How Search Works


As a trainer I like sites like this new one from Google that show you how stuff works. How Search Works goes in to a lot of detail about how search engines work. I thought it might be a useful resource for those of you who teach web searching workshops in your libraries – or just a cool site to check out if you’re the curious type!

On the site you can check out an animated explanation of search, as well as take a closer look at Google’s major search algorithms and features. A live slideshow gives you a glimpse at how Google removes spam, and complementing graphs show the spam problem and how Google is fighting it.

Search enthusiasts can also read an included 43-page document on how Google evaluates its search results.

Learn more about How Search Works at Mashable.

Google Floor Plans

Google Maps

This looks pretty awesome.

Floor plans for over 10,000 locations worldwide are available on your web browser, such as stores, train stations, airports and museums. You can use it to plan the fastest route through the mall, or make sure you know how to get from the taxi to the airport gate without running all over the airport.

“Simply zoom in on a building on Google Maps and you’ll automatically see a detailed floor plan with helpful labels for gates at the airport, stores within the mall, departments within a retail shop, as well as ATMs, restrooms and more,” Google wrote.

Learn more at Mashable and if you can, upload your library’s floor plan to help enhance the product.

Search in Gmail Attachments


Lifehacker has pointed me to a neat new feature in Gmail:

Previously, you could only find an attachment if you searched for the message’s text, the filename, or its file type. Now, however, you can search for text within DOC, PDF, PPT, and other files and Gmail will bring them up in your search results.

Since I use Gmail for work and home email this is going to be very very helpful!

Beginner’s Guide to Gmail


I’ve been using Gmail so long that I take it for granted that it can be foreign to some people. A friend of mine just got a Nexus 7 and had to sign up for Google (and Gmail) to use it and after 15 to 20 years of using the same email client that can be a bit terrifying. Mashable has a guide to help my friend and your patrons (who might be new to Gmail too).

Native Gmail users have become so adapted to the service, it’s hard to think anyone doesn’t know the basics.

Luckily, Google supplies us with practically unlimited data, so there’s plenty of room for newcomers.

Whether you’re just getting started on email or jumping ship from another client, this guide will help you get started. From setting up an account to organizing your inbox for maximum efficiency, you’ll be a Gmail warrior by the time you hit the end of this post.

Getting Content out of Google


I was recently reminded of Google’s Takeout service by ReadWriteWeb’s guide to getting your YouTube videos back from Google and thought I should point this tool out to you all. Google Takeout is a product of the Data Liberation Front:

The Data Liberation Front is an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products. We do this because we believe that you should be able to export any data that you create in (or import into) a product. We help and consult other engineering teams within Google on how to “liberate” their products.

To learn how to get your content back from Google checkout the Takeout tool which allows you to get your videos, voice messages, contacts, etc.

Google Search Shortcuts

Shetland Sheepdog Temperament Search

Lifehacker has two articles with shortcuts for Google searches, 20 in the first article and 10 more in the second.

One of the tips (that I missed the first time around) was on how to find flight status, which I wrote about here a little while ago. Another cool one is the ability to track your packages from the Google search box!

Paste the tracking number of a shipment from USPS, UPS, FedEx, or On-Trac into your Google Search bar and Google automatically figures out which service has it and links you directly to the tracking page.

Another cool one is to find out information about a dog breed you might be considering adopting:

Shetland Sheepdog Temperament Search

This is one of the more random quick results, but if you type “[dog breed] [temperament]” you’ll get an instant result listing the breed’s characteristics. It should come in handy when you’re at a shelter picking out an animal.

You have to check out these articles and learn about these neat little shortcuts.

Google Citations and


In the last couple of weeks I learned about and the new features of Google Scholar – both of which are very very similar.

Let’s start with Google Scholar – most you know about this service already, it’s a great way to find articles and books for your research. I sometimes spend a couple hours just searching for new open source articles to save to my Zotero Library and to read of course! Recently Google Scholar released a new feature (more here) – your personalized Scholar Profile:

We analyze your articles (as identified in your Scholar profile), scan the entire web looking for new articles relevant to your research, and then show you the most relevant articles when you visit Scholar. We determine relevance using a statistical model that incorporates what your work is about, the citation graph between articles, the fact that interests can change over time, and the authors you work with and cite.

So I went through the steps to set up my own profile and basically Scholar searched its database for articles that I had written or been cited in and the final product can be seen here. It’s kind of neat to see the graph at the top and see how many people are citing my various different publications. I would like a way to add more citations (and there might be a way that I’m just missing right now), but I’m sure it will improve as it grows.

Now, – maybe not be quite as well known, but is certainly more thought out in this particular area. Just like Google Scholar’s new profile page, lets you create your own profile where you list all of your publications. Unlike Scholar, is focused solely on listing your resources for others and linking you to other authors with similar research areas. There is no fancy chart or count of who’s citing your articles (like on Scholar) but there are more social functions as well as the ability to add your own citations and upload your own files. From the about page:

Academics use to share their research, monitor deep analytics around the impact of their research, and track the research of academics they follow. 1,772,914 academics have signed up to, adding 1,525,276 papers and 533,440 research interests. attracts over 3.9 million unique visitors a month.

You can see my full profile here.

I think that with the combo of both tools (and of course a Zotero library) an author can keep really good information on their areas of research and who’s citing their publications!

Power Searching with Google


I have to admit I haven’t gone through this course yet, but I thought I should let you all know about it so that you can learn how to become a Google Power Searcher. These videos are from a course offered by Google on how to use their search engine.

Google Search makes it amazingly easy to find information. Come learn about the powerful advanced tools we provide to help you find just the right information when the stakes are high.

The other day I was with my mother and she wanted to know what the winning lottery numbers were. I asked her why she didn’t look online and she told me that she couldn’t find them when she looked. She was looking for NJ Lottery, but I asked her to read me the top of the ticket. She had a Mega Millions lottery ticket and she wanted the winning numbers so I asked her why didn’t you just search (without the quotes) for ‘mega millions winning numbers’? She shrugged, it just hadn’t occured to her. Maybe you have people in your life who might benefit from these lessons – or maybe you just want to brush up on your own search skills!

Learn more at Power Searching with Google.