on September 25, 2003
Google is powerful for basic searches, which most people conduct by entering a few keywords and letting Google do the rest. Imagine the possibilities especially researchers, students, writers, professionals, and anyone who need to find specific or obscure information just by learning a few tricks. Entering _book reviews_ pulls out any resource having both words in it, not necessarily together as a phrase. Add quotes to "book reviews" and the results display sites with book reviews together as a phrase. This hardly unleashes Google's power. Even entering the keywords in a specific order can affect the results.
You can search around Google's Web site to learn lesser known tips and tricks, but you won't find most of the hacks on the Internet without, ironically, hard searching. As a fervent reader, too often I read well-written books and never take the time to apply the tools and techniques. While reading this one, I immediately put the newfound knowledge to use with cool results and still use it though it's been a few weeks since I opened the book.
You may be aware Google offers Google News, which searches and provides the latest news ([...] But did you know Google News supports two syntaxes? They are "intitle" and "site." "Intitle" searches for keywords within the headline or new item's title while "site" looks for the keyword in a specific site. The authors are straightforward when they mention Google News is not one of the best places for news.
Non-techies, don't let the fact that O'Reilly and Associates is the publisher scare you away because the company's books are often synonymous with high tech topics and the name "hacks" in its title. It doesn't mean "bad" as a hack is also known as a trick or add-on for adding more power to a program or system. The tech-speak is kept to a minimum, which makes the hacks easy to read and reference. The book has tips for beginners, moderate users, and experts and each hack is represented by thermometer's temperature (high for expert and low for easy) for easy reference.
Techies and programmers have nothing to fear as the book covers APIs (Application Programming Interface), which provide a basic building block for building software applications. In other words, Google Web APIs ([...]) allow developers to query Google's search tool for use in developing software that accesses the many Web sites through Google. For example, a Web site providing the latest news on books and the book industry could use the Google API to regularly update the site with any new news relating to books. APIs for PHP, Python, ASP, C#, .NET, VB, and Java are included.
Try out some of the hacks and get tips from other readers from the O'Reilly's Hacks Web site ([...]) and Tara Calishain's ResearchBuzz buzztoolbox ([...] Reduce the time you spend sifting through garbage by hacking your way with Google using this book.
on July 17, 2003
O'Reilly has done it again. They have managed to publish a book that will probably never leave my desk. This book is probably one of the best non-programming books O'Reilly has ever published.
So much of my work is done via internet search engines and of course my engine of choice is Google. Google never lets me down, always providing me the answer with minimal clicks. If any of your work relies on finding information via the Google search engine then this book should be part of your arsenal. There are a lot of functions provided Google that I never knew about.
The first 70 pages of the book are dedicated to performing actual searches and what can be done to tweak them. Chapter 2 goes more into the other services that Google provides. The authors have done a great job providing an overview of the more advanced features this search engine gives you.
Chapters 4, 5 and 6 deal with API applications that use internal Google functions or use other programming languages to maneuver those functions such as PHP, Java, Python, C# and VB.net. Chapter 7 is a great chapter dealing with pranks and games.
Overall, if you can't already tell, I really like this book and can't think of anything that I don't like. Even if you aren't in the IT arena this book is an easy reading and informative addition to your bookshelf.
on May 19, 2003
It has been quite a while since I have come across a book I'd label 'essential.' The last for non-programming computer users was Robin Williams' 'The Mac Is Not A Typewriter' which I bought for a number of new Macintosh users. 'Google Hacks' by Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest and published by O'Reilly will appeal to an even wider audience, I can imagine buying this for friends who haven't cottoned on to 'net searching at all and friends who complain "Google returns too many sites." People who are afraid to code shouldn't be put off by the "Hacks" in the title: O'Reilly have obviously taken a wider meaning of "hack" than just a neat piece of code. This book is a marvelous compendium of tips and tricks for Google, ranging from simple ways of getting the search results you want, through using Google's newer services such as phone books and image search, all the way to advanced ways of using scrapers and the Google API.
The book demonstrates 100 hacks, of which close to half are useful for everyone -- newbie, programmer and non-programmer alike. The first 35 hacks, in chapters one and two, will educate you about the intricacies of getting the best out of searching both Google's main web catalog and the newer 'Special Services and Collections.' This is the part of the book that should be essential reading for Google users -- in the two days I've had this book these have proved invaluable. The rest are for those who are either looking for extremely advanced search tips, increasing their web site's Google page rank, or programming an application to use the Google data -- all topics well covered in this volume.
What's Good In This Book
To start, it is well written, well laid out with a good contents section, good index, and some appropriate introductory material before getting down to the first hack. Each of the hacks are numbered and a single hack will often cross-reference other hacks that add information relevant to it. The hacks in each chapter nicely add on each other in both complexity and function.
The hacks themselves seem to cover every area of Google that you might want. They range from the downright frivolous (there is a chapter "Google Pranks and Games") to serious ways of improving your search results and excellent examples of good ways to use the Google API.
Most of the code fragments are in Perl, and among the hacks are ways of getting the job done without over extensive use of extra modules such as XML Parsers and SOAP::Lite (including a hack that uses regular expressions to parse the XML).
What's Bad In This Book
It's hard to find anything bad to say, apart from some frustration that a couple of the hacks that interested me used ASP or VB rather than a more portable language.
Oh, another minor quibble, the allied web site O'Reilly Hacks Series has been slow and has none of the code in the book or any of the URLs mentioned listed anywhere -- it seems more geared towards marketing the books than helping the readers.
on May 16, 2003
Google.com is a search engine that came onto the web in 1998. Since then it has grown to be one of the more used search engines on the web. In April of 2002 , the Google Engineering Team released an API to their search engine technology. Google Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools (Google Hacks) gives the reader a background on how to use google effectively, a detailed listing of google's services, and many ways to access google.com.
I like the new Hacks series of books from O'Reilly. Each title in this series gives the reader 100 tips and tools on the topic at hand. Each tip includes a brief description of the hack and a complexity rating. In Google Hacks the authors give each tip a complete walk through, with many including a full code listing.
The two chapters on Third-Party and Non-API google introduces the reader to new ways to get at google data that many users may not have thought of before. Hack 37 is an explanation of how to get google web searches via email. There are six hacks that if used and abused will get your IP address banned from google, so use at your own risk.
The chapters on the google API make up the meat of the book. The API is used to offer ideas to show the reader what is possible with the API. For those that are more visually minded, hack #64 is about the TouchGraph Google Browser. TouchGraph is a Java applet allows the user to start with a page and then it graphically shows pages that are similar to it. For the non-perl inclined, hacks are included, with full source code, for Python, Java, C#, and PHP.
Anyone who programs web applications and manages websites needs to get this book, if only for the final eight hacks in the book. One hack (#95) delves into the PageRank algorithm that google uses to rank web pages. Hack 96, 26 Step to 15K hits a day, should be required reading for anyone wanting to start a web site and have it take off.
At [the price], this book is a great buy. It doesn't suffer from any glaring editing problems, and is very useful to anyone using google.com.
on May 6, 2003
REVIEW: GOOGLE HACKS: 100 INDUSTRIAL-STRENGTH TIPS $ TOOLS
by Jocelyn Paine
My brain seems to turn off when I'm exposed to the advanced terminology, much less faced with wading through the web. I've not been as intimidated by the search engine Google, though, because it seems to facilitate exploring the millions (billions?) of choices now available on the World Wide Web. I've always felt I'm not utilizing it enough. So I was very glad to see "Google Hacks, 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools," by Tara Calishain & Rael Dornfest, published by O'Reilly & Associates ... Only recently did I learn that 'google' is a pun on the mathematical term: googol, a one followed by a hundred zeros. There isn't anything that large in the universe, so it is a mythical term, but it aptly symbolizes the magnitude of information available on the Web.
I believe that all good reference books have extensive Indexes. The one for "Google Hacks" leads me to a whole new world of Google. I find out that there's something called Google API that users like me access, but for the brave of heart and reliable of fingers there's code available for 'scraping' beyond the surface of the usual pages. Whew! This is way above my head, but I'm fascinated by the possibilities. The authors also responsibly define what is and what is not allowable according to Google's terms of agreement and what can lead to being banned from Google! A handy thermometer reference classifies each hack into beginner, moderate and expert categories.
Just leafing through the table of contents makes it clear to me that there is lots I don't use in Google. I liked the arrangement of the book, very much like a 'Dummies' reference book. The writing is very clear, non technical and well explained, with step-by-step guidelines, and clever and humerous to boot. A lot of the book is devoted to actually creating a page for Google, which I have no aspirations to do, but who knows what's in my future? Highly recommended for the novice, like me, or the advanced computer geek. Now we don't know any of those, do we?
on April 24, 2003
Google is currently the most popular Internet search engine. While almost every Internet searcher is familiar with basics of Google searching, there's far more to Google than meets the eye. Google Hacks tells individual Web searchers and Web site programmers how to best take advantage of Google's tremendous amount of searching power and flexibility.
The first three chapters (Searching Google, Google Special Services and Collections, and Third-Party Google Services) are targeted at the end user. They present a wealth of detail about how to access Google features most users didn't know about (myself included): wild cards, date range searches, spell checking, phone book, translations, and more. You'll learn Google has special directories of images, newsgroups, and mail-order catalogs. (I made sure to NOT tell my wife about the on-line catalog feature!)
The balance of the book is for web site programmers. They get plenty of tips and tricks about how to incorporate Google search technology into their web sites. While many of the tips are not for novice web programmers, most intermediate webmasters can spruce up their sites with the tools presented in Google Hacks.
The production quality is typical O'Reilly, and that means good! Clear screen shots, and crisp dark type make this read easy on the eyes.
If you want to learn how to exploit Google searching, or want to add Google search features to your web site, Google Hacks 100 Industrial-Strength Tips and Tools is a good place to begin the learning process.
MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5<P
on March 25, 2003
Few of today's web-savvy would contest Google's superiority among search engines. Behind the austere and simple interface lies a wealth of information just waiting to be tapped. Until now however, tapping all that information and power would likely require scanning dozens of websites hunting down tips for making the most out of Google. Fortunately, Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest and their colleagues have done most of the legwork for us in O'Reilly's Google Hacks.
Google Hacks is another in O'Reilly's Hacks series, "Industrial Strength Tips and Tools". In this case, 100 recipes for just about every imaginable use for Google. O'Reilly uses the term 'hack' in a positive way, meaning a clever technical feat or trick, as opposed to the negative connotation associated with those blackhats who break into computer systems for fun and for profit. Each "hack" is a stand-alone recipe demonstrating some aspect of using Google to find just what you're looking for. Most hacks also contain cross-references to other relevant hacks in the book, so you really don't have to read it from cover to cover. You could start with whatever interests you, and go from there.
The book is divided into several chapters, each of which contains several hacks. The first few chapters are targeted at the general end-user, describing in detail all of the various syntaxes you can use when searching with Google, as well as introducing the various topical collections (U.S. government, Linux, Mac, etc.), and other tools (Google Groups, Google News, etc.,) available. The authors are careful to point out where the various syntax pieces are incompatible, and which syntax features are available with which services. Also covered are various tools you can use to (legally) 'scrape' Google search results for further analysis. These chapters will be useful for just about anyone who uses Google. Some of the material (such as directly manipulating URLS to tweak search results and custom HTML forms) may be beyond the reach of some newbies. A general understanding of URLs, HTML and CGI scripting will be helpful in making use of most of the book.
The next few chapters are targeted more to developers and propeller-heads, describing the Google Web Service API, as well as providing dozens of scripts (mostly in Perl) for manipulating Google's index via its XML interface. Newbies and the casual user might find all this a bit overwhelming, but anyone with a Perl interpreter could potentially use these scripts to their advantage. One chapter also provides examples of using the API in various other languages including PHP, Java, Python, C#/.NET, and VB.NET. There are enough examples here of using the API in various fashions to get anyone with a sense of programming plenty of starting off points for whatever project they may imagine with Google's wealth of information.
The next to last chapter involves a handful of pranks, games, other oddities you can do with Google. Fool your friends with 0-result searches, let Google write poetry or a recipe for you. Draw pictures with Google Groups, or see just how good you are at Google-Whacking. This is the chapter for all of you who have way too much time on your hands ;-).
The last chapter in the book is targeted towards webmasters and offers several tips not only on getting your website well-placed in Google's search rankings, but also general help on getting traffic to your site in the first place. The authors also discuss strategies for using Google's AdWords system to the advantage of your business.
Overall, the book is very readable, and easy to move through (well, for a geek anyways). Each hack is self-contained, and can be read in a few minutes. Read it near your computer, as you'll likely be wanting to try some of these hacks out as you read them. As for its usefulness, I'm already using things I learned in the book on a regular basis to my daily advantage. However, if you're not more than a casual user of Google, all the scripts and API-speak might be overkill for your needs. The first few and last chapters probably justify the Amazon price for most users, however.
The book isn't perfect, though. I did find a few typographical errors scattered through the text, but they weren't prevalent enough to be too distracting. Also, with coverage of such a moving target as a major Internet property like Google, there will likely be links and even certain hacks that may not work, and features that change with time. Finally, the idea of narrowing down your search results to a manageable number surfaces often. In my opinion, what's important is not so much how many search results are found, but rather, whether or not Google can get me what I'm looking for within the first page or two of results, which it usually does, and which is why I use Google in the first place. The real value of the book shows itself on those occasions where Google doesn't necessarily get you where you want to be on the first shot.
In summary, true to its cover graphic, Google Hacks will provide you with a large number of tools to get the most out of Google, whether for serious research, casual browsing, procrastination activities, or just plain old fun.
on March 20, 2003
Google is one of the (if not the foremost) most well-known search engines on the 'Net and this book of 100 "Google Hacks" makes anyone's forays into searching on Google much easier and fun. Among the hacks listed in Chapter 1 include "getting around Google's 10 Word Search Limit," Mixing Syntaxes, Date-Range Searching, Using Full-Word Wildcards, Tracking Stocks, and searching article archives. Perfect for "non-geeky types like me. But wait, there's much more! Chapter 2 discusses Google's Special Services and Collections, like the Google Directory, newsgroups and images. There's a chapter explaining the Google Web API and another chapter listing hacks for Google Web API programs. Chapter 7 lists a few hacks (ie. "pranks") you can pull on your friends if you're in a playful mood.
The authors have put the usual excellent and thorough job into this book that I've known to love and appreciate about all O'Reilly books. Not only do they take the time to thoroughly explain Google and topics related to Google, they also with a number of hacks show code examples, making it easy to implement them.
Hacks (and hackers, not crackers) in recent times have gotten a bad name as another reviewer pointed out. The 100 hacks this book lists are ones that are of benefit to all who use Google as their primary search engine.
on March 19, 2003
In a smoke-filled darkened room the faceless, nameless young man sits silently pouring over screens and screens of data. Reading the scrolling text that flies across the screen searching for that one magic phrase. Is it day or night? Is it Monday or Wednesday? He hasn't a clue; all he cares about is one thing -- hacking.
If this is what you expect the newly released O'Reilly book Google Hacks to be about, well, I am afraid that you need to mosey on over to the fiction section. This book is a collection of tips, trips, workaround and "not-so-secret" techniques that you can use to enrich your Google experience.
Now, I know what most of you are saying -- it's JUST a search engine. I type in what I want to find and see what it spits out. If this is your attitude about Google, then this book is one of the must have's you should add to your library. You will never think of Google as "just a search engine" again.
Through step-by-step examples, and visual examples, the author takes you through how to use Google to its full extent. He shows you how to narrow searches and get those 2,500,000 results page down to something more manageable and more relevant to you. In essence, he shows you how to make Google work for your benefit.
There is also considerable coverage given to third-party Google tools and toys -- such as Google Whacking, Google Blogging and many others. He shows you how others have taken what Google provides and expanded upon it to make games, research tools and interactive applications. You will find yourself immersed in the world of Google Whacking -- the search for the magic combination of search words that give you one, precise result!
This book is geared towards those who use Google for searching and research purposes as well as those who want to incorporate Google's tools into their own sites. The author goes into detail about the newly released Google API for incorporating content into your site and other programs. Novice users should not be afraid of the technical complexity this book has in some places; they can simply skip over the more technical parts without fear of missing out on the important details.
Overall, this is the perfect companion book for those who find themselves using Google as their main research tool. It will help you become a better Google user, and help you to use the power of Google to further your research along and give you the precise information you need.
on March 9, 2003
First off, I have to admit: I fell in love with this book while looking at the description at ora.com before it was ever published. I'm a geek. I've used Google for years. I live and breathe this stuff. I know the high editorial and production quality that O'Reilly puts into their technical books. But the pre-publication descriptions left an open question for me: just how useful would this book be for normal people?
To those who know nothing about programming/scripting, fear not. About half of this book is stuff that anyone anywhere can use with no programming skills whatsoever. And if the hacks described in the other half of the book sound useful, sufficiently-motivated people will find a way to use them: talk to their technical friends, their children, or (heaven forbid!) teach themselves how to use Perl/Python/etc. And even that's kind of missing the point: the book is about giving you a taste of what is possible to do with Google. You will get an education simply by leafing through the examples.
How do the authors get so good? Clearly, they're smart folk. But they have a much more important quality: a sense of adventure and, at times, a giddy quality of fun in what they do. Chapter 7 -- Google Pranks and Games -- is as good a place to start reading this book as any. And a non-technical person who reads and tries the examples in Chapter 1 will have a far better working knowledge of google than 99.5% of the technical types out there. Finally, Chapter 8 is an excellent intro to webmasters to understand how google picks which pages rank higher for any particular search. It gives valuable advice on how to get a good rank for your website. This book should be a good antidote for small-time operators who are currently getting hustled by "rank booster" con artists and other snake-oil salesmen.
One side comment: hacking is a good thing. In the past two decades, the word has been co-opted to mean a dubious or possibly-illegal activity. Nonsense. Hacking is a most honorable activity; it's part of what makes the world works. Kudos to O'Reilly for starting their "Hacks" book series.
Google is an Internet search engine database, but it's far more than that. It's existence has begun to shape the very fabric of the Internet. Anyone wishing to be literate on the Internet would be wise to understand quite a bit about it.
I'm buying a copy of this book for my mother tonight.