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Book:   Google Hacks
Date:   2007-03-06 05:31:59
From:   Paul from SCUG
Rating:  StarStarStarStarStar

I'm not a novice surfer but even I rarely scratch the surface of the long list of features
Google offers. This book serves, at the vry least,
to remind me of them. It's a reference book, well indexed to find the feature that will
best serve the purpose at hand. For example, did you know that Google serves as a powerful phonebook? Sadly, it's only for the US so far, but entering in the Google search bar [phonebook:smith ca] without the brackets will list all
the Smiths in California. Entering [phonebook:john smith ca] will narrow the focus. And it returns phone number, street address and zip code for each. Similar keywords exist to restrict information searches to specific websites
[site:] website titles [intitle:], website text [intext:] and to find an expired page [cache:] to name just a handful. We have Gmail accounts and they come with a generous 2GB of mailbox space (each!) but I didn't realize that there is a simple installation that will turn that space
into appearing as an additonal 2GB drive on your machine.

Handy enough if an extra 2GB will buy you some
time before having to get new hardware, but if you want to share your Gmail log-in with family somewhere, you can now have a shared drive for those family photos. An entire chapter deals with tips and tricks for Gmail.
Google maps [ or http:// or -- you get the idea] offers a quick serving of a map of any location you ask for. Type in an address, or a business name and city, or simply "hotels in Toronto" and up comes a map, zoomable and scrollable, marked with whatever you asked for. A word of caution is warranted here. Many of the features appear to be VERY browser-dependent
(and likely OS-dependent as well). I got VERY
different results using IE5 and IE6 on two different machines.

The newer browser gave the results described
in the book while the older one did not. For example, refocusing the map centre by dragging, or zooming in by clicking a spot, worked in one but not the other. Ever think of Google as a dictionary? Try it! Type in [define:oxymoron] or even [define:phat] since it will offer
up definitions of slang as well as accepted English. Note especially that the syntax for all these keywords requires (a) that the keyword be all lower case and (b)no space following the colon. This book ranges from quick and easy tips to cut through the millions of search hits and more tightly focus your results to programming hacks that you can add to your websites to customize and harness Google's amazing
power. In fact, a full chapter -- 50 pages of the 500 -- are for the programmer and require registration with Google after which you can download a Deveoper's Kit.

Although I may at some point dabble with programming again, for now I'm satisfied to comb through the 47 pages of the Webmastering chapter which shows you how to tweak your own websites to get the most out of Google. I added a search button to mine so that visitors can use
the Google engine to search within the sites. The book also offers links to webmaster tools such as registering your site with Google and submitting a site map to help Google help you and your visitors.

Yes, this is a book that will remain within reach of my keyboard. If you use Google more than rarely, you'll use this book.