Monday, January 12, 2015

When Google Isn't Enough

Google is amazing. Most of us use it daily to find all types of information. But sometimes Google doesn't give us the answer we are looking for because our search query may be too specialized.

Lifehacker posted an awesome guide to online resources that give specialized answers.
  • Wolfram Alpha: Can tell you about median salaries in a given field, or perform key financial calculations. You can even estimate your blood alcohol content. The site is excellent at in-depth research and calculations that go beyond web search results.
  • The Wayback Machine: It crawls websites and saves a snapshot of the sites it visits. You can view any site in its archive as it appeared in the past. It's not completely comprehensive (an almost impossible task), but you can view years worth of history for major sites.
  • Topsy: It can filter Twitter data by time range, collects videos, photos, or links, and even analyzes sentiment. It can even determine which accounts have the most influence on a topic. 
The guide also mentions using forums like Reddit to get answers and how to find quality sources (like asking a librarian).

Another post on Lifehacker shows a neat-o Google URL trick to find in-depth articles.

Alex Chitu at Google Operating System recently discovered that Google has a section for 'in-depth articles,' from which it features longer posts from sites like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Wired, The Economist, and more. It only seems to work in the US, and it only pops up sometimes—but you can manually bring it up by adding this to the end of your search URL:

&tbs=ida:1&gl=us

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