Archive for May, 2006
How many times have you reached someone’s voice-mail and thought their message would never end. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m not the most patient person in the world; for those of you that do know me, I guess I’m not telling you anything new.
I used to work for a large cola company that had a very prevalent voice-mail culture. I quickly learned that there’s always a way to skip those irritating messages. The key is to know — well, the key. Unfortunately, all voice-mail systems are not created equal. That said, you’ll find that the # key or the 1 key will -usually- skip you straight to that beloved, beeeeep.
For those who make lots of calls from their cell and who closely watch those plan minutes, will be happy to know that this trick not only works on most traditional telephone systems, but it also works on cellular company voice-mail systems too. If you happen to know your party’s carrier, here’s a cheat sheet that you’ll find useful:
According to SearchEngineWatch.com Google and Yahoo are, far and above, the most popular search engines on the internet today with 46.3% and 23.4% of the market share respectively. If you’re a loyal MSN or AOL user, chances are you may be using their search technology, which commands a far smaller percentage of the market at 11.4% for MSN and a mere 6.9% for AOL.
Regardless of which search tool you use, the question is, are you using it effectively? In reality, very few searchers take advantage of the powerful capabilities offered through these search tools. Most just type in a few keywords and hit enter and hope for the best. While this technique works, it is far from the most efficient use of the tool or your time.
Following is a quick and dirty primer that will help you learn the tricks used by the masters.
Search Terms: To put it plainly, more is better! Start with the obvious – if you’re looking for general information on Texas, try Texas. It’s usually better to use multiple terms in order to narrow your search. If you’re planning a Texas vacation, you’ll do better with vacation Texas than with either vacation or Texas by themselves. Vacation Texas hotel may produce even better results. Remember specificity matters!
Including Words: Search is automatically inclusive. In other words, if you type it in the search box the search engine assumes you want to see results with those words. Common words such as we, I, are, it, and how, etc. will be excluded as they slow down the search process and seldom improve results. If your search requires one of these words, proceed it with the + (plus) symbol. A good example of this would be performing a search on Star Wars with a specific interest in information on Episode I you could type Star Wars Episode +I.
Excluding Words: If you want your search to exclude a particular word, proceed it with a - (minus) symbol. Suppose you want to perform a search on dogs but you don’t want to see results that include the word Chihuahua. To do this you would type dogs -chihuahua which will present you with results of pages that do NOT contain the word chihuahua.
Phrases: If you’re looking for a particular phrase, it’s best to let the search engine know this. This is done by enclosing the phrase in double quotes. This comes in very handy, for example, when searching for song lyrics. Typing the words the yellow brick road and “the yellow brick road” result in very different results.
Capitalization: Reduce the number of keystrokes required to perform a task and you’ve made me a happy man. Capitalization in search doesn’t matter. Don’t waste the energy pushing that shift key. tiger woods and TiGeR WoOdS will produce the exact same results.
Automatic “and”: Remember the understood you from elementary English …. oh, bad memories … moving on. Like that understood you, and is understood in search. There is no need to type john and wayne and western. Additional energy saved :)
Start employing these tips in your search and you’ll have much better results, and may save yourself a bit of time and effort in the process.
I’ve been computing since my dad bought me a Commodore 64 way back in the early 1980′s. When I started my professional I.T. career later that decade, we were running computers sporting Intel’s 8088 processor, our desktop OS platform was DOS 3x, and our networks were running on ARCnet.
Operating Systems continued to evolve and Microsoft’s Windows platform really took-off with the release of Windows 3.1 in 1992. This version of Windows included a navigation tool that made it easy to switch between running programs. As the Windows Operating System continued to evolve, and more information about the running applications was readily available through the taskbar interface at the bottom of the screen, this little gem received much less use, particularly by new PC users who started with the later releases of Windows. Many of us old-timers, on the other hand, can’t live without it.
I hadn’t even given this much thought until a couple a weeks ago when a, 20 something, friend of the family observed me employ my little magic key combination, to which he asked, “how’d you do that”? I didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about. He clarified, “how’d you make that little window pop up so you could switch between programs”? Ahhhh – at that moment I felt that I (the old geezer) may not have claim to the “20 something” title but I did have a tidbit of information he didn’t; albeit, a very small piece of information.
So here’s the trick, press and hold the ALT key and then press TAB. Keep your finger on the ALT key and each time you press TAB you’ll advance to the next running application (it’s really geeky but these running applications are stacked on top of each other in what’s called Z-order).
While we’re at it, let me share a couple of other interesting, and perhaps less useful, windows surfing tricks that even the old timers may not know, or may have forgotten.
|ALT+SHIFT+TAB||same as ALT+TAB but runs backwards|
|ALT+ESC||takes the current (top) window and sends it to the bottom of the program stack (and the window next-in-line comes to the top)|
|ALT+SHIFT+ESC||takes the bottom-most window and brings it to the top of the program stack, but doesn’t open the window if it’s minimized.|
If you’re confused, my advice is to just try what I’ve outlined above and see what happens, you won’t hurt anything.
If you didn’t already know these navigation techniques – enjoy. If you did, I’m guessing you’re a bit older than 20 something.