Google Search Features

Google Search Features

Google has some powerful Search Features for a wide range of applications.

  • Everyday tools like weather
  • Reference tools like unit conversion
  • Keyword tools like synonyms
  • Local tools like movie showtimes
  • Health tools like poison control
  • Trip tools like flight schedules
  • Query refinements like fill in the blank
  • Number tools like package tracking

The real beauty of these tools is that they work in any Google search box/bar.

Bonus

Set the search box (top right corner of many broswers) to Google and you can do all of these without even opening a new tab or window!

Google Search Features

Excel Tip: Counting Weekdays & Today’s Date

Problem

You are setting a deadline or goal and need to know the number of weekdays between any two dates. If you have a 12-month calendar handy, you could count the weeks and multiply by five. But, when you try this on the computer, the calendar scrolls smoothly, making it hard to know if you counted that week or not. Or, maybe this is a long term project and you’d like to set the goal off in the distant future. If so, counting weeks by hand and multiplying by five would be tedious.

The TODAY Function

Excel has a function for figuring today’s date. And, because it will change each time you open the document, you can guarantee that it will always reflect “today”, whatever today is!
=TODAY()

The NETWORKDAYS Function

How to find the number of weekdays between two dates:
=NETWORKDAYS(A1,A2)

Example

The formulas will look like this:

Col 1 Col 2 Col 3
Row A =TODAY() 12/21/2012 =NETWORKDAYS(A1,A2)

Your view of the Excel Worksheet will look like this:

Col 1 Col 2 Col 3
Row A 7/18/2011 12/21/2012 185

Other Considerations

Of course, this does not factor in holidays or vacation time, so if you are using this to set a goal for work, be sure to pad the deadline accordingly. This is just one tool to help you along the way. It might give you the motivation you need to pick up the pace or the satisfaction of knowing that you are on track toward the goal, but it can not be the only tool for goal-setting.

Google+

For those who love social media as much as we do, you have to check out Google+ (Google Plus). Never fear if you don’t yet have an invitation to join someone’s circle, you will soon.

Either way, see what ReadWriteWeb offers regarding the way Google+ works! Dan talks about Circles, the Stream and Bumping, Photos, the Profile, and Sparks & Hangouts.

It’s a great primer!

Communications Etiquette

Last week, I received an email from someone asking me to call them. Frankly, I was confused. If he wanted to reach me by phone, why didn’t he call? More important to me, I didn’t know what he really wanted. “Please call me at 512-xxx-xxxx” was almost the entire message. (I do know the source of his information about me. My phone number was listed right next to my email address.)

Mimic

It is polite to respond in the way you were contacted. If the person calls you, then you should respond with a phone call. If they send you a direct message on Twitter, then you should DM them back.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Regardless of how you communicate with someone, give them all the facts. Think of it like the first paragraph of a well-written news story: with the six Ws.

Who, What, When, Where, Why, and hoW

It is your responsibility, according to good etiquette, to give them complete information.

  • Who you are
  • What you need/want/have
  • Where they can reach you
  • When you’ll be available, or When your deadline is
  • Why it’s important
  • hoW they can best deliver

The Phone and VoiceMail

Leave a Message

Calling and hanging up without leaving a message is rude. I know of one person who doesn’t return these calls, and also blocks them from calling again! I’m pretty sure I inadvertently did this same thing to a family member. Someone from a new number in an area code I didn’t recognize called and didn’t leave a message three times in less than ten minutes. I instinctively blocked the caller as spam. Later, I realized it might have been family.

Name/Number, Six Ws, Name/Number again

If you are calling and leaving a voicemail, start with your name and number. Then, give the other Ws information that is the reason you are calling them. Finally, at the end, repeat your name/number again. With caller ID this might be a little overkill, but remember that people check voicemail when driving. Repeating information for them makes it easier on them. It might even make them safer drivers if they aren’t struggling to figure out what you said.

We Are Professionals, Not Teenagers

As the texting generation starts to enter adulthood, we see these courtesies become less common. Remember that you need to act and behave like a professional. Then, once you get to know someone, you can become more casual.

Even among friends, the courtesies are important. If you are calling for anyting other than “just to catch up”, let your friend know. They’ll probably even call you back more quickly!

Excel: lines breaks within cells

@corrinrenee What’s the magic shortcut for getting multiple lines in a cell in Excel on a Mac?

@loriluza CTRL + ALT/OPTION + SHIFT + ENTER. RT @corrinrenee What’s the magic shortcut for getting multiple lines in a cell in Excel on a Mac?

@corrinrenee DING DING DING! We have a winner. Thank you! RT @LoriLuza: CTRL + ALT/OPTION + SHIFT + ENTER.

@loriluza@corrinrenee You are quite welcome! Excel is my favorite software…of all time!

More About Passwords

Spam Bots on the Rise
…and denial among friends

After seeing the “droppings” of several spam bots over the last few days, I reminded a group to be careful and use good passwords. I was almost instantly confronted with someone who insisted that even good passwords get hacked. Sigh. That’s just simply not the case, if you believe in Math.

The Long and the Short of It

Since good passwords use long strings of 8 or more characters from our alphabet, numerals, and symbols, they can require a up to 22,875 years to crack the password. Even an “army” of supercomputers needs 83.5 days. Who among us is that desirable? I know my facebook account isn’t that coveted!

By contrast, weak passwords (6 lowercase letters of a fairly uncommon name in the US) can be broken instantly with an “antique” computer.

Comparing Apples to Apples

So, according to lockdown, a “Fast PC, Dual Processor PC” can crack a common 6-letter password instantly, but needs 23 years to crack one that uses upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. I don’t know about my friend, but I don’t think I’ll still have email and facebook in 23 years.

Recommendations

StrongPasswordGenerator.com Strong Password Definition, Requirements and Guidelines

  • “Be seven or fourteen characters long, due to the way in which encryption works. For obvious reasons, fourteen characters are preferable.
  • Contain both uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Contain numbers.
  • Contain symbols, such as ` ! ” ? $ ? % ^ & * ( ) _ – + = { [ } ] : ; @ ‘ ~ # | \ < , > . ? /
  • Contain a symbol in the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth position (due to the way in which encryption works).
  • Not resemble any of your previous passwords.
  • Not be your name, your friend’s or family member’s name, or your login.
  • Not be a dictionary word or common name.”

Sound like a lot of work, huh? Well those same good people at strongpasswordgenerator.com can save you that time. Their site will generate a strong password for you. Yippie!

Added Benefit

A good password is also a deterrent. Bots that try to hack passwords are going to go after the short ones, first. They are the most vulnerable.

It’s a little bit like being safe with a laptop in your car:

  • You can leave it in full view in the front seat, just “begging” to be stolen.
  • You can leave it in the car, covered with a jacket, making a would-be robber think twice about the risk vs. the reward.
  • You can carry it in a non-laptop looking bag and keep it stored in the trunk.

Of course, any thief will simply move on to the car with the one in the front seat!

Do It For All Of Us

Don’t be that person we all have to unfriend on facebook because of a supposed teen suicide caught on camera that is spamming our friends, family, colleagues, and clients. Create/get good passwords for your bank sites, email accounts, and social media pages. Be a good steward of your whole community.

Good Password System

With all the Twitter spam of late, I feel the need to address the composition of a good series of passwords. Use this pattern and example to tailor to your own needs and style.

Requirements

Good passwords need to have a mix of lower case and UpPer cASe letters as well as some number and symbol substitutions. Most systems these days require at least 6 characters. Many common sites require eight characters. Some systems even expect a passphrase instead of just a password. Longer passwords are safer.

It’s safest to shoot for at least 8 characters. Decide how many characters your series of passwords will be.

No matter the system, you need to keep it complex enough to fool a would-be hacker, but simple enough to remember. With a good system in place, even if someone watches you type your password, they won’t likely figure it out. The goal is to have a unique password for each site you visit, but to keep them memorable (and quick) to use.

Three Elements

  1. Code
  2. Date
  3. Site

Element One: Code

Pick a code. This should not be your pet’s name, your mother’s name, your favorite color, or any word that can be easily guessed by anyone who knows you. In fact, it’s best if it’s not a word at all. A great way to pick the main part of your password is to chose a line from a song. Use the first letter of each word of that line. Decide how many characters the code will be.

Element Two: Date

Pick an element of the date (not the year!) to include in your password set. Decide how many characters the date will be.

Element Three: Site

Pick a method for taking some characters from the site’s name.

“Substitution” a.k.a. ” $^65+!+^+!()^ “

note [1]

As a rule, you need to substitute a few characters. Don’t go wild; you can’t even use them all. Just pick a few that make sense to you.

  • !=1 (one)
  • !=i
  • 1 (one) =l (a lowercase L)
  • 2=to
  • @=a
  • 3=e or E
  • 4=a or A
  • 5=s
  • $=s
  • 6=b
  • ^=v
  • ^=A
  • ^=y or Y
  • ^=u or U
  • ^^ (two carats)=W
  • 7=L
  • 8=g
  • &=q
  • (=c
  • )=d
  • () (both parenthesis)=O (a capital O)
  • () (both parenthesis)=o (a lowercase O)
  • () (both parenthesis)=0 (zero)
  • +=t or T

Example

Now that we have our three elements and a substitution set, let’s put it all together!

This example uses 16 characters for every password.

Code

  • 6 characters
  • using the song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”
  • subbing ( for c, capital fourth letter
  • l(tWto

Date

  • 5 characters
  • three letter month, capital middle letter, 2 number day
  • jAn24

Site

  • 5 characters
  • Gmail.com
  • subbing 8 for g, capital second letter, subbing ! for i, subbing 1 (one) for l (lowercase L)
  • 8Ma!1

Password

  • l(tWt0 with jAn24 with 8Ma!1 becomes
  • l(tWt0jAn248Ma!1

Now, this is a bit extreme, but it gives you the idea. More importantly, it teaches you the tools needed to make a simpler version that is easy to remember no matter what site you may visit.

Making the Change

Do not—-I repeat, do NOT—-change a password on Friday before a holiday weekend. There are just too many things about our brains that will have us forget what we did. Instead, start this on a Monday morning.

Start with the most secure sites you have, like online banking and mint.com.

Next, change the sites you use every day for communication: email, Twitter, facebook, etc.

Then, changes other sites that store personal information: online shopping, memberships, etc. It’s a “best practice” of these sites NOT to store your credit card information, but not all of them are up to date. If someone did hack into your account and could see your credit card number (along with the expiration date and CCV number), you’d have a pretty big mess to untangle.

Change one site at a time as you have the need to log into it. If you use a site infrequently, chances are, you don’t have a lot of important data in there.

Go forth with good passwords!

[1] For the record, $^65+!+^+!()^ is a terrible substitution of characters to letters for the word “substitution”. Most passwords will require some letters in both upper and lower case. So, as a reminder, use a few that make the most sense to YOU!

My Story

I thought I’d begin this blog with a little history of me—more than what the cover letter and resume can tell, anyway.

I’m the daughter of two teachers. I was lucky enough to inherit teaching talents from both my parents. My mom spent most of her career teaching 2nd grade and later became a Counselor, working with all age groups. My dad taught high school business courses until he became a principal for a K-8 campus.

My first official teaching experience was when I was nine years old. I had been in children’s theater the year before. During the summer, our theater coach was also a swim instructor. She lived conveniently near us, so I was able to walk or bike to “work”. While she taught the class from the deck where everyone could see her, each of us, as a teacher’s assistant, would work with one child to complete the exercise in the water. With the tiniest of students, we would bob under water and blow bubbles or count fingers. With other age groups, we’d lead them across the pool while they worked on their kick or developed a stroke. In exchange for being the personal swimming instructor for a much younger child, I got free swimming lessons and advanced my own technique and learned some diving and even synchronized swimming. Once I met the age qualifications, I became a certified swim instructor. Many of my summers from high school to college were spent teaching kids to swim.

I was also involved in music; I played the flute. I practiced a lot and sat first chair most years. Later, I also became Drum Major. Both of these experiences required not just leadership, but also management and instruction.

In college, I was lucky to find both the campus Volunteer Services Center and the campus leadership program. I took every class I could (all were free and not for credit) and applied for leadership roles within the volunteer organizations I had joined. The leadership classes enhanced my teaching skills while campus involvement and volunteer service gave me a chance to apply the learning. Just a few months before graduation, I was offered a full-time job with the university. I was responsible for all the training and support for a document imaging system that was implemented to help convert the campus to a paperless environment. While in that role, I pursued a Master’s degree in higher education.

After finishing my the graduate coursework, I took a job at another university’s help desk and learning center. I had a much wider audience to support, so I had many more responsibilities in training and teaching.

When I relocated back to my home state, I did so with the intent of pursuing more graduate work. I earned a College Teaching Certificate from Texas A&M University’s Educational Administration and Human Resource Development department.

In virtually every job I have had, I have written instruction manuals and trained others. I have always been the go-to person for software and other technical questions. There are two reasons colleagues approach me with these types of questions.

  • I may already know the answer or can probably figure it out.
  • More importantly, I’m an incredibly patient teacher. I know that everyone can not do everything. A little help goes a long way, especially if it’s an infrequent task.

Everyone—regardless of age or experience or education—has something to learn. Those who keep an open mind can learn.

Lori Luza