CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published July 30, 2001

Google shifts into high gear

In an article some months ago, I mentioned a search engine, Google that was relatively new on the Internet scene.  Since that time, Google has assumed a ubiquitous presence on the World Wide Web and now seems to be popping up everywhere. 

The name Google is derived from the math term "googol", which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. This term "reflects the company's mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the web." Google currently performs 100 million searches daily of its more than 1.3 billion indexed web pages. The easy-to-use interface and advanced search technology yields results four times faster than other search engines. 

So popular is Google that it earned a Webby Award for Best Practices at the 5th Annual Webby Awards held in San Francisco last week. The Best Practices Award honors the website that receives the highest rating in six areas: content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity, and overall experience.

You'll notice Google's logo on many familiar, established websites such as Netscape and Yahoo! These companies have partnered with Google to power the search engines on their own websites. Google has also assumed control of one of the oldest entities on the Internet, Usenet.

Usenet, short for User Network, started in 1980, ten years before the World Wide Web was even a glimmer. It was simply a text-based forum where people could post and read articles on a variety of topics.  Also called newsgroups, Usenet hosted millions of messages ranging from technical to the bizarre. In February of this year, Google acquired the entire Usenet archive from Dejanews dating back to 1995 -- over 650 million messages.

Usenet afficianados and newbies alike will enjoy the new look and feel of the ongoing discussions at groups.google.com/ Unlike the old discussion groups that you had to first subscribe to, you can now search Usenet for a topic, read the threads and then subscribe later if you so desire. Like other areas of the Internet, there are some obscene newsgroups, but many more useful discussion areas. I've found help on everything from Word macros to device driver error messages.

Recently, when MSN Messenger service was down for over one week, I searched in vain through the official Microsoft channels seeking an explanation or even acknowledgment of the outage. None to be found. A quick search on Usenet listed some 7,000 messages from others experiencing similar troubles. Later Microsoft acknowledged a bad disk controller caused the problem, but was remiss in explaining why it took eight days to restore the service. There were plenty of opinions, however, flowing through the Usenet channels.

Under the Google Advanced Search Options, you can now look for specific images on the Web. Previously, when looking for pictures, you searched on the subject matter and found an accompanying image only if you were lucky. Now, you can search for images only. My search for "asparagus" yielded 2,100 images in .17 seconds. I even found my own picture indexed among Google's database of 150 million images.

Google has other highlights including language translation for non-English pages, and features to locate directions, maps, individuals and businesses. To add the power of Google's search capabilities to your searches, go to Google and download their free toolbar. The toolbar will enable you to enhance your web searches from any web page on the Internet. 

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuleruop.edu or cschulerceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.

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