Customized Google Toolbar for Genealogy
If you're like I used to be you go to several of your favorite genealogy databases (free or pay) when you come across a new name that you want to research and plug that name into each web site after you navigate to the search page. Imagine how much faster things would be if you only had to type the name in once and then click a few buttons on your internet browser to get your results! No more going from web page to web page looking for that elusive long lost uncle.
If you don't already have Google's Toolbar for Internet Explorer or Firefox then you owe it to yourself to go grab it. The toolbar has some very handy default features such as a pop-up blocker, an email checker, and a built-in Google search box among other things, but the most important feature for genealogists is the custom button feature.
Using Google for Deep Data Mining
Google is the the web's most popular search engine and with good reason. They utilize what is arguably the best search algorithms of any search engine. Along with all of that computing power they offer a number of search parameters that not many people are aware of.
How many times have you searched for someone and gotten tons of results back that have little to do with what you are looking for? Imagine if you had to search for someone with a surname that was also a common word such as John Sales. Searching for someone like that would be a nightmare! Luckily Google offers the means to get rid of many of the junk results that you aren't interested in and drill down to just the information you are looking for. By using the Google search parameters you can find information in ways you have never imagined before.
Using the Firefox Browser for Better Ease of Use
If you use a Windows operating system on your computer then you know what Internet Explorer is: the default web browser that came with your installation of Windows. In addition to Internet Explorer there are a number of other browsers available such as Firefox, Opera, Safari, Konqueror, Seamonkey and several others. Among the "others" Firefox is the most popular with an approximate 17% share of the browser market (as of Jan 2008).
Most people use Internet Explorer (IE) just because it comes with Windows and they've never really considered the option of using something else or never really cared about using anything else. Just because IE has the bigger share of the market definitely does not mean it is the best browser. In fact, I would suggest that just about every other browser available is in some way superior to IE with Firefox being, in my opinion, superior in every way.
With IE there is rarely the opportunity to customize your internet experience. Microsoft has the code locked up and doesn't allow many customizations (aside from search toolbars). Firefox on the other hand offers a multitude of ways to customize it via add-ons (also called extensions) and themes.
There are many ways to use the default nature of Firefox as well as the addition of extensions to completely change (in a good way) the way you do your genealogy research on the internet.
Using Genealogy Newsfeeds
The internet has grown exponentially since it started to become popular in the mid to late 1990s. I can remember when Yahoo first started up as a university experiment and various servers had to be shut down each night for maintenance. I used to cruise chat rooms looking for people to mention new web sites to check out. Things were much simpler back then: there was no advertising on the web to clutter up web pages like it does now.
Today I just about need my entire computer screen to open up all of my bookmarks and I can hardly remember from one day to the next which web sites to check out in the morning before starting work.
Newsfeeds are one way to help simplify matters allowing you to see all of the new headlines from your favorite genealogy sites and blogs without having to read the ones you aren't interested in. Because of the way so many web sites utilize their feeds having a good newsfeed reader is one of the best ways possible to both save you time and also expose you to a world of helpful genealogy that you never knew existed.