In an earlier post we covered 5 things the library does better than Google. In this one, we’ll highlight some features of Google we really like – and think you might, too:
- Share pictures with your colleagues and students. Do you have a set of digital images or photos you’d like to easily share with your colleagues or students? You might want to think about using Picasa, Google’s photo sharing tool. Picasa will scan your computer’s hard drive and find your photos automatically, arranging them by date. You can then tag the images, organize them by album, and send a link to the folks you want to share these with.
- Get updates on Google searches sent automatically to your e-mail account. Google Alerts lets you enter a search term, let’s say “ECU School of Dentistry” and anytime new information matches that search, an update will be sent to your e-mail. But don’t worry – you can set those alerts to come once a day or once a week if you don’t want notices delivered all day long.
- Electronic medical records – Google has them. That’s right. Google is getting in on the ERM market, but with a patient-centered approach. Anyone can sign up for a Google Health account to have their personal medical records at their fingertips. CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, Quest Diagnostics, and major health care providers like the Cleveland Clinic and Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center already link their prescription, laboratory, and other patient records to Google Health. Also, patients can update their own contact and condition information to keep their providers’ information up to date.
- Search the full-text of books. Google Books has scanned a ton of books and made (most) of the full-text contents of these books available for searching online. Let’s say you remember a chapter from the book Thermodynamics by Enrico Fermi, and want to cite it in a paper but you don’t have a copy of the text close at hand. Well now you do – its just on Google instead of on your bookshelf. Granted, some of the pages are going to be missing (not even Google can thwart copyright law) but you can search and read much of the text.
- Share office documents. Google Documents allows you to create spreadsheets, letters, .pdf files, and presenations, then share them with anyone else who has a Google account. You can also let them edit the documents if you so choose. This is a great way to share a single file with multiple colleagues at a distance.
- Search for videos. Google Video is a fantastic way to search for videos on all kinds of subjects, health care included. For instance, look up “mitral valve surgery” and you’ll find ECU’s own Dr. Randy Chitwood discussing it and his predictions for the health of eastern North Carolina in the next 30 years. Or a search on “biofeedback training” brings up a video from the ECU Psychophysiology and Biofeedback lab. Oh - and Google Video searches not just their own videos but also YouTube and content on other video sites.
- Get definitions fast. If you need a definition for something and don’t have a dictionary handy, you can type “define:term” into Google’s search box and it will retrieve definitions for you if they are available. This works for medical terms as well as everyday terms. You just have to be careful about making sure the definition comes from a reliable source.
- Calculate and convert. Not only can you do simple arithmetic in Google, but you can also use Google to handle conversions such as ounces to grams or tablespoons to milliliters. Google even recognizes abbreviations. For instance, if you type “5 tbs into ml” into the search box, Google responds that 5 US tablespoons = 73.9338239 ml.
- Create your own, interactive homepage. iGoogle let’s you create a personal homepage. This means you can go to Google.com and instead of just using a search box, you can add additional boxes on the page (called gadgets) which can do things like show you the latest research updates from JAMA and NEJM, display NIH news releases, count your daily calories, or display a funny cat photo. (We’re librarians – we had to throw that cat one in there.)
- Ok let’s end on a fun one – local movies. Need to know if a movie is showing close to your home? All you have to do is type in the name of the movie and the zip code and you’ll see a display of theaters and showtimes on the Google results page.
If you have any other tips or tricks for using Google effectively, please share them in the comments section.