....there's much more to Google than you thought:
With the wealth of information currently available on the Internet, for many web-users, Google has long been the search-engine of choice. But Google is so much more than just a search-engine. For example, did you know that Google runs a shopping site called Froogle? Or that for a small fee, you can have Google experts answer even the most obscure of questions? No? Well read on!
For the Group-Focused
Google groups is a free service that helps groups of people communicate effectively using email and the Web. Not dissimilar to the well-known Yahoo Groups, each group is provided with its own home page hosted by Google. This is a space where members can start new discussions or reply to older topics. Not only does Google Groups offer the most comprehensive archive of postings, including more than 1 billion postings from the Usenet bulletin board service, but it also organizes messages in a much clearer fashion than most of their main rivals, adopting the principle of the three fast Rs: Read faster, Reply faster and Retrieve your messages faster. However, it does lack some of the personalization that some of its competitors offer. For example, it does not offer the option to add photos to your group, nor the opportunity to customize the design and layout of the introductory page. Still only running as a beta-version, however, these features may well be added shortly.
For the Buyer-Focused
Froogle (fru'gal) n. Smart shopping through Google
Froogle is a new service that makes it easy to find information about products for sale online, locating stores that sell the item you want to find and pointing you directly to the place where you can make a purchase.
To use Froogle, look for the Froogle Product Search box on the advanced search page or go directly to the Froogle home page. Type in the name of the item you want to find and click on "Froogle Search." Almost instantly, you'll see photos of relevant products, reviews and links to the stores that sell them with the option to compare each store's range. You can also add items to your own or a friend's wish list.
For the time challenged researcher
Don't have time to find the information you're looking for? Then have one of Google's 500 experienced researchers do the work for you. Ask your question, decide how much you're willing to pay and get your answer by email in 24 hours. You will only be charged for your question if and when an answer is posted to it. And for the more academically inclined, there is also the new Google Scholar, which allows you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research.
For the dictionary focused
To see a definition for a word or phrase, simply type the word "define," then a space, and then the word(s) you want defined. If Google has seen a definition for the word or phrase on the Web, it will retrieve that information and display it at the top of your search results.
For the link focused
Got a website? Want to know who is linking to you? Then just type link:siteURL eg link:kto.co.jp and all will be revealed!
For the picture focused
Picasa helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open the program, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you will recognize. You can drag and drop to arrange your albums and make labels to create new groups. Editing your photos is made simple too. With one click you can crop, remove red eye and fix the contrast and color. And Picasa makes it easy to share your pictures, automatically resizing and attaching images to email messages at sizes your friends will be able to open.
For the wireless mobile focused
Google mobile lets you search and view the Web on your mobile phone taking HTML pages normally viewed on a computer and translating them so that you can see them when you're on the go. To get started, simply type in your search query, and Google will return the most relevant results in a format your phone understands.
For the email focused
Although still in beta. Google's new web email service Gmail, offering users a massive 1gb of storage space, has already caused a storm. MSN Hotmail gives 250 mb to free users and Yahoo! Mail 100mb, both of which were increased when Gmail was announced. With its search engine backbone, any mail sent or received can be quickly found, meaning there's no need to file messages in order to find them again.
Using an innovative "conversations" view of email threads, entire threads can be viewed in the Inbox rather than just isolated, scattered messages. Another attraction for heavy e-mail users is that instead of folders, Gmail uses labels to help categorize mail. Working on the principle of 'search don't sort', users can apply multiple labels to the same piece of mail, making it a far more flexible method than folders. Adding file attachments to messages is also easy and each message has a 10MB attachment limit (again, more than most other mail services).
As a beta release there a number of drawbacks however. The address book lacks the sophistication of some other services (eg Yahoo's address book) and Google scans your messages serving up targeted ads based on their content, which may alarm some users concerned about privacy. It also lacks the ability to create HTML mail (although you can read it) and there is no virus filter, however it does block certain file (eg .EXE) extensions and a fully fledged virus scanning solution is planned.
Perhaps the biggest drawback though is that to use it you need to be invited by another Gmail user who has earned the right to bring in others. At present, the company won't divulge details on when-or even if-Gmail will be made more widely available. In the meantime, check out Isnoop where you can pick up an invite from an available pool, though you may need to be patient.
And finally wouldn't it be great if you could search your desktop as easily as you do on Google to find your email, files, web history and chats instantly. Download Google Desktop and you can!
Marie V.K.O. is Editor-in-Chief for She Unlimited Magazine. http://www.sheunlimited.com and heads up the community at http://www.sheunlimited.com/forums.
Marie V.K.O. is committed to making a difference. Making a difference in the Women sectors online, media and print.
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