Search engines exist to trawl the internet for our search queries and return relevant answers. Google has always performed that function, but did you know that you can also use Google to get answers to your questions directly? Here’s how it works:
Imagine you want to know the movie times for theaters in our area. Instead of conducting an internet search for websites that offer movie listings, you can type movies Waukegan to get results instantly:
You can also ask Google about the dates of holidays or when daylight savings time begins:
Have friends in a different time zone? Check the time to make sure you don’t wake them up the next time you call:
Check the weather by typing the word weather and a city or ZIP code:
Do you ever wonder how some people always seem to find what they’re searching for online? You can become a searching expert, too! All you need are some neat Googling tricks hidden up your sleeve. Today is the first post in a series about using Google like a pro to get librarian-level search results. The first trick I want to share is domain-specific searching.
Domain-specific searching takes your general keyword search and narrows it to a domain (for instance, waukeganpl.org) or a domain ending (.com, .org, .gov and .edu are examples). This type of search is useful if you have a favorite site for information, or you are working on a homework project and need to find reliable information.
Let’s imagine that you’re interested in buying a book, but you want to know whether it’s ever been reviewed by the New York Times. This is the first search you try:
Your results look like this:
Yikes! Not exactly what you’re looking for. Try this little trick for narrowing your results to just the New York Times website:
This time, Google searched only the New York Times website for the phrase President Kennedy: Profile of Power.
The very first result is a link to the book review. When using the site: function, make sure to type the website address or domain ending directly after site: without any spaces. Happy Googling!
Pinterest is a social media site that has exploded in popularity this past year. Unlike Facebook, which facilitates social interaction, Pinterest is a place to share ideas. Users find appealing images on websites (or upload their own) and pin them on boards. There’s a category for every interest on Pinterest, from cooking to comic books to tattoos and weddings. Here’s a quick glossary of terms:
- Pinner: That’s you. People who use Pinterest are called pinners. You can follow other pinners so that you view the items they pin on your homepage.
- Pin: An image on the Pinterest servers. Images are usually linked to websites.
- Repin: Pinners can browse a category that appeals to them and repin images that other pinners have found online.
- Board: You can imagine your board like the big corkboard in your house where you pin articles, recipes, photos from magazines, and snapshots of your dog.
If you’re looking for home décor inspiration, you’re in a cooking rut, or you want some projects that will keep your kids busy on a rainy day, you’ll find that Pinterest is a fun, useful website. To get started on Pinterest, follow the Library here: www.pinterest.com/WPLreaders. You’ll find lots of reading recommendations, links to cool websites, and library-themed jokes (of course!).
When I first bought my iPhone, I asked the salesman about books or classes that would help me learn how to use it. When he told me that I would figure it out if I played with it, he was right — to an extent. While iPhones are designed to be intuitive, there are lots of tricks and shortcuts that will make using your phone easier and more fun.
I’d like to share some useful tips that help me get the most out of using my iPhone. If you’re new to using an iPhone, they’ll help you too. Here we go!
- Program your own text shortcuts. I set up my phone so that when I type my initials, the phone auto-corrects to my email address. Big time-saver! To get this feature, navigate to Settings > General > Keyboard. Scroll to the bottom and tap Add New Shortcut.
- Kill your apps to preserve battery life. To “kill” your apps, or shut them down completely so they’re not running in the background, double tap the Home button. All your open apps will appear in a window along the bottom of your screen. Press and hold an app until it starts to wiggle, then tap the minus sign in the upper left-hand corner of the app to shut it down. You’ll notice a marked improvement in your battery life.
- When you’re playing music and your screen is locked, double-tap the Home button to reveal music controls (volume, skip, rewind).
- Even if your iPhone doesn’t have Siri, you can still use Voice Controls to perform some basic functions. Hold down the Home Button until you hear a double-beep, then tell the phone what you want. For instance, you can say “Play songs by Bruce Springsteen” or “Call Mom at home”. Ta-da!
- Lock screen orientation. This was a major annoyance for me when I first got my phone! To lock screen orientation, double-tap the Home button then swipe to the left. Tap the image of the padlock to lock your screen. You’re welcome.
- Choose domain endings other than .com. The .com shortcut on the keyboard is super-handy, but not all websites end in .com. Next time you open Safari, tap and hold the .com button to see all the domain endings. Now you can navigate to the library’s website (waukeganpl.org) that much faster!
Everyone has a favorite browser, and Firefox is mine. Here are some tricks I use to enhance my Firefox experience:
- Ctrl + L: To highlight the URL in the address bar
- Shift + Enter: Magically adds www. and .com to the phrase you’ve typed in the address bar. For example, nytimes into the address bar, then Shift + Enter. Your phrase morphs into www.nytimes.com and you’re taken to the site.
- Ctrl + F: Performs a keyword search on a webpage. This trick works in most browsers. It will increase your searching speed dramatically!
- Ctrl + T: Opens a new tab
- Ctrl + Tab: Switches among the tabs you have open
- Ctrl + W: Closes your current tab
- Shopping for gifts? Or maybe you’re a spy? Use Ctrl + Shift + P to enable private browsing.
It’s no secret that the sale of smartphones exceeded the sale of computers last year (read more about this interesting trend here). Because we strive to anticipate the needs of our patrons, the library offers some handy apps for smartphone users:
LibAnywhere provides access to your library account and the mobile catalog
Overdrive Media Console allows you to check out library eBooks right to your mobile device – a must for folks who like to have some reading material at all times
Freading is another eBook service the library uses. The selection of titles on Freading is incredible; this is the place to find beautiful nonfiction and fun books for kids
Mango delivers language lessons to your phone, with the option of learning 38 foreign languages
OneClickdigital is the library’s eAudiobook partner; you can choose from titles recorded by Recorded Books, which also provides the library with many of our physical audiobooks
Zinio gives you access to full-text magazines exactly as they appear in print. Some of the most popular titles are Cosmopolitan, National Geographic and Consumer Reports.
To download these free apps, just visit the app store from your smartphone and search for them by keyword. Questions? Just ask us!
Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 added a new feature, a Quick Access Toolbar.
The toolbar is located in the upper left corner of the screen, next to the icon displaying the program you are using.
Mine looks like this in Microsoft Excel.
You can customize it for each of the Office products individually. Start by clicking the More arrow at the end of the toolbar. You’ll see a dropdown menu like this
To add or remove features from this toolbar just click on the name. If the name has a checkmark it will appear on your toolbar. Click again to remove the feature.
If you’re anything like me, you often wonder where you’ve saved a document. I added a box to display the network path of my document. Instructions are available at this link.
Lifehacker.com has a great article on web sites that do what they say: Need to perform a speed test? Check the security level of your password? Find your IP address? This article has a lot of great resources.
If you copy text from the internet or another document and paste it into your document bad things can happen. The fonts and text colors may not be the same, the background could be a different color, etc.
A clipboard will appear just below the information you pasted. Click on the clipboard and select the second option, match destination formatting. Now your new information is formatted like the rest of your document.
If you regularly copy and paste, you may want to select the last option and set the default Paste option to Match Destination Formatting.
Don’t forget to use footnotes or cite your source if you are copying someone else’s text.
When writing an essay or entering a contest you often need to know you word or character count. Microsoft Word makes this easy to track. In Microsoft 2007:
- Click on the review tab
- Go to the Proofing section
- Click on the icon with ABC 123
- The Word Count popup box contains the information you seek