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October 24, 2007 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Top 10 Google Tools you forgot all about. Though some of these (Google Books, Google Trends and Google Base) have been mentioned a few times on MeFi, there are still some diamonds in the rough like Google Alerts, Google Code search, Google Notebook, Google's latest/experiment ideas and Flight Simulator in Google Earth.
posted by psmealey (53 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Honestly, I thought I was sick of google shit, but some of that is really neat. Google notebook is a great little piece of tech even if I'm not sure I'd use it all the time.
posted by shmegegge at 11:39 AM on October 24, 2007


also, for a neat little googleAlerts hack:

try putting "free porn" into the google alert, and it's just like you've created your own spam! for yourself! alternatives include "viagra" and "penis enlargment."
posted by shmegegge at 11:41 AM on October 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


I don't see how anyone could forget about Google Notebook when there's a "Note this" link next to every since search result.

And I get Google Alert RSS items on a daily basis.

Lifehacker isn't very good about reminding me about the things I forget about. Where the hell are my keys?
posted by Plutor at 11:41 AM on October 24, 2007


s/since/single/
posted by Plutor at 11:42 AM on October 24, 2007


Who could forget about all of that?

And, I didn't know you could get Google alerts as RSS. How do you do that?
posted by delmoi at 11:42 AM on October 24, 2007


Google Notebook is, IMO, one of the slickest of the Google tools. You really need to get the Firefox browser extension for it to be of use, though. With that installed, you can just highlight text you want to remember, right-click, and save it to the notebook. It saves the text, the URL the page came from, and provides you a little space to write a comment. Totally underrated.

I have to admit I don't really understand Google Base all that well.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:44 AM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Gmail gets IMAP.
posted by nickyskye at 11:46 AM on October 24, 2007


There once was a website called Google
Made for the spendy and frugal
An obscure mayor
And native LA-er
Once went by the name Fred MacDougal
posted by ORthey at 11:46 AM on October 24, 2007


Is there any way to change the options in the top bar in GMail? I use Notebook, don't use Photos ever, and I never use that Web link. Since Notebook isn't in the list, I forget about it.
posted by smackfu at 11:47 AM on October 24, 2007


ever since i got Bloogle i haven't had to leave the house.
posted by quonsar at 11:47 AM on October 24, 2007


I guess you can only do it with the news Google searches, and it's kind of outside the Alerts system. But for that, you can go to Google News, do a search, and click "RSS" or "Atom" in the left hand sidebar.

Another option is to have it send the alerts to a dodgit.com address.
posted by Plutor at 11:48 AM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually I've been reading a lot of googleganda lately. Their youtube channel is really great. What they're doing is definitely pretty cool. I've been working on a project that requires downloading and processing tons of web pages, and it's really gotten me interested in how all of this stuff works.
posted by delmoi at 11:49 AM on October 24, 2007


(Another cool tool is Google finance, which you can use to track portfolios. I was amazed that my mom's online trading account doesn't even track performance over time, but Google finance does)
posted by delmoi at 11:51 AM on October 24, 2007


Not strictly a google thing, but made possible by google's open calendar API...speak your appointments into your phone, and they show up on your google calendar.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:56 AM on October 24, 2007


GMail supporting IMAP is pretty awesome.
posted by chunking express at 11:57 AM on October 24, 2007


Alerts via RSS would be great. Or otherwise a "once a month" option.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:04 PM on October 24, 2007


I love google notebook. It's a great way to keep track of your online research.
posted by trbrts at 12:08 PM on October 24, 2007


Remember that Blue thing that Pepsi had?
posted by DU at 12:10 PM on October 24, 2007


I <heart> google trends.
posted by quin at 12:11 PM on October 24, 2007


I loathe google notebook, because a lot of the time I'm on some slightly outdated browsers (and sometimes lynx), and it is a *disaster* on anything other than FF 2 or IE 6/7.

IMAP though, I've only been waiting three years for. If only they'd enable the damn thing.
posted by bonaldi at 12:13 PM on October 24, 2007


Ah, here we are:
To take advantage of Google Notebook's full functionality, you'll need one of these up-to-date browsers:
  • Internet Explorer 6 (download: Windows)
  • Firefox 1.5+ (download: Windows Linux)

    Safari and Opera extensions aren't available at this time, though they may become available in the future.
  • Right. Great. So storing PLAIN TEXT now needs so much ace Google Technology that it can't even work in Safari or Opera?
    posted by bonaldi at 12:16 PM on October 24, 2007


    I use google notebook all the time. Great place to keep recipes that I find on teh intarweb.
    posted by contessa at 12:16 PM on October 24, 2007


    Zotero is a pretty interesting note taking/research tool for Firefox. Not Google, but it seems to have a load of good features.
    posted by TheDonF at 12:20 PM on October 24, 2007


    bonaldi: "Right. Great. So storing PLAIN TEXT now needs so much ace Google Technology that it can't even work in Safari or Opera?"

    You can't shine a turd.
    posted by Plutor at 12:23 PM on October 24, 2007


    Isn't the "Google Notebook's full functionality" bit referring to the browser plugin?
    posted by smackfu at 12:31 PM on October 24, 2007


    I find myself using Google's SMS a lot.
    posted by eyeballkid at 12:33 PM on October 24, 2007


    The reason for safari and opera's not being supported can't be the futility of turd-shining if IE is supported. The success of IE argues in favor of turd-shining's viability.Turd-ShiningTM: The other white meat!
    posted by Kwine at 12:36 PM on October 24, 2007


    This is the tragedy of Google writ large -- a bewildering profusion of half-arsed, almost-well-done implementations of cool ideas, backed up with terrible or non-existent marketing and abysmal integration. And many of the UIs are just plain terrible.

    Google now reminds me of Atari in the early 80s, or Apple in the late 80s. Or even Xerox in the late 70s. Seriously, I think it's up to ~16,000 people now, half of them hired in the last year. What do they do? I speak as someone with friends who've worked there since double- and triple-digit ID numbers and many of them are frankly baffled as to what the hell the last 10,000 hires are for. And let's not even get into the hardened cliques, the radically dysfunctional reviews and promotion system, and the weird hiring biases. For a while, these were just amusing deterrents to variety yet, as they have persisted and ramified, they now present an atherosclerotic block to the import of crucial newness into Google.

    If it wasn't for the fact that Google is currently shitting money from its two major (only?) revenue generating products it would be a disaster. But because of the torrent of revenue that it can sprinkles like fairy dust on bloggers, websites, media sites and startups it's currently getting a Jobsian-size halo pass. Take the speculation about the new mobile phone product. As far as I can tell, this is some kind of built-in spam-supported browsing and visual voicemail/GrandCentral + sandbox resembling those "free internet" PC schemes of the late-90s and early noughties.

    While simultaneously there's Yahoo, which has been doing much the same kind of productisation as Google for years but seems to have had slightly more success at integration through sheer bloodymindedness and throwing so many bodies at it. Yahoo has also, of course, discarded more failed or sub-performing products or acquisitions than Google has yet to invent. Anyway, Yahoo's new version of Go for mobiles is one of the tightest phone suites I've seen. It's got toins of functionality and a slick rotating interface that's just pleasing. It gives the iphone suite a run for its money in cuteness (especially considering the reduced common hardware it has to work with). But Yahoo's advertising system is not as good at minutely targetting the spam as Google, as so its mindshare is declining, its revenue is static, it gets no love, and some of its nicer products may as well be invisible. Google's vapourware mobile gets all the press.
    posted by meehawl at 12:37 PM on October 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


    Also: anal sex, fellatio:
    Your terms - anal.sex, fellatio - do not have enough search volume to show graphs.

    This is some kind of joke, right?
    posted by meehawl at 12:39 PM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I do a lot of internet research and I couldn't find much use for Google Notebook. I prefer HP's Smart Web Printing which has some really useful functions.
    posted by otio at 12:43 PM on October 24, 2007


    I WANT TO CANCEL THE GOOGLE?
    posted by Wolfdog at 12:59 PM on October 24, 2007


    I don't see how anyone could forget about Google Notebook when there's a "Note this" link next to every since search result.
    posted by Plutor

    I'm not seeing it. Do you by any chance have a screenshot or more detailed directions?
    posted by micayetoca at 1:08 PM on October 24, 2007


    Nevermind. But I think you see that because you installed the app. I'm not seeing it at all.
    posted by micayetoca at 1:11 PM on October 24, 2007


    I use Google Books as a way of searching the contents of my university's library. Tremendously helpful.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 1:11 PM on October 24, 2007


    Nevermind. But I think you see that because you installed the app. I'm not seeing it at all.

    You might need to be signed in to your google account. If you have GMail, sign into that and then search for something.

    I just tried it now, and the link disappeared when I signed out.
    posted by delmoi at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2007


    Don't forget Google Sketchup.
    posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 1:32 PM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I use the dictionary ("define:") and metric/English, Celsius/Fahrenheit conversion (type in an amount or temperature, get an immediate conversion) functions all the time. I guess they're just taken for granted now that you can get a Google flight simulator.
    posted by CCBC at 1:56 PM on October 24, 2007


    I rediscovered Google notebook a month ago and since then have transfered massive amounts of my workflow to it. What a great tool for having access to quick look up information no matter what computer you are at.
    posted by furtive at 1:57 PM on October 24, 2007


    Your terms - anal.sex, fellatio - do not have enough search volume to show graphs. This is some kind of joke, right?

    In Google, as on Saturday night, you will find more success in the vernacular.

    For example.
    posted by rokusan at 2:04 PM on October 24, 2007


    You can see from the image above that the phrase "getting things done" has been around a lot longer than the word "lifehacker."

    Imagine! A cutesy neologism hasn't been as consistently popular as the motto of a federal agency dating back to 1993.
    posted by kittyprecious at 2:05 PM on October 24, 2007


    For example.

    What the hell did I miss on New Year's 2006?
    posted by kittyprecious at 2:07 PM on October 24, 2007


    you will find more success in the vernacular.

    Yes. The Google censors don't seem to have heard, yet, of analingus, while felching also gets a free pass. Both of them seem evenly matched.
    posted by meehawl at 2:07 PM on October 24, 2007


    I'll stick to my own spider until Google implements regexp search, thank you.

    (Shit, I wish...)

    (Ran out of HD space in 1998...)

    posted by Anything at 2:15 PM on October 24, 2007


    I use Google Books as a way of searching the contents of my university's library. Tremendously helpful.

    Google Books is great except for the Snippet View that disfigures most of the results; it's so awful it makes me want to throw my computer out the window. Half the time what you're looking for isn't even in the fucking snippet. Anybody know why it sucks so badly?
    posted by languagehat at 2:29 PM on October 24, 2007


    meehawl: "Also: anal sex, fellatio:
    Your terms - anal.sex, fellatio - do not have enough search volume to show graphs.

    This is some kind of joke, right?
    "

    Uh, what's up with that period? Without it, you get results.
    Terrible pun totally not intended
    posted by Plutor at 2:31 PM on October 24, 2007


    what's up with that period?

    Awesome, thanks! My faith in Google is completely restored! Currently researching teabagging's popularity pattern. Currently most popular in Ireland, followed by the UK. Somehow I doubt people there are using it to refer to the same action as I am thinking of.

    I put in the dot because, for Google's other interfaces, typing a dot between two words is a quick shorthand for making them a multi-word search. Apparently, Trends does not follow its own guidelines.
    posted by meehawl at 3:05 PM on October 24, 2007


    I prefer Finder-Spyder.
    posted by anotherpanacea at 3:09 PM on October 24, 2007


    Isn't the "Google Notebook's full functionality" bit referring to the browser plugin?

    No, in most cases it's just to display the notebook itself. It's probably the most browser-unfriendly app I've seen, and that includes everything from 37Signals.

    What a great tool for having access to quick look up information no matter what computer you are at.
    See, that's what it should be. But it's not really any computer. It's any very modern PC. And forget about mobile access. I cannot understand why there's no plain HTML version.
    posted by bonaldi at 3:24 PM on October 24, 2007


    Plutor: Where the hell are my keys?

    On top of the fridge, right where you left them dipshit.
    posted by ALongDecember at 3:53 PM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I didn't know about Google Notebooks until now. But for a long time I've been using Google Documents, organized into folders, for similar purposes.

    Now that I've seen Notebooks, I'm not tempted to switch. My files mostly consist of plain text -- but Google Docs supports some HTML and word-processor style formatting. I routinely cut and paste in material from web pages.

    Docs can be easily exported as HTML, PDF, Word, OpenOffice, PDF, or text files. Exporting anything from Notebooks, on the other hand, looks like a nightmare.

    No, you can't add things to Docs with a click while browsing. But using the mouse to highlight content, and Ctrl-C, Ctrl-tab, Ctrl-V to copy, switch tabs, and paste is not a big deal.
    posted by Artifice_Eternity at 4:47 PM on October 24, 2007


    Gmail does support Atom feeds that show new messages in your inbox as feed items. You could add an auto-filter for your Google Alerts based on the subject line of the messages so that GMail automatically adds a unique label to them, then append that label to the end of your Atom feed URL to create a Google-Alert-specific feed. Since the Alerts arrive with your chosen keywords in the subject line as well, you could even create separate labels for each and provide yourself with RSS feeds specific to each Alert term.

    But that would be pretty damn geeky.
    posted by SpaceBass at 6:58 PM on October 24, 2007


    Amen to meehawl. Beyond basic search, I'm underwhelmed by Google.

    They bought Picasa, and in the two years or so they've had it, they've added ... a button to upload your pictures Google Web Albums. Wow. Those hundred programmers are certainly earning their salary. Same thing with Google Browser Synch, and any number of other products. Heck, event the flagship Google Mail adds features and fixes bugs at a glacial pace. Web speed? More like Lotus Notes speed.

    It's telling that Google has never implemented a bug-tracking / feedback system for their myriad products. Got a problem with Browser Synch? Good luck finding someone to send a bug report. Picasa? Ditto. Much less any means to check to see if they've acknowledged a bug or are working it off.

    The Googlenauts are presumably spending all their time coding up new advertising schemes. That is, after all, their bread & butter. I don't have a big problem with that, I just wonder about all the geeks who seem to think that Google is the be-all and end-all of Web greatness.
    posted by srt19170 at 7:39 AM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


    what i didn't get about google notebooks is why you have to download something to use it. and doesn't that mean you cant use it on other computers? which is the point isn't it?
    posted by criticalbill at 9:00 AM on October 25, 2007


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