Google Does Some New and Not So New Tricks

I went to my personalized Google homepage this morning just like every morning. My “must-reads” are there as well as a quick peek at my Gmail inbox, and the day’s weather report. There was a new present from Google this morning! Themes for my page. I confess to liking pretty wallpaper, screensavers, and themes so this was a fun new toy. The themes seem to be customized for your zipcode – they get darker at night or with bad weather.

Google advanced search also does something that was new at least to me – you can specify usage rights! The choices are – not filtered by usage, free to use or share, free to use or share – even commercially, free to use – share – or modify, free to use – share – modify – even commercially. This is a great thing to share with your students, I would advise that they still check for license issues but it will certainly narrow down the possiblities of accidently violating copyright.

A lot of the options that are available from the main searchbox if you know the syntax are also available here. If you don’t know the syntax or don’t want to be bothered with looking it up you can still narrow down your search results by making use of the advanced search page and just selecting the options you want from the drop down and check boxes.

Another nice tool is available if you click More at the right side of the main searchbox and then click Still More you get a list of other Google places you can go to. Click on Alerts to create a search that sends you updates on the topic of your choice. This is a great research tool. You type in your search terms and then specify news, blogs, web, groups, or comprehensive. Then tell Google how often you want to be updated, enter your email address and you will get everything you always wanted to know about your topic right in your inbox, You can edit the alert if you find your results need a bit of tweaking, and you can even place a module on your Google homepage so you can see your information anytime.