Since 2004, the computing universe has been dominated by one search standard—Google. Www.google.com has grown to become a ubiquitous feature of contemporary Internet culture, almost a synonym for Web searches. Yet, most of us look at it as a simple search engine and fail to see several other specialized features that Google has to offer. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Try some Q&A
Want to know the speed of light in kilometres per hour? Or, the number of acres in a hectare? The current population of Pakistan? The c urrency of Korea? Lata Mangeshkar’s birthplace? Or, even Tom Cruise’s height? Just type in these queries in Google’s search box, and you get the answer in a snap. Of course, the search will also give you thousands of other related regular links for all the information you need.
Bye, bye calculators
Not many people know it, but Google has a built-in calculator function that goes much beyond basic arithmetic. From complicated numbers to units of measurement and conversions to physical constants, Google has the answer for everything. Just type the calculation you want to make in the search field—be it 3500+78438*34.6 or 5^67 or sqrt(-10)—and hit the Enter key. And you thought you could never live without that always-hidden-under-the-pile-of-papers calculator.
Even fewer people know that Google also has an inbuilt currency convertor. The next time you are racing to catch your flight to the US/Europe/Thailand/Japan and are not sure of the conversion rates, simply open Google and key in a query: 5,000 USD in INR, or 50,000 INR in Euros, or 500 pounds in Thai Baht or 100,000 INR in yen.
If you don’t know the currency of the country you’re going to, type something as ambiguous as currency of Morocco in INR, for instance. The search will get you results even if you ask for currency of Brazil in Hong Kong money or 4 USD per gallon in INR per litre.
A world clock
While we are talking about travel, did you know that Google can also tell you the current time in any major city, with a simple click of a mouse? Trash all thoughts of time-zones and GMT arithmetic. All you need to do is type in time Orlando or time Paris and you’ll know what the local time is out there. If you are not sure of the city, key-in the country name. And if you can’t spell, or have never heard of the place, don’t worry. Type Brazzaville, for instance, and time Congo will tell you the time in this African nation.
Even a weathervane
Now that you know how to find out the time in any part of the globe, how about getting some instant weather reports, too? You can easily convert Google into your own personal weather station for any city in the world by typing something like New York weather, Berne weather, or Mumbai weather.
Along with the current temperature, you also get the weather conditions (such as fog, snow and rain), wind direction and speed, as well as humidity levels. Don’t forget to do your homework with this tool the next time you are planning a vacation. However, please note that this works only with the main cities. You can try suffixing the country name with places like Gurgaon. But, with places such as Gurdaspur and Gorakhpur, even that won’t help.
Cricket on the go
You’re a big league cricket fan. But, you’re dashing off for an urgent meeting and have no time to waste clicking through one of those hundreds of cricket sites that give live scores. What do you do? Turn to your cellphone? No, wait.
Get into Google, and just type in cricket. You’ll immediately get an update on the current score, complete with all the details you would need about all the matches being played anywhere in the world. If there are many matches being played simultaneously, then simply type in the names of the countries—and there you are.
Refine your search
In case all these simple search terms are not enough for you, Google also supports several weapons to help. These special one-word prefix parameters adapt and refine the search and improve it, or tell Google to re-work the search completely.
This lists Web pages that are “similar” or “like” the specified Web page. For example, related:www.londonstockexchange.com churns out other stock exchange Web page links—right from the Australian Securities Exchange, Nasdaq Stock Market, FTSE, to Bolsa de Madrid, JSE, NZX and the Singapore Exchange Ltd.
This is useful if you want to know what a site is all about. So, info:www.bmw.com tells you that it’s “the official BMW AG website: BMW automobiles, services, technologies and all about BMW’s sheer driving pleasure.” No need to go through the thousands of related sites you would get with the usual search option.
This parameter lists Web pages with links to the specified Web page. For example, link:www.newyorktimes.com will list Web pages that have links pointing to the newyorktimes.com home page. But, remember, no spaces after the colon, please.
Need a fast explanation of a specific term? Using define: in Google’s search box along with what you want explained will give you a definition of a word or phrase you have entered. For instance, define: HDMI presents a page full of various one-line explanations of what High-Definition Multimedia Interface is about—all sourced from websites.
Likewise, you can seek information on anything from googly to gabapentin to global warming. You can use it for abbreviations define: GPRS, current jargon define: ground zero, and even SMS text lingo define: GSOH.
The query stocks: will direct you to a page that has stock information for the requested stock ticker symbols. So, typing stocks:wit will fetch you information about Wipro’s stocks and stock:infy will tell Infosys’ current position. Just keep in mind that you need to type the ticker symbol, not the company’s name.
The site: parameter restricts your search to one website. Therefore, a Google query with admission site:www.harvard.edu will bring up only Harvard University’s admission info page.
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