All right, Google. You and Yahoo are cloning each other’s services (gigabyte e-mail, anyone?). Microsoft’s breathing down your back. AltaVista’s looking to make a comeback with cool, new, knock-yer-socks-off search features.
How do you stay on top in the searching-for-everything business?
There are a few things I’d like to see added to Google searching that can really make a difference. I’ll begin by mentioning a few today, and will grow the list over the course of a few posts.
It would be nice to also see the list grow with comments from fellow bloggers…I can’t be the only one with an unrequited yearning for new and cool power-search features, such as…
No, I don’t mean Donald Duck or Donald Trump (not that they’re not both special). I’m talking about keyboard characters that we all use a zillion times over, but that no search engine on the face of the planet has opted to fully index.
Take the almighty dollar sign. Sometimes Google recognizes it, sometimes not. Google has a splendid number range feature, that can search for all numbers between, say, 5,000 and 10,000. But suppose I’m not interested in all numbers. Suppose I just want to zero in on webpages that mention prices and costs…and not in Yen or Pounds or Euros. Just good ol’ dollars. A search that consistently recognized $ could distinguish between ‘5,000 people spent $100 dollars each…’ and ‘100 people spent $5,000 each…”. And of course, the same feature for Yen and Pounds and Euros makes just as much searching sense in this globally-connected age of ours.
Percents. Same, thing, sort of, for the percent sign. It would be very cool and very convenient to be able to specify that a search is looking for numbers-as-percents, rather than any old number that happens to happen by. The percents issue also brings up the topic of symbol and numeral ‘translations’ (for want of a better term), of which, there is more below.
Escargot. Bet you didn’t know that’s what the French sometimes call the @ sign. It does look like a snail, non? The nefarious, ubiquitous, emminently spammable at-sign…Why the hell can’t we search for it? Obvious, you say? Because the spammers will then be able to get email addresses off the internet? Well…big news flash!…they already can, using specialized harvesting software. But for all the rest of us, searching for the occasional email address is made overly difficult by the inability of search engines to recognize @ as part of their searches. I, for one, would love to be able to find some @paypal.com addresses, so I could contact a few of their customer service humans when I’m feeling the need for some human-to-human customer service.
Have you ever wanted to search for an exact hit on 10% ? I have. But how many ways can 10% can be written…! 10%. 10 percent. 10 per cent. Ten percent. Ten per cent. And there are probably a few that I’m missing. So, not only should Google learn to recognize the percent sign, it should learn to ‘translate’ some mainstream items like %, so that my poor carpal-tunneled fingers don’t have to type the same phrase six different ways. In addition to percents, Google should be able to translate “a hundred dollars” as “100 dollars” and “$100”. Bob and Bill should translate as Robert and William. Corp as Corporation, Ltd as Limited. “Baltimore & Ohio” as “Baltimore and Ohio” In essence, Google already ‘translates’ misspellings, so why not take the next logical step?
That’s all the brain dump I’m dumping for now.
‘Till next time…
Dave aka pafalafaga