Searching it All

When I’m searching for things on the internet, I really don’t want to spend time wandering around aimlessly trying one strategy and then another.

I’ve had a lot of success by changing the way that I think about search. I like to frame my thoughts in the form of a question.  This helps me generate the expressions that feed my searching process.  Thank you Alex Trebek.

The way I figure it, at least currently, there are three types of things that might reasonably lead to answers to my question.  First, there’s a database of darn near everything put online.  That leads me, of course, to Google.

But, secondly, I do a great deal of reading and discovery.  I interact with a lot of smart people and that generates some great content.  I tuck the best of the best away in my Diigo account.  (It’s public; I figure if I found it, there might be someone somewhere that could use it as well.)

Finally, there are things that are happening right now.  This instant, in fact.  You can’t beat Twitter for that.  That can lead to an instant answer to a question and maybe Google doesn’t know about it or places a different relevancy to it.

How can one get the best of all of these?  Well, you could do it in three steps, or you could do it in three tabs.

There’s another way.  Combine them.

In the news today is the monkey found in the IKEA store.  Here’s what it looks like using my current search strategy…

Searching for “monkey”!

In my Chrome Browser, after doing the search, I’m seeing…

1)  Here are the standard results from a Google Search

2)  Here are the results from my Diigo library.  Apparently, I’ve never bookmarked anything about monkeys before!

3)  This is the live Twitter discussion including the term monkey.


Making Google the default search is easy.  I chose the Encrypted Google option as default.


I have the Diigo Chrome Extension installed so that I can easily bookmark resources on the web and send them to my Diigo account.  If you check the settings, there’s an option to select your Diigo account when doing a Google search.  I used to make Diigo my default search engine but this gives me the best of both worlds.


Finally, the Twitter part is achieved with the HashPlug extension.  Install it and the current Twitter conversation surrounding your search appears and is refreshed live on the right side of the screen.  As you know, it’s also the preview area for Google results so if you mouse over the results, they do pop up as per normal.  It’s worth noting that HashPlug displays 3 or 4 results in the space allotted and when more are returned, you get a set of scrollbars to keep on looking.


This is my current way of configuring things to give me the best results for my time spent searching.  For my purposes, it has made all three search strategies pretty efficient.

Got a better way?  I’d be interested in reading about it.  There’s room below.

Calculate This

Yesterday, I was drawn in by the title of this YouTube video.  “Did Usain Bolt REALLY run 100m in 9.63 seconds?“.  My original thought was this was another conspiracy theory created by some wacko.  It was raining so I devoted the seven and a half minutes to watching it.  From the get go, the math nerd in me really enjoyed the discussion.  The science dummy in me wondered about some of the claims.  Regardless, it was entertaining.

What was most interesting occurred at 5:32 into the movie.  The camera caught this on the screen.

How cool is that?  Amidst all of the high level mathematics discussion, our host uses Google’s calculator as part of his discussion.

Recently, it has had a big overhaul.  You can access it simply by asking Google to solve a mathematics expression.  So, I’ll just type 1+1 to get the answer and the full calculator appears on the screen.

If you live your computer live with a browser open, it’s a quick and easy way to do calculations and conversions.  Certainly, it is easier than poking around looking for the calculator application that came with your computer.  My only beef is that it’s an algebraic calculator.  I grew up using an RPN calculator for my serious stuff.  In fact, my greatest calculator ever was the HP-21.  I’d still use it but the battery has long since expired and the charging cable doesn’t work.

There are electronic emulators though.  I have a Flash version that I use for serious calculations and have downloaded an application for my iPad.

There is a learning curve in the beginning but the power and the time that can be saved using RPN is significant.

I’m hoping this post will bring a reply that shows how to use the Google calculator in RPN mode.  If not, maybe we can start a lobby!

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