Sunday, December 20, 2009

Adding Custom Ringtones to a LG Env3


This is a quick tutorial describing how to add custom ringtones to a LG Env3 on the Verizon network. This assumes you have already created a ringtone from a .mp3 on your computer (here's a tutorial that came up when i googled), but will mention a way to use the software in this tutorial to make a ringtone as well (see bottom of tutorial to see how to create a ringtone with BitPim -- it's pretty easy!).

Reference Links

There are a few links which I referenced to get part of this information. I'll be a little more explicit in my instructions, hopefully helping anyone who may be having trouble. Here are the links:

Download Necessary Software

To access your phone, you will need the charger/usb cable that came with your phone (should have), an LG Env3 (on the Verizon Network?), and the following software:

Now install mentioned software. If it tells you to restart, restart.


  1. Open you Env3 and go to Menu >> Settings and Tools >> USB Mode and set to Ask on Plug -- exit to main menu

  2. Attach your Env3 to a USB Port on your computer. When prompted, select 'data'

  3. Open BitPim (Start >> Program Files >> BitPim)

  4. Go to Edit >> Settings

  5. Set Phone Type to LG-VX9100 (enV 2) and make sure Com Port is set to auto. Click OK to exit Settings

  6. In the left pane, click File system and in the next (middle) pane, click + beside the Folder icon and '/'. Wait a second while the file system is retrieved. Now browse to brew >> mod >> 18067. This folder lists your 'My Sounds'

  7. Drag files from the windows explorer into the 18067 folder. It will take a few seconds. When the transfer is complete, right-click a folder from the middle pane (any one) and select Reboot Phone*

  8. Verify that the files were copied by opening your enV 3 >> going to Menu >> Music & Tones >> My Sounds -- they should be here identified by filename.
    (FYI, 10888 holds your pictures, 10890 your vidoes, and 10889>ringtones>default holds your ringtones [i couldn't get copying files there to work *** EDIT a commentor said you could copy ringtones to '10889>ringtones' (sans '>default' mentioned above) to have them properly designated as 'ringtones' as opposed to 'sounds'. thanks, Wahlverine! /END EDIT***])

  9. Highlight a song and you can SetAs whatever you'd like!


Hope this helped someone. Most of this information was found elsewhere, but scattered throughout various forum posts and threads...I just consolidated it for my use and thought it may be beneficial for others. If screenshots would be helpful, feel free to contact me. thenickchapman[usuallyfoundat]gmail[dot]com. Take care!


*If you haven't already created ringtones, BitPim lets you do that. Here's how:

  1. Open BitPim

  2. In the left pane, go to Phone >> Media >> Sounds [not Sounds(sd)]

  3. Drag a file (mp3) from windows explorer into the large, right pane of BitPim

  4. Set bitrate a little higher, at least 64 or 96, and click Convert (and wait a few seconds for a dos prompt call to ffmpeg to convert the file)

  5. (pretty intuitive....but) Drag the Pink and Red bookends to where you want the ringtone to stop and start. Target duration should be ~22 seconds. I usually make mine 30...but probably lose the last little bit. 'Play Position' plays where the indicator triangle is set and 'Play Clip' plays everything between the bookends (and is really slow -- use 'Play Position'). You'll have to decide if volume adjustment is necessary for you. I kinda doubt it.

  6. Repeat for other ringtones

  7. Click the 'Arrow TO Phone' icon, which displays 'Send Phone Data' when moused over

  8. On the menu that pops up, verify that 'Ringtones' is checked and the 'Add' radial option is selected, then click 'OK'

  9. That should be it! If you have any trouble with this method, you can always right-click on a 'sound' you've made with BitPim and 'save' it to your computer, then use the transfer method mentioned in the tutorial to copy the files over. I KNOW it works...and this is more like speculation.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Access your Motorola VU204 (Verizon) to add Custom Ringtones

First of all, the following links provide an abundance of information and should be visited should any problems arise or at least held in revelry due to their amazing content:

...there were a few others which had similar information, but these two were the ones I referenced.

That said, I hope this instruction is a little more direct and helps people so that they don't spend 2 and a half hours on something that now only takes me 10 minutes.

How do I access my Motorola VU204?

Download Necessary Software

Install the Software

Install the driver.

Install the MSU and run it. Let it update your phone. If you have any trouble after an update with the phone not being recognized by your computer (when it is recognized, it reinstalls all the drivers), remove and re-connect the usb cable from your phone. If that doesn't work, unplug it from the back of your computer and plug it into another empty usb port. After updates, you can close it for now, *sighs*, i guess.

Extract P2K Commander and remember where you extract it.

Access My Phone

Run MSU.

Run P2K commander by browsing to the folder you extracted the contents to and running p2kcommander.exe

In a drop down (either side), click the down arrow and select /a P2K phone system then click re-read.

Voila. You should see your phone data.

What do I do Now?

You can create custom ringtones (i use audacity to select 20-30 seconds of a jam that i like, and have on my computer, and then export it as a lower quality (96/128kb) .mp3 files). Just copy the files by navigating to the mp3 location on your computer on one side of the dual display, and then the P2k:/a/brew/mod/my_ringers/ directory on the phone and dragging the files over. The transfer will go one file at a time and ask you to wait, but allows multi-tasking, during each file transfer. I only say this because earlier versions of P2K Commander were notorious for crashing if the window lost focus.

You can also copy over pictures, I'd imagine...and backup all your data from your phone to your computer. Maybe even find some apps and copy them over. Go crazy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Laptop Ressurection with Windows 7

The Plan

Install Windows 7 (RC-1) on a IBM Thinkpad A22p

The Reason

It is fun


pIII 900mhz
384mb Ram (may try to run with 128 for kicks)


I recently put 7 on a new HP and was surprised when I installed and ran updates that all the hardware, including a fingerprint scanner, had been successfully recognized and drivers had been located. Honestly, this is a first for that type of success aside with a Ubuntu install (for a laptop, anyway)...and I'm not sure if even it found the fingerprint reader. I read an article about a guy installing 7 on a computer with 96 MB Ram and I thought I'd try to put it on one of these old laptops I had that could likely handle XP (or certainly a modern gnu/linux flavor).

To be fair, though, this computer has 256 mb more memory than it 'should have'. I also know that many people won't have a DVD drive laying around, but may be able to find one for $10 on ebay or something...assuming the rest of this install goes well and the OS isn't ridiculously non responsive. I'm not holding my breath.


After verifying available disk space (at lest 10GB, I think...with 20+ highly recommended), I went to put the Windows 7 disk in the drive when I realized that the a22p had a cd-rw, but that wouldn't help since I needed a DVD drive. I searched my office and found a newer DVD-RW, but the connection was different (presumably SATA or something like that). I almost gave up, but found a DVD-ROM in an old box with the same type of connection. Problem solved.

I put the DVD in and restarted the computer, pressing F12 to 'select boot device'

Next I performed the standard steps, yes to EULA, begin installation...custom install...advanced drive options, delete both partitions (Fat32, nice) and create a new one, click 'Next'

Installation began copying files and the likes. It has been less than 5 mins since the installation started.

Expanding Windows files sat on 0% for a few, but is finally moving.

96% done expanding windows files

'Completing Installation'

Finished Install -- waiting on user input


System is surprisingly responsive -- though certainly not snappy. After installation, 4 or 5 devices are missing valid drivers including the audio device and network device. I don't want to install any drivers manually, so I use a cardbus (pcmcia?) network card and it is detected immediately and the correct drivers are installed. I plug a network cable in and have network/internet access. Now I will run windows updates and see if it can solve the problem for me.

9 updates and a restart later, we have audio and all other drivers but the original ethernet controller. Hmm. My video resolution also got lower.

After raising the resolution back to the native one (1280x1024), I checked for more updates (hoping to fix the ethernet issue). No recommended updates, but there were two more hardware related optional I gave them a go.

Still no luck with the ethernet driver.

After googling 'a22p drivers', I found the xp approved intel network driver and downloaded it. There didn't seem to be an apparent installer, but when I went to device manager >> update driver >> and pointed to the extracted files (+ subdirectories), it found the driver and installed it no problem.

The initial opening of IE8 was a little slow...15 seconds. My windows exerience rating is 1.0 (for graphics and gaming graphics with a slight increase at 1.3 for processor and 1.6 for memory). General web browsing was acceptable, but new tabs strained the system a little. Once the tabs were open, they were fine.

The AV install went well, but the Office 2k7 install really took forever and I had a screen blank during install[this was at least partly due to a faulty Office 2K7 disk and shouldn't be taken into consideration.

I installed a cardbus wireless g network adapter (d-link wna-2330). It was recognized and drivers installed automatically. Connecting to a wireless network was painless.

Running MS Word for the first time (with IE running with two loaded tabs) took about 25 seconds. Subsequent runs were faster (~12 seconds until the blinking cursor).

For standard use, this computer runs Windows 7 fairly well. It doesn't run with the responsiveness of a new, dual core system with adequate (2GB) RAM, but is faster than any computer laden with malware and correctly identified most hardware automatically.

*using balanced power plan defaults*

Load times

battery power

system boot 3:45
wake from hibernate 1:20
ms word 15
ms word [reloads] 7.5
ie 27
ie [reloads] 7
google chrome 13
google chrome [reloads] 5

ac power

system boot 2:20
wake from hibernate 1:10
ms word 12
ms word [reloads] 6
ie 14
ie [reloads] 8
google chrome 13
google chrome [reloads] 4

Test Information

  • system load time complete when all default programs (defaults + antivirus [etrust 8.1] + daemon tools drive emulator) are loaded into memory and the system is available for use. auto-login was used to bypass the wait for user interaction. time did not include any additional wait to connect to the wireless network.
  • word load times are calculated when the cursor blinks steadily, waiting for user input
  • ie homepage set to google and calculated when the entire page loads
  • chrome homepage set to 'last visited sites' option
  • resume from hibernate times calculated when 'locked' screen with no 'blue ring' is reached (prior to selecting user account)

Other things of note

The default page file was system manged, 256-512 MB recommended...but the actual size was 1024. I set it to a static 1024.
Sleep mode was not available. Closing the lid caused the computer to hibernate.


Given access to spare parts (or a native dvd drive) and adequate RAM, I recommend installing Windows 7 on an older laptop of similar specs. The user experience is acceptable and, if RC1 is is free for roughly a year.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR v1.0.1) in VirtualBox

Read This First

Read through this entire post before attempting to use it as reference for your trial as I went through many steps that can be avoided as they do not work. Some things included in this guide:
  • Download the Ubuntu Netbook Remix .iso
  • Create a VirtualBox Guest Install for UNR deployment
  • Boot said VirtualBox machine from the mounted UNR v1.0.1 image and complete the automated installation process (which fails on reboot)
  • Install Ubuntu Hardy Herring 8.10 on modified Virtual machine
  • Add UNR packages to Hardy Herring Install and troubleshoot process

This is as much a tale of my attempt to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix on my Windows XP Hosted VirtualBox installation as much as a guide one how to do it. Note that, once installed, UNR doesn't run well in VirtualBox as suggested in some of the documentation. The cause, as far as I can tell, is caused by how VirtualBox handles OpenGL. This should only be used to test the software at this point, and not implemented as a usable interface.

About Ubuntu Netbook Remix

Ubuntu Netbook Remix is an Ubuntu variant/adaptation designed to work effectively and efficiently with netbook computers. Detailed information and standard installation instructions are available here:


VirtualBox is installed <-- tested with 2.1.4 on a Windows XP host
Ubuntu 8.10 is installed in as a guest machine in VirtualBox

Step by Step recount of my attempts, failures, and results

  1. Download image (to mount or burn) from here:
  2. Create a new Virtual Machine in Virtual Box (Linux OS, Ubuntu Type). The usual settings should be fine...I used the following settings:
    • 512 mb ram
    • 128mb video memory with hardware acceleration
    • Dynamic sized hard disk
  3. Mount the .iso (or boot from CD if you burned it) and start the Virtual Machine.

    The installation seems to be pretty much automated. There were no options to repartition the drive or preserve any existing data
  4. This step took a little longer than i was the same splash screen as is usually displayed when ubuntu is loaded, so i may have just expected it to go faster.
  5. After the first restart of the installation process, I encountered an error message:
    FATAL:  No bootable medium found!  System halted

    The following are steps I took to troubleshoot the installation:
    1. restart
    2. check VirtualBox settings, decrease video memory to 32mb with no hardware access
    3. read some information about UNR and VirtualBox from the following:

    None of my troubleshooting procedures corrected the problem, but based on the reading, I decided to try installing 8.10 or 8.04 and using the instructions from
    to try to install ubuntu 8.xx and perform the necessary alterations to that install so that the final result is basically the UNR release

Second Attempt -- by altering a Ubuntu 8.10 (Hardy Herring) Installation

  1. I began by attempting to install a copy of 8.10 (beta) i had laying around but it was 64 bit edition...and that doesn't work for my VirtualBox/XP host. I then began downloading the x86, non beta, version. For the record, a torrent search lists quite a few heavily seeded torrents which should get you the image faster than you can get it elsewhere. I think it took me 10 mins.
  2. I then mounted it and began installation on the previous machine.
    note: I left the standard 2GB hd size...I was warned that this may not be large enough, but though I'd give Ubuntu a chance to impress me with it's error handling capabilities. After was just a warning, right?
  3. I then encountered an error -- failure to install due to insufficient hard drive space -- they warned me. Ubuntu did fail gracefully into the live session screen, only wasting about 5 minutes of my time.

  4. I shut down and modified the hard disk to start with 4 GB of space and expand if necessary -- had to delete the existing HD and create a new one. I still made it dynamic, bu started it with 8GB to be safe.
  5. Next, I installed Ubuntu easily using default options -- once installed, I agreed to recommended updates (250 mb worth). Some screenshots of the install follow for you screenshot lovers.

  6. After the installation had completed, I did the system updates (System >> Administration >> Update Manager) and installed guest additions...explained in a previous tutorial, here:

  7. Modifying the Ubuntu Hardy Herring (8.10) Installation by adding the Ubuntu Netbook Remix Packages

    note: For the next few lines, instructions came directly from the following web page:
  8. As the instructions indicated, I did the following:
    go to system >> administration >> software sources
    • ensure under the Ubuntu tab that Community Maintained... box is checked
    • go to the third party tab and click add and enter the following:
      deb intrepid main
    • click 'add source' and then 'close'
  9. ERROR: I got an error stating no public key was available to validate a signature here.

    After a google search for the error statement, a forum provided the following command line fix with some explanation that was a little beyond me, but here's how to avoid it:
    in a terminal, type the following >>
    sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver 3F2A5EE4B796B6FE
  10. To resume, open a terminal and type the following:
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install go-home-applet human-netbook-theme maximus netbook-launcher window-picker-applet and hit enter
  11. (This section wasn't necessary for me, as maximus and netbook-launcher were already check to run when I went to the Gnome Session Manager) The remaining instructions say to chck the gnome-session-manager and to add maximus and the netbook-launcher, which aren't supposed to auto-start. Install them / set them to auto-start. Restart!

  12. It started up correctly...and operated as it was supposed to (forgiving the ridiculously slow performance). There are further instrctions (brief) saying to...
    setup the gnome-panel to mimic the standard UNR set-up. The applet order is as follows:
    go-home-applet | window-picker-applet | notifcation-area-applet | mixer-applet | clock

    ...but i'm not sure how necessary this is.

    Here's Ubuntu 8.10 -- Hardy Herring -- with the UNR packages added, running successfully.


If I would have listened to the recommendations my sources gave and installed onto an existing Intrepid (8.10) install, the whole process would have been easier and much faster. Still, it wasn't hard. That said, even with hardware acceleration enabled (or disabled), it runs unacceptably slow on my system. I saw warnings about Intrepid and about VirtualBox, but my guess is this has more to do with VirtualBox and its ability to render OpenGL graphics. It is running and looks nice...I look forward to trying this on a real laptop!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Free Software Guide

A comprehensive guide to successfully making use of free software


This guide is designed to be a general guide to inform readers about the benefits and drawbacks of free software, to inform them of different types of free software and teach them to differentiate between the two, and set their expectations appropriately.

Free Software Types

The word free is a little more ambiguous than it may seem. When used to describe software, it can usually mean one of two things: (1) free as in free beer [crude, but this description has practically been standardized when describing free software -- think of it as free potato chips or gummy bears if you want] or (2) free as in free speech. in beer

Software of this type is usually available at no direct* monetary cost. This software is still not owned by the end user. That is, you can't view the source code and modify it to better suit your needs. This software is more appropriately described as being rented from the creator/owner. in speech

Free (speech) software is entirely different, but seems very similar and has strong similarities with other free software. As stated before, however, the most fundamental difference is that this type of software provides its source code for the end user to take and modify to better suit his needs. While much free (speech) software has no direct* monetary cost, that is not always the case. Review the list below to see how free (beer) and free (speech) software makers can make a living with their code.

*The following list annotates how software makers can and often do make a living by distributing their software without charging end (personal use) users -- many of these overlap:
  • [beer] alternate versions (such as a pro version -- with enhanced or more robust features) are available for paying customers [AVG, WinAMP]
  • [beer] the software is free for for personal use, but not commercial use [Ad-Aware,
  • [beer | speech] the software is free in both respects, but you can purchase an 'enterprise' upgrade to pay for technical support from professionals who can do anything from help with the inner workings of the code to do customized modifications for your use[ubuntu SE]
  • [beer | speech] the creators may accept donations as a 'thank you' for the hard work they've done and time they've saved the users who have enjoyed the benefits of the software [FileZilla, SpyBot S&D]
  • some benefit from the user statistics they aggregate from your daily use. others do it, but google does it best. their products are free (beer) to you but they are paid by your computer habits and subtle browsing nuances[chrome, picasa]

Installing Software

Sometimes free (beer) software is one of the biggest distributors of what I consider mal-ware. You want to play on-line poker but you don't want to pay anything...this website says its free...just install the software and enter your email address and you are playing in an instant. you have three toolbars, an adult friend finder program running when windows starts, and you are getting 100 spam emails a smart and don't let this be you!

I'd apply this to all software installations, not just free ones. Don't be afraid of performing an 'advanced' install. You usually designate all your install 'preferences' before the install begins, so if you get scared and want to back out, you can safely do so by using the 'back' button or 'exit setup/installation'. That said, usually the recommended install options are set as the defaults during the advanced installation, it just gives you the option of changing them when that option doesn't exist in a standard installation. Most things won't need to be changed, but if you read the fine print (not the EULA, those are ridiculous!) you can opt out of all those annoying 'toolbar' installations and in some cases some other 'opt in' programs that will either give out your email address or install additional software that you likely have no need of.

You don't have to be a geek to save yourself some time and hassle by paying attention during installation.

Finding Free Software

Finding free software is a little tricky. I won't go over the basics of internet I already covered that in my How to perform an effective Internet search [external link] tutorial. Some key words to attempt are open-source, or open source along with free and games.

The problem with searching for free games is that lots of people search for that...and people who do marketing know that lots of people search for that. A standard google search for free games turns up a list of questionable sources. There are probably some free games available...but from a basic look, they seem to be very concerned with advertising. People who make free games often can't pay for advertising because they are broke. They make free games! With few exceptions, free software will not be advertised as heavily as non free software. With that said, a standard google search for free games open source returns much more believable results. The top results include a wikipedia article (while not a definitive source, they are peer moderated which is helpful in many scenarios) a sourceforge hosted page (good), and some other pages that seem much more legitimate than the first return.

This does hinge on the games being (or people thinking they are) open source, though. We should be able to find games that aren't open source and are still free and safe to download. It often comes down to intentions. Many bloggers like to compile lists to build traffic so they can make a few bucks from google ads (or other ads) they display on their pages. There's no harm in that...they want to provide quality content (maybe using a ridiculously overstated title) in order to get traffic to their site. Seems fair. Thus, some of the content from blog type compilations can be very useful. I just did a basic google search for best free games and the results weren't all that disappointing. Some things can't be taught and are hard to explain, but the results come across as relatively objective and not overly 'in your face' -- no one likes to have software pushed on them.

Good Luck

Be smart...and hesitant. If it looks too good to be true, it may be. It may not...but if you are careful during installations and watch out for obnoxious looking sites, you may find some quality free software to make use of.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Concise -- How to Access Shared Folders from a Windows 7 Beta Guest Install in VirtualBox


This brief tutorial just overtly explains some simple steps that I overlooked when trying to access shared folders using my Windows 7 VirtualBox Guest Install.


  • Virtual Box (the newest version) should be installed <-- tested on 2.1.4

  • The 'Guest Additions' have been installed (using Vista or XP compatibility mode)


  1. Share a folder from your host system by clicking Devices >> Shared Folders... and picking a folder to share. Name it something you will remember. I shared c:\Media and named it Media.

  2. Right-click on your desktop (or location of your choice) and make a 'New Shortcut'
    (alternately, open 'My Computer' and click 'Map Network Drive' to have the share listed as a drive)

  3. Type \\vboxsvr\Media (where 'Media' is the memorable name you choose two steps ago)

  4. Name the shortcut something descriptive. (or assign the share a drive if you are mapping)

  5. Enjoy the shared folder/mapped network drive.

(helps with the installation of VirtualBox, the creation of a new Virtual Machine, and the installation of Windows 7)
(this guide is better than mine + with's for a ubuntu host, but the good thing about VirtualBox is that it practically makes the host irrelevant! -- so it's still useful)

How to Access Shared Files from a Ubuntu Linux Guest Install in VirtualBox


This walkthrough describes how to access host-machine shared files from a guest installation of Ubuntu

This should work with other Linux distributions, but was designed for use with Ubuntu, specifically v6.10


  • Virtualbox (newest version) is installed <--tested on 2.1.0

  • guest OS is a linux distribution, already installed <-- tested on ubuntu 6.10


The ubuntu guest OS should not be running
  1. In the VirtualBox interface, click on the Ubuntu installation and click Settings

  2. Under the Shared Folders option, ensure that the folders you want to share from the host computer are selected and named appropriately (the names will be referenced later)

  3. Start the virtual Ubuntu installation and log in

  4. While running the Ubuntu guest OS, click Devices >> Install Guest Additions
    note: if you haven't already downloaded and mounted the guest additions .iso, you should be directed to the download location in your browser and when the download completes, you should be prompted to 'mount' the iso in the ubuntu guest installation

  5. Open a terminal window by clicking applications >> accessories >> terminal

  6. Type the following commands (emphasized in bold), pressing enter between each line
    cd /media/cdrom

    sudo bash ./
    note: for a 64 bit virtual OS, replace 86 with 64
    enter password when prompted -- this may take a few minutes...wait until you see a 'success' message
    exit hopefully, you saw the message 'Successfully Installed the VirtualBox Guest Additions' // Restart your guest system in order to complete the installation

    Now restart Ubuntu

  7. Verify that you are sharing folders on the host system by going to Devices >> Shared Folders and make note of the 'name' you are sharing the folder as -- you will need to reference this in the next step. Mine is located at C:\Media and I named it 'Media'...that will be used for this example and should be modified to fit your situation.

  8. Open a terminal again and type each of the following lines:
    mkdir windows-share
    note: this can be called anything you like as you are creating a folder which will point to your shared folders
    sudo mount -t vboxsf Media /home/nick/windows-share
    note: If your shared folder isn't called 'Media', then modify this name to reference the 'name' you called your share. Also change 'home/nick/windows-share' to 'home/[your user name]/[the directory you made]'
    Hopefully you didn't get an error message. next close the terminal window (type exit[enter])

  9. note: reference the tutorial text over the screenshot text, as I've tried to simplify it further after taking the screenshot

  10. Now enjoy the fruits...I simply went to places >> home then double-clicked my 'windows-share' folder to access the files

  11. Repeat process to share any further'll be faster this time!

You are finished, but...

It seems that these steps work to give you access to your files, but when you restart Ubuntu, the mounted folder is gone. To make it persistant (last through system restarts), do the following:

  1. Open the trusty terminal and type the following:
    sudo gedit /etc/rc.local [enter]

  2. Add the following line between the last line with a # before it and the exit 0 line:
    mount -t vboxsf Media /home/nick/windows-share
    where 'Media' is the name of your shared folder and '/home/nick/windows-share' is the directory you created to house the shared folders

  3. Be sure to save the changes, then exit the text editor and restart your computer to ensure it works. Add as many mount -t vboxsf ... lines to that file as necessary if you have multiple shared folders.


The following pages greatly helped when writing this:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How to perform an effective Internet search

Skill-Level: Beginner/Intermediate

Overview: (if you don't have much time, read this)

Search Tips:
Be informed: Research (briefly) your search topic before you start to develop key words and a basic understanding.

Use quotation marks:
"cheese and grits" will return different results than cheese and grits. Most search engines throw out common words like the, and, if, in, us, etc.

Add key-words for ambiguous searches:
Search for "best buy" store instead of best buy. Store helps a search engine know what type of results you are looking for.

Detail: (more explanation and reasoning here)

I can't really profess to be an expert on how to locate things on the internet, but I've been doing it for a while and feel I am generally successful. While at the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA), I was given a seminar on effective search techniques. The following are mostly things I've learned on my own added to some other things I've been taught in the past.

The most important thing is to know what you are looking for, and it helps to be somewhat informed before you start. Some things are easy to search for. For instance, molecular pretty straight forward. Go to Google and type in molecular biology and the results should pretty relevant. Searching gets a little more complex when you want to find something that has multiple associations. For instance...I like the band Discover America. One thing that helps with searches is using quotation marks around a set of terms to specify that you want to find those terms located by one another. "Discover America" will return more relevant results than Discover America. With bands, often having names consisting of generally used words in various combinations (Any the band [the killers], common word named band [Narcissus], etc.), adding the term band to the search will often help a search engine specify that you are looking for a band. Seems obvious, but more obscure bands will benefit from such practical searching.

In turn, anything with a more distinct name such as brand names with irregular spelling (The Beatles, Google) or non-common words (Lenovo, iPod) is less difficult to locate on the internet and requres less specification. I once designed a website for the domain After a basic submission to Yahoo and Google, it showed up as number 1 in the search results when PostNBeam was searched for...but much lower on the list (under some large Post And Beam companies) when Post and Beam was searched for. To find it using more standard terms, something like Post and Beam Asheville or Post and Beam "Golden Valley" had to be used. Locations help for local businesses.

The last bit of advice is a little more subjective, hence more difficult to describe. Sometimes I search for free software to find more quality programs to the list of free software shown on this website. Free Software, in general, translates to "free for personal, non commercial, use." This is fine for most people and great for this bit of search advice. Another term is often associated, but not exactly synonymous with, free software...this is open source. In short, open source software is software which offers its 'source code,' something which is guarded carefully by many software providers (*cough* microsoft, apple). This is convenient because, given you know the language the software is coded in, you can download the source code and modify the software to better suite your (and potentially other people's) needs. That said, I often search for something like free open source antivirus or something like that. While open source doesn't necessarily mean free, the vast majority of open source software is free.

I know the last paragraph was supposed to be the "last" part, but I decided to include a little something else. This was hinted at in previous paragraphs, but not explicitly stated. I can't get enough information, usually. I'll often do a skimming of an encyclopedia article (or something general like that) before doing any further research. This helps me identify relevant vocabulary and make note of any keywords I may need to use when searching if standard means fail(provide excessive or non relevant results).

Thanks for reading. I hope this was beneficial to anyone who took the time to read it.