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Meet your digital cheerleader

Friday, April 15th, 2016

goals

It’s easy to find excuses not to exercise, complete a course or clean up the garage. We all procrastinate and busy schedules cause us to neglect tasks we need, and also want, to do.

Calendar Goals was developed by Google to be our cheerleader and personal assistant.

The software uses machine learning to help you allocate time on your Google Calendar to complete your chosen goals, whether it’s an exercise regime or merely spending more time reading. Goals pinpoints gaps in your schedule fit your needs. 

To use Calendar Goals, you need to be a Gmail user and use the Calendar app. After adding “Goal”, Google will ask you a few questions to establish what you want to do and which times of day would suit your best.

It has options, like Exercise, Build a Skill and Me Time,  available, but you can also add your own. After entering your information, you can leave it to Google to schedule a few time slots and remind you to keep to them.

If it happens that something else is scheduled during Google’s suggested times, it will allocate another time and keep trying until it suits you. Of course, if you are a serial procrastinator, you will find a way around this, but the software will try its best to make it difficult for you to do so. 

How to use Google Calendar Goals on Android and iOS

The new feature is available from this week for users on Android and iPhone, but not yet for the web-based Gmail calendar.

Google Calendar | Google Play Store via Google Blog

 

[SOURCES: http://gadgets.ndtv.comhttp://techcrunch.comhttp://www.idigitaltimes.com]

Life in 3D

Friday, November 20th, 2015

“No, really?!” would be a valid first reaction to Google’s latest innovation. Made from cardboard, it looks a lot like the toys you played with in primary school.

cardboardGoogle Cardboard doesn’t bring anything revolutionary to the table. It’s a virtual reality headset which enables you to watch 3D images and videos with your smart phone.

What makes it different is its simplicity and accessibility.

The headset consists of corrugated cardboard, Velcro and a pair of cheap plastic lenses – the most essential part as they transform flat images on your phone into 3D ones.

Although Cardboard was developed by Google, there is no official manufacturer or vendor for the device. A list of the parts and instructions is available on the Google website. With a few basics you can assemble your own VR viewer. Add your cell phone, download the Google Cardboard app and you’re good to go 3D.

The app splits the smartphone image into two and applies “barrel distortion to each image to counter pincushion distortion from the lenses. The result is a stereoscopic (“3D”) image with a wide field of view.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Cardboard)

More info is available on https://developers.google.com/cardboard/

 

[SOURCES: http://www.wired.com; www.wikipedia.org]

Let the search begin!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Have you ever tried looking for something on a search engine only to get 1267 results totally unrelated to your initial query?

Internet search engines have the ability to search through a huge amount of web pages by means of titles, key words or text. But to find the correct results fast and effectively, you need to know how to use search engines to your advantage.

We’ve compiled a few basic hints to help you with your searches.

–         Use more than one keyword

On average most people use 1.5 words per search –  not enough for a successful search. The suggested amount of words are 6 to 8, preferably nouns.  Articles and pronouns are mostly ignored by search engines. Avoid verbs and adjectives unless it helps to define the topic.

–          Use phrases

A phrase is a combination of one or more words found in the exact order in the text you’re looking for. Make sure you use quotation marks, for example “get results fast”.

–          Caps and punctuation

Most search engines are sensitive to case. However if you use small caps, most search engines will recognise both capital letters and small caps. To play it safe, rather use small caps.

–          Boolean searches

The “Boolean” search was named after George Boole, a 19th century mathematician. A Boolean search is a handy took which gives the best results for a search. The three most used options are AND, OR and AND NOT.

AND means you’re looking for documents containing both/all words. For example if you serach for “search engines” AND “Google” AND “Boolean”, you will get results containing all three words.

OR means you’re looking for results containing one of the two words – it doesn’t matter which one. Preferably use synonyms for this option. For example  “small caps” OR “lower case”.

AND NOT means you are looking for results containing one word, but not if the document also contains another word. The search for “Google” AND “search engines” AND NOT “Boolean” will give you all the documents with “Google en “search engines”, but they won’t have “Boolean”.

Most search engines support the AND NOT option, but they sometimes use the words BUT NOT or NOT instead. In these cases they are indicated by placing a minus in front of the word or phrase.

–          Take note of your spelling and also consider the alternative spelling of words. 

–          Use specific words/phrases rather than generic categories. Rather search for “laptop” than “computer”.

–          Only search one specific website or domain. To do this, type the subject you’re looking for, followed by  “site:” and the webaddress. (For example inetkey site:www.sun.ac.za/infoteg)

–          Use a specialist search engine, for example an image search engine to search for your images and photos. Many websites have their own subcategories which makes it easier to conduct a serach.  Wikipedia has a very extensive list of specialist search engines.

Just remember there are between 200 and 800 million documents online! Refine your search as much as possible and you’ll be guaranteed better results.

Rumour has Amazon became the number one online shopping website before Google existed because Yahoo listed all the sites in their directory alphabetically! Luckily times have changed.

For more about the various search engines, how they work and tips, read more on Search Engine Watch.

 

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