OK….you are probably wondering who this less than humorous bastard is….right? Well I’ll tell you, it’s George Boole. Believe it or not this guy way back in the mid eighteen hundreds laid the ground work for the very computer on which you are reading this little ditty! Yup, ol’ George was one of the first folks to apply the “binary system” as an approach to mathematics, more specifically, “Boolean Algebra”. The operatives he used to achieve this somewhat dubious distinction, in my estimation, were the yes-no, true-false, on-off, zero-one approach. OK right about now you are asking yourself, “What in the hell does George Boole have to do with starting the New Year off right?” Well George Boole holds the key to how “Google” thinks. And Google is the search engine that can become your magic carpet to anything you want! You see Google uses Boolean search operatives…AND….OR….NOT…and NEAR, although we won’t use that too much. My purpose in telling you all of this is not to bore you to tears, but rather to give you an explanation of what “Boolean Operatives” are….that achieved we can now buzz along!
I’m kind of getting sick and tired of watching all of you students and businessmen and hobbyist and gardeners and cooks and all of you that wallow around in the dark when it comes to finding information on Google. It’s high time you guys get into the 21st Century….OK?
How many of you have a “Gmail” account….raise you hands….hmmm. OK, how many of you know what a “Google Alert” or the “Google Reader” is? Uh huh, just as I thought. Listen people, you’ve got to get with the program….Google is doing your homework for you….they’re giving away the “Farm” informationally to you on a silver platter! They’re gonna tell you where to find that 2-4-4-2 HO Model Locomotive on the net, what your business competitor is doing, they’ll find every recipe from here to hell and back, they’ll fill you in on the latest from “Myspace”, Facebook, Twitter, and anything else you want to know about….you just have to ask them…..and not even nicely!
OK, I know, what the hell is that Jack guy talking about? Google Reader?, Google Alerts?, is this guy nuts? The short answer is “No”! Let me explain. Suppose you are doing a paper or a thesis or trying to find information on a given subject….what do you do….you go to Google or your favorite search engine and type in a bunch of words you think might head you off in the right direction to find whatever it is you’re looking for….right? (BTW those words you type in are called “Keywords”) Then you go through a pant load of pages trying to find something relevant to what you want….are you still with me? Then you find a little information and you copy and paste it into “whatever” and keep going until you have what you consider the whole picture, does this sound familiar? Hey…how about those recipe searches…you’ll look through 18 gazillion different recipes and never find the exact one you want. Let’s make this whole process a lot easier and answer the question once and for all….”Is this Jack guy really nuts?”
The first thing I want you to do is get a Google email address….and if you have one, get another just for this exercise.
Getting an email address with Google couldn’t be easier. Here’s how to do that; Go to google .com, in the upper left you’ll see “Gmail”…click on it. Voila, you’re there….sign up for an account. You will be asked to verify your application by providing a cell phone number or a land line number….then you’ll get a call with a 5 or 6 digit verification code…follow the directions and you’ll be good to go.) This Gmail address is just for your informational searching usage, so give the account a name like jacksinfo@gmail(dot)com. I wouldn’t use “jacks” if I was you…try using your own name. Good, now that we have a “New” or another Google email address we can move along.
Alrighty then….we’re well on the way to informational nirvana. Now, the Gmail account is for your long term edification…..have you ever seen this …This is the symbol for an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary). You see them all over the place. Now if you come across a site that will benefit your long term goals or interest and it has the “RSS” symbol on it, just click it and you’ll be taken to a page where you can sign into your Google account and include it to report to your Google Reader whenever any new content is posted…..automatically…cool huh? You’ve just taken the first step to be an up-to-date-long-term expert on any given subject matter. Google deliver this right to your reader for as long as you want it…..or until you cancel the particular subscription you made.
The next step is really a more short term source of data or it could be a continuing source of information, it’s totally up to you. We’re going to explore the world of “Google Alerts”. Google Alerts is really an awesome tool when it comes to finding current information on any subject matter. This tool can be strategic, as in the case of a business man trying to keep abreast of his competition, or it could be entertaining as in finding out current information on Paris Hilton. If you’re into science it can deliver all the news about the galaxy, the world of chemistry, the latest findings on growing Tomatoes….one of my favorites ☺. OK…so how do we invoke this wonderful source of data? We go to Google.com. In the upper left you’ll see a menu….click on “more”, then we go to the bottom of the next menu and click “even more” and a new page will appear with “Alerts” being the first item you see on the new page….click it! You are now presented with a form to fill out. You’ll notice you don’t need a Gmail account to use this, but I like to send the information to my Gmail account because it keeps everything in one spot. OK, you can enter you search item or topic and click on “Preview Results”. This will give you an idea of what kind of information will be sent to you. Isn’t this neat?……Well, OK, it’s not a front row seat to a Stones concert, but it’s better than setting off on a search engine safari that ends with a bunch of loosely fitting pieces.
Maybe I’ll put together a “Cheat Sheet” of sorts that deals with using the Google search engine itself. Like put 4 + 3+ 11 in the Google search window and hit “enter” and see what happens….how about typing “What Time Is It” into the Google window….what about typing in “49024″ (Portage MI zip code) and see what comes up. Stay tuned!