Cate Eales
Cate Eales

Getting Along With Your Computer

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Google It! - By Cate Eales

Most of us have used the Google search engine find something or someone, but there are many other tricks you can do with Google. Check it out at Google.com or Google.ca.

Google will tell you almost anything if you just know how to ask. For instance, there’s a built-in currency converter. I wanted to know what the Canadian dollar was worth in US dollars, so I typed 1 Canadian dollar in USD into the search bar and Google immediately told me: 1 Canadian dollar = 0.848536 U.S. dollars. This works with many currencies.

Have you found Google’s dictionary feature yet? Just type the word define followed by what you want the definition for, and you’ll get a result. Try it. Type in define eaves trough. You’ll get a page with a link to the definition at the top, and more choices for documents about eaves troughs listed below. Did you notice that Google asked if you really meant eavestrough? You can use Google as a spell checker, too. If you’re not sure how to spell a word, you can Google it, and let Google help you with the spelling.

Recently Google introduced a “Q&A” feature. When you need to track down a fact, you can enter a brief phrase and Google will attempt to return the answer at the top of the resulting page, with links to sites that have more information about your question listed below. Try: population of Canada. You’ll get a page with the quick answer, Canada – Population 32,805,041 at the top, and lots of links to sites, with more information listed below.

What’s playing at the movies? Type movies Kelowna, BC and you’ll get a link to the current listings. What about dinner afterwards? Type restaurants Kelowna, BC and you’ll get a link to restaurant listings. Click on the “Local” link at the top of the page, and there they are, mapped out for you. Do this for any city where you happen to think you’ll be bored or hungry!

Google will let you view maps and satellite photos. Type maps.google.com in the address bar at the top of your browser, and you’ll find a whole new view of the world. Type in your own address, and zoom in. You can just look at a map, just look at a satellite photo, or by clicking on hybrid, you’ll see street names superimposed on the satellite map. You can move the map up, down, and sideways by dragging it with your mouse or by using the pointers at the top left of the map.

There are even more features to the Google search engine. You can learn more about them here. And that’s just the search engine. Google has lots more cool toys…I mean, USEFUL TOOLS… for us. Have a look at Google’s news page. (You can set up the page for any country you want.) There are links and sometimes photos for the top news, business, sports, health, and entertainment stories. You can customize the page so you see those stories in a way that makes sense to you. And you can set up email alerts so that when something is reported about a topic that interests you, Google will email you with a link to the story.

There is even more Google to explore, and in future columns we’ll look at the Google Earth, Google Desktop, and Gmail. What’s your favourite thing to do with Google? What confuses you about it? What do you really hate about Google? Email me and we’ll talk about it in future columns.

Cate Eales has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible and fun for over 20 years. She lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric, and her dog, Sandy. Cate is a partner in Real Life Internet Solutions, helping individuals and small businesses with virus, spyware and malware eradication personal computer training and management digital image management music transfer and website design, hosting and management. Email Cate with your comments, suggestions, or questions. To browse the column archives, visit the Real Life Internet Solutions website.

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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