Do A Google Search Only In Government Websites

 

Yes, I am taking the Power Searching with Google Course. Yes, I am learning lots of cool stuff. No, this is not one of the things I learned from the course. But it is a helpful tip nonetheless.

 

I did something similar with all of the State Insurance Department Websites, the NAIC, and a couple of other good insurance specific sites with reliable information. If you want to do it yourself, you can create your own custom Google search engine and plug in the sites you want to troll when you want to get right to the point.

 

According to ResearchBuzz, there used to be something called Uncle Sam Google Search, which was shut down last year. This allowed you to search all the government websites. You can always insert the [site: _____.gov] search qualifier, but if you have a lot of government sites to view, this would be very unwieldy.

 

So, the nice author / editor at ResearchBuzz created a custom Google Search for all .gov state, county and city sites imaginable. You can find it here. Here is the post describing why and how it was created. It is a very useful site – I recommend you bookmark it.

 

Thanks to ResearchBuzz for the tool! And, a tip I did learn from the Power Searching course – you may notice that when you search for a larger, more well-known site, or government site, the Google results page may show the hit with a small search box under the abstract – if you type your search in there, you will search that particular site! Pretty cool indeed.

 

UPDATE: how timely! Today’s Power Searching course talked about various Google operators. The [site:] operator was discussed. Little did I know, you can use this operator with just the higher level domain and not the site identifier. In other words [site:.gov] will search in every site that has .gov as a domain. Similarly, [site:edu] will search all sites with an .edu domain. Very helpful to know.

PlagTracker – A Free Plagiarism Checker

 

Not that any of the attorneys I know would EVER do this, but just to be sure that your document or paper is free of any surreptitiously lifted content, you can always turn to PlagTracker. It’s an online tool that will scan your document, compare the language to its own database of papers as well as website content (like Wikipedia for example), and will return a redlined version pointing out the problems.

 

Simply enter the content of your paper in the text box. The report back includes information about the portions of the content that need citations and a list of the sources to be cited.

 

I read through their privacy policy and can’t really vouch for security based on what I read, so consider that when entering content. But, for a run of the mill research paper, concerns should not be too overwhelming. The site also references a “premium subscription”, but I couldn’t find an adequate explanation of what that entails. Better security, perhaps?

 

All in all, as long as you keep these concerns in mind, it never hurts to have a free option for checking your content for originality and attribution.

Sidengo: Another Free Platform Builder

Joining the ranks of Flavors.me, Dooid, Zerply and About.me is Sidengo – a free website builder that requires no coding skills and about ten minutes of your time. I love these great “do it yourself” tools for those of use who don’t necessarily have the full-on skills of a web developer but want to get the word out about their business or self-promotional efforts.

If you have used any of these before, the dashboard and sitebuilder will look quite familiar. Simply follow the instructions in the builder by adding in the relevant information when asked, linking up your media, uploading your images and logos, and filling in your contact information and Voila! you have a site.

 

I like the fact that you can have multiple pages with this particular tool. It also integrates nicely with your existing hangouts on the web, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. The contact page is pretty feature rich as well, with integrated Google maps information. You can use a custom domain, upload a favicon, download a QR code pointing to your site and generate embeddable widgets which you can share anywhere on the web. Check how your site is doing on the dashboard tab. And, for the mobile-inclined, the sites are iPhone compatible, and you can create a custom icon to appear on the iPhone home screen, giving the site the look of a mobile web app with a professional appearance.

 

 

As I have often said, it is worth taking advantage of as many of these tools as possible when building a web presence, as it offers you another outpost for your information and message. It is particularly attractive when the price is free (for now). Check it out and check back here with your URL – would love to see what you built.

ResumUP Your Resume

More on the visual front. I am a big fan of the new wave of visually-inspired resume builders. ResumUP is a new player in this field with a very easy, detailed resume creation tool built on Facebook and LinkedIn. The tool is in beta, but from my view point, works just fine. The resume piece offers great depth in editing professional and educational experience, achievements and career focus, as well as boxes for pycho-social elements to fill out your character profile. The result is quite gorgeous, full of charts, detail and color.

 

But ResumUP doesn’t stop at your background. You can also make your job searching intentions known on the site, and employers can search and post “visual vacancies.”  The job postings mirror the visual style of the resumes, with corresponding charts and graphics for job description, experience levels, necessary skills, benefits and compensation. Check out some of the sample postings here.

 

Of course, there is a social piece. You can take advantage of a dashboard when you connect with friends on the site. Plus there are plenty of sharing tools for spreading your resume, with buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. There is a message center within the app. And, you can download your resume in PDF form via the export feature.

 

I think the idea is quite brilliant – the Web is an experiential place. Offering a visually-appealing means to promote yourself and peruse jobs seems a natural fit for how we interact with information. If you would like a peek at how ResumUP works and looks, check out the video below. And take a few minutes to create your own graphic resume at their site.

 

Visual.ly Outs Its Easy Infographic Creation Tool

I love a good infographic. Now I, and you, can make your own with Visual.ly’s infographic tool. I wrote about Visual.ly a while back when the site was new and the tool was in development – simple, infographic creation without a graphic design background.

If you want to check out the tool and create your own masterpiece, head over to Visual.ly, click on the “create” button, connect to Twitter and pick a hashtag of interest. Visual.ly will then fill in the blanks about your choice, adding data and design elements to bring the hashtag to life in graphic form, in about a minute or so.

Visual.ly has already served as a collecting point for homegrown infographics, with a social forum for browsing and liking contributors’ material. Now Visual.ly offers built-in tools for creating your own. Share it on Facebook or Twitter or on Visual.ly, download it, email it or embed it. Nice tool for the visually-inclined.

In honor of the new iPad fervor on launch day, check out my iPad 3 infographic below:

infographic created with visual.ly

Need An Elevator Pitch?

Stymied by the prospect of condensing your amazing idea, your raison d’etre, your invaluable services or the reason why someone should pay attention to you or your business into one compelling minute? Harvard Business School has the web app for you with the HBS Elevator Pitch Builder. Enter the app and get prompts for “who”, “what”, “why” and “goal.” In each section, you are given a number of words relevant to the section and designed to catalyze your point. There is also a “tip” link to help you if you find that you are still stuck. Because of my curious nature, I of course had to try this out. Under the “who”, I wrote:

I am a creative, original thinker, authoritative in my field and responsive to customer need.

The “what” boils down to your “tag line” – or, as the MBA’s put it, “your value phrased as key results or impact.” I wrote:

Effective decisions, deeper analysis and pointed research, brought to you in half the time.

The “why” asks for what differentiates you and makes you better. I had to think about this one for a little bit. Eventually, I wrote:

Having spent my entire career researching and writing, leveraging technology, and employing creative methods to improve productivity without sacrificing quality, I offer a unique combination of expertise and efficiency.

Then, I had to state my goals. Making more money than Bill Gates didn’t seem a realistic option and my intent was to come up with a useful elevator pitch, should I ever find myself in need of one. But I didn’t have an immediate goal in mind. So I simply wrote:

I am looking to step up to the next level.

O.k. I know. Not very impactful. And the HBS geniuses caught on – this is what they had to say.

Avoid jargon, business-speak or trendy buzz words. Your audience has set through all those boring meetings, has attended those seminars, has read those books. You want to be memorable and that means using your own voice.

The analysis gave me word count, number of repeated words and elapsed time. I still had about 45 seconds to work in my own voice. It gave me average stats, so I could compare. I could email or print my pitch, or edit the pitch to tighten it up.

A pretty cool little tool for making you think about the meaning of life. Thanks Harvard.

Taking Tasks to the Next Step with IFTTT

To do lists are fine, but for me, they mostly serve as reminders of all the things I haven’t done yet (and probably won’t get to for some time). What if you could automate some of your tasks – set up a simple chain of events that you put in motion once and then never really have to think about again? If this idea appeals, then If This Then That (“IFTTT”) might be just what you are looking for.

The application is conceived and executed by setting up triggers and actions in channels. Channels are essentially the web services that you may manually use every day, but with this app you can define certain triggers (the “if”) and then assign an action to the trigger (the “that”). The “if” can be something like “I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook” or “someone mentions me on Twitter.” The “that” can be “send me a text message” or  “create a status update on Facebook.” Your triggers and actions are limited to the channels available on ifft, but there are more than enough to choose from to make the set up worth your time.

You can have up to 20 active tasks set up and running at any given time.

You select the channel for the trigger, define the trigger, then set the channel for the action and define the action. For example, see below:

You get the “picture.”  When you pick a channel, you are given a limited number of options for triggers and tasks, such as “add in” language for tweets, but there are many combinations. Follow the steps, define or describe your task and you are all set up. There is a date and time trigger as well that will allow you to initiate tasks at a certain time and date. Tasks can be turned on or off and when they are resumed they pick up right where they left off. Tasks poll for new trigger information every 15 minutes or so, so the results are relatively current.

Another very cool aspect of ifttt is the community involvement in task creation. Task “recipes” can be created and shared with other users on the site. So, while you are certainly free to create your own little cause and effect loops from scratch, you can also forego the heavy lifting and check out some of the other great recipes put together by clever ifttt users.

I believe ifttt is simply brilliant. Set tasks up and watch them go, with no further interaction from you. While it might not be appropriate for all of your online actions and interactions, there are plenty of tasks that simply do not need oversight. Save yourself some time and effort with this fantastic tool.

Easily Extract Emails from Files & URLs

Windows only, but still pretty sweet. This little bit of freeware, aptly called Easy Email Extractor, allows you to extract email addresses from files, folders and URLs. Point it at your hard disk and you will get every email address on there! The program allows you to add a button to the SendTo menu and exclude emails that contain specific words. Just great for finding long, “lost” email addresses on your storage systems.

H/T to Lifehacker.

 

Fresh WebSuction – For The Page, The Whole Page & Nothing But The Page

Clipping with Evernote and streamlining with Instapaper are great, but what if you want to snag the entire page in its native glory for easy, off line viewing? There’s a browser for that! Fresh WebSuction, a creation from the folks at Fresh WebMaster,  is focused on your need to download Web pages or content for viewing off-line. You can pull reference material, software files, online books, e-zines or news articles for later viewing. This can be very handy when you are about to lose your internet connection, as you board your flight to Denver. Simply navigate to the browser’s web site, enter the desired URL into the box, and away you go. The service claims it can download up to 50 files at the same time. If this sounds attractive to you, hit the link here to download your new off-line viewing browser.