Safe Searching

We have a lot of children come to the library to use our internet. We always have a parent sign a consent form, and make them aware that we don’t have search restrictions. It’s up to them to monitor what they’re children are doing on the internet, just like it would be at home.


I came across this wonderful search engine just for kids that I might start recommending. It’s called KidRex and features colourful graphics and safe search options. What makes this so different?  The site is powered by Google’s SafeSearch and Google Custom Search technology that screens sites for unacceptable content. The site’s researchers plug in keywords everyday to make sure that no sexually explicit sites pop up, and so it is nice know it is monitored on a regular basis since sites often find ways to prey on unsuspecting youngsters.

Not sure how to get your kids to use it?  Why not set it as your homepage?  It’ll pop up right away and they won’t have to go searching for it!


Frivolous Friday. Not so Frivolous.

If you’ve ever done a Google search, you’ll know that when you begin to type in what you’re looking for, Google provides a simple drop down list of possible words you might be ready to type.  Where do these options come from?  From fellow users, of course.  So, when you see those five or six possible results below the search box, they’re actually questions people have typed into Google. The most popular searches, actually, not just random or recent searches.

When you think about it, it’s  insight into a culture.  Heartbreaking insight, actually.  Watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean. (Keep in mind, some of the search results are quite graphic. But even those say something about the state of our fellow human beings today.)



Does Google always know?

People often Twitter interesting things, and sometimes, they are worth a follow-up.  Sometimes, you wish you hadn’t.  Today,  I came across a very strange item that referred to Google and its intuitiveness, which often gives startling results, so I just had to try it.

Have you noticed that when you use Google to search, as you start typing in the Google box, it will begin to suggest topics based on the words you have already given.  Often, you don’t even have to finish typing your search as Google will bring it up on the list anyway and you can just click the item.

However, Google has built in some funny little quirks.  Why?  After doing some research, many people suspect that they are trying to keep the search engine interesting and used more often than any other search engine.  By providing an intuitive answer, not only will you find what you are searching for, but you’ll also be given a few choices that you might not have thought of.  And Google makes these extras really appealing sometimes, or at least, really off the wall!

The Twitter suggestion was to type in “Why won’t”.  That’s it.  Just two little words and Google will start to suggest what you might be looking for.  The results are downright wacky for this one (and a little disgusting, so be prepared if you try the search).  It certainly will make me watch Google whenever I search from now on.

So…what will you search for today?

Have you changed the way you search?

I help library patrons use the internet on a regular basis.  Many times, they just don’t know how to turn the printer on, but sometimes, it is more complex.   Sometimes, they need help searching for a particular website or idea and it occurred to me that I search differently than a lot of people.

For example, when you want to visit a particular store’s website, how do you go about finding the site if you don’t already know the address?  Do you go to Google and type in the name of the store?  Of course this will work every time, but it is one extra step that you might not need to take.  If you haven’t noticed, most stores use their entire name in their website.  If it is an American company, then the site will usually end in .com  and if it is Canadian, it will end in .ca more often than not.  I’m thinking of things like  or  So the next time you are looking for a site, why not just type in the name of the company and add .com right in your location bar.  It will take you right to the site without having to navigate through a search engine.  (Where is your location bar?  It is the long white bar at the top of your browser that starts with http://  )

Now, if you use Firefox as a browser, did you know that Mozilla incorporated a Google search bar right into your location bar?  (Again, the location bar is the spot where everything happens!)  So, you can actually just type in a subject or word into that location bar and if it is really specific, Google will take you right to the website, or if it is more general, then it will bring you right to your Google search results.

What if you use Internet Explorer?  Well, IE has done something similar with Yahoo and made the location bar a search engine.  Again, just type in your word and you’ll have some instant results.

I no longer take the extra steps and travel to Google or some other search engine and I encourage people who are searching online to just try typing in the website or keyword themselves.  Try it, you’ll feel really smart!

Are you an addict?


Sometimes, it gets tiring searching for information on a specific topic, even if it is something you are really interested in.  My husband, for example, will want to know more information on something and will scour the web, starting through Google and going through information there.  But what if there was a better way to sort information so that everything current on a topic, from blog posts to videos to web pages is listed all on one page, in an easy to see format?

Reading through a few library blogs last week, I found just a site.  And it is fabulous in many ways.  Addict-o-matic is a silly looking resource that actually packs a very informative punch.  You can enter in the topic you want to search and it will bring up a page full of information and links that you can follow from there. The really nice thing about this is that you can create pages based on searches that you are interested in.  The search will include topics you want to view as well as choices for sites that you are interested in viewing.  That way, it keeps out all of the fluff that you might not want to read and puts in content from sources you trust.  Give it a try.  It is now going on my list as a site I’ll be using frequently.

An answer engine!

We’re all familiar with search engines, such as Google, but I think we are all ready for something different…an answer engine!  What’s the difference?  A search engine as we know it, allows us to ask it for something, and the result is a list of pages that give us information regarding the search.  With search engines, you must then go into the pages and find the information you are looking for.

Wolfram Alpha was created by Stephen Wolfram, and is designed to be used just as much as Google, but in a different way.  With Wolfram Alpha, you ask a specific question and it will not bring up hundreds of pages containing the words you are searching for, but rather….the answer to the question.  It is less about finding information and more about computing the answers.  The site is expected to launch in May 2009, and there is much buzz that this might be as big as Google eventually.  You can read more about the site here.


Do you YouTube or Google?


I often use Google to find information, at least a dozen or more times a day and it is usually a great help.  I work at a library and I am still stunned by how often people don’t use the internet to find information.  Many people are still back in the dark ages when it comes to doing research online about anything, and although I know that you have to be careful about what you read online, many times you can find something useful, or at least something which will lead you on the path to finding the correct answer.

But more and more lately, I find that I am not “googling” to find information, but rather, I’m turning to YouTube.  It used to be just a place where people posted videos about tornado watching or crazy pets and even themselves singing.  But now, people are posting wonderful, useful videos about every subject you can imagine, and many times they are simple and creative and exactly what I am looking for.  And it seems I’m not the only one who has “discovered” this little gem.

An article in the NY Times talks about the fact that our youngest generation is not a Google generation anymore, but a YouTube generation.  They are using the videos as research tools more often than turning to Google for help.  Does that have something to say about this new generation?  Google tends to be print based, with still photos and links, whereas YouTube is vibrant, active video.  It is alive and instant and exactly the way our young people are demanding their information now.

YouTube is owned by Google, so essentially I guess we’re still using Google, but the medium is unique and starting to overtake the traditional way of searching.

How do you search for information online?