Thursday, April 30, 2009

A few Google tips and tricks

Why do I write this? Last week I saw a tweet by Howard Bowling ( @howard74 ) on Twitter asking “Anyone else ever use Google for a quickie spell check.” Wow, I thought it was only me that did that. I replied that I do it all the time and that Google is also a nice dictionary when you put define: before the word. This is just a few other Google features or tips and tricks that I use or know.

Spell checker
Not exactly sure how to spell that word? Type how you thinks it should be spelled in the search box and Google will ask “Did you mean: [correct spelling]?”

For those words that you don't know the meaning use “define: word” for example “define: ululations” ( without the “ ) You will get a list of different definitions for word. You can also use it without : in which case you will get usually get a longer list of results. Try both and see which one you like best.

Very useful in our online world. Enter “time city” in the search box en you will get the time in that city.

If you enter “time country” you will get the different timezones if the country have more than one.

Works basically the same as time. Enter “weather city” to see weather in that city.

You can even use Google as a calculator. Do basic calculations like +, -, *, / or combinations. You also do more advanced calculations for example “8*9+(sqrt 10)^5=”

You can do currency conversions for example “100 USD in ZAR”

You can also do unit conversions between many different units of measurement of height, weight, and volume etc. Just enter your conversion into the search box and Google will do the rest for example convert 15 inches in cm.

Stock Quotes
You can also use Google to see current market data for a given company or fund just type the ticker symbol into the search box.

Looking for a map of a city? Type in the name of the city ( or US zip code ) and "map" and Google will show a of that location. If you click on the map you will get a larger version in Google Maps.

Search within a specific website
You can specify that your search results must come from a specific website by using “site:website” for example searching for “steve hofmeyr” will give you pages about Steve Hofmeyr but only from

You can also use “site:” to search specific domains for example “archives” to get result about archives from the domains.

Double quotes
In the one example above I used double quotes around a set of words. If you want to search for a specific phrase put the phrase in double quotes for example “steve hofmeyr” By doing that Google will give you result with the exact words in that exact order.

Wild cards
You include * within a query and Google will try to use the star as a placeholder for any unknown terms. For example “edison invented *” will give you results about Edison's inventions. Test it for yourself by searching for “Google” and “Google *” The first one will give you result about Google and the second will give you result about Google's products .

One of the other things that I sometimes do is type a whole question in the search block for example “why is the sky blue?” Google usually ignore words like the, a, for, etc. but I found that by typing the whole question most of the time I get better results.

That's it for now. Do you have any other tips and tricks for using Google?

Football in the Oval Office

I like photos. Not just any photo, but photos that have that something that makes it a bit different. I think this is one of those exceptional photos. It is President Barack Obama playing with a football in the Oval Office on 2009/04/23/. It is an Official White House Photo by Pete Souza and it is part of the Official White House Photostream on Flickr. You can see more here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Google Classic!

Seems Google wasn't always fast!

Toilet paper and the economy

An estate agent that I used to work with complained about the economy the other day. He said it is so bad that he have to buy single ply toilet paper! He told us previously that he uses nothing but 2 ply toilet paper. If the economy declines further he can always go and buy his toilet paper from this guy:

At least it's still in a good condition. If you thought that's bad have a look at this sign:

Would somebody really use money as toilet paper? Seems like it. The Zimbabwean newspaper gave a new meaning to the word "billboard" when they made this billboard:

Yes, the whole board is made up of thousands of Zim dollar banknotes. Apparently it is cheaper to use the banknotes than to use paper. They also used banknotes as fliers (or flyers ) to "highlight the plight of Zimbabwe and the cause of the Zimbabwean Newspaper"

You can see more on their Flickr pages

So if you can use Zim dollars for billboards and fliers you could probably also use it as toilet paper. Me? I would rather just stick to my plain old boring white single ply toilet paper.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Green Beard

Somebody asked if I am Irish and if my beard is green for Saint Patrick's Day. No, I am South African and as far as I know I don't have any Irish blood, but anything is possible :-) The green beard ( and shaven head ) was done for charity!

The photo was taken after I participated in the CANSA Shavathon. After they shaved my head they decided to spray my beard as well.

CANSA ( Cancer Association of South Africa ) hosts an annual national CANSA Shavathon over 2 days for people to shave or spray their hair for a R50 donation at either workplaces, organizations, educational institutions or shopping centers. The Shavathon raises awareness and funds for the fight against cancer.

You can get more information on CANSA on their website. You can also find CANSA Shavathon on Facebook and on Flickr. You can also go here to make a donation

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Make your own money!

Now you can make your own personalized money. If you go to Festisite Personalized money generator you can generate your own personalized money.

You choose a money bill (dollar, yen, pound, ruble or one of the others), upload a photograph and then optionally, re-position the photograph. If you are happy you can download your image. Some bills work better than others. If your chosen bill and photo looks funny try another combination.

Animal testing!

The lighter side of animal testing:

Expert on Nothing!

I am an Expert on Nothing!

“What?” you say “And you say that out loud!”

Let me explain. According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary an expert is:

a person who is very knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area.

So, am I not a person that is very knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area? I know a lot about certain things and not so much about other things. I started working with computers in about 1990. I worked with and on computers, I upgraded, repaired and supplied computer support. I taught people how to use computers. I worked with DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows XP and Vista. I started on Bulletin Board Systems and from there moved to the Internet. I think you get the picture: from about 1990 computers and the Internet formed a big part of my life.

For the past few years I worked in a computer shop. My duties included ordering, receiving and selling of computers and components. I think that I am very knowledgeable about that. My duties also included working as a technician: repairing and upgrading pc's, installing and configuring operation systems and other software, making network cable's, “building” computers, removing viruses (without losing data) and all the other stuff that a technician do. A lot of the customers called me an expert but I still do not refer to myself as an expert.

If you look around you, you won't believe how many experts are out there. You see them on the television, predicting that if this happens that will happen. In the newspapers and on the Internet. Some days it seems that just about every website that you visit is hosted by or have some connection with an expert. Google “expert” and you get “Results 1 - 10 of about 302,000,000 for expert” And then you get the experts you know personally or meet in everyday life.

I can tell you a few stories about some experts I've met while working with computers. A few examples: the expert that plugged the stiffy drive power cable into the jumpers at the back of his hard disk ( please don't do it – it destroys your hard disk ) And I can tell you about the expert that “built thousands of pc's” and then he destroys his brand new motherboard because he forced the wrong 4 pin power cable into the motherboard.

One day last year while working in the computer shop one the the self proclaimed computer expert (“you can't tell my anything about computers”) and I were talking. Actually he was talking and I was just listening while going on with my work. He never actually bought anything but just came in to talk and mostly about how good he is. So he is going on and on when one of the regular customers came in. This customer was in the shop the previous day and said that he wanted to try Ubuntu Linux. I had a few Ubuntu cd's and told him that I will give him one. So while giving him the Ubuntu disc I tell him it's the Ubuntu disc I promised him. The self proclaimed computer expert (SPCE) then asked “Ubuntu?”
Me: “Yes”
SPCE: “This @#$%& government!”
Me: “Excuse me?”
SPCE: “The government made Ubuntu cd's. They ....”

I interrupted and explained to him that Ubuntu Linux is a open source operating system that is distributed by Mark Shuttleworth and his company. His next question: “What's a operating system?” Are you serious? You're suppose to be a computer expert! After explaining to the SPCE what a operating system was, his reaction: “Oh, so it's a new version of Windows”

The one thing that I've learned over the years is that the more you learn about something the more there is to learn. Things change so you have to keep on learning especially if you work with computers, the Internet or other technology. And that my dear readers is why I am an Expert on Nothing – I am still learning!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kung Fu

Be afraid! My kung fu is good! Praying mantis style!

Dalai Lama

If you need one in South Africa just phone!

And you don't even need a Visa!

You know crime is bad when....

You know crime is really bad when you see something like this: