How Wolfram|Alpha makes me happy

February 08, 2010 at 02:13 PM | Uncategorized | View Comments
tl;dr: learn what Alpha can do, add a keyword search for it.

Remember Wolfram|Alpha? Wolfram's attempt at a computer knowledge engine that got a little bit of hype, then drifted into obscurity?

Well, it has been making me pretty happy recently, and maybe it can make you happy too. Here's my trick:

First, learn what it can and can't do: it won't help much with a broken xorg.conf… But if you need to convert units (especially units of storage), get information about a date, compare stock information or do anything with a mathematical equation, Alpha is incredible.

(yes, there is nothing there that's unique to Alpha… But that's not the point. The point is that, once you know what it can do, you can, on the first try, get the information you need. There's no looking through Google search results (even Google's calculator takes a couple of tries (compare: alpha: 4 CAD in USD).)

Second, make it really, really easy to use: add a keyword search (if you're in Safari, use Stand) so searching Alpha is just as easy as searching the rest of the Internet:

Then just start using it :-)