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Taking Google further

CLICK AND HACKSpecial to the Daily

You may well be one of many who use Google nearly every day (or, as in our case, many times a day) for your searches. If you’ve mastered the basic Google search, you are ready to become an uber-Googler (say that fast three times). You might be surprised to learn all the many things Google can do in addition to your basic search. In fact, with an online spreadsheet going into Beta testing soon (go to labs.google.com), you may soon find that your office suite comes to you online from Google instead of Microsoft!For starters, how about using that tried and true Google search box for something other than the basic search:Calculator: Type in an equation (similar to how you might with Excel) for a quick answer.Dictionary: Type in “define ____” for a quick definition.Currency converter: Type in “1 USD = GBP” for a conversion to the British Pound. Don’t know the abbreviation? No problem, you can also say something as vague as “1 U.S. dollar in Chinese money”.Package Tracking: This is really cool; type in the tracking number for a FedEx, UPS or USPS package, and the status of your package will display at the top of the search page.Beyond the basic search, Google offers a number of cool applications. Our absolute favorite is Google Earth, which combines satellite imagery and maps. Starting from a satellite view of the world, simply enter a location and zoom in. Search for landmarks, get driving directions, tilt and rotate to see 3D views and so on. Take a tour of Paris from your sofa!We also really like the Google calendar function. Because it’s web-based, this feature can be particularly useful for families with busy schedules, especially if those families need to work around work schedules. With Google Calendar, you can see other’s schedules right next to your own, add events and appointments, etc. Best of all, you determine who views your calendar and specifically what they can view. Google Gadgets (desktop.google.com) allow you to personalize your desktop much the same you can with Yahoo! Widgets (formerly Konfabulator at http://widgets.yahoo.com). Download gadgets from a variety of categories, including news, communications, games, finance, sports, lifestyle and technology. We were especially intrigued with the Flower Pot, where flowers grow to full bloom when given the proper TLC.Picasa is Google’s highly-rated picture manager. The application allows you to easily transfer, find, organize, print and share the images on your computer. The program will even automatically find all your pictures and sort them into “albums” organized by date.A final thought for the true geeks: Google Code offers useful downloadable code for the more technical in the crowd. Choose from code to enhance your website and personalized Google home page, to code written to help you integrate with Google. For a complete listing of Google’s many products, visit google.com and click on “more.” And for some real fun, don’t stop there; be sure to play around with Google’s new ideas by visiting “Labs”.For more information, e-mail clickandhack@friscocomputerstore.com.


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