay a couple of bucks to have a
professional researcher find the answers for you) and much more.
Pretty soon you'll need Google just to search Google!
Visit David Pogue on the Web at DavidPogue.com.