f Google tricks & Other Tutorials: February 2008
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10 Most Amazing Google Search Tricks

Searching on Google can be a magical experience once you find out how to make your search queries efficient. By making efficient I mean using some tricks or the cheat sheet provided by Google itself to quickly find what you actually require. Having being hooked onto Google for a long time now, I have come across some amazing search tricks which can change the way you look at Google today.

In this article I will list down the search tricks which I use quite frequently. Be it finding time, meanings or watching the cricket score, searching PDF’s, with Google as the search engine life cannot be more simpler. Here are the 10 most amazing Google Search tricks:

1. Different Types of Files at your will
How many times would you have asked for materials (PDF, PPT, DOC) for a particular topic from a friend? Its almost everyday that we might have the necessity to ask them either for knowledge, preparing a presentation, white-paper or for case studies. Such times it mostly difficult to look out what to exactly search for because most of the times you don’t know about the topic at hand. But this petty keyword unleashes its lethal power at such occasions.

Let’s say I want to implement a case study on SOA which means I have to read a lot of information for SOA. So I just have to find materials which might have already been uploaded on the web in the form of PDF’s, DOC’s or PPT’s. These materials can be easily obtained by doing a search for:

2. Scholarly Search
If you want some authenticity of the materials then it would be better to find the materials from educational institutes or universities. For this use the Google scholar search. But suppose you don’t like to switch to Google scholar search you can add the same query with an additional parameter to the normal Google search box,

3. Meanings of any word in an instant
Now you do not have to carry a dictionary or install a dictionary software just for the purpose of finding out a meaning of a word. With the wealth of information in Google’s hands, its a piece of cake to find out the meaning of the word. Just use the define: keyword. The meaning would of course be displayed but also a set of other links which might have an alternative definition are also given out with the link to read more about it.

You would argue here that, a dicitionary gives out more information than this. But what about words that don’t actually fall within the vocabulary. Suppose you want to know what SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) is then you would have no choice. Google Search comes to your rescue in this case,

4. Find the time of any location
Many of us might be probably working for client which are based at different locations. And communication has to be carried out frequently carried out in such cases. But before a communication you have to know which time zone the location is falling into otherwise you would be causing a disturbance.

I have seen people installing time zone software for showing the time of the location they would be calling to. But with Google at your hands you don’t have to install any software. It would be just simple to use a query for finding the current time such as,

psst….look closely the time on the little clock graphic. It also shows the perfect time!

5. Weather at your fingertips
I had been to GOA for a Christmas vacation in the last week of December. But I made a mistake of not finding out the temperature of GOA before leaving. Had I known that it is hot even in the winter I would not have made the mistake of carrying additional luggage consisting of blankets and jackets.

If you are thinking to visit a place it is useful to know what the temperature of the place is before hand, it can make efficient packing. Google helps you here too. Just use this query without asking anybody or waiting for the news to make a weather report. I wish I had thought of this!

6. Google does live commentary too!
Indians are cricket fanatics. But its amusing to see the organizations here trying to put together tactics to devoid cricket lovers from wasting time to watch the cricket scores instead of doing their work. What I think they fail to understand is that by blocking the live cricket scoring sites they are actually making the employees more curios and provoking them to hunt for proxy networks or listen to the radio or chat with their friends elsewhere.

Jokes apart, you actually don’t need proxy networks to view the live cricket scores if you at least have access to Google. If you want to find the latest info about all the cricket matches then just type,

But if you want to find out only about a particular match then use only the names of the two playing nations,

Remember that the scorecard will come only when the play is going on.

7. Calculate with your browser
Every OS has a calculator inbuilt but when the browser is the thing which is constantly open whey bother to open up a calculator. Open Google and straight away type your mathematical expression. You can go all the way from basic arithmetic to trigonometrical expressions. This is simply amazing stuff accomplished by Google.

8. Compare your currency with others
Now that the dollar is declining, the rest of the world must be busy trying to check the impact of the dollar on their currencies. But first of all one must know how much a particular currency amounts to when cashed in another currency. Google’s inbuilt currency converter just does this.

9. Keep track of the stocks
With the booming stock market it is very important to track the stocks on a day to day basis. Putting a stock ticker in the search box is the most obvious thing you would think of. But it is not always you would remember the stock ticker, you should add the keyword “stocks:” to the company name.

The best part of the obtained result is that it provides a chart which shows the trend in the company’s stock along with important statistics.

Note: Currently the results are restricted to the companies listed in the US stock markets.

10. Wanna find some faces?
This is most interesting trick. You might be needing images for various occasions and searching for images is the most difficult thing because what we expect might not be possibly mapped to a query. But Google has a parameter in place for images in situations we need an image which describes a face.

Suppose I search for the term “happy” then the Google results page displays smileys. But I would like to use images of happy people. Even if I choose the term as “happy face” the results don’t show images which contain people. For this there is a parameter “imgtype” which you can use with the URL. For this put in the URL as follows:

There are many more variations which can be bought about with the above tricks thus making your search experience not only enriching but also exciting. If I have missed any tricks of common usage, feel free to mention it.

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How to Bypass BIOS Passwords, Unlocking password :

If you are unfortunate enough to set a password for your BIOS password for PC and forgot it, chances are you may need to send it back to the manufacturer. Not to worry yet, you still can try out some tips and tricks to bypass or unlock the BIOS password:

BIOS passwords can add an extra layer of security for desktop and laptop computers. They are used to either prevent a user from changing the BIOS settings or to prevent the PC from booting without a password. Unfortunately, BIOS passwords can also be a liability if a user forgets their password, or changes the password to intentionally lock out the corporate IT department. Sending the unit back to the manufacturer to have the BIOS reset can be expensive and is usually not covered in the warranty. Never fear, all is not lost. There are a few known backdoors and other tricks of the trade that can be used to bypass or reset the BIOS password on most systems.
Before attempting to bypass the BIOS password on a computer, please take a minute to contact the hardware manufacturer support staff directly and ask for their recommended methods of bypassing the BIOS security. In the event the manufacturer cannot (or will not) help you, there are a number of methods that can be used to bypass or reset the BIOS password yourself. They include:

  • Using a manufacturers backdoor password to access the BIOS
  • Use password cracking software
  • Reset the CMOS using the jumpers or solder beads.
  • Removing the CMOS battery for at least 10 minutes
  • Overloading the keyboard buffer
  • Using a professional service

Please remember that most BIOS passwords do not protect the hard drive, so if you need to recover the data, simply remove the hard drive and install it in an identical system, or configure it as a slave drive in an existing system. The exception to this are laptops, especially IBM Thinkpads, which silently lock the hard drive if the supervisor password is enabled. If the supervisor password is reset without resetting the and hard drive as well, you will be unable to access the data on the drive.

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You've been hacked: What to do first? Tutorial

What should you do in the first five minutes after you discover your system has been hacked?

Sitting at your desk, you notice some odd activity in a log while you're looking into a user problem. The more you step through it, the more you are convinced that something is just not right. Your heart skips a beat when you realise that the system has been hacked.

At this point, you enter a stage of shock as you ask yourself, "How could this happen?" and "What do I do now?"

Although you'll find plenty of advice on how to keep your systems from being hacked, there are relatively few articles that will help you sort things out in the aftermath of an attack. So for the next three weeks, I'll present a series of articles that will explain what you should do in the first five minutes, in the first hour, and in the first week after you've discovered that an interloper has compromised your systems. This article will focus on the most immediate actions you must take to secure your system: evaluate, communicate, and disconnect.

The first question that you must answer after an attack (or preferably before) is what your objectives are. In most cases, the objectives are simple: prevent further intrusion and resolve the problem. However, in some cases, you will want to be able to positively identify the intruder and, in others, you will be focused on figuring out which vulnerability the hacker exploited.

Identify the intruder
It may be necessary to positively identify the intruder so that you can refer the matter to the police for further investigation and possible prosecution. Of course, this is not the most expedient way to get the systems back online and prevent further infection. Identifying intruders can be difficult, particularly if they have covered their tracks well. Despite Hollywood's portrayal of hackers easily being traced, someone who is routing traffic through several systems is not only difficult to find, but might be -- in all practical terms -- impossible to track down.

Identify the vulnerability
Another approach that some organisations take is to try to identify the specific vulnerability exploited. The thinking is that you want to patch the specific hole that allowed this intruder to gain access. By and large, this approaches the problem from a suboptimal perspective. A far better strategy is to attempt to identify all vulnerabilities and prevent any intruder from gaining access to your systems, rather than focusing on the one vulnerability this particular hacker exploited.

Many of today's security assessment tools will allow you to quickly test and resolve all vulnerabilities.

Return systems to operation
If this is the first time you have been attacked, you may find it simpler to forgo trying to pinpoint the intruder or the specific vulnerability that was exploited. In general, it is unlikely that you will be able to easily generate the logs you might need to target the origin of the intrusion.

Patching the vulnerabilities and returning systems to operation as soon as possible is the most straightforward approach. It reduces your risk and allows you to fortify your defences without worrying about the intruder continuing to take advantage of your systems.

Plan ahead
In many cases, organisations determine their course of action prior to an attack. But in an equal number of cases, organisations must make this their first order of business after an attack. In addition to determining your specific goals after an attack, you should consider executing a disaster recovery plan, if one exists for your organisation. Depending on the severity of the situation, it may make sense to treat the situation as if the data centre had been destroyed.

The one unique complication to activating a disaster recovery plan for an organisation is that it is typically centred on a known event with a known time. But with an intrusion into your network, you may not know exactly when the system was first compromised. This can complicate the recovery process because it may not be clear what set of backups should be restored for each system. Further complicating matters is the fact that some systems may have been compromised before others, so it may be necessary to repeat the restoration process several times while trying to determine when the first intrusion occurred and on which system.

Once you have decided on your approach, you need to communicate to upper management what is happening -- or what you suspect is happening. This is perhaps the most difficult step and, because of that, it is one that is often skipped or delayed. But despite the potential for internal political problems, it is important to let business leadership understand what is happening so that everyone can plan for the steps required to resolve the problem. It will also give business leadership an opportunity to reaffirm the goal for problem resolution, whether that goal is to go after the intruder, target the vulnerability, or simply solve the problem as quickly as possible.

You should also communicate with your IT peers about the problem. You need everyone on the team to look for suspicious activity to ensure that the network is not further compromised. To that end, the more professionals involved who are aware of the problem, the more likely it is that nothing will slip through the cracks and be missed.

Conversely, you should not communicate with your users that you have detected an intrusion. An employee may have caused the breach, either by providing a password to a friend with the intention of allowing a breach or through something more innocent. It is a good idea to hold off on notifying employees until the HR department can communicate the company policy along with the message.

Finally, if you have a security infrastructure partner, communicate with it immediately that you have a potential situation. Even if you have only engaged the organisation in the past to perform a security audit, you should call it to indicate that you suspect that you have a problem. The intent here is not at this point to ask for help but rather to inform the partner so that it can be prepared to assist if necessary.

If you are not planning on attempting to identify the intruder or the vulnerability, you should disconnect the system or the entire internal network from the Internet as soon as possible. This prevents the intruder from working against you as you try to clean up the mess and also prevents further infections or data loss while you work on the systems.

One of the downsides of disconnecting is that people who want to use the system internally and externally will be unable to do so until the problem is resolved. This can exert substantial internal pressure to take shortcuts to get the systems back up again. But the natural desire to reconnect systems before a thorough evaluation of their status has been conducted is ill advised and typically leads to repeated intrusions while the problems with each of the servers are identified and resolved one-by-one.

The decision to disconnect the entire organisation from the Internet or to disconnect just one system or a few systems is a difficult call, particularly in the first five minutes. You will not have had time to evaluate which, if any, other systems have been compromised, so it is possible that removing a single system from the Internet may not resolve the problem. On the other hand, you may want the organisation to continue to function with as little disruption as possible.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to one of risk tolerance. How much risk is the organisation willing to accept to avoid some downtime? In most organisations, the risk of potential intruders greatly outweighs the desire to maintain availability of all systems. In other words, most organisations agree that it is important to disconnect from the Internet immediately so that the systems can be checked for signs of intrusion without the possibility of intruders attempting to cover their tracks.

The first few minutes after you discover an attack are likely to be stressful and confused, so it's important to have a plan of action in place before it happens. When you realise you've been attacked, make sure you identify your objectives in resolving the situation, communicate the situation promptly to business leadership and peers, and determine whether the problem requires you to disconnect one or more systems from the Internet. Deciding how to react to an attack is tricky, at best. The actions you take (or don't take) can have a huge impact on your organisation -- and on your reputation. However, following a plan for controlling the situation can make things less chaotic and start you down the right path to get things back on track.

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