Google has grown from a web search engine into a massive provider of web services and applications. You can use Google to keep track of your calender, search a gigantic archive of video (growing at the rate of 13 hours video per minute,) use email, work with spreadsheets, presentations, documents, and even get satellite photos of most of the planet all from one site.
I started using Google as my primary search engine early on. It was still in the beta testing phase. You’ll notice some Google features have a ‘beta’ indicator in the upper left by their logo. This means they are not considered a final product, or release quality, yet. Final testing is being carried out to work out the last of the bugs. All quality software products, and web applications go through this process.
But Beta versions don’t come out of thin air. Google is kind enough to offer us an easy way to explore the latest search and web technologies they are working on. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find it: Google Labs – http://labs.google.com . From the main Google Search web page you have to click “More” then “Even More” then “Google Labs” will show up.
The Google Labs website lets you try out experimental web-based features before they make it into the official Google lineup. You can explore the surface of Mars using the Google Maps interface. There’s a search engine for the visually impaired. Web developers and programmers of all sorts can search vast quantities of source code. There’s also a list of Google Labs Graduates, which includes most Google features.
So, what inspired me to babble about this on the internet, for the world to see? I just checked out Google Labs and found two new features…
There is an audio search tool that lets you search for web video where politicians have discussed your search terms. You can type in any topic or issue and get relevant video of presidential candidates making statements on that topic. It even marks on the seek bar of the video where your search terms are spoken.
The other new feature is also useful during an election. It is a quotation search and comparison tool. You can pick two politicians (guess who the defaults are) and type in some issues and Google will find you quotations from each person on each issue. You can look at them side by side, and they are presented with cited source and link to full article. There’s even a spin button to get another pair of statements.
Have fun with Google Labs. If you’re still making up your mind on the elections, check out these new tools. If you’ve made up your mind, then get out there and vote. Early voting is the way to go, and here in North Carolina it has already started. To find out details you can visit your local Board of Elections office. Statewide information can be found by searching for “NC sboe” (replace NC with your state name) and your local early voting information can be found on your county BoE website, so search for “orange county, NC boe” or substitute your county.
Hope you have a great day!