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Google’s Lesser known Search Operator – AROUND(n)

Amit Agarwal of Digital Inspiration recently blogged about a new Google search operator that totally missed my radar. But according to Googler Daniel M. Russel, who was the first one to write about this AROUND operator in early October 2010 – this operator has been around for over 5-6 years!

Google AROUND(n) Operator

AROUND operator is basically a proximity search operator that lets you find a phrase that happens to be in close proximity of another phrase. Previously if you have searched for a term like: pancake recipe in Google search (without any quotes), what it would basically do is search the entire web for the term “pancake” + “recipe” and will return the pages where both these terms happens to be on the same page (regardless of their proximity).

But then you may sometimes prefer to do a phrase search / exact match search where they can put your search term inside quotes, like “pancake recipe” and then Google will only return results where the word pancake and recipe appears together.

So in this example the results returned via the first technique is often ‘too broad’ and the latter is ‘too specific’. What if you want something that is in between? Even better, what if you could specify the exact proximity of your two keywords (in words) to get more desired results?

With this Google AROUND(n) Operator, you can do just that!

Syntax: Keyword1 AROUND(n) Keyword2 [Where n = number of words (proximity)]

So the same search of pancake recipe can be performed using something like this: pancake AROUND(10) recipe. Here I’m telling google to return all those pages where the keyword – pancake & recipe appears within the proximity of 10 words.

google around search operator

Some Notes:

  • If my keyword1 contain multiple words (e.g. breakfast pancake instead of just pancake), then you can use “quotes” to limit the search scope of your first keyword to only breakfast pancakes. So it will look something like this: “breakfast pancake” AROUND(10) recipe
  • The word AROUND needs to be in CAPS in order for this to work
  • If Google can’t find anything within the limit that you specified, it will just do regular ranking of the terms without the AROUND coming into play.
  • Barry Schwartz pointed out that Microsoft’s Bing also have a similar search operator called “near:n” which works pretty much the same way. You can read more about it here.

9 Tips to Make the Most of Google Search

This article was originally written by me for a newsletter that is mostly consumed by non-techie business audience. You may know most of the search techniques that are described in this article. I have not been able to cover everything due to word limitation. If I have missed something interesting, do share it in comments section.

Often times we are searching on the web for various things and we get frustrated when we don’t get to our intended result fast. We switch our default search engine from Google to Yahoo and then Yahoo to Bing but the end result stays the same. Most of the search engines that exists today gives you near identical results and they are all equally good (Ok, maybe Google is a little better…), but other than the difference in Look n’ feel and speed, all the major engines follow the same underlying architecture that indexes the world wide web so that you can find everything at your fingertips.

Everyone knows how to search the web, its simple – we type in a word or a phrase and we get the result. But I’m going to share some of my personal web search tips for Google that gets me results much faster!

Write your search phrase naturally

Most of the search engines today can process natural language better than you think. So when you are searching for a direct answer, you should type in the question as it comes to your mind. E.g. What is the Capital of Netherlands? or What is the distance between earth and moon?

capital of netherlands google search

Search for Information from a Specific Site

Sometimes we want to get a piece of information out from a specific site quickly without visiting numerous doorway pages to do so. The operator “site:” works really well on those cases. By defining a “site:domain.com” at the end of your search phrase, you are telling Google to look for the information exactly on that particular website and nowhere else. For example, If you are looking for the 1-800 number of DHL simply search for – 1-800 site:dhl.com and it will directly show you the number in your search results page.

1-800 dhl google search

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Falcon – Browser Based Image Editor

browser-based-image-editorOften times when I’m at work or at any other location away from my personal computer (which has piles of softwares and tools installed) – I often feel in need of many softwares which I don’t get access to on spot. Google & Zoho has made my life a lot easier with their complete web based office suite. However when it comes to photo editing, I miss Photoshop & Gimp a great deal. But do you know that you can also edit images online just like any other cloud hosted application?

Edit Images Right from your Browser

I’m totally blown away by the new Browser based online image editor – Falcon, which is brought to us by the great – aviary.com. Aviary which itself is a full online photo editing & creation tool has always been awesome, but their new creation is more simplistic and easy to use for day to day photo editing.


You can quickly grab and edit images within your browser and also run it on any OS platform as its completely web based. Falcon currently offers a simple subset of tools which was previously only available in Adobe Photoshop. These tools are very useful to bloggers and others who spend a lot of time manipulating and editing images on the fly.

The best part of this cool service is in its Firefox plugin called Talon, which let’s you grab a screen shot on the fly at any time and automatically upload them into Aviary’s browser-based editing platform.

During your capture, you are given the choice of capturing a portion of the screen, the entire viewed screen, or the entire page (below the fold). The option of capturing the entire page is extremely useful; and a feature that many advanced photo editors doesn’t have.

How much Does it Cost?

Well its Free for most usage. Once you are done editing your image, you can save the image as a PNG or JPG either on your desktop or host it on Aviary. If you become their Pro member, you will be privillaged to get some additional storage options like privacy and watermark control for $24.99 per year.

How to use this Online Image Editor

So if you still haven’t tried Falcon – Just head over to the website – http://aviary.com/launch/falcon and try this amazing service. You don’t need to register or signup in order to test it. Just click on the link and it will load the photo editor right in your browser. If you wish to grab photos and take screen shot then don’t forget to install the firefox plugin – Talon!

Let Me Google That For You

There is a cool service called LetMeGoogleThatForYou.com that lets you enter any search query and the system automatically creates sort of a interactive screencast of how to perform that search in Google and also redirects the page to the result page of Google.T

Once the screen cast is made (takes only few seconds), It will give you a link that you can grab share with others.

So next time someone asks a really dumb question, instead of saying “google it” you can perhaps act cool and demonstrate the google search for that particular query as well!

So for example, lets say someone is looking for Barack Obama’s Twitter account. You can just give him the following link: http://letmegooglethatforyou.com/?q=Barack+Obama+Twitter

Programming for Children – Small Basic

programming-for-children This is a bit off topic but, I felt that it might be useful for some of my readers. If you have small children in home and you want them to learn basic programming language from an early age, Small Basic is for you!

What Is Small Basic?

Small Basic is a free programming language by Microsoft that is aimed at kids. Unlike other tools that has been previously designed to teach kids programming in a ‘codeless’ environment, Small Basic is essentially a small version of the popular BASIC language.

Drawing inspiration from the original BASIC language, but based on the newer .Net Framework, Small Basic has many useful features that will definitely help your kids to learn programming in a more professional but easy manner.

Small Basic - A Programming Language for Kids

Some of the highlights of Small Basic are:

  • Small Basic Language: The Small Basic Language consists of just 14 keywords, that is extremely easy to learn and remember. Small Basic is pure imperative code that runs on the .Net Framework.
  • Programming Environment: Small Basic’s development environment is simple but provides features that professional developers have come to expect from an IDE including Intellisense (Intelligently detects error and suggests you different variation of code)
  • Small Basic Libraries: Small Basic also comes with a set of libraries, and allows you to create your own libraries or modify existing ones. It also allows third-party libraries to be plugged in. (Hint: So if you are a developer and would like to do something nice for the young generation of programmers, here is your chance!)

Free Resources for Small Basic – Programming For Kids

If you are interested to give Small Basic a try or if you wish to introduce it to your kids you don’t need to go and buy any expensive books. Just download a comprehensive and easy to read, FREE SmallBasic Introductory Ebook (PDF) that introduces the reader to this new language and to programming in general.

Even though Small Basic is primarily made for children, it just may be the ideal way for anyone interested in programming to dip their feet in the cold water.