It’s official, a leading arbiter of language has confirmed that

"Google" is a verb as well as a noun. On July 7 Merriam-Webster added

Google, the verb, to its venerable dictionary – along with bling, a

noun that you can easily Google.

All of us, of course, are Googling like mad. We Google to find

addresses, movie times, and the meaning of words like "bling." We also

Google to find out what our college roommates are up to and to confirm

that our dates really are as accomplished as they claim to be.

Nancy Blachman has been Googling for longer than most. A devotee of

the search site since 1999 – a good half a decade before it went

public and its stock shot up to $485 a share – she is the co-author of

"How to Do Everything with Google" and has developed a series of nifty

Google cheat sheets, which are found at her website, the Google Guide,

which is located at www.googleguide.com.

Blachman speaks on "What Google Can Do for Your Business" on

Wednesday, July 19, at 7:30 a.m. at a meeting of the Princeton

Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Nassau Club. Cost: $25. Call

609-924-1776. She gives the same talk at a free meeting of SCORE, the

Service Corps of Retired Executives, at the Princeton Public Library

on Thursday, July 20, at 10 a.m. Then, on Tuesday, July 25, at 7 p.m.,

she speaks on "Power Googling: How to Get What You Want from Google"

at a free public meeting at the Princeton Public Library.

Blachman holds an M.S. from Stanford, where she taught for eight

years. The mother of twins, a son and daughter, headed to kindergarten

in the fall. She is married to David DesJardins, a

mathematician/statistician, who was at one time a Google software

engineer. The family lives in Burlingame, California, and are spending

the summer in Princeton, where DesJardins works part-time.

While it is hard to find anyone who is not googling like mad, many who

rely on the search engine are unaware of all of its capabilities, let

alone all of the applications that have been developed by third-party

software developers. In her book, Blachman writes that "With over a

thousand employees, a formidable research department, and a corporate

environment that encourages experimentation, it’s no surprise that

Google has a few tricks up its sleeve. In addition, thanks in part to

an interface that Google makes available to software developers, third

parties have built some cool features on top of Google’s service."

It is now possible – and incredibly easy – to create a custom Google

homepage full of these features. There are whimsical additions, such

as Google eyes that follow your mouse around the page, and a tree frog

that does the same, but much more slowly. There are automatically

updated news services from the likes of ESPN and the Wall Street

Journal, weather updates for any number of cities, a daily horoscope,

Dilbert cartoons, to-do lists, and, possibly best of all, virtual

stickies – expandable yellow squares onto which important

appointments, phone numbers, or reminders of any sort can be typed.

More add-ons, many from third-party providers, join the list every day

– and all are free.

The custom homepages are available to anyone who registers.

Subscribers to Google’s free E-mail service, Gmail, are automatically

given the pages. Blachman invites anyone who would like a Gmail

account, which is awarded by invitation, to write her at

nancy@googleguide. She promises to send out an invitation right away.

Blachman says that Google Guide is a labor of love. It isn’t a

business, and she doesn’t want it to be. "I’ve even taken most of my

ads down," she says. "I used to get a couple of hundred dollars a

month, but now I only have ads on pages about ads. It’s a hobby." She

had tried to sell the site to Google, but when the company decided not

to buy it, she decided to keep on going anyway. "I enjoy it," she

says, "so why should I stop doing it just because I’m not getting

paid?" She also enjoys giving talks on Google, and does not charge for

her time.

Google has changed so much since Blachman first starting using it. It

is hard for anyone to keep up. She thinks that is the reason that the

cheat sheets on her website are the most popular areas – drawing fully

one-third of the site’s 5,000 daily visitors. She has begun to craft

the cheat sheets in ways that are instructive, and also fun. There is

now a coffee mug cheat sheet and a mousepad cheat sheet on her site.

Users just print out the handy references and attach them to a mug or

mousepad, where they serve as reminders of how to find information,

not only on coffee or mice, but also on any topic under – or beyond –

the sun.

The coffee mug cheat sheet has two columns, one labeled "sample

queries" and one labeled "in response Google gives you pages with…"

So, if you want to know where to find a coffee maker costing between

$19 and $99, you would type in "coffee maker $19..$99." If you want to

know about academic research on the effects of caffeine on health you

would type in "caffeine health site:edu." To find out how to select

tea, you would type in "how, select & tea." This, Blachman says,

forces Google not to ignore the word "how," an important step because

it does generally ignore very common words.

Also on the coffee cheat sheet is advice on how to best find showtimes

and reviews for the movie "Chocolat." Type "movie:Chocolat" into the

search engine window and they will pop up.

Google is a constant computer companion for tens of millions of

people, but few have any idea of all that the search site can do. Yes,

it is indispensable for fact checking an article, finding a phone

number, and researching a term paper, but it can do so much more. In

the Quick Reference section of her multi-faceted website, Blachman

lists a number of little-known ways to use Google.

The site, for example, is a calculator. Enter "10 + 10" and it will

spit out "20." It also does percentages and square roots with ease. It

also converts measurements. Just type in the conversion you want, say

"76 degrees Fahrenheit in degrees Celsius" or "120 pounds in

kilograms."

Google is also prepared to track packages, ID vehicles, and reveal

just what product is attached to which UPC code. Just type in an

identifying number, and the information will appear.

Want to know if your flight is going to be held up by an impending

hurricane? Just type in a three-letter airport code (EWR for Newark,

for example) and the word "airport" or the words "weather forecast"

and the airport code. Similarly, track flights by simply typing, for

example, "jetblue 128" into Google’s search window.

All of this, of course, indicates that on some level Google wants to

take over the world. The site aims to be the one and only place anyone

ever needs to go in cyberspace – or on terra firma, for that matter.

Blachman says that one of her favorite new Google functions is the

ability to see the full text of a book. She recently had a question

about a quote in a children’s book, and, instead of finding a spot on

Witherspoon Street and striding into the gorgeous new Princeton Public

Library, she simply used Google Books to look up – and quickly find –

just the reference she was seeking.

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