Ask Google!

GoogleIf you are having problems with a computer application, or a new wireless router, or a printer, or even a cake that won’t rise, type your problem into Google and look at the answers.

I’ve been struggling since Wednesday with a new wireless router. It worked fine for all the computers and phones in the house except my Windows 7 Professional laptop, and despite spending hours on the phone with technicians at Netgear and Dell I fixed it myself by finding the answer in a forum that I found by using Google.

Then I couldn’t get the printer to work, and I used Google to find the answer, which was to delete the printer and then reinstall it.

Then the printer would print the same document over and over again until I took the paper out of the printer. I typed this into Google: “hp laserjet p1102w printer prints multiple copies” and read through the first 3 results, and one of them had an answer. I had to uncheck a box that was ticked in the printer configuration options. Now it works fine. Only one copy.

I have a fair few years experience with computers from my days as a computer programmer. If I have trouble getting things to work, I can imagine how hard it must be for people who have spent their time more productively. And I am always encouraged to see that other people have the same problem as me.

Ask Google! There are people out there who have had the same problem, and others who know the answers and take the time to write them in a blog post or a forum question. If you don’t understand the answer, or the next person in the discussion says it didn’t work, move on to the next result in the Google list. Find one that spells out the steps you have to take in a way you can understand.

Here’s another example. One day a few years ago my husband’s ageing laptop wouldn’t start. I went looking in Google for suggestions. One of them said take the hard drive out and put it in the freezer for a while, then put it back in and try starting it up. We didn’t try that one. Another person had suggested turning the laptop upside down and pressing the power button. We tried that and it worked! The laptop started up normally and we were able to get everything backed up.

Remember what you did so you can undo it if necessary, especially if it tells you to change a setting somewhere. Write it down if you think you may not remember, or keep the page open that has the instructions so you can go back and do it again in reverse it didn’t work. The chances are it won’t matter if you don’t change it back, but it might.

You are not alone.

I don’t use website bookmarks any more

ChromeI use Chrome as my internet browser. Chrome was built by Google to be faster and more efficient, and I think it is. Also it doesn’t close all Chrome windows just because one has a problem, which I really appreciate.

One of the things I like best about Chrome is the address bar at the top. As well as typing an address into it, you can type a word or phrase into it as though it was a Google search and it will find what you’re looking for. It will guess, based on what you use most often. Only if it can’t guess or you reject what it comes up with will it give you a normal list of search results like a normal Google search. I really appreciate the time this saves.

I used to have a long list of favourites/bookmarks, organised into folders. I’ve carried and added to this list over the years, copying it from one computer to another and one browser to another. I started a new list in iGoogle, the Google homepage that you can customise yourself.

Now that Chrome and I have got to know each other better I don’t need bookmarks. I type the first letter or two of the website I want in the address bar and Chrome figures it out for me. Instead of clicking on my bookmarks, opening a succession of folders, and then finding the website I want (yes, it had got to that level of complexity), I only need one or two keystrokes.

When I type in a p, for example, it looks like this:

Chrome search P

The symbol next to each choice reflects where Chrome got the result from, I assume. A star is one of my favourites. If it was Google+ that I wanted (and it usually is) I just need to hit Enter and it loads automatically. Easy!

Here’s a list of my most commonly-used websites and what I type into Chrome to get them:

A = ANZ anz.com.au or Ancestry depending on whichever I have used most recently (ANZ is a bank)

ANC = Ancestry www.ancestry.com/, I use a world subscription so it goes to the American site

B = Birth and death index search for the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages bdm.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/Index/IndexingOrder.cgi/search?event=births

C = Carole’s Canvas caroleriley.id.au which is my own personal website. My family tree is here, so I can check people in it without having to open my family tree software. I can also select http://www.cityrail.info/ a bit further down the list to check train timetables.

D = Dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/. I rely on Dropbox for sharing files instantly between computers and to other people.

E = Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia, the English version.  W takes me to wikipedia.org, which makes me select a language.

F = Facebook https://facebook.com/ or FamilySearch www.familysearch.org or FindMyPast http://www.findmypast.co.uk/.

FI = Fiji Genealogy http://fijigenealogy.com/.

FIN = FindMyPast http://www.findmypast.co.uk/.

G = Google, Gould Genealogy  or Yahoo Groups groups.yahoo.com/mygroups, where I approve new members to the TMG Sydney User Group. Google usually opens at the Australian site for me, but may not for you.

H = Heritage Genealogyheritagegenealogy.com.au, my business website, to which this blog belongs.

I = Internet Movie Database imdb.com or PIXEL http://images.maps.nsw.gov.au (NSW Lands Department maps) or http://investigator.records.nsw.gov.au/Search.aspx State Records NSW Archives Investigator, the catalogue search, depending on what I’ve used most recently.

J =Jetstar jetstar.com.au, but only because I’ve been flying a lot lately. There are not many sites with J in them.

KKu-Ring-Gai Orchid Society http://kuringaiorchidsociety.org.au/ which I help look after on behalf of the society.

L = LibraryThing http://www.librarything.com/home/caroleriley or LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/ or LPMA http://www.lpma.nsw.gov.au/ which doesn’t work any more because the NSW Lands Department has changed their name again.

M = Google Maps http://maps.google.com.au/ or Mashable http://mashable.com/, depending on which one I’ve used most recently.

N = National Archives of Australia http://www.naa.gov.au/ or NSW Genealogy http://nswgenealogy.com.au/, which is the alternate address for my business website.

O = Optus http://optusnet.com.au/ my internet service provider.

P = Google+ https://plus.google.com/ or it may give me PayPal https://www.paypal.com or the Public Record Office of Victoria at http://prov.vic.gov.au/ .

Q = Qantas http://www.qantas.com.au/, again because I’ve been doing a lot of flying lately, or Quicken http://www.quicken.com.au/ which is the accounting software I use. Not many sites with Q in them.

RState Records NSW online indexes http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/state-archives/indexes-online/indexes-online.

S = Society of Australian Genealogists http://sag.org.au/.

SL = State Library of NSW http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/.

TTwitter https://twitter.com/.

TR = Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/ is the National Library of Australia’s catalogue of just about everything, including digitised newspapers.

UUnlock The Past http://www.unlockthepast.com.au/.

V = Vodafone http://vodafone.com.au my mobile phone company.

WE = Westpac http://www.westpac.com.au/ my bank.

WI = Wikipedia http://www.wikipedia.org/ Wikipedia. I then have to pick a language.

X = I never use, but when I type it it guesses http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/state-archives/indexes-online/indexes-online State Records NSW online indexes.

Y = YouTube http://www.youtube.com/.

Z = it guesses ANZ (my bank) unless I’m not quick enough to accept, in which case it guesses Zara, which I’ve never heard of.

You can perhaps see from this list that the letter I type is not necessarily the first initial of the name of the website. It’s more likely to be the first letter of the address after the http:// as in R gives me  http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/state-archives/indexes-online/indexes-online. If I want to be more specific I have to type more, as in FAM to distinguish between Facebook and FamilySearch.

If I’ve already made that site a ‘favourite’ it will be higher on the list, and if I’ve used it a lot recently it will select it automatically. The only confusion is where there are multiple sites for the same letter, as in F for Facebook or FindMyPast.

If you use Chrome already, give this a try for yourself. If you don’t, download it for yourself and see if you think it is faster.

Cyndi’s List Launches a New Web Site

Cyndi’s List is such an important part of family history research around the world that when a major upgrade of the site is announced we should all take notice. Here is a preview of the new look, and the press release:

Cyndi's List

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A major upgrade to celebrate 15 years of service

EDGEWOOD, WASHINGTON (June 6, 2011) – Cyndi’s List is proud to announce a newly upgraded web site. With improved navigation, a custom database, and a custom administrative interface, the upgrade means that everything will be quicker and easier for both visitors and for the site’s owner and administrator, Cyndi Ingle Howells. The upgrade has been done by fusionSpan of Maryland. Their staff worked closely with Cyndi to make improvements and to implement new technology and new ideas designed specifically for Cyndi’s List and for the genealogical community.

Part of the upgrade was made possible by donations from generous users of Cyndi’s List. To date, 20% of what was accomplished in the project was thanks to them. Donors have been listed on the web site.

What’s New with the Upgrade:

  • The front page of the Cyndi’s List site has a rolling genealogy news feed and a link to The Cyndi’s List Daily, a daily dose of family history news as tagged in Twitter and Facebook. Start each day with the front page of Cyndi’s List and read the current genealogy news stories.
  • The links are now contained within a database and pages will be dynamically loaded on each visit.
  • The custom database and administration interface means that maintaining the link list will be much easier for Cyndi, which ultimately benefits the user with faster and more frequent updates.
  • The new interface means that the backlog of uncategorized links can be processed much faster. The goal is to get the entire backlog done by the end of this year.
  • New links will be reviewed, approved, and categorized within 24-72 hours after submission by visitors.
  • Updates made to Cyndi’s List will be immediately available to the public.
  • Previous to the upgrade, the “What’s New” page and mailing list post contained only new links submitted by visitors. The new “What’s New” page and e-mail will contain those, as well as links added to the site during the day by Cyndi, *and* existing links that have been updated throughout the site (new addresses, updated descriptions, etc.).
  • Across the site links have been labeled with graphics as “new” or “updated” when appropriate. With the upgrade these will now be text-based notations (easily spotted in green), which means that you can search on a page for “new” or “updated” with the Edit>Find function in your web browser.
  • Now sub-categories within a category heading each have their own page.
  • And each page displays 20 links, with pagination in place to go to the next page and so on. This means there will be a lot less scrolling through long pages as in the past. Shorter pages mean faster load time in the browser as well.
  • Intuitive navigation at the top of the category makes it easy to find your way to previous category headings.
  • The number of links within each category/sub-category is displayed at the top right on each page.
  • Each of the U.S. counties (more than 3,100) now has a designated page of its own.
  • URLs (addresses) for the pages have changed so bookmarks, favorites, and links to Cyndi’s List will need to be updated.
  • Opportunities to shop, support, or donate are highlighted on each page.

What Has Stayed the Same?

  • The category and sub-category names are all the same.
  • Related Categories are highlighted at the top right on each category.
  • The layout and format of the links are the same.
  • The policies, procedures, and disclaimers for maintaining the link list are the same.
  • The Cyndi’s List Mailing List will still distribute a daily What’s New e-mail and a daily Link Activity e-mail. However, the What’s New e-mail will contain information about all new and updated links.
  • You can still follow Cyndi’s List on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The purpose and intent of Cyndi’s List is to be a free jumping-off point for your daily genealogical research.
  • Cyndi’s List remains free for everyone to use just as it has for the past 15 years.
  • This is still just a one-woman show!

“I started doing genealogy research in earnest back in 1998 and Cyndi’s List has always been one of my very favorite websites. It is on my ‘Go To’ list because I always find so much good information there.” –Kay F.

“I’ve relied on your website as THE best resource on the ‘net to help with my research…” –Jan J.

“Where can you get at all things genealogical in one fell swoop?

Everyone knows it’s CyndisList.com. Every genealogist who uses the web MUST use Cyndi’s List.” –Polly K.

About CyndisList.com

CyndisList.com is the world’s largest one-woman family history resource, with more than 300,000 categorized links for genealogical research. For more than 15 years Cyndi’s List has helped hundreds of thousands of people with their online journey to trace their family history. The site averages 275,000 unique visitors and 5,000,000 page hits every month.

Cyndi’s List has won numerous awards and consistently remains one of the top genealogical portals for beginners, intermediate, and veteran researchers.

About fusionSpan

fusionSpan is a start-up consulting firm focused on serving the comprehensive needs of non-profit associations and commercial organizations in the full range of the business cycle. With a core staff of highly experienced professionals from non-profit associations and a team approach to most consulting projects, fusionSpan will be able to offer a more balanced quality service and sustainable solution than many of its competitors. Our expertise covers the entire range of the web site and application development process: Strategy, Design, Development, Hosting, and Maintenance. For more information, visit www.fusionSpan.com

 

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