Search Engine Secrets

By: Phil Shortell

Just about everyone who takes an internet class here at Computer Corner sooner or later gets around to making the statement/asking the question “What good is a search engine if it comes back giving me too many sites for me to wade through?” This leads me to ask them what they are looking for and how they enter their query. I usually find that there being buried by the hits because they have never been told about the way ALL search engines work. Within a few short minutes, they get the answer and now you get it too.

The example I use in class came right from one of my students. Her son needed to do a paper on Daniel Boone, but when she typed in Daniel Boone they got 378,090 hits (That is the actual number, you may get something different depending on which search engine you use) the problem is that a search for Daniel Boone scores a match with sites for Daniel Boone, Daniel Defoe, Daniel in the lion’s den. Pat Boone, Debbie Boone, and Kim Kardashian! OK I just threw Kim in to see if you were paying attention. But all the others are absolutely true. When you want an exact phrase such as “indian jewelry” or “daniel boone” or “cuban black bean soup” you should enclose the phrase in “quotes” AND yes, all lower case is best.

Now, if you want more than one argument in your search, the plot thickens. As an example, if you want to find a biography of Daniel Boone, it would seem logical to type in “daniel boone” biography. Doing this may actually result in over one million matches because it’s now going to find the Daniel Boone Motel in Paducah Kentucky AND the biographies of Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson and Kim Kardashian (and yes, there are multiple web sites having a biography of Ms. Kardashian.) What you need to do here is tell the search engine that BOTH arguments MUST be present to score a hit. You do that simply by placing a + (plus sign) in front of each word/phrase. i.e. +”daniel boone” +biography.

Now, sometimes you might want to say to the search engine that you do NOT want sites containing certain words or phrases. You accomplish this by preceding the abjured phrase with a – (minus sign). In attempting to avoid certain sites that shall not be discussed here, you might want to construct your search like this +”daniel boone” +biography -“XXX”.

I am the principal cook in our household and as such, from time to time I find the need to search the web for a recipe or two.  My chef life here is complicated by the fact that my wife is an especially picky eater.  She hates the taste of ham, is a teetotaler and she would sooner volunteer as a knife throwers assistant than eat any food that wasn’t fat free. That brings me to what may be the ultimate demonstration of giving a search engine the information it needs to fulfill a request.  A while back, I wanted to get a recipe for (as mentioned above) Cuban Black Bean soup. You give this a try and see what happens.  Type in Cuban Black Bean soup recipe (Yes I know I just ranted on above about NOT doing things that way, but you need a starting point to make a valid comparison don’t you?)  Note the number of hits you get. Now type in exactly what follows:

 +”cuban black bean soup” +recipe –ham –bacon –rum +”fat free”

Note the difference.

It might also be a good idea “just in case” to end your search argument with -“kim kardashian”.

Happy searching!

More About the End of Windows 7 – the Nagging Message to Update to 10

As mentioned in our podcasts and on a previous blog, the security patches/updates (referred to as “support”) for Windows 7 will be ending on January 14, 2020. I think this is important because hackers know this and will go after the vulnerabilities in Windows 7… probably not immediately, but as time goes by and the vulnerabilities are exposed, you can bet on it.

Windows 7 is going to nag you with a pop up letting you know that the support is ending, but there is a “Do Not Remind Me Again” checkbox at the bottom of the pop up. That will stop the reminders for now, but not forever. If you don’t check that box, and just close the popup screen, you will continue to be reminded so frequently that you will want to scream. (Yes, literally).

If you are still using Windows 7, your computer is getting a bit on the older side and things like the hard drive may start to fail soon. Processors and memory rarely fail these days unless there is a power surge through them or human intervention causes an issue, but hard drives fail. Period.

This upcoming holiday season is an excellent time to consider a new computer with Windows 10. Places like Computer Corner can configure your new computer to look like Windows 7, so you may want to consider buying locally to get that special feature.   And, (plug for us), Computer Corner gives you a free Windows 10 class with your computer purchase, to help you along your path to enjoying Windows 10.

Windows 10 is one of the most secure operating systems that Microsoft has ever produced and has now surpassed Windows 7 in its installation base. It has some great features like Cortana, search improvements and more control over updates (when and if they occur). There’s many more of course!

Upgrading an older Windows 7 computer could be problematic, and let’s face it, it’s still an old computer. Don’t forgot our tips for buying a new Windows 10 computer though:

  • Buy with Windows 10 Professional 64-Bit (not Windows 10 Home), or you will lose many features that you might want down the line.
  • Buy with at least 8GB of RAM. Windows 10 barely operates on 4GB and your computer will run slowly if you buy with 4GB.
  • Remember that even if you opt for a data transfer, you (or someone) will need to reload your programs (like Excel, QuickBooks, Word, etc.) and you’ll need the discs or license keys for that.
  • Back up your data somewhere, somehow and test that the back up works before upgrading to Windows 10 OR buying a new Windows 10 computer.
  • Check compatibility of your older printers and scanners. They may be compatible with a driver update or firmware update, but may not be. Go to the manufacturer’s website to check this.

If you have a business and many Windows 7 computers that you want to continue to support with patches, Microsoft will do that, but there is a fee for every computer you want supported. You can go to the Microsoft Support Center on their website to learn more.

Contact us for a free business evaluation of your Windows 7 PC’s and we can help make the transition as easy as possible.

Thanks again…..

Thanks again for employing wonderful “helpers”! Yesterday I went into the store with a frustrating problem—my computer would not play a DVD that had info on it for a talk I am giving next Monday.

I was so frustrated but your team spent time with me to take care of it. Turned out it was the formatting of the DVD.

Your “continually happy” customer, Deborah T.

The End of Windows 7 Support. Why Should You Care??

The End of Windows 7 Support. Why Should You Care?

Windows 7 was released in July of 2009 and was the most widely used operating system in history, until last month. In July of 2019, Windows 10 (four years after its release) finally took the lead. On desktops, laptops and tablets, Apple and Linux-based computers have less than 15% of the market with all versions of Windows at over 85%.

Windows 7 “support” will end in January of 2020. That means that Microsoft will stop producing those annoying updates that reboot your system in the middle of the night. Sounds good, right? Perhaps, not so much. Those updates are security updates. Patches to vulnerabilities that have been found in the existing programming, that could allow hackers access to your computer.

If you still have a Windows 7 computer, it’s probably time to do one of two things.
1) Upgrade to Windows 10 – however, your system may not be compatible with Windows 10; your other peripherals (printers/scanners, etc.) and software may not be compatible with Windows 10 and there is no longer a free version of Windows 10. An operating system re-load, with data back-up and re-installation of your application software will be required. If you have this done in a shop, this could cost from $200 to $400, so…… option #2 might be a better idea.
2) Get a new Windows 10 computer. You get a new warranty, new technology, probably a faster computer, and the guarantee that Windows 10 will function properly. You will still need to consider the fact that your older peripherals and software may not be compatible with Windows 10 AND you will still need to deal with your data and your application software, which means data back-up and re-installing your programs/application software.

Best idea is to back up your data to an external hard drive and re-install your programs to the new computer IF they are compatible with Windows 10.

If you’re already running Windows 10, then there are a few other things to think about.
What people do you rely on that are still using Windows 7? Is your CPA still on Windows 7? If so, that’s not going to be a secure choice in 2020. You get my drift…..

Happy Computing!

Helpful Once Again

Once again I am writing to tell you how pleased I am with the recent service I received. The technician and the person who waited on me at the counter were friendly and efficient. (The technician explained everything he did to my laptop on the phone before pick up.)

Thank you very much for employing individuals such as these two!

Returning customer, Deborah T.