Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ten essential tips for searching the Web

inding just the right page among the billions on the Web requires not only a search engine but also a bit of know-how. Here is a selection of my favorite tips for searching the Web.

1. Search for a phrase

To search for an exact, complete phrase and not just its constituent words, put it in quotation marks. For example, instead of typing at sunrise on my birthdaytype ”at sunrise on my birthday”. The number of hits will shrink dramatically, as you’ll see only pages that include that exact phrase.

2. Be more specific

If you want to find articles about managing bookmarks in Safari on an iPhone running iOS 7, don’t search for just manage bookmarks. Throw all those terms in: manage bookmarks safari iphone ios 7. The more information you provide, the more useful your results are likely to be.

3. Exclude a word

To make sure your search for information on the connector your iPhone uses doesn’t return matches about an atmospheric phenomenon or a fictional race car, put a hyphen (-) in front of terms that should disqualify a page from appearing in Google’s results—for example, lightning -thunder -storm -McQueen.
Get more specific by excluding certain words from your search.

4. Use your own words

If you visit in Google Chrome, you can click the microphone icon on the right side of the search field and speak your search terms out loud. As soon as you finish talking, Google displays matching results and sometimes offers a summary aloud.
In Google Chrome, go to the Google homepage, click the microphone icon (top), and start talking. Whatever you say appears on screen (bottom), followed shortly thereafter by matching search results.

5. Try an advanced search

If you want much more control over your searches, such as specifying which geographic regions to search in, how recently created a page should be, or the page’s reading level, go to Google’s Advanced Search page or, after performing a basic search, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the results page and choose Advanced Search from the pop-up menu.
Google’s Advanced Search page lets you fill out a form with options for a detailed, specific search.

6. Convert, calculate, and more

You can also use Google to find all sorts of information besides lists of webpages. Google can handle calculations (try 104 * 36.8), currency conversions (185 dollars in euros), time-zone conversions (time in Paris), weather forecasts (weather San Diego), word definitions (define: pedantic), and a great many other things.
You don’t need a calculator (or a calculator app) if you have a browser open.

7. Learn from the source

A great place to learn dozens of additional tips for using Google is Google itself. For example, Google’s “Basic search help” and “Tips & Tricks” pages have loads of tricks and shortcuts you can use.

8. Simplify Google URLs

One thing I’ve come to dislike about Google, however, is that the links on its results page are all Google URLs that redirect you to the original page. For example, if you search for macworld, the first hit is for However, if you try to copy the URL, it’ll look something like this:
And, depending on your browser, this sort of URL may also throw off your browsing history, making it difficult to see which sites you’ve been to.
Luckily, you can solve this problem with a browser extension. My pick for Apple’s Safari is Shaun Inman’s free Detox. (It was originally designed for Twitter, but it works great for Google, too.) For Google Chrome, first install the free Tampermonkey, and then add the script Scrub Google Redirect Links. For Mozilla Firefox, try Wladimir Palant’s free Google/Yandex search link fix.

9. Use another search engine

Even the best Google search won’t help you find pages that Google hasn’t indexed, or items that are on page 5987 out of 28,001. If Google isn’t cutting it, you have alternatives. Competitors, including Bing, Yahoo,, and DuckDuckGo, may point you to sites that don’t show up in Google. And because each search engine prioritizes search results differently, the page you’re looking for may be more prominent in one than in another. If you get stuck, trying the same search in another engine may do the trick.

10. Try a metasearch

If you frequently need to search across multiple engines (and, perhaps, on highly specific databases that store information not indexed in general-purpose public search engines), you might be a good candidate for DevonAgent Pro (4 out of 5 rating), which can query many sites and services at once and summarize search results in a way that exposes connections between related concepts.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TOOLs for Editing photos

A good camera is not all that's required for fantastic snapshots. Some  free apps and software for it...
These simple tools will let you crop, rotate, and retouch your pictures, and will even let you add that extra tadka - photo frames and special effects - to your snapshots with a single click of your mouse button.


Professionals might swear by Adobe Photoshop, but there are a whole bunch of users who've discovered the magic of an internet-based photo editor called Pixlr. This online tool, like any advanced image editor, comes with the layers option; over 25 graphic filters (blur, sharpen, diffuse, pixelate, emboss and engrave), a complete tool-set (stamp-clone, ink, eraser, magicwand, gradient-fill ), and even photo adjustment options (levels, curves, hue and saturation, brightness and contrast). All you have to do, is open the picture you want to edit in the app, work on it using the tools at your disposal, and then save the finished image back onto your machine.

Now, in case you're a first-timer, and find Pixlr too daunting, you could try out the simpler Pixlr Express or Pixlr-o-matic .

Express uses simple onetouch buttons to make adjustments in contrast and colour, to auto-fix your snapshots, and even rotate and resize them. Using this tool you can apply photo effects, add digital frames to your pictures and even overlay your images with text. Pixlr-o-matic simplifies things even further. Import a JPEG from your computer and you can apply readymade effects to your images. Simply select the effect you like and you're done. Pixlr Express, Pixlr-o-matic are also available as free apps for Android and iOS.

Picasa 3.9 

If you have a dodgy internet connection, then editing images online might not work out in your favour. Instead, it would be better if you made changes to your pictures using software on your PC before posting them to your web album or social network.

Picasa, which is a 14.3MB free download, lets you straighten and crop photographs, and then even lets you use filters, effects and quick fix tools like Auto Contrast, Auto Colour and Retouch. Creating a collage or a poster is just as simple, and takes just a few clicks.

People in group photos can also be tagged: tag a person in one snapshot, and Picasa's brilliant built-in face-detection algorithm takes over, identifying the same person in other images.

Additionally, this software comes with a 'batch edit' feature that lets you automate repetitive tasks across multiple files. Once you are done, images can be uploaded directly to your Google+ account (with the face tags intact), or exported to another folder, with a watermark.

Be Funky 

What is life without options? If you're looking for a tool that's simpler than Pixlr, but more advanced than Pixlr Express and Pixlr-omatic, you might want to try Be Funky. This web tool simplifies the process of photo editing by offering users a ready-to-use library of special effects - nearly 30 of them - and you can even fix common photo problems like bad lighting, digital noise, fuzzy colours and details with a single click. Additionally, it lets you share your edited images directly on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr and even print if you have a printer at hand. The best part, you can take this tool with you on your smartphone - Be Funky has a fully-functioning app for Android and iOS devices.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

New discovery dubbed as ‘Li-Fi‘ to replace Wi-Fi in China

Chinese scientists have successfully developed a new cheaper way of getting connected to internet by using signals sent through light bulbs instead of radio frequencies as in 'Wi-Fi', a move expected to radically change process of online connectivity. 

Four computers can be connected to internet through one- watt LED bulb using light as a carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies, as in Wi-Fi, said Chi Nan, an information technology professor with Shanghai's Fudan University. 

Under the new discovery dubbed as 'Li-Fi', a light bulb with embedded microchips can produce data rates as fast as 150 megabits per second, which is speedier than the average broadband connection in China, said Chi, who leads a Li-Fi research team including scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

The term Li-Fi was coined by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh in the UK and refers to a type of visible light communication technology that delivers a networked, mobile, high-speed communication solution in a similar manner as Wi-Fi. 

With Li-Fi cost-effective as well as efficient, netizens should be excited to view 10 sample Li-Fi kits that will be on display at the China International Industry Fair that will kick off on November 5 in Shanghai. 

The current wireless signal transmission equipment is expensive and low in efficiency, Chi said. 

"As for cell phones, millions of base stations have been established around the world to strengthen the signal but most of the energy is consumed on their cooling systems," she said. 

"The energy utilisation rate is only 5 per cent," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted her as saying. 

Li-Fi was touted as a boon to China netizen community, the highest in the world with about 600 million connections. 

Compared with base stations, the number of light bulbs that can be used is practically limitless. 

Meanwhile, Chinese people are replacing the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs at a fast pace. 

"Wherever there is an LED light bulb, there is an Internet signal. Turn off the light and there is no signal," Chi said. 

However, there is still a long way to go to make Li-Fi a commercial success. 

"If the light is blocked, then the signal will be cut off," Chi said. 

More importantly, according to the scientist, the development of a series of key related pieces of technology, including light communication controls as well as microchip design and manufacturing, is still in an experimental period.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FEW supercool USB gadgets

There is no computer port more versatile than the USB. You can use it to connect external storage, a DVD drive, mouse and printer, but did you know that you could also use this amazingpiece of technology to keep your coffee warm and launch surface-to-air missiles? Savio D'Souza and Ashutosh Desai list some...

Zooming in...

Do ants have black eyes, or brown? What is nail gunk made of? Is that really fungus on my motichur laddoo? It's true: you'll never know when you'll need a USB microscope. Like professional magnifiers, these nifty gizmos are equipped with a focus ring; come with white LEDs to ensure the images are clear and bright, and you also get software that lets you capture videos at 30fps - and still images at 640x480px resolutions.

Depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can pick these thingamajigs that promise you magnifications of up to 800x. Connect one to your laptop, and you're promised hours and hours of insect watching (if you can get them to pose under the lights, that is).

Price: Rs 2,700 to 4,700

Keeping it top secret
Those fun memos shared between office cronies had best be kept a secret. We wouldn't want the office snitch to get his grubby paws on those. Well, he can't and he won't . Not if you have one of these nifty paper shredders. Feed all incriminating documents into this gobbler. Then, distribute the shreds between four to five wastepaper baskets. Hah!

Price: Rs 1,399 (wastebaskets not included)


Nice and bright
Now you never have to type in the dark. Simply switch to USB-powered lamps once the lights are out. From boring night lamps that illuminate your keyboard, to hipster lava lamps and geeky plasma balls that endorse your avant-garde lifestyle, you'll find all of these - starting at a few hundred rupees - on the interweb. The world started with a 'Let there be Light' . 'Amen,' we say.

Price: Rs 200 onwards

Protect your airspace 

Offices are dangerous places, and who knows what the bloke in the cubicle next to yours is plotting. It therefore makes perfect sense to invest in a USB Missile Launcher. Install the software that comes with this SAM launcher, and you can control your strikes from the control panel that appears on your laptop screen. A launching sound gives your target fair warning of an imminent strike, but not enough time to dodge what's coming his way. With one of these by your laptop, everyone will know who's boss. Yeah, we meant you.

Price:Rs 2,700

Fan, boy
Let them say what they want, but sitting at your desk all day - whether you're sweating it out over Facebook, or keeping abreast of the latest videos on YouTube - can be a lot of hard work. And what's the use of slogging at your keyboard if you can't treat yourself to some creature comforts? The AC might be ON at full blast, but having your own personal fan in the office is cooler still.

Depending on your tastes, you can pick from a range of designs that fit in with your sensibilities and budgets.


Price: Between Rs 200 and 3,000

Some like it hot...
Time flies when you're vegetating at your computer, and it's only when you put that coffee cup to your lips you realize it's been a while since you had settled down with it. Instead of heading to a microwave oven, go online and buy yourself a USB Cup Warmer. It does not require batteries and includes an ON/OFF switch. It will perform the simple job of preventing hot beverages from losing their warmth and you from losing your cool.

Price: Rs 499

... and some like it cold 
If you like your lager chilled, then you must get the USB Mini Fridge. Besides, it lets you keep your beer right where you want it: Within reach. Just like the cup warmer, it does not require any driver installation. Plug it in and let it chill. And since it can accommodate just one can at a time, it will also keep your consumption within limits... probably.

Price: Rs 1,999

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

7 best laptops within Rs 30,000

Could you suggest a laptop within a budget of Rs 30,000.

For those who've asked, all notebook PCs that we've suggested below are equipped to handle basic computing tasks: internet browsing (research, social networking, e-mail ), office productivity (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint), basic photo-editing work (Photoshop, Gimp) and even for watching videos and listening to music.

A notebook without Windows
In this category, you can expect the best kind of hardware within your budget. These machines do not come with the Windows OS, but some manufacturers will give you a PC preinstalled with Linux/DOS. Here, our choices would be the...

Toshiba Satellite C850-X 0011: 15.6-inch screen, 2.5GHz IntelCore i5 (3rd Gen) processor, Intel HD graphics 4000, 2GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD Drive, HD webcam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, (2x)USB 2.0, (1x)USB 3.0, Rs 30,000

Fujitsu Lifebook AH532: 15.6-inch screen, 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 (3rd Gen) processor, Intel HD graphics 4000, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD drive, HD webcam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, (1x)USB 2.0, (3x)USB 3.0, Rs 25,750

Alternatively, you could also look at

Samsung NP300E5V-A 02IN (Rs 29,000), the Dell Vostro 2520 (Rs 29,000) and the Lenovo Essential G580 [59-358346 ] (Rs 30,000). 

With Windows
These machines come with a licensed copy of the Windows OS, and they're ready to use straight out of the box. But since some of the budget is utilized for the operating system, you are presented with a slightly older processor.

Fujitsu Lifebook AH532 (alternative config): 15.6-inch screen, 2.3GHz Intel Core i3 (2nd Gen) processor, 1GB nVidia GeForce GT 620M, 4GB RAM, 750GB hard drive, DVD drive, HD web cam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, (1x)USB 2.0, (3x)USB 3.0, Windows 8, Rs 29,000

Samsung NP300E5C-A 0CIN: 15.6-inch screen, 2.2GHz Intel Core i3 (2nd Gen) processor, Intel HD graphics 3000, 2GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD drive, HD web cam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, (3x)USB 2.0, Windows 8, Rs 27,400

As options you could consider the Sony VAIO SVE1513ACNB (Rs 29,000) or the Toshiba Satellite C850-I 5213 (Rs 28,000). The latter, however, has the older Windows 7 pre-installed . Before you finalize a model, we would advise you to physically check the build quality of the device for durability, check its display for viewing angles, and its keyboard for typing comfort.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fake online reviews

Fake online products reviews have been around for years, fuelled by unscrupulous marketers seeking to boost sales. 

But a recent crackdown by authorities in New York could be the shock needed for the online sector to clean up its act. 

The New York state attorney general's office recently ordered 19 companies to halt these practises and pay fines totalling $350,000 to settle charges of manipulating online reviews for sites such as Yelp, Google+ and others. 

The settlement stemmed from an undercover investigation in which officials created a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn and sought help in marketing from so-called "search engine optimization" firms that work to boost a company's online presence. 

The investigators discovered online ads such as this one: "Hello... We need someone to post 1-2 reviews daily on sites like: Yelp, Google reviews, Citysearch and any other similar sites. We will supply the text/review... We are offering $1 for every post." 

"Consumers rely on reviews from their peers to make daily purchasing decisions on anything from food and clothing to recreation and sightseeing," state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. 

"This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution. " 

A 2012 report by the research firm Gartner concluded that between two and six per cent of online reviews are "fake or deceptive," and predicted this will grow to around 10% by 2014. 

The Gartner report said some 31% of consumers use online review because they find the opinions of a person like themselves to be more credible than advertising. 

Gartner said studies from a number of university researchers suggest that positive reviews can provide a shot in the arm for many kinds of businesses, from hotels to restaurants to doctors or lawyers. 

"In the hospitality industry, you are more likely to see bookings go up when you have better ratings," said Jenny Sussin, a Gartner analyst and co-author of the report. 

"For restaurants, a half-star increase in the review average can cause 7:00 pm bookings to go up 30-49%." 

She said the review business has turned into a cottage industry, with writers in places such as India or the Philippines paid as little as $1 to $5 per review. In other cases, some employees or customers are offered incentives such as gift certificates for reviews, which is also considered deceptive or illegal.

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