We’ve been using the term for years now. We use every day. It doesn’t mean what it should, but our culture has co-opted the term to give it a new meaning.
The term googol refers to the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. The word Google refers to the technology company started by Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Brin and Page named the company after the mathematical term, but they spelled it wrong because they knew that most people wouldn’t know how to spell googol.
It took a few years after its debut, but eventually google.com became the most popular site to use for web searches. During that period if someone told you to search the web that’s exactly what they would say. Today if you want to tell someone to search the web you tell them to ‘google it.’ The word google went from the name of a company to a verb that also means search the web. Google has entered the same realm as Kleenex and Q-tips. No matter which service you use to search the web it’ll be called googling.
Almost all of you know how to use Google to search the web, but do you know about the many different services and shortcuts available at google.com?
I like cars so I spend a lot of time on car forums. If you’ve ever tried to use the search built into forums then you know that it’s terrible. To get around this I use Google to search the site instead. If you put in ‘site:website.com search terms’ Google will return results from only that website.
That’s just the beginning of Google offerings. Older car guys usually refer to engine sizes in cubic inches rather than liters. So when I converse with them on the forums I’ll end up needing to do conversions. Google can help with that.
Google allows you to use natural language for doing conversions. You can type ‘whatever in whatever’ or ‘convert whatever to whatever’ and Google does the math for you. For example, you could type ‘392 cubic inches in liters’ or ‘convert 392 cubic inches to liters’. Google’s converter will do just about any type of conversion you can think of, including currency.
If you’re going to travel to another country and want to see what the exchange rates are you can type ‘amount whatever currency in another currency’. This would be something like ‘1 us dollar in english pounds’. If you’re about to catch a flight to that country and want to know the flight status Google can give you that information. Type in ‘airline flight flight-number’. For example ‘Delta flight 5545’. If you’re wondering what time it is at the other end of your flight you can use Google for that too. Simply typing in ‘what time is it in whatever city’ will return the current time in the city that you asked about.
Google is crawling the web all the time. Every time they crawl a website they save the site in its current state. This becomes the cached version of the website. Think of it like a snapshot of the website at that point in time. If you are trying to access a site that is down or blocked you could use Google to get the cached version. Typing ‘cache:website.com’ will bring up the cached version of that site.
Google recently added buttons to their search results. These buttons allow you to narrow your search. There are options for timeframe (added in the last x amount of time) and result type (search for your exact query, sites with images etc). There are several more, just Google it and you’ll find the answer.
No matter your information needs, chances are Google has a solution for you.
JASON OGAARD was born in Bemidji and is a software engineer for FICO, a Minneapolis-based public company providing analytics and decision-making services, including credit scoring credit bureaus.