Making the most of Google
The consensus is that Google is currently the best general purpose search engine for finding things on the WWW.
Go to http://www.google.co.uk.
Use "" if you are searching for a phrase, e.g. "Tony Blair".
Use - if you want to exclude a word, e.g. China economy -ceramics -porcelain
Refined use of Google
Google has several features which may be used to refine searches:
- For example, if you wanted to do a search on elephants, but only to get results from the main UCL site,
you would type the following in the Google search box:
- If you wanted a definition of the term broadband, you would type:
Ever found a really useful page on the web ... and not been able to track it down again?
One strategy is to use Google to find the page (see the previous tip 'Making the most of Google').
However, it is neater to use the bookmarks* in your browser.
I shall presume that you are using Mozilla, but Netscape and Internet Explorer have similar functions.
First display the page you want to bookmark.
Go to File Bookmark on the Bookmarks menu, or hold down Ctrl and Shift, and press D.
There is quite an art to filling in the Name [of bookmark] row. I tend to get bookmarks like 'Printers - IS advice on ~' as I want the bookmark to file under the keyword, i.e. P rather than I in this case. (You'd never guess I've worked in libraries.)
If you have many bookmarks on one particular subject, e.g. building websites, use the New Folder button to create a dedicated folder for them.
*In Microsoft-speak bookmark is 'favorite'.
Managing your favorites
Are your Internet bookmarks getting out of control?
You can manage them by going to Favorites | Organize Favorites in IE (Bookmarks | Manage Bookmarks in Mozilla).
To delete a favorite, click it and press Delete on your keyboard.
To rename a favorite, click the Rename button.
Ever wished your Internet bookmarks were always available, whatever machine you are using?
You can store bookmarks online in "My Yahoo".
Go to http://uk.my.yahoo.com and click the "Get your own My Yahoo" link (on the left).
Once you've filled in the form, Yahoo gives you a Yahoo desktop, including online "My Bookmarks" and many other goodies.
Not only will you have access to your bookmarks anywhere, you can also put useful comments next to them.
It is also possible to import your Netscape Bookmarks into Yahoo Bookmarks.
Click on My Bookmarks and then Import Bookmarks and type the location of your Netscape bookmark file (typically n:\pcsettings\netscape\bookmark.htm if you're on WTS)
in the box at the bottom and click Import Favourites.
Easier access to bookmark files
How annoying it is to have found a resource on the WWW, and be unable to find it again.
This is why bookmarks ("Favorites" in Microsoft-speak) are so important.
In a previous tip, I suggested users set up Yahoo accounts, as "My Yahoo" has a useful bookmark function. It allows you to access your bookmarks on any machine with an Internet connection.
However, inevitably, bookmarks creep into the browsers on the computers one users.
This tip allows you easy access to files* containing links, including Netscape and Mozilla bookmark files.
Open Windows NT Explorer (Start | Programs | Windows NT Explorer) and navigate in the left pane to the folder containing the file.
For Netscape on WTS it is:
For Mozilla on WTS it is, something like:
[You will need to replace my login with yours and fiddle.]
Hold down the left mouse button and drag the file onto your Start button.
Now you can fire that file up in your browser simply by going to Start | bookmark(s).htm(l)
N.B. If you have stopped using Netscape, but have a lot of bookmarks in it, this could be especially worth doing.
*Internet Explorer does not keep its bookmarks in one file, so this tip does not apply if you are using IE.
Using pictures from the Web
Found a picture on the Web you'd like to use in a Word document or PowerPoint presentation?
Right-click* the image in Internet Explorer and select Save Picture As (Save Image As in Mozilla or Netscape). Save it in a folder e.g. on your N: or R: drive.
In Word or PowerPoint go to the Insert menu and click Picture, and then From File.
Navigate to the folder where you saved the image, select it and then click Insert.
You can change the size of the image by clicking the image and dragging** one of the little boxes which should have appeared at its sides.
N.B. You should only use copyright-free images, for example those on the UCL site.
*right-click = hold down the right button of the mouse
**drag = hold down the left button of the mouse and move the mouse
Scrolling in IE/Firefox
Did you know you could scroll down a long Web page in Internet Explorer or Firefox by pressing the spacebar?
It's a lot handier than using the PageUp/PageDown buttons.
However, the best way to scoll a Web page is with a wheel mouse (one that has a wheel between the two buttons). Then one can scroll and click in Web pages without touching the keyboard, and you can also scroll in Word.
Page not found
You know the feeling, you go to the crucial website, only to get some error message telling you that the page does not exist etc.
Below are a few tiplets aimed at saving the day:
- Is it a problem with case?
Web addresses are not case sensitive until after the first /.
So www.ucl.ac.uk = WWW.UCL.AC.UK = www.UCL.ac.uk
However www.ucl.ac.uk/german is not the same as www.ucl.ac.uk/German or www.ucl.ac.uk/GERMAN.
- Pay attention to the file extension.
Both .htm and .html are common, but there are many others including .php and .asp.
- There are no spaces in web addresses.
If it really does look like a space, try an underscore (same key as the hyphen, but hold your Shift key down).
i.e. important page.htm -> important_page.htm
- \ is not used in web addresses. Try / instead.
- Not all web addresses start with www e.g. mail.yahoo.com.
If an address does not start with www. you may find it helps to put the proper http:// at the beginning.
If all else fails, try deconstructing the address, starting at the end:
If www.ucl.ac.uk/is/fiso/ah/courses/ does not work, try
Especially if you are a webmaster, you are probably aware of situations where you reload a page in your browser, but you are still viewing an old version of the page.
Browsers have a "cache", a local stores of pages, which helps them to load frequently accessed pages quickly.
One possible cause of out-of-date information is that the browser is insisting on loading a page from the cache instead of going onto the Internet and checking whether there is a more recent version.
In any case, it is good to clear the cache every now and then, as the files can eat into your WTS file quota, or slow your machine down if you are unManaged.
Here's how to do it:
Go to Tools | Internet Options.
Click the Delete Files button.
Select "Delete all offline content".
Click OK and then OK again.
If you have a large cache, you may need to wait a while for your machine to delete the files.
Saving complex Web pages
Ever had problems saving a Web page?
This tip will help you much of the time.
When you save a Web page in Internet Explorer by going to File | Save As, the default is 'Web Page, complete (*.htm, *.html)'. That is all very well, but it really leaves a terrible mess. Apart from the page you save, a subfolder of miscellaneous bits and pieces (imagees etc.) is automatically created...
Much of the time, going to File | Save As but selecting 'Web Archive, single file (*.mht) for saving Web pages' instead of this default in the 'Save as type' drop-down box, will save the whole page in just one file, with a .mht extension.
However you save a Web page, you should always open Windows Explorer, double-click the .htm(l) or .mht file and check all looks well. Admittedly there are occasions where our elegant solution does not work, and you are stuck with the 'Web Page, complete' option.