Do You Remember Pi?

Think back to your early school days.  Sitting in the Math class learning about that mystical, irrational number which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter or “pi r squared”.

Yes that pi.

And today, Saturday March 14th 2015 is (unofficially) Pi Day,  mostly celebrated in countries that use the month/date format.

Not only that, it’s a very special pi day that occurs only once each century because for a brief moment in time, at 9.26.53 am to be precise, in numerical format it will be the first ten consecutive digits of pi – 3 14 15 9 26 53.


Pi is a very old number.

In 1706, an English mathematician, William Jones, was the first person to use the Greek letter Pi for the number.  In the Greek alphabet, Pi (π) stands for ‘perimeter’.

From history books, we know that ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, and Babylonians knew about its existence and their mathematicians had worked out that it was approximately 3.  The Bible sets it at exactly 3.

Curiously, scientists investigating the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza discovered that its perimeter ratio is approximately twice pi, demonstrating that the builders knew of and used this formula.

It’s an infinite decimal – in other words, you’ll never get to the end of it.  In 2013 computer scientists worked it out to 3 plus more than 13 trillion digits.

Even Einstein got in on the act.

His General Theory of Relativity states that pi can’t be created precisely by simply measuring a circle, because we live in a curved universe.  And circles can never factor out to pi on a curved surface.  However, pi is always the same number, no matter which circle you use to compute it.

Albert Einstein


  • Some people celebrate by waking up at exactly 9.26.53 am
  • Lots of pies are eaten in honour of Pi, some decorated with the π symbol
  • Daniel Tammet, an amazing autistic savant, set a European record after reciting from memory, 22,514 consecutive pi digits in 5 hrs 9 mins – with no mistakes
  • This quirky website lets you find your birthday using the first 200 million digits
  • A couple of Artists, Martin Krzywinski and Cristian Ilies Vasile created a fabulous Archimedean spiral by giving each pi digit a colour and used the first 13,689 to create the spiral
  • Google search ‘digits of Pi’ to find endless lists of computer calculations for pi.  Really?
  • On the World Science Festival website you can test your knowledge with their Pi Day quiz
  • It has even featured in an episode of Star Trek.  Spock tells an evil computer to compute pi to the last digit (which is highly illogical – Spock’s favourite phrase) thereby destroying the nasty computer.

If, like me, you decided pi was one of those necessary evils you needed to know about to pass your school exams, but couldn’t ever imagine using, then you’d be wrong.  Pi is actually used in everyday situations.

  • In navigation: planes flying long distances actually follow the arc of a circle and need to calculate fuel, distance, weather accurately
  • GPS uses Pi to help you find your location
  • It’s used in geometry to calculate areas or arc lengths
  • It’s used to calculate signals ie radar, television, radio
  • Engineers use it to represent unknown factors in testing and simulation projects


If you want to type the pi symbol on your PC,  hold down the Alt key and type 227.

On a Mac hold down the Alt/Option key and type P.


If you’re a lover of coincidences and quirky facts, you might like to know that today,  3/14,  is also Albert Einstein’s birthday and 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of his General Theory of Relativity.



Lauren Mackenzie is a
web content and

business communications writer
Image credit:

Leave a comment

Filed under World snippets

BEWARE the domain name scam

During the weekend an odd email appeared in my inbox which read as follows:

Dear Manager

(If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO, thanks)
This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration in China.  We received an application from Dehua Ltd on March 2nd 2015.
They want to register my business as their internet keyword and China/Asia domain names.  But after checking it, we find this name conflicts with your company.  In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?

Best regards
Abby Wang

After reading it, my immediate reaction was “SCAM”.

However, as it contained my domain name, I decided to investigate further.

Fiction vs. Fact

As you’ve probably guessed, my first discovery was that the domain name registration center didn’t exist and that the city named in their address, was not a city at all but actually a large northern province of China.

Dehua Ltd, the company apparently wanting to use my business name could be connected to a television station, porcelain manufacturer, Alibaba gold supplier and a Canadian coal and metal mining group.  Take your pick.

Digging deeper, I uncovered lots of comments on this scam and variations of it from Europe, the USA and Australia and that it has been going since 2010.

The emails originate from the Shanghai area of China, under different domain names, all using the Jiangsu Bangning Science & Technology Co Ltd as their registrar and they have various  ladies names masquerading as the sender e.g. Tiffany Dai, Angela Zhang and of course my friend, Abby Wang.

How it works

On one scam blog, I found a story from a German retailer.  Out of curiosity, he decided to play along with them to see how it would develop.  Very quickly, the emails became more hostile, throwing up red flags and dire consequences for his business if he didn’t agree to let them register him as the owner of the domain name.

At this point, the real purpose of the scam emerged as they aggressively demanded his bank and credit card information, “to allow them to register his details and safeguard business”.

The emotional sting

What makes this scam successful is that it mentions your business domain name, and in so doing immediately makes the email very personal.   I know from my own reaction, you instantly become defensive and want to protect your domain name and your business.

Sadly, during my search, I discovered a few who commented on receiving this email, and who also admitted they had paid to safeguard their domain name and ended up losing a lot of money.

And the retailer in Germany?   

Eventually, he told them he had recorded their IP address, registrant and admin details and had passed their information to the Chinese Government with a complaint about their method of business.

That was in 2012 and he hasn’t heard from them since…

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Lauren Mackenzie is an
independent web content
& business writer

Leave a comment

Filed under World snippets

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo?

November is an important month on the writer’s calendar.

It’s the National Novel Writing Month when thousands of aspiring and established writers start writing a new novel.

The challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

While writing a good story is far more important than the final word count, 50,000 words is a HUGE challenge when you’re also working full-time, running a home and looking after kids, studying or doing anything else that needs a large time commitment.Girl writing

However, as I highlighted in last year’s blog post, that challenge is gleefully taken up by writers around the globe every November… and this year is no exception.

If you’re thinking about flexing your fingers and starting that novel that’s been smouldering deep inside you for some time, explore the NaNoWriMo website for inspiration.

You can also look for a writing group close to you and make some new writing buddies along the way.

These groups can be a lifeline when your ideas start to fizzle out, the words won’t work or you just need a bit of writing TLC. Lots of these meet-ups take place in local coffee houses, book stores, libraries and other great venues and who knows, you may find you write better in some of these locations.

If you’re still having doubts, then read Joel Cunningham’s blog post on the Barnes & Noble Book blog about the eight bestsellers that have been created during NaNoWriMo.

So make 2014 the year you start writing that novel.

You never know what you can achieve… until you try.

Lauren Mackenzie is an
independent web content
& business writer
photo credit: Slaff via photopin cc

Leave a comment

Filed under World snippets

Once upon a time there was a United Kingdom

On 01 May 1707 the Acts of Union joined together the Kingdoms of Scotland and England into one single United Kingdom. On 01 January 1801, Ireland joined them . Wales was already there, having been annexed to England in 1284.

Together we became one of the foremost colonial powers in the world. Feared and admired by many.

Over the past 300 years, we’ve found a way of all working together. There are many places in the world that look at us with envy as they’re still trying to achieve this.


In Scotland we already have the best of both worlds: we have our own cultural identity, our own education system, our own laws and court structure and since 1999, our own parliament.

However, we also have the security and strength that comes from being a part of the United Kingdom.

Do we really want to give this up?

We’ve overcome a hell of a lot to get to where we are today. Yes, we’ve got a love-hate relationship – but watch how strong it is when our backs are against the wall.

Who’s going to watch our back if we become independent?

We’re a tiny country. Only 5.5 million of us compared to 64 million in the United Kingdom.


It’s interesting to observe that Salmond and Sturgeon don’t really want complete independence.

True independence would mean cutting ourselves free and floating off into the murky grey mists of the North Sea and the unknown.


  • They want to keep the Queen
  • Stay with NATO (if NATO agrees)
  • Continue to use the pound as our currency (with or without permission according to Salmond)
  • Stay in the EU (if all 28 member nations agree)

And, on being asked a question about Scots with family living in the rest of the UK, Sturgeon replied to one OAP that “we will still remain a part of the family of nations.”

Do you really believe that Nicola?


Bob Geldof said in his speech yesterday in London,

“Before there was a United States, before there was a United Nations, before there was a united this, that and the other there was a United Kingdom and it was an extraordinary meeting of very different minds of two extremely close cousins.

“Between the native genius of the Scots and the pure pragmatic drive of the English we made a world beater. “

As a United Kingdom we can still be a world beater.

So let’s all think very, very carefully before marking that X


Lauren Mackenzie is a
freelance web content
and business writer


Filed under World snippets

Is Sitting Bad for Your Health?

Yes it is.

And a recent study by Daniela Schmid and Dr. Michael Leitzmann of the University of Regensburg in Germany proves it.

The buzz phrase you’ve probably heard is, “sitting is the new smoking” for computer users.  But health issues linked to sitting all day are not a new discovery.

In the 17th century, Bernardino Ramazzini, an Italian physician, studied the health problems of workers who spent hours in one particular position.  Years later he wrote a book on his findings, Diseases of Workers and as a result became known as “the father of occupational medicine.”

The Descent of Man

Fast forward to today and with more and more of us spending upwards of eight hours every day hunched over a screen, it’s essential we adapt our working days to include more movement.

“If you are sitting for six hours a day or more it increases the risk factors for a variety of things,” says Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.

It’s too easy to get so engrossed in your work, or cruising your social media messages, that two or three hours zoom past with your body scrunched up in one position.

So, stand up right now.

Did you hear your joints creaking and popping?

If you’re nodding your head then you need to start using some of these suggestions to keep your body moving throughout the day.


Take them frequently and make it a habit.

  • Use the Pomodoro technique
  • is another handy timer you can set for any length of time you choose
  • Use the alarm on your phone or tablet


Every hour stand up from your chair and stretch, or if possible, walk around for 5 minutes to get the blood flowing.


Take some deep breaths. Sitting hunched over your computer causes shallow breathing and is especially bad if you have any respiratory problems.
Deep breathing –

  • Gets more oxygen to your heart, brain and eyes
  • Reduces muscle tension
  • Improves your concentration, brain processes and increases creativity
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Helps your digestion
  • Makes you relax and feel better


Drop some paperclips or staples on the floor beside your desk and pick them up one at a time.


When you talk on the phone. It burns more calories, improves posture and your voice.

Try standing and working at your computer.

  • Some users have switched from sitting at a desk to standing. While this does offer benefits, it can bring other problems especially if you have any back issues or leg circulation problems.
  • The most effective solution – alternating between both. There are several new desk designs that enable you to raise your computer to standing height.
  • If you work from home and don’t have an adjustable desk, improvise.  Put a box or a stack of large books on your desk and put your laptop or keyboard on top.  Adjust the height until its comfortable and there’s no strain on your arms or wrists.



Sit on an exercise ball.

If you have a desk that has a pull-out computer tray, you can sit comfortably on a ball while you work. It’s a superb workout as you are constantly shifting and working your core muscles. You also have to sit straighter so it works your posture too.

Beware you can also fall backwards if you roll a bit too enthusiastically, like I did the first time I tried this.

Step up

If you have stairs at work, use them.

If you work from home and can find even one step, use it like the old-fashioned school bench gym exercise. Step up and down as fast as you can and do reps of 20.

Walk walk walk

Whether it’s early morning, a quick lunchtime stroll or a walk home from work in the evening. Walk every day if you can. Studies have proven it reduces blood pressure, stress, fatigue and susceptibility to certain types of cancers.  It makes you breathe deeper and you can alternate between strolling and power-walking.

Improvise and Exercise

Do exercise in short sessions and use what you have available.

  • I use 1 litre bottles of water to exercise my arms and shoulders for 5 minutes
  • Do press ups against the wall or on the edge of your desk
  • Do imaginary skipping to your favourite fast track – believe me it works up a sweat and gets your heart rate up


Don’t neglect your eyes.  Check out Keyboard Athletes for great eye exercise tips to use while working on your computer.


And these help too…


  • Use wrist supports
  • Use an anti-glare screen
  • Get an adjustable ergonomic chair


  • Be aware of how much you slouch
  • Adjust your working area to reduce strain on your body
  • Learn yoga
  • GET ACTIVE any way that works for you



And don’t forget to stay hydrated.  Keep a large water bottle at your desk. Sip regularly and fill it up at least twice during the day.

Over to you

If your work has you sitting most of the day, what do you do to keep your body from seizing up?  Add your suggestions below.

Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web content & business writer



Images: /

Leave a comment

Filed under Web content and writing copy

My spellchequer is all ways write

This little gem was originally composed in 1991 by Dr Jerrold Zar and later expanded by Mark Eckman.

Candidate for a Pullet Surprise

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong

Eye have run this poem threw it
Your shore reel glad two no
Its vary polished in it’s weigh.
My chequer tolled me sew

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker’s
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we’re lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault’s with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mist dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.

Sometimes called “Ode to the Spellchecker” or “Spellchecker Blues”, you’ll find various versions floating around the Web.

Hope it made you smile.

 Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web copy & business writer


Filed under Web content and writing copy

Google Analytics goes mobile

Hey, in case you missed it, you can now access your Google Analytics data, anytime, anywhere, via a mobile app for phones and tablets.

The app is free from Play Store (Android) and iTunes (iOS) and is really easy to use, has smooth navigation and so far I can’t find a downside with it.  Let me know if you’ve found something you can’t do.

If you don’t use or know about this powerful tool, Google Analytics first arrived on the scene in November 2005 as a way of measuring the impact of marketing campaigns on websites.  Over the years it has become more sophisticated and is now one of the high-end industry standards for website performance analysis.

If you have a web presence, Google Analytics is a useful way of discovering how people use your site.  Example of Google Analytics dashboard

For example, you can find out how they got there, the type of device they used, their location worldwide and what your visitors looked for. You get page view figures and can easily see which pages get most traffic and conversely those that never get viewed.

This data enables you to improve your site performance and, if you’re running a marketing campaign, focus your strategy on specific areas.

You can install Google Analytics yourself, even if you don’t have the expertise of a webmaster on hand. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sign up for a Google Analytics account
  • Click on Admin in the top menu bar
  • Click on Tracking info
  • Click on Tracking code and a box will appear, containing a small string of HTML.  It will start and end with the word <script>
  • You’ll also see your unique tracking ID number.  It will look something like this: XY-13579246-9
  • If you’re using a content management system for your site, you may only have to paste the tracking ID number into a specific area
  • Alternatively, you may have to copy & paste the complete tracking code into the HTML source code on every page of your website that you want to track
  • Paste the HTML string immediately before the closing tag </head> in the HTML source code on your page
  • Wait 24-48 hours before logging back into your account, to allow their servers to update with your site details

Note:  Your site should have instructions for adding Google Analytics tracking code.  If not, you’ll find lots of useful advice on the GA help pages.

This little piece of code / tracking ID is the magic formula that turns what would otherwise be complicated gobbledygook (to most of us)  into graphs, timelines, heat maps and other pivotal data about your site.

Yes, the first few times you log onto your dashboard, it may seem a bit overpowering but it’s worth taking the time to study how Google Analytics works and to understand what you’re reading.

Play with it.

Figure out how to create customized report sets for your own particular purpose.

Do all that and you’ll learn how to increase visitor traffic to your blog or supercharge your marketing campaign… and who would say “No” to that?

If you’re already a seasoned GA user, do you have any special tricks or features you think are awesome and we should know about?

Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web copy & business writer

Leave a comment

Filed under Online resources, Web content and writing copy

Warning: Neglect this key element on your new website at your peril…

If you want to hook visitors and persuade them to explore your new website, there are some essentials it must have; intuitive navigation, fast loading pages that are easy to read, dynamic design and interesting graphics.

But what’s the most fundamental element of your website and one that you simply cannot neglect?hands pointing to copy


Your website can be the most technologically innovative masterpiece.  It can look absolutely stunning.  It can offer lots of great features for visitors to play with, but…

And it’s a big BUT…

If your copy isn’t having a one-to-one chat with your visitor about your product or service, then your website is going to fail miserably in the customer engagement and retention stakes.

Moreover, your visitor is not going to hang around if you’re not keeping them interested and once they’ve clicked away, they never return.

You’ve just missed a great opportunity and lost a potential client.


When a website is being created the copy is often left to the last minute.  Now potentially, two things can happen here – and both can mean disaster.

Danger Zone #1

The designer is asked to write the copy and ends up rushing to do this before presenting the site to you at the next project meeting.

Writing is not the designer’s specialist subject.

There’s a BIG RISK that the copy won’t give the same message as your marketing plan.  Or worse, copy is taken from your printed material and put on the website – never a good idea.

And was the designer given your Style Guide, detailing your in-house writing style?

Probably not.  So you can forget consistency in language, tone, formatting etc.

Danger Zone #2

The designer is waiting for you to provide the copy.

You’re so busy, you end up emailing it the night before the meeting and it’s enough for at least three websites.

Apart from the designer having to work the nightshift, editing is another specialist area.

There’s a BIG RISK your key points and a vast amount of valuable writing will end up in the recycle bin and not on your website.

Keep in mind that web design agencies can be working on several sites at once.  If they have to wait for your copy, it screws up their work scheduling, meetings have to be cancelled and rescheduled and worst case scenario – your site misses its launch date.


Web copy should be the cornerstone of any new website project and there should be a strong alliance between designer, developer and copywriter.

The designer needs to know how much copy is going on the site; the number of headings and subheads, bullet points to highlight specific benefits or features and what needs to be emphasized in bold or larger font size.  There can be word limits on some pages due to layout design which can mean your copy has to be drastically edited down.

The developer needs to understand how the copy has to work and flow, to be able to build in the necessary functionality.


The design team need to know the content that’s supporting your copy, for example;

  • how many images, graphs, illustrations or charts you’re using
  • is there a video clip or podcast to be embedded
  • is there a free doodah that needs to be easy for the visitor to ask for or download instantly from any page
  • are there white papers, product data sheets or other resources to be included
  • is a subscription box needed for your company newsletter

All this information is essential.

Go to that initial website design meeting armed with your draft copy 

It doesn’t have to be perfect.  It can be tweaked later once you see it on the site.  Just don’t leave it to the last minute.

Writing powerful web copy takes considerable time.  It needs research and planning.  You have to get under your visitors’ skin and understand who you’re writing for and what makes them tick.  Only then can you start creating seductive copy that gets them nodding in agreement with your words and grinning as they reach for the “I want it” button.

10 Reasons why your copy is crucial –

  • it’s the lifeblood of your website
  • builds trust between you and your potential client
  • is your powerful marketing tool that can reach around the world
  • tells visitors the story behind your amazing product or service
  • screams out the Benefits and educates on the Features
  • makes readers visualize how your product/service is going to improve their lives
  • persuades people to jump up and take action
  • gives them a reason to buy what you’re offering
  • keeps them coming back for more and most importantly
  • puts your site ahead of your competitors

Neglect it at your peril…
You have been warned.


 PS:  A perfect example of powerful copy – the way Apple “persuades” us that we just have to trade in our few months old, hardly used iPhone 4 for an iPhone 5S…

See you in the queue at the Apple store.



Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web copy & business writer


 Hand image credit:


Leave a comment

Filed under Web content and writing copy

How to Search – without using Google – Part 2

Did you have fun using some of the search engines I mentioned in Part 1 of this How to Search blog?

In Part 2 you’re going to learn about Meta Search Engines, Directories and The Invisible Web (no… nothing to do with Harry Potter) plus other specialist search engines.


Meta-search engines don’t actually search web pages; they transmit your request to several different search engines and databases simultaneously, then give you the results.  These search engines are useful for broad-based research and a few focus on specific themes e.g. news feeds, health issues or trending topics.

There are dozens to choose from but these are the more popular ones:

Ask Jeeves





Directories are basically huge online reference libraries and you can have your own website listed on them.

DMOZ (also known as Open Directory Project)
Owned by AOL but maintained by a community of volunteer editors, it’s organized by subject category and claims to be the largest directory on the web with over 4 million websites listed.

It’s free to get listed and your site will be reviewed by a real person.  However, the demand for listings is so great it can take months before your site appears.  It’s worth the wait though.  If accepted, you will get two heavyweight links to your site; DMOZ and Google.

To be eligible, a site must have lots of original content and a low percentage of affiliate links. 
A powerful directory with subject categories you can search.  To list your website you have to pay a fee.

Best of the Web
One of the original web directories.  You have to pay a fee to list your site.



The Invisible Web is a fabulous source of premium, content-rich information that general search engines can’t easily see or access.  This can be due to the page format e.g. pages generated by database software or script-based.  And some sites deliberately deny search engines access by using, for example, CAPTCHAs or login details and passwords.A Lego library

Sources include:
–    Article databases
–    University reference databases
–    Library catalogues
–    Statistics and research results
–    Government agency archives
–    Museum collections
–    Industry and Business papers

Most are free to access but some require a subscription.  The level of detail varies from an abstract or index of a document to the full text and by careful use of keywords, you can discover databases around the world.

I searched for “List Academic Databases” and found a myriad of these covering all sorts of disciplines and topics.  Another search unearthed The European Database of Libraries which offers government, commercial and academic information across Europe.

You occasionally come across “grey literature” which includes unpublished reports or research studies, although these are frequently password-protected or require a subscription to view them.

When searching, try adding the word “database” after your keyword.
Remember to read the User guide as you often need to use a specific query format to search the database.

The Librarians’ Index 

The Librarian holding a book and coffee cup This was initially created to provide a central source of librarian-verified content accessible by the general public.  However, an updated version of this website was launched in 2010 following the merger of the IPL (Internet Public Library) and the Lii (Librarians Internet Index) websites.

Today it’s currently hosted by Drexel University College of Information Science & Technology   and a volunteer group of librarians, students and information science professionals continue to develop new content for the site.

The Virtual Library 
This is one of the oldest virtual resources and was created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the Web and HTML.



Wolfram Alpha
If you need statistics, unit conversions or almost any other form of calculation try this amazing search engine.  You enter your question in the search box and it brings back a dynamically computed result.

For example, I asked it for percentages of online users by country and it brought back a heat map, graph and lots of additional information.  I then asked it to work out the energy value of my lunch– same detailed results.  It regards itself as a computational knowledge engine and not a search engine and it works by using its huge database of equations and algorithms.  You’ll have fun using this one.

A search engine for smartphones.

A search engine for tablets.

Gives you information on start-up companies including business description, the people, contact details and interestingly, their competitors.

Here you can investigate the technology behind a site.  It includes information on their analytics, who hosts the site, what content management system they operate, their SEO details, advertising methods and lots more.

Search Engine Colossus
It lists search engines in over 300 countries and in foreign languages.

This list is just a tiny sample of the alternative search engines you can use when looking for information.
If you want to find one on your specific subject, try adding  “search engines” after your keyword.

Happy Searching

 Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance
web copy & business writer

photo credits: photopin cc

Leave a comment

Filed under Online resources, Web content and writing copy

How to Search – without using Google – Part 1

Every time you use the major search engines, Google, Yahoo or Bing, your movements are tracked.  This information is then used (mainly) in their advertising strategies. In other words, you’re targeted with adverts that mirror your search history.

Unfortunately, the way they use this information can also influence the results you get when researching a particular subject and can mean hundreds of irrelevant leads.  If, like me, you regularly need to research specific topics, there are lots of alternative ways to look for information. And the good news is many of these sites don’t track your search.

It’s worth remembering that no individual search engine, no matter how powerful it is, can give you all the possible answers available on the Internet. It only searches a small part of it. That’s why you get slightly different results if you put the same keyword into different search engines.

Lego Sherlock Holmes and Watson


To begin with, here are a few tips to help you improve your search technique:

• Boring I know, but when you use a new search engine for the first time, read through the user guide. You’ll find advice on how the search engine works; how to use its tools for advanced searching, if it uses ‘stop words’ lists (words like ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘a’ are often ignored by search engines), or whether you can use Boolean search commands, ‘AND’, ‘OR’ or ‘AND NOT’.

• Tell the search engine which words should and should not appear in the results by using the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols. Using these in front of keywords helps to refine your search e.g. +tea +rooibos -green. The search engine knows to look for rooibos tea but not green tea.

• To find an expression or a phrase in a specific order, use double quotation marks (“ “) e.g. “Yellow Brick Road”.

• If you only know a part of a quote, you can use these marks around the word “search”. For example, “search” never was so… – returns the famous wartime phrase by British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

• If you’re not sure how a word is spelt or you want variations on the word, use the wildcard asterisk (*) after part of your keyword. For example, sing* returns words like singing, single, singularly.


Okay search sleuths, let’s start searching one of my favourite pastimes…Music

This searches ten different sites at the same time and it claims to index over 6 million mp3 files. All you have to do is provide the performer and title. There’s a small fee to download the file.

This search database holds almost 1 million mp3 files with more added daily. It only indexes legal websites and not those known to contain illegal content.

Great site for finding music and lyrics around the world.

You have to sign in to use this search engine. You can find music to suit your mood, whatever activity you’re doing right now or by genre. Fun site to use.

If you’re into Hip Hop then this is for you. You get 3 free tracks when you sign up then pay a small download fee for additional tracks.

This is a wonderful site but be warned – you get addicted to it. You sing or hum a few notes and it will find the track for you. Best used with a headset microphone and it checks that it’s hearing you clearly before you start.

An amazing site where you can search for sounds effects and sound samples of musical instruments. Search for dolphins … it sounds like you’re in the water with them.

Want to find PDF files / Printed Books / EBooks

Search PDF
Simply type in the subject you’re researching and it will bring back hundreds of links.

PDF Geni
This is a great site as it offers you a list of searchable categories.

PDF Searcher
Bit of a hit and miss search – it gives lots of links but not always relevant.

PDF Give
Returns lots of results but the adverts drive you crazy.

You can search by ISBN number, author or title and it will find books that are new, used or out-of-print.

Comic Seeker
Find your favourite old comic by title or by searching through the category list.

EBook Search
A general search engine for EBooks.

The Manuals
Fantastic site for finding ‘How to’ manuals for all sorts of equipment, household items, cars etc.
Well that’s Part 1 search sleuths and I hope you’ve found this collection interesting and helpful.

How to Search – without using Google – Part 2 , you’ll learn about:

• the Librarians’ Index
• meta search engines and how they work
• directories like DMOZ and why they’re so useful
• the invisible web… and lots more

And finally

Oh My God LOL!!!
If you’re in need of a laugh, put a word into this search engine and it will come up with hilarious images based on your word. I tried ‘Cup Cakes’ and found some of the funniest looking cakes that you just wouldn’t be able to eat for laughing… Enjoy


Lauren Mackenzie is a freelance business writer.
when you need help with copywriting
or you want to chat about your next writing project.

photo credit: minifig via photopin cc

Leave a comment

Filed under Online resources, Web content and writing copy