Friday, January 20, 2006

Google, My Aunt Fanny

You can find ANYTHING on the internet -- if you know how. 

However, I was born in the early part of the twentieth century, when you dialled "O" for operator, asked for "information", and got it, free.  Now, in the twenty first century, supposedly more enlightened and so-called "the information age", you gotta know your way around to get the help you need. 

The magic word is not "open sesame", but GOOGLE.  I dutifully opened a "google account", and typed in "residential directory" and got a page full of links to Lord-knows-what. I  chose a likely one and typed in the name of a lady in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Instantly I got the information that they had two addresses for ladies of that name, and I could have either one for $9.75.

This search was for a friend and he did not authorize the expense, so I looked for a free database.  One called "Free Person search" sounded likely, so I tried that and got a page called: THIS PAGE IS NOT AVAILABLE.

Well, thought I, I will simply google the name.  I entered the first name, last name, and city, and then Google sent me.... 164,948 links.  I got links to eveybody with that first name, and everybody with that last name, and every reference to Minneapolis. 

The address I needed is certainly hidden there among those thousands of links, but where?  What I need is help in searching, so I wrote "How to Search the internet" in the box at the top of the screen.  This time I got an offer of a laminated instruction sheet on how to search to put on my computer screen.  Cost $29.75. 

Ratz. I gave up and wrote this.

What I need is a simple tutorial on how to search.  I know it can be done, because school kids are doing it all the time, and turning in their results as term papers.  But they are kids of this century. I was born too soon. I was born in the "ask the operator" era. In fact, in those days you didn't look up numbers at all.  You picked up the phone and said, "I want to talk to Minnie Smith in Minneapolis," and you were connected.  It took a little time, and it cost a little more than dialing direct, but it saved a lot of searching, and you didn't have to know ANYTHING.


hunybea4him said...

take to heart, I get frustrated too and I am under 30.  Sometimes going back to basics is easier.. if you know the full name and city and state you can call 411 to get the address and phone number... IF.. it is not unlisted.

garnett109 said...

I'm 43 and I still have alot to learn, they started teaching computting the year after i graduatedand i just started a year ago!

jaykolb said...

I am the doyen of internet searching.  I'll send you a mini-tutorial email.  But to start, put the name in quotes, like "John Smith".  That will get you only that EXACT phrase.  If you find you are getting a lot of "John Smith, realtor"s, then use "John Smith" -realtor.  the minus sign says "throw out any hits with this word in them".

Unfortunately, a lot of people-finding sites that used to be free are now charging for the information, but a few are still free, and I'll see what I can find for you.


penguine4050 said...

I cannot ever get anything with google either and then I get so angry I just quit.  Chuck you are not alone my friend.  Maybe we should take a google class together.

gallsclndrgirl said...

I long for the days of the operator, so much simpler and less time consuming and frustrating. Progress can be good but it can be a pain in the you know what as well.

Have a great weekend!

Tina (your new reader)

deslily said...

you can still dial for information on the phone.. and low and behold you get to hear James Earl Jones' voice! but it COSTS!.. (ummm, if i have to pay i'm glad i at least get a great voice to hear! heh)

elleme2 said...

Ah. yes.  Googling can be frustrating--you get so much information you never dreamed was there, and never wanted to know.  I found out about the quotes trick early on--direct from Google, I think--or maybe it was the plus signs they told me about--(Mary+Smith+Minneapolis) to limit your searches.  But if the Mary Smith you're looking for identifies herself as "Mary A. Smith" she will not show up in that search, so you need to look all ways you can think of.  These search engines are also not infallible.  I know of more than one person, long since gone to that great database in the sky, that continues to show up as alive and well and living in Anytown.  And try entering your own name, even including your middle name or initial, and see just how many Charles or Chas. or Chuck Ferrises there are out there!

Me, I still long for the days you went into a grocery store, asked the clerk behind the counter for what you wanted and he/she chased all over the store looking for it and brought it to you.  Saved a lot of time--and a lot of implulse buying.  I don't really need a selection of thirty five different brands and recipes for Italian salad dressing, or two hundred linear feet of cereals of every conceivable varitiy.

Happy hunting!