Fang Talks

work hard, urb hard

Or, DuckDuckGo-ing (colloquially known as Ducking) as I prefer to do these days.

Any stupid soul can use a search engine… Or can they? I’m opting to leave the folks who don’t know they can fix almost any problem they have by looking it up on their search engine of choice out of the picture for a moment. It is incredibly important to teach these people how to use google.com, duckduckgo.com, or God forbid even bing.com or yahoo.com, and any time you do tech support and you’re looking something up there should be no hesitation to state what you are doing: looking something up. So you’re searching for answers, and you find them. But can do you do in a clever, elegant way? Are you a Search Engine Ninja?

A general rule of thumb I often tell beginner is to literally type their question into their SE. “How do I print a webpage?”, “Are apple seeds poisonous?”, “When will Miley Cyrus stop whoring herself out?” are all decent queries that give decent results. And sometimes that’s all you need. But once you get to “My TI-84 Graphical Calculator says it encountered an error during Operating System loading. How can I fix this without erasing my calculation history?” things start to get real ugly real quick.

I tell them that rule of thumb to get them off to a good start. What I expect is them to naturally learn what kinds of queries return better results. The above “problem” query can more elegantly be searched for using “TI-84 OS load error”. Chances are you’ll even get more specific results, and that with a shorter query.

But then you want to do a search on cool baking recipes. You’re not sure what you want to bake, but definitely not cookies, you’ve made too many of those already. Exclude cookies from your search by prefacing them with a minus. “baking recipe -cookie” Simple, elegant, efficient.
(There’s way more than just that one. You can do specific AND or OR searches, nest them, search specific websites, search literal strings, et cetera. Educate yourself, stock up on those shuriken.

Here’s a simple one a lot of people still haven’t caught on to. If your computer throws you an error, you can fairly easily find a solution for it. Here’s a syntax I use frequently. “[program] [error code or name]” Optionally you can include your operating system or the action you took that caused the error. The very fact that few people are able to do this causes you to have plenty results to pick from.

Of course, all of this will come with experience. Don’t be afraid to search for something in a way you normally wouldn’t. It won’t be long until you’ve defined your own style of searching with which you can retrieve results at breakneck speeds.

I wanted this post to cover how to properly use a search engine in a serious manner, but the end result looks like I just threw in some random examples and called it a day. (At least I find comfort in my soft SE Ninja getup.)
~ Fang

Comments

  • 25/10/2013 (12:25 AM)

    I wasn’t actually aware you could exclude something from your search results, but whenever I get an error I do always just search the error code. Usually you don’t even need the name of the program and you’ll find what you’re after.

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