Some Google Fu – Getting searches to work for you.


[image from macten]

Knowing how to find things is a good skill to have in this information based society.  Knowing how to find things fast is even better.  There is a world of information at our fingertips but knowing how to access it quickly is a valuable skill.  Why?  Because there’s so MUCH information that you can easily waste hours of time looking for something.

Occasionally, not always, but every now and then someone will email me or ask me a question that they’ve been trying to find the answer to and I’ll flip open my laptop, fire off a few keywords to Google and come back with the answer.  Nifty.  But what BLOWS ME AWAY is how often I’ll get, “WOW, that was fast!” Ummm…yeah, how slow were you expecting it to be?  Which makes me wonder, does this person know how fast finding out stuff can be? Or are they still stuck in analog?

So I decided I’d write a quick article with a list of a few tips I’ve picked up a long the way for using our favorite neighborhood information finder to get what you’re looking for without wasting a lot of time.

How I Keep Track of Printed Articles [EverNote Usage]

For nearly 10 years now I’ve been gone through many different systems of organizing and keeping track of the printed material I read (that is magazine articles, photocopies, pamphlets etc.).  I used to just keep the magazines I read in boxes, but then my stash got too big and it would take me forever to find something I remembered reading.  However, this is the system I used for nearly 5 years.

Next, I started keeping only articles I thought were worth keeping and keeping a database/spreadsheet of the articles on my old Palm IIIe.  It was a system that worked quite good for about two years.  I would file the articles in a binder alphabetically and by number (using stick on tabs) and then in the database I’d include keywords and short blurbs from the articles with the article information.  To find articles around a subject I just had to do a search and then I could locate the article in my “article binder”.

A Gate for the Net

One of the things I do is write a quarterly column for the Communication Magazine of my church district (Western Ontario District of PAOC)The magazine is called Connections and it is sent out to over 500 credential holders and leaders and the title of my column is ‘Tech Pass”.  I usually write about various software/web apps and technology tools I come across that I think are useful for churches and ministry. For a copy of the latest magazine you can get it from the website.

The internet is an awesome tool and incredible resource.  In the last 10 years or so it has grown from humble beginnings as a hobby-for-some into a multi-media delivery & application platform that many of us wonder how we’d ever get along without!  However, along with the good things the internet brings us is also the bad – things like viruses, spam (not the ham wannabe, but those annoying Viagra like ads you get in your email), and evil websites (sites that promote crime, pornography and the like).

What inspires you to write more often in your blog?

It’s kind of timely that just over a week after launching my new theme on with a desire to write more posts I come across two great articles talking about how to be inspired to write.

John Saddington wrote 10 Types of Blog Posts That Helped Me Blog 3 Times a Day for a Year. I had the privilege of meeting John at the ChurchCrunch one year birthday party before a conference I recently attended.  He’s fairly new to the blogging scene but let me tell you as a blogger he has come a long way in a short period of time.  In the words of Micheal Hyatt at the party, “I’ve never seen a more productive person”.  So, this article quickly caught my eye.  If such a busy person as John can blog so frequently, so consistently – how does he do it?  Here’s some of the types of blog posts that stood out to me as things I could do very easily here:

  • Date Specific – picking a day to do a regular systematic themed post (i.e. desktop of the week etc.). Not sure how I’m going to do this yet (or what theme/topic I’d do) but it is something I could do.

Unfolding Neurons 4.0

Something Old, Something New

I seem to have a penchant for spending more time on the structure and looks of my blog rather than focusing on writing.  I just never seem to “like” what I put up.  I’m hoping that changes with the latest shell I’m using!

For 4.0 I’m using the excellent theme called, “Arclite” by Digital Nature as the base.  I’ve decided to step away from theme frameworks for a bit.  I’ve spiffied it up a bit with some new plugins, some custom coloring and layout and a brand new logo.

I’ve also come up with a new tagline for my blog, “Darren Ethier and the quest for Clarity”.  Really, clarity is a quest.  I started way back in May of 2006 partly because I wanted to try out this blog thing and mostly because I wanted a place to sort out and “dump” all the stuff I think about – hence the name of the blog.   I haven’t really posted as much as I’d have liked to because somewhere along the way my focus shifted more to developing websites for other great people and organizations and I have done more coding than writing.  Still, the new theme represents what I really want this blog to be about.  Finding clarity in my thinking,  in what I learn, and in what I teach.

All a twitter

I wrote this back near the end of May for a column I write for called “Techpass” that is part of the “Connections” mag published by the Western Ontario District of the PAOC.  Anytime now (and I think it already is) the July issue (published quarterly) of “Connections” will be out and about with this article in it.  Even after only two months there are some things that I think are a bit “dated” in this but I republishing it here on my blog so readers of that article can comment, respond if they want!  Actually, anyone can comment/respond now if they want..well you know what I mean.  Oh, one more thing – I have posted about twitter here already, if you want, check it out.

Have you heard of twitter? No, I’m not talking about the word to describe the language birds use to communicate with each other. Twitter is an online app that was launched in 2006 described as a “free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables users to send and read other users’ updates known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them (known as followers)” ( Twitter has made it possible to make these short posts (and receive follower updates) using email, sms (texting), via the web, or even various other services (i.e. facebook etc.).

Test post from new BlackBerry App

I got the announcement about the new blackberry app for WordPress being released to the wild and decided to download it (link is for ota downloads) and give it a try. And so, here is this post.

So far it’s looking like it’s on track to be another useful addition to my curve. Remember though that it’s still only in beta so mileage may vary.

NOTE: I just posted this as a draft using my BlackBerry and then touched it up via my laptop to add the links – there’s still no easy way to add links in the app.

Why I think every church and pastor should blog…

This post was published as an article in the “Connections” magazine which is a periodical put out by the Western Ontario District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (with whom I hold my credentials).  I publish a regular column for this magazine called “Tech Pass”.  If you are visiting this post from that article please leave a comment at the end!

Hopefully by now, most of you reading this post have heard the term “blog” and have some idea of what it is. If not, then it’s time to get away from the monastery for a bit…

The simplest definition of a blog is that it is a place on the internet where an individual publishes their thoughts. When blogging first started it was viewed as the online scribbling of people with too much time on their hands – people writing about what they eat for lunch or their cat, “Scratchy”. However, blogging has become a journalistic phenomenon worldwide that is even beginning to overtake printed media and large news organizations as the purveyor of ideas, news reports, and articles.

New Look: Unfolding Neurons 3.0

Time for a change around here.  A change that’s actually been in the works for quite a while.  I started working on a new theme for Unfolding Neurons at the beginning of 2008 but got sidetracked by changes in my life and never could get back to working on the theme I was developing (realized I didn’t like it anyway).  Part of the prep for the new look involved restructuring my blog and doing a major decompress of all my categories.  I eliminated over 40 categories I was using and decided I would use categories for the major themes in my blog and tags for all the other ways of describing what I write.

When I saw what was coming through the pipes with WordPress 2.7 I decided that rather than developing a theme from scratch, I’d take a look at what other good themes are out there and modify one to suit my needs.  That’s when I came across the excellent “Hybrid” theme framework by Justin Tadlock which he developed with WordPress 2.7 in mind.  What I like about Hybrid is that it is a framework that you can build child themes off of and if Justin updates Hybrid I can switch in the update without having to worry about the custom changes I’ve made for my site.  Unfolding Neurons 3.0 is actually built off of a child theme for Hybrid that Justin created called “Old School“.

Bluehost problems update

Hilarious (in an annoying way)…here’s what I sent off to support after my site went live again.

Thanks for putting my site live again.  What is the threshold at which my site would be deactivated and how can I monitor to make sure it’s within that threshold?  I really don’t want to be deactivated without warning again…especially when I have had the same site up and running for almost a year without any problems!

Thanks for the quick response and help

Important question to ask you might think!  I don’t want to be caught unawares with my websites being deactivated with no warning.  Here’s the “friendly” response I got from support today…

There isn’t a specific threshold.  Your website can not cause performance problems on our server.

Abuse Department

Terms of Service –