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Google Features

26 Mar 2004 by Matthew Linderman

David Pogue asked Google’s executives and staff for their favorite Google tips and tricks. (NY Times)

Turns out that at Google, you can track FedEx or UPS packages, type in an equation (“32+2345*3-234=”) and click Search to see the answer, convert units-of-measurement (type “teaspoons in a gallon,” for example, or “centimeters in a foot.”), or type in a flight number like “United 22” for a link to a map of that flight’s progress in the air.

18 comments so far (Post a Comment)

26 Mar 2004 | Michel Christensen said...

I guess Google is becoming a very powerful tool, but I think a little more documentation on the featured queries would do no harm.

26 Mar 2004 | Charbel said...

I think keep all these features very behind the scenes helps google, because it makes them look like a small company, and keeps the WOW factor when people find out about these features.

26 Mar 2004 | Michel Christensen said...

Well, I guess you're right. But on the other hand, I would like to have a little documentation - if not directly on the google search page, then one click away.

26 Mar 2004 | Jon Gales said...

Heh. These are nothing new boys. And there is plenty of documentation:

My favorite is the conversions because I can never remember the constants. But the stock ticker thing is nice, as is the reverse phone lookup.

26 Mar 2004 | Hagbard Celine said...

It does explicit conversions too, which I use pretty regularly. For example, you can type in "how many feet in 12.2 miles."

I've been using Froogle lately, but unfortunately they can't filter for vendors who are still in business or actually answer email.

26 Mar 2004 | pb said...

Two points:
1) it's ironic that the Google search box is taking us back to a command line interface.
2) Google's impressive implementation its CLI is the real difference between it and the competition. After using Google's calculator, for example, switching to Yahoo is a non-starter even though Yahoo's general search results are more than adequate.

26 Mar 2004 | ~bc said...

I can see how some may make arguments that Google is a CLI, but i dont' really feel like it is: typing in numbers to be calculated is the exact same thing that school children (or, heck anyone) does with a calculator. No one calls that a CLI. Part of the interface is visual: the buttons, numbers, pluses, minuses, etc. A CLI uses hidden, abstract commands, like "mk dir" or "ls" but pressing a "=" or "+" does exactly what it says... its lacking that level of abstraction, IMO.

Basically, Google is more straight forward that you're giving it credit for when labeling it as a CLI.

26 Mar 2004 | Michel Christensen said...

Jon Gales: Thanks for the link :)

26 Mar 2004 | Jonny Roader said...

My opinion: Google is losing ground. There's too much fucking around going on. Their eggheads are developing toys when they should be concentrating on reversing the decline in search quality. Great hype won't last forever, and the competition (Yahoo, Microsoft) are clawing their way back and laying solid foundations for progress.

27 Mar 2004 | mark said...

I agree with Johnny. There's just way too many search results mixed with the good stuff.

27 Mar 2004 | Jonny Roader said...

"There's just way too many search results mixed with the good stuff.

Not to mention the blog noise, or the fact that PageRank is an inherently limited approach (albeit better than anything available before it).

I wonder how many of the Google staff mentioned the 'intitle' and 'filetype' tricks? Very useful. If you're a fucking hacker that is:

Please let me know your password

27 Mar 2004 | Niket said...

Competition is always great. If Yahoo and MSN searches improve, it will give Google that much greater incentive to improve even further. It is a leader right now, but great to see others catching up.

For technical queries in my field, I found AllTheWeb a better source.

28 Mar 2004 | Dane Carlson said...

AllTheWeb used to be good, but they've switched to using Yahoo's results.

28 Mar 2004 | pb said...

The obvious thing that Google should do is take into account which search results users click on. They could take it a step further by weighting clicks more if the user doesn't return to Google to click on another result.

That would eliminate all the results since humans can spot those easily but Google appears unable to.

28 Mar 2004 | Stevie said...

If you are looking to learn more about Google and it's features and how to use them, I would recommend any of the O'Reilly books on Google.

Either Google Hacks or The Google Pocket Guide.

29 Mar 2004 | luke said...

err... did google just update their design? thoughts?

29 Mar 2004 | luke said...

oh, duh, wtlw.

30 Mar 2004 | Martin said...

This was blogged on The Copydesk last August....

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