Dec 28 2007

How to create a personal helpdesk with Del.icio.us and Google Custom Search

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Searchmarked.com Tip

As an IT Professional, I often search for solutions to many problems on Google. Later, I may need to answer the same problem. I end up searching on Google again because I have forgotten which page had the answer. Then, I started using Del.icio.us (an online bookmarking service) to save the pages that ultimately led me to the answer I was looking for. I combined these bookmarks with a Google custom search so that I could search through my bookmarks first and then hit Google if I need to.

The following tip shares how you can make your own personal helpdesk with Del.icio.us and Google Custom Search. This does not have to be limited to technical/IT stuff, but that is what I use it for.

-If you don’t already have a Google account, get one by going to http://www.google.com and clicking on the sign in button.

-If you don’t already have a Del.icio.us account, sign up for one at http://del.icio.us .

-I also recommend that when using del.icio.us, you use Firefox with the del.icio.us extension enabled. This makes tagging (saving pages) easier.

Now that the initial accounts are taken care of, we can have some fun.

-If you are not familiar with del.icio.us, take some time to familiarize yourself with the concept. Basically you will be bookmarking your pages online for yourself and others to see. To tag (save) a page that you are on, just hit the “Tag” button on your new del.icio.us Firefox extension.

-When you tag a page, a window comes up with some information for you to fill in. The most important items for our personal helpdesk are the description and tag fields.

-In the description field, put the search terms you used on Google that led you to your final solution page.

-In the tag field, use about 4 letters that make sense to you, but cannot make a word. That way the tag will be unique to you. This tutorial only works if the tag is completely unique because if the tag is not unique, others could use the same tag and mix their results in with yours.

-For the magic searching to happen, you need to create a Google Custom Search Engine by going to http://www.google.com/cse .

-Click on “Create a Custom Search Engine”

-On the next screen give the search engine a name, description and add the following url:
http://del.icio.us/tag/yourtag?setcount=100
Where “yourtag” is the 4-letter del.icio.us tag that you have chosen when you tag the pages that gave you the solution.

-Click “next” at the bottom of the page and click “finish” on the next page. Your search engine is created, but now we have to tweak it.

-Find your search engine under the “Search engines I’ve created” section and click on “control panel.”

-Up top click on “sites.”

-Under included sites click on the url that looks like the following:
http://del.icio.us/tag/yourtag?setcount=100

-Now choose the “Dynamically extract links from this page and add them to my search engine” option.

-Under that option choose “Include all pages this page links to” and click “Save Changes.” This option will extract the linked pages from your tagged (saved) bookmarks. Neat!

-Now we need to exclude some sites so that garbage from the del.icio.us page itself does not show up. Click on the Exclude Sites link under the Excluded sites section to add some excluded sites.

-Add the following URLs:
http://del.icio.us/url/*
http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/yourtag
http://del.icio.us/popular/yourtag
http://del.icio.us/tag/yourtag?editdesc
http://del.icio.us/help/support
http://del.icio.us/help/copyright
http://del.icio.us/help/privacy
http://del.icio.us/help/terms
http://del.icio.us/about
http://del.icio.us
http://del.icio.us/tag
http://del.icio.us/help
http://del.icio.us/recent
http://del.icio.us/popular
http://secure.del.icio.us/register
http://secure.del.icio.us/login
http://blog.del.icio.us

-Make sure your new search engine is saved.

That’s it! This will allow you to search through up to 100 of your saved bookmarks using the Custom Search Engine. If you need to look through more, just add those particular page view URLs to your Custom Search Engine. You can bookmark your search engine’s homepage to use it when searching (or you can add it to your website).

*Please note that results may take a day or two to start working because Google needs to crawl the new del.icio.us tag page.

Searchmarked.com’s search engine is powered by google and includes the del.icio.us bookmarks for the sources of solutions that I post about on this site. Give it a try in the top right hand corner.

Whether you are looking for a recipe that you once found on a website, or you are trying to find out why your Windows PC is giving you a cryptic error message, using your newly created personal helpdesk search engine should be your first stop. Happy Searching!

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