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Googling for Information

Clicking more.. on Google's home page lists available features. The list changes frequently so your choices may not be the same as those shown here.
What's a section on Google doing on a digital photography web site? It's here because new digital photography products and services are introduced almost daily, and if you know how to use Google you can locate information about them.

There are a lot of search engines on the Web, but Google is by far and away the most popular because of its accuracy. When you search for a word or phrase you're not just thrown 30,000 random links to explore. Instead,Google ranks pages so the most popular, and presumably best, are listed first. What gets pages a high ranking? It's the number of other sites that have linked to them, and the quality of those sites. Google considers a link from page A to page B as a vote for page B. But beyond that, it also ranks the page that links. Links from sites that are themselves more highly ranked weigh more heavily.

To use Google, go to: http://www.google.com.

The Screen

The Google screen has tabs that you can click to access various services. Many of them also have links to an advanced search page where you can specify special search instructions.

  • Web (the default) searches the Web for pages that contain the specific words or phrases you enter.
  • Images lets you search for images using the same search techniques that you use to locate text. Keep in mind that the images you find are probably protected by copyrights. If you plan on using them, you should contact the site owner to obtain permission. You can use the filetype: operator to limit the search to a specific file type. For example, to locate just JPG images of a sunflower, enter sunflower filetype:jpg in the image search box. To search for images of a specific size click the link to the Advanced Image Search page. Options include image size, coloration, and file format.
  • Video searches the Internet for videos.
  • News searches news outlets. The stories are current and helpful when trying to follow developments in a fast changing technology. For example, searching for news on camera phones will display a number of recent stories on new developments in this field.
  • Maps opens up a whole new world of posting images on the Internet so they appear at the place you took them. This is an area of the Web site that is changing fast so be sure to visit it and look for help text.
  • Mail connects you to Google's Gmail.
  • More displays an ever changing and expanding list of new features.
The heart of the program is the deceptively simple search box where you type the words or phrases you want to search for. When you then press click the Google Search button, all pages on the Web containing the words or phrases you entered are listed. The listing displays a title of the page, a brief description,and a link you can click to jump to it. Other information is also displayed on the results screen so explore it at your leisure.

Basic Searches

In most cases, a search is quite easy. To make it more productive, here are some tips.
  • Don't bother entering common keywords such as "where" and "how", or certain single digits and single letters, since Google ignores them because there are so many occurrences they slow down the search without adding accuracy. When Google ignores words, it displays details on the results page just below the search box. If a common word is essential to getting the results you want, you can include it by putting a "+" sign in front of it. (Be sure to include a space before the "+" sign.)
  • Use the most unique word(s) you can think of. For example, searching for Canon lenses instead of lenses will get you more specific pages.
  • Keep terms as specific as possible; general terms will turn up too many hits. Don't search for photography when you're interested in digital photography.
  • To eliminate all pages that contain a specific word, enter the word preceeded by a minus sign. For example, to find digital cameras other than Minolta, type digital cameras -Minolta.
  • Google only returns pages containing all of the words in your query. To narrow a search just add more words.
  • The order in which you enter terms affects the search results. Enter the most important and specific words first.
  • To search for a phrase, enclose it in quotation marks.
  • Google searches are NOT case sensitive so you can use any mix of upperand lowercase letters.
  • Google does support wildcards such as ? or *.
  • Search for both the singular and plural form of a word because the results will vary. For example, searching for digital camera is likely to turn up lots of links to people talking about their own camera. Searching for digital cameras will turn up manufacturers, retailers, and educators that deal with lots of cameras.

Category Searches

You can also search by categories by going to the Google Directory (located at directory.google.com). This is a good place to start if you're not exactly sure which search keywords to use. For example, searching for Saturn within the Science > Astronomy category returns only pages about the planet Saturn, while searching for Saturn within the Automotive category returns only pages about Saturn cars. Searching within a category of interest allows you to quickly narrow in on those pages most relevant to you.

To do a category search on the directory page, click your way down to finer and finer categories. For example, clicking Arts, Photography, Techniques and Styles, and finally 3D takes you to sites specific to 3D photography.

Advanced Searches

You can increase the accuracy of your searches by clicking the Advanced Search link on Google's home page. Many of these same settings can be used by adding operators that fine-tune your keywords in the search box. (Some of these choices, and others, are also available on the Images and Groups tabs.)

  • Find results with all of the words forces Google to include common words and characters that it usually ignores such as "where" and "how", as well as certain single digits and single letters. If they must be included you can also put a plus sign (+) in front of the word in the search box. You can also use quotation marks around 2 or more common words to treat them as a phrase.
  • Find results with the exact phrase searches for a complete phrase. You can do the same thing by enclosing the phrase in double quotes in the search box.
  • Find results with at least one of the words searches for pages that contain one word OR another. You can also type an uppercase OR between the words or phrases in the search box.
  • Find results without the words excludes pages containing the specified word(s). You can also put a minus sign (-) in front of it in the search box.
  • Language specifies what languages are used in searches.
  • File Format specifies what file formats are searched. Choices include such formats as Adobe PDF, Word DOC, and so on.
  • Date specifies how recently a document must have been posted or revised to be included (the default is Anytime).
  • Occurrences specifies where your search terms occur on the page. Choices include anywhere on the page, in the title, the url, or links.
  • Domain limits a search to a specific site such as www.shortcourses.com, or excludes a site from a search. Click the drop-down arrow to limit the search to the specified site or exclude it from the search. You can also search a specific site by entering your search keywords in the search box, followed by the operator site: followed by the domain name. For example, searching for CCD site:www.shortcourses.com searches only the Short Courses site for pages containing the term CCD. You can also just type site:shortcourses.com into the search string.
  • SafeSearch blocks Bill Brant's and Harry Callahan's nudes so you aren't shocked by their content.
  • Page-Specific Search finds sites that are similar to a specific web page or linked to it. You can also use the related: or link: operators in the search box. For example, related:www.shortcourses.com will list web pages that are similar to the ShortCourses site. You can also see similar sites by clicking the Similar Sites link below lists on the search results page.
  • General information. To learn as much as possible about a Web page, use the info: operator. For example, info:www.shortcourses.com will list links you can click to see similar sites or sites that link to, or contain the words www.shortcourses.com. You can get the same list by typing the web page url directly into the search box.

Checking Out the Future

Google tries new tools and at some point shares them with users who know where to look. To see what's in the works, check out the Google lab (http://labs.google.com).

Tips and Tricks

  • Enter a person's name followed by either a ZIP code or area code and Google will do it's best to list a phone number and address.
  • Enter a phone number (without hyphens) and Google will try to find the name and address.
  • Enter an address and Google will list links you can click to display a map.
  • Right under the tabs, the screen displays Searched the Web for followed by the terms you entered. Click any of the underlined words for a definition.
  • When you enter a word or phrase that Google thinks is misspelled, it displays a Did you mean? prompt followed by what it thinks is the correct spelling. Just click it to use it.

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