Yesterday, 1/25/2004, it started making the rounds that Google, the king of all things search-related would begin using its search technology to help users find information and images broadcast on television - Google Video [see The Magic of Googlevision - Wired.com]. This got me thinking about the tools that Google already offers that most people don’t know about. Today, we’ll take a look at the best Google tools you’ve never used!
Google Zeitgeist - In a previous article I mentioned the Yahoo! Buzz index [see What’s Everyone Looking At?] as a way to keep your eye on current trends in pop culture (through the magic of search logs). The Google Zeitgeist is a similar type of resource. One difference between the two (besides the fact that Google is the most popular search engine in the world - thus a better sampling) is the ability to look back at archives dating back to 2001 with Google Zeitgeist.
Things seem to happen so fast that everything seems to run together. A look back at a Google Zeitgeist Archive is a good way of reminding yourself of what actually happened in a particular year. The 2001 Archive is full of searches related to the September 11 terrorist attacks with top searches including Nostradamus, CNN, World Trade Center, Anthrax, Osama Bin Laden, Taliban, Afghanistan and American Flag. Another interesting feature is the ability to view a time line of searches related to events throughout a given the year.
Froogle - Fun and Low Prices! For me, Froogle, Google’s online shopping search engine is not only a great place to find out the lowest price of a particular item but also a great form of entertainment.
Shopping - The Froogle Search page looks just like the Google search page. The main difference is that instead of typing in keywords that are related to a web page or topic you are looking for, you type in a product that you are looking for. I typically type in the model number of the item that I am looking for but you can just as easily start by typing in general search terms about a product that you are looking for.
For example, if you were looking for a Nikon digital camera you could simply type in Nikon Digital Camera and you would get slightly more than 620,000 results. Alternatively, if you were looking for a specific Nikon Digital Camera, the D70 for example, you could type in Nikon D70 and you would get 29,000 results.
Typing in your search terms is just the tip of the Froogle iceberg. Once you get your results you can then change the way the results are displayed using the sidebar on the left of the Froogle results window (see image left). You can select List view (default) or Grid view, you can sort you results according to their price (low to high, high to low) and you can limit your results to a certain price range. Additionally, you can search within categories and by store. All of these tools make Froogle a very powerful way of finding the best prices for any product you can imagine.
Fun - How can Froogle be fun? Personally, I find it interesting to watch the Recently Found Items list on the Froogle homepage. You just never know what products people are looking for. Some funny example include knee socks, a rubber chicken, milk crates, jolt cola, a shoe horn, a tiara, a rat zapper and a karate uniform. I like to keep hitting refresh to see what kind of weird combinations come up and then imagine one person buying all of those items. Ok, so I’m easily amused.
Catalog Shopping - Did you see the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer kept getting the catalogs (Pottery Barn, MacMall, J.Crew, L.L. Bean, etc.) and eventually got fed up and quit receiving mail? Well, Google has taken those excess (6,600 so far) catalogs (not Kramer’s specifically) scanned them in and made them searchable. If you like to catalog shop from stores like ABC Distributing, RedEnvelope, Crutchfield, Tower Hobbies and more, then Google Catalogs is for you. If, like Kramer, you are looking for a way to get rid of your excess catalogs, Google even has an address that you can mail your catalogs to.
171 Main St. #280A
Los Altos, CA 94022
Google Language Tools - Google Language Tools provide some very basic but essential functions for finding information in languages other than English. The first is the ability to search for pages written in other languages or located in other countries. The next tool allows you to translate text from one language to another (German to English for example). Simply copy the foreign text and paste it into the Translate Text box, select the translation languages and then hit translate. The Translate tool also allows you to type in the URL of a web page written in a foreign language and translate it to the language of your choice. Other language tools allow you to view the Google interface in your own language or to visit the Google Site in your local domain (www.google.co.uk - UK for example).
Finally, if you want to keep up with what’s going on over a Google, then you’ll want to keep your eye on the Google Blog. The Google Blog gives you insight into what is going on over at the Googleplex.Have a question? Found this useful? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.