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Newer, Fresher Google Hacks

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One of the best books about Google has just been updated with new content and useful tools that make it even easier to exploit the full power of the popular search engine.

When Google Hacks was first published nearly two years ago, it accomplished the rare feat of breaking into the New York Times top ten business paperback sellers.

Google, of course, has done anything but stand still over the past two years. To keep the book fresh, co-authors Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest have released a second edition of Google Hacks.

What's new? Plenty, for both searchers and programmers who want to take advantage of Google's API to create their own utilities using Google's database and index of the web.

As with the first edition, the first part of the book is mostly focused on how Google works and how to use it to search more effectively. The "introduction" in the first chapter is one of the best overviews of Google that I've seen. For the second edition, this part has been tweaked and toned, covering most of Google's advanced search operators and how to best use them.

The book has also been reorganized to better reflect Google's structure, rather than focusing on the geekier aspects of programming. Although many of the "hacks" are essentially unchanged, they're now organized in a more logical fashion.

Each of the book's chapters covers a specific part of Google, such as advanced web searching, images, news and groups, ads and so on. While this makes it easy to zoom in on a particular topic that's of interest to you, some chapters are more top-heavy with programming than others.

Other chapters tend to focus on "hacks" created by others that don't require the effort to type (or download) and run the code examples in the book. Personally, although I find most of the hacks in the book interesting, the most useful parts of the book cover these ready-to-run utilities.

And one of the best parts of the new edition is a completely new chapter covering gmail. Gmail itself is well-designed and needs little instruction to use effectively, so the focus of this chapter is how to extend Gmail to do really useful, cool things.

Like importing email from another mail system into Gmail. Or moving your contacts from another system, so that you don't have to retype them in Gmail. There's also a great pointer to a program that lets you use Gmail as a virtual hard disk for your Windows computer, giving you an additional gigabyte of storage accessible from just about anywhere.

And while the first edition had sections for site owners and web marketers, the second edition has organized them into two chapters covering "webmastering" and Google's sponsored links.

Like Google itself, the second edition of Google Hacks has improved with time and the experience of the authors. If you don't have the first edition, the book is really a must-have selection for your library. And even if you do have the first edition there's enough new and re-organized content to make the second edition well worth the price.

Google Hacks, 2nd Edition
By Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest
ISBN: 0-596-00857-0
352 pages, $24.95

Want to discuss or comment on this story? Join the O'Reilly Updates Google Hacks discussion in the Search Engine Watch forums.

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