What the World is Searching

What do you search for when you’ve searched for everything on Google?  How about taking a look at what everyone else is searching for?  Or at least the current most popular searches.  Google calls this Google Trends.


Interesting top two for a Friday night as I write this post.

I wonder what else?  The trends feature also let you take a look at the top trending searching per a topic.  For example, it looks like pizza is on the order for the end of the work week meal.  (We had Chinese – can’t beat hot and sour soup)TopCharts

But, back to trends…

I could look at this all day long.  A new feature lets you visualize just what’s trending…

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Fascinating stuff.  Just set it up on your desktop and watch the world do its thing!



Yesterday morning, I read this story.  Freepik: your graphic resources search engineThere were two things that caught my eye – “Graphic” and “Free”.  I had to check it out, and from the number of retweets, a great deal of my Twitter followers did as well.

Acid test for me – search for “House”.

The results come displayed, first with results from Shutterstock, sponsored results, and then a collection of “free results”.  The thumbnails click through to the full sized image.  You’ll want to be careful here and check the results to ensure that the copyright places them into the public domain or some sort of licensing which will need to be referenced in your use of the image.

What I like, in particular, is the ability to tell Freepik just what type of image that you want – obviously, there are times and places for vector images.  It’s a great lesson for those students who like to stretch out jpg images to fit the target area!

An option that’s worth the time to explore with students is colour filtering.  You’ll notice above that I’ve selected green.  To that end, Freepik has filtered its results to show images that have a high saturation of green in them.  How often have you seen students grab the first image that comes along only to have a primarily purple image into a theme that’s primarily green?  Little touches like this lend to teachable moments and, hopefully, better results whether it be desktop publishing or a presentation or …

Freepik is definitely a resource to bookmark and add to your suite of online tools.  If you have a portal that takes students to useful websites, you’ll want to add this resource to the list.  Like most things, you do need to do a bit more than provide a link.  Use the functionality of the site to talk about copyright, file types, colour saturations, resizing, etc.

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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.

Math and Science Symbol Search

This search engine is specially made for the mathematicians and scientists in the crowd.

How often have you wanted to do a search for a particular equation requiring specialized characters?  Quick, where is that alt-code cheat sheet?  Well, in fact, you can find it here.

Wouldn’t it be nicer if there was an easier way?

There is.  Check out Symbolab.

Typing any formula is as simple as using your regular keyboard and then the buttons on the top row.  Results come first from Wolfram Alpha and then the deep searching begins.

Let’s start with a simple example y=mx+b

Actually, there’s no real reason that you couldn’t use a traditional search engine for that equation so let’s try something a little more complicated.

How about something like:  

There’s a formula that would be a real challenge with your alt-codes.  It’s a snap with Symbolab.

And now, the results

The top row of the search engine is actually a series of buttons that can be expanded with a click.  So, the sin / cosh button opens to reveal…

This site features just a wealth of functionality if the need to search for specialized symbols is in your future.  BTW, the chemistry symbols section is under development as I write this.

The topper?  How about a calculator to go with all this goodness!


From Where Does Your Learning Come?


I read a great post yesterday from Dangerously Irrelevant from “way back” in June of 2011.  It was entitled “If you were on Twitter yesterday…” and it brought back a nice memory.  I recall reading it when it was originally posted and so it was a nice déjà vu.  Other than nostalgia, it’s a good message anytime.

From where does your learning come?

In the good old days, it might be from a district PD Day a couple of times a year and perhaps some ongoing magazine reading and talking with colleagues.  Certainly that doesn’t happen today – does it?

It you were on Twitter yesterday, your links to learning could come from anywhere on the planet.

Want to see where?  Then head over to Tweeting Earth.

Here’s a search with a twist.  Like most search engines, you enter a search key to get things started.  The results are displayed based upon that key but here’s the deal.  They’re plotted by timezone!  And, plotted around the globe.

So, ever the humble Twitter user, I decided to see where anything dealing with “dougpete” came from.  Here are the results…

Click for the full image

It appears that there’s a big gap before London – wait, that’s the Atlantic Ocean.  Guess I need to work on my reach on airplanes and ships!  Click on any of the slices to pop up a screen to see the actual Twitter messages.  It offers and reinforces the important view that we’re not in a staffroom talking to one other person.  Such is the reach of global connections – it’s up to you to make these connections meaningful and relevant.

How about references to the blog?

Interesting as well.

If you’re looking for a visual way to see what the world is tweeting, you’ll really enjoy playing around with this.  From the bottom left, you can also choose the global trends online and see where they’re coming from.

Warning – this is really addictive!

Search for yourself – you know you want to!  Search for your passion.  Other than a way to show comments globally, you might just make some new friends to continue your discussions!