* This is an old one, but very important: Put quotes around phrases that must be searched together. If you put quotes around "electric curtains," Google won't waste your time finding one set of Web pages containing the word "electric" and another set containing the word "curtains."
* S imilarly, put a hyphen right before any word you want screened out. If you're looking up dolphins, for example, you'll have to wade through a million Miami Dolphins pages unless you search for "dolphins - Miami."
* Google is a package tracker. Type a FedEx or UPS package number (just the digits); when you click Search, Google offers a link to its tracking information.
* Google is a calculator. Type in an equation ("32+2345*3-234=").
* Google is a units-of-measurement converter. Type "teaspoons in a gallon," for example, or "centimeters in a foot."
* Google is a stock ticker. Type in AAPL or MSFT, for example, to see a link to the current Apple or Microsoft stock price, graphs, financial news and so on.
* Google is an atlas. Type in an area code, like 212, to see a Mapquest map of the area.
* Google is an aviation buff. Type in a flight number like "United 22" for a link to a map of that flight's progress in the air. Or type in the tail number you see on an airplane for the full registration form for that plane.
* Google is the Department of Motor Vehicles. Type in a VIN (vehicle identification number, which is etched onto a plate, usually on the door frame, of every car), like "JH4NA1157MT001832," to find out the car's year, make and model.
* For hours of rainy-day entertainment, visit http://labs.google.com . Here, you'll find links to new, half-finished Google experiments-like Google Voice, in which you call (650) 623-6706, speak the words you want to search for and then open your browser to view the results. Disclaimer: It wasn't working when I tried it. (Ditto a lot of these experiments.)