Thursday, April 22, 2010

I am getting Googled out

As much as we seem surrounded by Google sites, not just the search engine or their variants of the social networking/chat/communication services, but there is even more to offer.

Last week we looked into 3 of their additional offerings, Google Translate, Google Finance, and Google Maps.

Google Translate
I had a opportunity not long ago to chat with a friend in Europe. In the process I decided to look for some online translation aids. I found an educational site that actually grouped a number of similar offerings from different providers, all on the same page, that the user could choose from. Google Translate was one. I tried a few of the others, but I thought that the Google version was the easiest to use and understand

The user simply chooses the 2 languages that they want to translate from and into, type or paste in the words or sentences that they want translated, and click to proceed. Once the first sentence has been completed, all the following is done automatically. There is a feature to allow reverse translating, for online conferences. It is a great aid for those of us who did not have an opportunity to learn a second or third language, and may need help from time to time. This is especially true these days with the www. connecting the whole world together instantly.

This system is not foolproof, but it is functional. My buddy told me that some of my translations where not entirely correct in the chosen language, so as a test I tried translating the same material back and forth between languages. Sometimes the results where pretty funny. So as a word of advice, double check your work when possible to avoid problems in international diplomacy.

Google Finance
I am a dummy in reading and understanding financial calculations, growth charts and reports. That's one reason I have stuck with the same financial counselor for a great number of years. Not only is Bill a great person to do business with, but he takes time to help explain to the lay person what is what. Every time I visit him at his office, he has MSNBC on with the business stock ticker running. Its amazing that he understands all the codes figures.

For me, I have learned enough so that every month when we get our IRA investment statements, I can go right to the bottom line and see what we are worth from last month to this month. I'm sure that Bill would know exactly how to use Google Finance efficiently to enhance his job. For me the lay person, I might use it to get a sense as to the stability of XYZ company before investing in it or its business sector. Or if I had an opportunity to work for or do business with a firm, to do research ahead of time.

Google Maps
Up to now I have used only Map Quest to map out directions to destinations that I am unfamiliar with. Google Maps goes even better. It can provide directions, by car, public transit, walking and bicycle to just about any local destination you need. In addition, through GPS, satellite imaging, and street level photo coverage, Google Maps allow the user to visit just about any well known location around the world. We looked at the Taj Majal, Mt. Everest, Niagara Falls, Vt. Vernon, VA, and 221b Baker Street, London.

Google Maps can provide not only travel directions, but as an educational aid, a way to visit famous geographical and historical locations. I wish I had had access to this aid when I was a grade school student. I am a history enthusiast, and I think my knowledge would have been enriched even more, and my grades much improved.

Some requests are beyond the capabilities of Google Maps though. Just for fun, I tried to get a map and public transportation instructions from Chicago, Illinois, USA to Bucharesti, Romania. Google Maps could not help me. At least not yet.

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