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When researching possible stories, I sometimes use the Stumbleupon toolbar button but I recently came upon two other toolbar buttons which pretty much perform the same function. You may be interested in using them yourself for surfing the web.

Google’s “Picks For you”

This one won’t be for everyone’s tastes for the following reasons. First of all, you need the Google toolbar installed. Secondly, you need to activate Google search history. You also need a Google account but anyone with a Gmail account already has one of those. So you kind of need to be a bit of a Google fan to have all of that and you also need to trust them with your search history (so anyone that values their privacy may howl with protest).

Picks For YouSo if you have all of those things installed, click here and the “Picks For You” button will appear on your Google toolbar in the form of a pair of dice.

You can also, in theory, bypass the toolbar button and enter the following URL into the browser address bar :

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http://www.google.com/searchhistory/items?op=rec_rd&cd=ifb&hl=en

and it does the same job as the dice button. But you still need your Google search history enabled. There’s no getting around that one unfortunately.

“Picks For You” is Google’s very basic version of StumbleUpon. You first need to have a fairly big search history built up. Then when you click the dice button, Picks For You takes a look at your search history, decides what kinds of sites you would like to see (based on your past searches) and then randomly takes you to a similar kind of site.

Obviously it is not as good as Stumbleupon. There’s no profiles, no close-knit community, no customization, no ability to choose subjects the way that Stumbleupon allows you to. But for a change of pace, “Picks For You” is quite nice and it will be interesting to see where Google takes this in the future.

Random Wikipedia pages

By entering http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random into the browser address bar, you are then taken to a random Wikipedia page. If you have writers block, I have often found that stumbling Wikipedia helps to clear the mind. I have had some issues with Wikipedia in the past but nevertheless, it is still a site worth visiting. Click the random button once and you could be taken to a page about Queen Victoria. Click the button again and you could end up on Homer Simpson‘s page.

new bookmarkIf you decide you like the random button, you can easily make a clickable browser button. Just right-click on your browser bookmark toolbar and choose “new bookmark”. Enter the random Wikipedia URL under “location” and under “name”, just give it a name such as “Wikipedia Random”. Then next time you’re bored and Stumbleupon holds no appeal, just click on the button and off you go.

Do you know if any other websites have random buttons? If so, please let everyone know in the comments with the URL of the random button so we can try it out! I am particularly looking for a Delicious random button (if one exists). I emailed Delicious and asked them but they didn’t respond. Does anyone know if they have a random button feature?

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