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Become a Google search pro

Friday, December 5th, 2014

google-doodleGoogle does more than 2 million searches per second. Impressive, isn’t it? And Google’s head office do not use regular lawn mowers to keep their lawns neat and tidy. Oh no, they hire goats to do it!  (more interesting Google facts)

The word Google has become synonymous with the idea of internet searches in spite of the fact that Google is merely one of various existing search engines. That it’s by far the largest and possibly the most effective, might be a good enough reason for its preference.

But do you use Google as well and efficient as you could? Research done in 2011 at Wesleyan University in Illinois suggests that less than 25% of students can conduct a thorough search for information. Let’s hope this improved over the past three years.

Dharmesh Shah from HubSpot has a few hints:

1. Quotation marks

Instead of just typing the two words you need information on into the search box, rather put the phrase in quotation marks to narrow down Google’s search.

2. Exclude certain words

If you’re looking for info on marketing, but not on advertisements, use “-” in front of the word you want to exclude. For example “marketing -advertisements”.

3. Searches on a specific website

If you happen to know which website might contain your information, include this in your search. For example “marketing” site:www.bizcommunity.com

4. Similar words and synonyms

When you want to include a specific word in your search, but also words with a similar meaning, put “~” in front of the word.

5. Specific document types

If you already know the document you’re looking for is a pdf, you can use filetype. For example: “marketing” filetype:pdf

6. Use OR

When you carry out a search, Google includes all the words you supply. When you only want one of the two terms, use OR. Just remember to put it in caps. For example: marketing OR advertisements.

8. Phone numbers

You receive a phone call, but you have no idea who it’s from. Use Google’s phone book function. For example:  phonebook: 021-123456

9. Area code

If you have no idea for which area an area code is, add the 3 number code to the search box and you’ll immediately get the answer.

10. Numerical ranges

Do you need results falling in a certain time range? Use “..”. For example president 1940..1950.

10. Stock info 

Just add a valid ticker symbol in the search and Google will supply you with current financials and a stock chart.

11. Calculator

Next time you need to do a complicated calculation, forget about the calculator app on your PC. Just type your sum in Google. For example 48512 * 1.02

12. Word definitions

Do you quickly need a word’s definition? Just type define in front of it in Google. For example:  define:plethora

We hope these few hints help you to get answers even faster, but if you need more assistance, HackCollege compiled this handy infographic. More information can also be found on Google‘s support page.

Google-infograhic

 

 

Infographic via HackCollege

Google Chrome, portals and poodles

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

At the end of October Google announced plans to disable fall back to version 3 of the SSL protocol in Chrome 39, and remove SSL 3.0 completely in Chrome 40. The decision follows the company’s disclosure of a serious security vulnerability in SSL 3.0 on October 14, the attack it dubbed Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption (POODLE). [SOURCE: www.venturebeat.com]

What does this mean in understandable language?

Some SU webpages were built on the Oracle infrastructure and make use of SSL protocol. This means that, if you use Google Chrome as your default browser, you might have problems accessing certain information. If you go to my.sun.ac.za and want to browse to Sun-e-HR, Exam results, meal reservations, etc. you might not be successful.

However, if you use Firefox or Internet Explorer, you won’t experience any hiccups. Alternatively you can use m.sun.ac.za to access selected options. This is only a temporary issue.

Information Technology will be working on a solution which involves an upgrade of portal software over this weekend. Due to this maintenance, some services will not be available from Saturday, 6 December at 12:00, as well as the whole of Sunday.

Services affected are all portal applications, my.sun.ac.za, Sun-e-HR, etc. OIC will also be down, therefore no payments can be made and the change password functionality will also not be available.

We hope to complete this action as soon as possible and provide a better service to users when it’s completed.

For any enquiries, send e-mail to helpinfo@sun.ac.za or call x4367.

Would you be able do disconnect?

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Whether it’s an increasing phenomenon or we’re just more aware of it, addictive social media and internet behavior is becoming more prevalent. To such an extent that internet addiction treatment camps are commonplace in China. According to psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher Sean Luo of Columbia University “3.7 to 13 percent of U.S. and 10 percent of South Korean Internet users express some symptoms of inappropriate Internet use.”(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-real-a-risk-is-social-media-addiction/)

Last week it was reported that doctors in the USA submitted a man into the US Navy’s substance abuse programme, because he was apparently addicted to Google Glass. He wore the headset for up to 18 hours a day and when it was removed, experienced serious withdrawal symptoms. Even when he was not wearing it, he attempted to tap his right temple, which is where the device is activated. He was diagnosed with internet addiction disorder (IAD).

This isn’t a new phenomenon. In 1996, shortly after internet became part of our lives, internet addiction was already recognised as a possible psychiatric disorder. Even though it’s not officially listed in the latest DSM manual (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), used by psychiatrists, it has been argued that it should be. Psychiatrists also prefer the term Problematic Internet Use (PUI), avoiding the use of the word addiction. PUI refers to excessive computer use interfering with daily life.

The diagnosis of internet addiction isn’t an easy one as it’s not the medium someone becomes addicted to, but rather the available online content. The internet is merely the platform. It has also been observed that IAD could be a symptom of another underlying disorder, instead of a disorder on it’s own.  Many other related addictions can fall under the general term IAD, for example a gambling addiction, addiction to cyber relationships, online shopping, etc. (more detail on IAD can be found on www.wikipedia.org)

Would you be able to disconnect, even if only for a day? How about trying survive this weekend without Facebook, Twitter or e-mail to start? Imagine how much more time you might have on your hands …

In 2013 Paul Miller, an American Technology Journalist from Springfield, Missouri and senior editor for The Verge decided to disconnect from the hyper-connected world in an attempt to ‘find himself’ and become more productive. He abandoned the internet and disconnected from all Social Media, returning to a life before the net, apps and smartphones. Watch the video below to see what he learnt from the experience.

Other related videos and short films:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0H6AzEMHSc

[SOURCES: http://www.zdnet.comhttp://www.cbsnews.com, http://www.wikipedia.org]

WikiWand – a new look for Wikipedia

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Using Wikipedia as a quick reference has become the norm in our daily online activities. We’ve grown used to the basic, stripped down interface and for some this is what makes it effective and functional.

However, this interface hasn’t changed since 2004 and Lior Grossman and Ilan Lewin found the dated and sometimes less user-friendly Wikipedia frustrating to use. At times Wikipedia’s interface appears cluttered and difficult to navigate.

To solve the problem, they launched WikiWand, a browser extension in August of 2014.

WikiWand is available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari and installs within seconds. It instantly provides Wikipedia users with a different look for Wikipedia pages.

At first glance the biggest change is the large photos and more visually inclined look. Even thumbnails are more prominent. (see example below)

wikiwand

Typography has been changed to a serif font, which interestingly enough, is usually more difficult to read. WikiWand already receive some criticism regarding this choice of font and might change it to something more readable in future.

Other changes are on a more practical level and include easier browsing and navigation between different sections and pages. A list of contents remain static on the left side of the page, even when you switch sections. No more unnecessary scrolling! A feature which Wikipedia doesn’t have and a valuable addition.

In addition the section you’re reading at the moment is highlighted in the side-menu. Also included is a navigation bar, links to other languages and a “share” button.

One of WikiWand’s biggest advantages is the ability to preview linked articles. In other words, any link contained in the article you’re reading can be previewed by hovering over the link with the mouse. The preview will give you a short summary of the related topic without you having to click on it and switch to another tab.

If WikiWand isn’t your cup of tea, there are many other tools to customise Wikipedia if you should choose to. Read more on www.lifehacker.com if you’re interested.

[SOURCES: www.thenextweb.com, www.lifehacker.com, www.wikpedia.com and www.wikiwand.com]

ADSL – what are the options?

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Asymmetric digital subscriber line – bet you didn’t know that’s what ADSL actually stands for, did you? I also bet you don’t know how many available ADSL data options we have available in South Africa and how their pricing compare?

Mygaming recently made a comparison of internet service providers to make the decision more painless for ADSL subscribers. But before you jump in and start shopping, make sure you know the basics. 

This is what you’ll need: 

1. A Telkom analogue (voice) line at  R157 per month.

2. Telkom ADSL line access. This comes at various speeds, from 2Mbps (R165 per month) to 40 Mbps (R952 per month). (For more detail see the mygaming article.)

3. An ADSL data account from an ISP to access the Internet.  This is the only option you have a wider choice and don’t need Telkom for. (For more detail see the mygaming article.)>

Read mygaming’s comparison here.

 

 

 

 

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