Tag Archives: search engines

Try One New Thing – Our 1st Anniversary Post

As we finish out June, we are also finishing up the first year of Learning for Life Online. For anyone who’s been reading along since the beginning: thank you. I’m going to work hard to make the second year of LLO as fun and fascinating as the first.

For our 50th post, I’d like to challenge you to choose one of the tools or services we’ve looked this past year and sign up for it or try it out. Pick something that intrigued you but you never got around to it, or something that looked ridiculous and you want to see if you were just missing something. Doesn’t matter how big or small a thing it is – just do it. Review the basics of playing with a new online tool or playing with a new gadget and remember to have fun!

Try One New Thing and play around with it for the month of July. As you try it, comment on this post with your experience or thoughts, and any suggestions you have for using it.

Rather than make you go back through the past year to look for your one new thing, here’s a quick reference list:

It takes time to make a social tool a part of your life, including your life online. Whatever you choose to do, give it to the end of July and then see what you think of it. Let us know here if your opinion has changed, and how.

Thank you all again for following along, and enjoy your One New Thing! See you in July…

Five Search Engines You Haven’t Heard of…Yet

With all our coverage of privacy, security, and account settings, April was a pretty heavy month here at Learning for Life Online. Let’s celebrate spring by lightening things up a little bit in May. We’ll start by showcasing five search engines (similar to Google or Bing) that you might not have heard about.
 

Duck Duck Go logoDuck Duck Go is a nifty alternative to Google, Bing and the rest. To use this all-purpose, general search engine, just type in whatever you’re looking for into the search box and click. For tips, tricks and shortcuts to get very specific information quickly, check out their special “goodies” searches page.
 

Million Short logoWhat if you’re not looking for the most popular results? What if you want something obscure, or want to find the small stuff without having to skip past all the answers you already know? Try Million Short, a search engine that will let you cut off the top million, hundred thousand, thousand, or hundred results and get to websites and pages you may have never seen before. This isn’t a search engine you’d use all the time, but if you want to really research a topic online, it would help get to the weird stuff more quickly.
 

Spezify logoSpezify is an entirely different kind of search engine – rather than a list of results, you get a visual collection of images, video and text spread out in front of you. No, it’s not in a particular order, but you can quickly see whether something is useful to you by just looking. Lots of fun, especially if you’re looking for photos or images.
 

EcoFreek logoEcoFreek is a search engine that specifically looks for items that other people are giving away, willing to swap for, selling at a garage sale, or are otherwise free or really cheap. Type whatever you’re looking for into the search box, choose what part of the world you’re in, then click Search. You’ll get a list of results with a short description; if one of them sounds like what you want, click through to the original listing to see if it’s still available.
 

BookFinder logoTired of searching Amazon first to find books to buy? Try BookFinder, a search engine just for books. It’s great for out of print or hard-to-find items, and has an international focus for better non-English language materials.
 

I Like Using Google – Why Change?

If you were shopping for just the right shirt, you wouldn’t look in one store and then stop when you didn’t find it, would you? Same thing with search engines – the same one will tend to give you the same sorts of answers. To really know what’s out there, you need to try your search in different places, and compare the results you get from each one.

There are hundreds of search engines available, some more general and some for very specific topics. Don’t just trust results from the big three – take one step further and see what else is out there.

Help & Resources

Search and Maps

Now that we’ve covered the main tools used by the Learning for Life Online program, let’s get to some of the other basic tools of the web.

What Is It?

Search: A search engine is any site that helps you search for other websites based on words you choose. Google, Bing and Yahoo! are the three most popular search engines (right now), but there are many others.

Maps & Directions: One of the most useful resources online, searchable maps provide current information and step-by-step directions from wherever you are to wherever you’d like to get to. They’ll even help you get from the Boston Public Library to Tokyo, Japan, provided you can “kayak across the Pacific Ocean” (steps #26 and #42). Google Maps, Mapquest, Bing Maps, Yahoo! Maps and others are part of the major search engines. Rand McNally and National Geographic are two print publishers who also provide searchable online maps.

How Is It Useful?

Search engines are the only way to find anything on the internet. That might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s mostly true. There are millions upon millions of websites out there, and there is no comprehensive “directory to the internet.” What’s interesting is that each search engine uses a slightly different way to find sites and show results, so if you want to make sure you’ve found everything about a subject that’s online, use as many search engines as you can to go looking.

A paper map is great, but online maps have a few advantages. First, they can be updated much more quickly than published paper maps or even map software on your computer. Second, they can provide street maps, aerial views of buildings and landmarks and street-level views for the same location, to help make finding a place in real life extremely easy. Better still, type in the address (or general location) you’re coming from and where you want to go and you can get turn-by-turn directions on how to get there. You can add multiple locations and create a personalized road trip itinerary.

Try It Out

Using a search engine or a map is as easy as typing into the search bar and clicking Search. Try any of the ones below, and remember to click on buttons to see what happens next, especially on the maps. Search for different combinations of words about the same topic or location and see how the results change. We’ll cover some advanced and specific search techniques in a future Learning for Life Online post.

Google | Google Maps
Bing | Bing Maps
Yahoo! | Yahoo! Maps
AOL | Mapquest