Google Chrome

May 25, 2009

We’re all used to Internet Explorer. A lot of us have started using Firefox. Why on earth do we need another Internet browser? What’s the big deal about Google Chrome?

When I first downloaded Chrome, I used it for a few hours and thought “What’s the big deal? It looks like all the other browsers out there.”

And that’s true, at first glance. But look  a little closer and you’ll notice a few differences. Then, if you open the hood and look at the guts of the browser, you’ll notice a lot of differences.

First Glance Features:

Home page defaults to your nine most visited pages
Say you get online every morning and immediately check the Tennessean, the weather, the day’s comics, CNN, and your email. Let’s say you visit those sites a lot during the day. Chrome will remember that and show you quick links to your most visited sites each time you open a new browser window.

No Title Bar – No Menu Bar
Chrome gives you tabs right at the top of the page. Next is the address bar. That’s it. Because why waste room that you could use to view the web page you’re looking at?

No search box in the upper right corner
While other browsers are making an integrated search box standard (like Firefox),  Google chose to eliminate that feature. Instead, they made the address bar function as both address bar and search box – they call it the Omnibar. If you type a web address, you’ll go to a web page. If you type keywords, you’ll get Google search results.

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A lot of what’s special about Chrome is what you can’t see.
IE and FF are built of the original browser tech from the nineties – designed only for viewing HTML web pages. as new tech was introduced, these had to be added on later – the browser itself did not do any of the new tech. Google chrome is the first browser designed from the ground-up with today’s technology in mind

What’s special about Chrome is what you can’t see

IE and FF are built of the original browser technology from the nineties – back when browsers were just used to view HTML web pages. As new technology was introduced (like JavaScript and Flash – for all our blinking, video heavy pages), it had to be added on.

Google Chrome was built from scratch. It is the first browser designed from the ground-up with today’s technology in mind. Why is that important?

Chrome is fast
Chrome was built to handle complex Internet tasks, like uploading photos, online editing, and all the web applications we’ve covered on Staff in the Know. It was built with current Internet use in mind, so web applications work very fast.

Chrome runs each tab separately
If you’ve ever used Firefox on Internet Explorer 7, you have probably used tabs. And you’ve probably had one tab freeze up. With Firefox and IE, when one tab freezes, they all freeze. Chrome runs each tab as a separate process. So, if one tab freezes, it doesn’t affect the other tabs.

Chrome has Application Shortcuts
Web apps are programs that live on the Internet – they are not saved on your computer. Because apps live on the Internet, it can take a while to get to one: you have to open a browser and type a web address. Not difficult, but definitely more than one double-click. Chrome incorporates “Application Shortcuts” to make it easier to get to web applications.

Here’s how to create an Application Shortcut:

You can create a shortcut using IE or Firefox, but it is a far more involved process that is not readily available from within the browser itself. Plus, when you click on a normal desktop shortcut, it’s just a shortcut to the website – with the title bar and menu bar and address bar. Chrome’s Application Shortcuts only give you the program with none of the internet tools in the way.

Browsers of the Future

You may not be curious enough to use Chrome, but rest assured that the same browser technology will soon be copied by Firefox and Internet Explorer. The Internet has changed – you can do so much more than just view web pages. Look out for more advances coming soon to the browser of your choice.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. Download and install Google Chrome.
  2. Upload a picture to Picnik using Internet Explorer. Then upload a picture to Picnik using Chrome. Can you see the difference?
  3. If you have any problems, ask for help in the comments.

Extra: Do you have a favorite browser?

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Google site search (48)

October 20, 2008

Let’s face it, websites can be big. Really big. And sometimes even the best planned websites make it hard to find what we want.

If you use Google, and I know you do, there’s a simple way to take control and search a site for the information you want.

It’s called Google Site Search

It’s most basic use is to search a site. Let’s say you want to know which library in our system has Spanish language materials. You could look through each branch page until you find the answer. Or you could search in the catalog to see what comes up. Or, you could do a Site Search in Google.

That search would look like this:

Take a look at the results and you’ll see how helpful site search is. One quick search tells me which branches have a Spanish language collection (Thompson Lane and Southeast). It also reveals that there are Spanish language books available in the Tumblebooks database!
How does it work?
Type your search terms in the Google search box, then type site: and the web address you want to search in. We searched for: spanish collection site:library.nashville.org
But wait, there’s more…
Site search can help with narrowing your results list. Why wade through tons of useless sites when you can better target the kind of information you’re looking for? Let’s take a look at an example.
Say you’re looking for information vaccinations. You could do a basic Google search and you’d probably find some good websites, but you’d probably have to wade through a bunch of not-so-great sites too. Sites that end in .gov or .edu might give you more accurate medical information. So why not narrow your search from the start?
Let’s search for information on vaccinations and ask for results ONLY from government information sites. That search would look like this:
This search will exclude .com, .edu, .org, and any other site that doesn’t end in .gov. This can be useful when doing research and you know what kind of information you’re looking for. But, beware that you may be excluding useful information.
If you need help remembering this and other search tips for Google, you can print out this cheat sheet (pdf), shown at left, and stash it by your computer.

And if you have any search tips, please share them in the comments!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Do a search in Google for Disaster Preparedness.

2. Do a search in Google for Disaster Preparedness and limit to sites that end in .org.

3. Compare.

You may have used Google Maps to get directions from one place to another, but there’s more to online map programs than directions. Say you’re visiting New York City. You could go out and buy a map that lists hundreds of museums, shops, hotels, and restaurants. Or you could make your own map that shows just the attractions, restaurants, and lodging on you’ll be visiting on your trip!

Take a look at this video to see how this aspect of Google Maps works:

Did you miss that last part? Check out this example of a motorcycle trip through Colorado’s Passes to Utah’s Canyons.

To try Google Maps, just sign in to Google.

And click on My Maps.

You can create your own custom map. These would be useful to highlight points of interest in your area or even to highlight points on a walking tour. The options are endless.

Google Maps is swell and all, but sometimes you just need an honest to goodness road map. With the proliferation of mobile devices that offer access to mapping features and GPS, they might not seem useful. But, they’re portable, don’t require batteries or wifi, and several people can look at them at once. If nothing else, using an old-fashioned map on your next trip might make a quaint photo.

Did you know we have road maps for check out at the downtown library? Check them out from the Periodicals desk. Now you can have that map of Montana – and it won’t wind up in your junk drawer.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Take a look at the library’s Branch Map – made using this same technology from Google Maps!
2. Sign in to Google Maps and plot your favorite store, restaurant, or other important location on the map.
3. Take the survey..

We know Google can search the Web, but Google also has other useful features, like maps, an online calendar, and an office suite called Google Docs. Most of these features are at the top left side of the page.

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So, where is Google Docs?
Click on the More menu to select Documents.

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Before you get started, you’ll need to create a Google Account. If you already have GMail or a Google account, you can use either.

Google Docs in Plain English (3 min)

[blip.tv ?posts_id=389459&dest=-1]

Using Google Docs

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What can you do with Google Docs?

Upload Existing Documents
Use Google Docs to save MS Word documents online. This is much easier to manage than unreliable floppy disks.

Create New Documents
Create a Document from scratch. Google Docs is a simple, no-frills word processor, that keeps all your work together online.

Work Together Online
Collaborate with another user to edit your documents online. This is a much easier than emailing attachments back and forth. You will see changes instantly. Then, you can undo their multiple grammar errors.

Email Documents Instantly
Email your document from within the program; no need to open up a separate Email program or create an attachment.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
1. Navigate to Google Docs.
2. Create a Google account or login to your existing Google account.
3. Open a new Document. Write your prediction for baseball’s next World Series.
4. Email it to yourself or a friend.
5. Take the survey.

Who knew? Read 20 Tips for Google Search from dumb little man.

“I can’t find the floppy drive!” “I can’t upload my resume!”

It can be difficult to store your work from session to session when you are working at a public computer. The most common solution is a floppy disk; but these are not reliable or always accessible. There are several options for online storage. You can email the file to yourself on a web email account like Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail. This can still be problematic when the initial software is not available on the next machine or when you are trying to collaborate with someone else.

Maybe the easiest solution for making your files portable is Google Docs. This software lets you edit your document in your browser, no need to open up MS Word. It is always saved online. Google Docs makes it easy to post resumes or email files.

To use Google Docs, you will need a Google ID. If you already use GMail, you can use this ID. Otherwise, you can set one up free at the site.