Google features

Google features come and go – almost always without explanation.

Jon Wiley, a search designer at Google, spoke briefly about this – mostly it is to avoid bloatware. Removing features, he said, “is one of the toughest but most important parts of designing products – deciding what to trim as you move forward”

Google Search Designer Explains Why Some Features & Tools Get Axed, Search Engine Land (Jul 28)

And – Google may have added a new timeline to the Knowledge Graph.

Google Testing Timeline View In Knowledge Graph, Search Engine Land (Jul 28)

“Google is testing a new knowledge graph interface for showing a timeline of data, facts and knowledge in the top carousel section of the Google search results.”

Whether to use the Boolean OR

Aaron Tay in this blog post takes on the thorny topic of whether using the Boolean OR in a search query is really worthwhile even at proprietary databases such as Web of Science of EbscoHost. He is so daring as to write, “that I believe increasingly such a search pattern of stringing together synonyms of concepts generally does not improve the search results and can even hurt them. ”

Why Nested Boolean search statements may not work as well as they did, by Aaron Tay, Musings About Librarianship (Jul 14)

I have been teaching very selective use of OR in web searching. Mostly it’s not needed and when used can muddy the results. But it is still beneficial for the searcher to analyze the question to identify concepts and know when to expand a concept. We no longer need to expand for spelling variations and less so on synoymns EXCEPT when we want to control the word use.

Article seems to give balanced account of need to use OR in some databases (such as PubMed), and the much looser approach with the Web.

Predictive Search on your Smartphone

The future is nearly upon us. Smartphones come with very smart digital assistants. Google has been in the lead with Google Now on Android and iOS. Microsoft has launched Cortana available on Windows Phone 8.1 and Nokia phones. Danny Sullivan identifies the difference between the digital assistant and predictive search. Google Now, and to some extent, Cortana do both. Apple’s Siri only assists.

“Predictive search is easily confused with digital assistants. They’re not one-and-the-same. Siri, Google Now and Cortana are all digital assistants that will add reminders to your calendar or help you do certain things with your phone, like sending a text, playing a song or setting an alarm.”

Life With Cortana, Microsoft’s Predictive Search Challenger To Google Now & Siri, by Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Jul 21)

Read on for detailed comparison and some tips on how to use Google Now and Cortana. Want one?

Toxnet online course

Health sciences librarians and health or environmental sciences professionals in the United States will be interested in this new online course – Discovering Toxnet – by the US National Library of Medicine (Oct 20 to Nov 14, 2014). Note: Open only to residents of the United States.

“TOXNET is a web-based system of databases covering hazardous chemicals, environmental health, toxic releases, chemical nomenclature, poisoning, risk assessment and regulations, and occupational safety and health. The independent modules cover TOXLINE, ChemIDplus, TRI, TOXMAP, Hazardous Substances Data Bank, IRIS, Has-Map, LactMed, WISER, CHEMM, REMM, LiverTox and more. You’ll learn about the resources through videos, guided tutorials, and discovery exercises”

Google Instant Translate

Google shows a new “instant answer” box for translating passages. Enter translate as a keyword – followed by what to what – example: translate french to english. Google displays a box for entering (or speaking) the text. Can also hear the translation.

Google Translate as an instant answer box

Google Translate as an instant answer box

New Google Translation Tools: Edit Text, Change Language & Hear Translation Directly Within Search, Amy Gesenhues, Search Engine Land (Jul 16)

Managing your email

Good advice about managing email in this article:

  • don’t check email every 10 minutes; 4 or 5 times a day is sufficient
  • it can be ok not to reply immediately
  • short is good – 5 sentences should cover it
  • inbox is not a to-do list (this will be the hardest to do)
  • organize messages into folders
  • handle a message only ONCE
  • cut out the pointless – unsubscribe from those notices

E-mail isn’t the problem. You are by Harvey Schachter, Globe and Mail (Jul 14)

Info Pro on Searching Social Media

Helen Brown instructs in web searching especially for prospect research, and provides research services. She has uploaded a slide presentation about searching  Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. She uses propect research examples.This posting and the blog are recommended.

Effective Web Searching – social media search tips, Helen Brown (July 10)

I viewed it in AuthorStream – click to move to the next slide, and then on the slide to  play audio.

Google Alerts Interface

Google Alerts shows a new interface when you log in. Main change is that it offers some suggestions, though not one of the suggested alerts was of any interest to me and I wonder how these are determined. At any rate, the interface is simple. Remember that you can use syntax such as site:, intitle:.

Google Launches A New Google Alerts Interface, By Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Jul 18)

Pinterest navigation

Pinterest users in the United States can be guided by Pinterest to special interests within a category – such as Outdoors page might suggest Hiking.  I don’t see this in Toronto – not rolled out yet.

Pinterest Makes It Easier to Find What Just What You’re Looking For, by Kurt Wagner, Make Use Of (Mashable)

Pinterest already offered a categories tabs where users could search for pins by more general groupings, but now, those categories include more specific interests that users can subscribe to. For example, you can follow interests like hiking, camping or running under the broader “outdoors” category. Following an interest means those pins will now appear in your feed, saving you the hassle of searching for them.