Monday, December 04, 2006
From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.
In the information age, currency of information has high value. As someone who cannot see, I find having to skim many different news sites to stay caught up even more difficult than the average web user. As in most things, off-loading some of this work to the machine is the answer, and what better machine to offload the work to than Google News.
In addition, finding relevant news stories through Google News helps me navigate directly to the news story on the originating site. Even if the originating news site is itself visually complex, Google has done most of the hard work of surfing that site and getting me to the content I need to read. Combined with Google News finding and grouping related stories on a given topic, this is an especially effective way of staying informed.
Here are some of the ways I use Google News: For topics I regularly search for, I create Atom feeds that search topics on Google News and subscribe to them via my blog reader (Google Reader). Here is the Atom feed for locating news articles on XForms. For topics on my watch list I create Google News alerts. In addition, Google News provides feeds (RSS or Atom) for popular groupings of articles. I subscribe to the feeds for Business and Technology using Google Reader.
Together, all of the above provide an effective means for me to stay caught up -- I'm usually done with all my news reading during my 40-minute daily commute to work on the Google shuttle. In addition, note that Google News also provides a Mobile version that is very speech-friendly. For the most part I use the main Google News site, primarily because news stories of interest are mostly textual, but if some of the stories come from visually complex news sites, I often hand those off to the Google wireless transcoder so that it can present me the story in a form that is more amenable to being spoken out aloud.