I picked up a copy of WRITING Science Fiction and Fantasy by Crawford Kilian. Cora mentioned it to me after the conference. This is a great little book, chock full of succinct answers to a writer's basic questions, and not just for science fiction writers. I love his style.
Chapters include Knowing your genre, creating your fictional world, the usual on researching and developing plot and character, voice, symbolism, selling the story, the publishing contract, all written from an experienced pro.
The research chapter was especially enlightening. The best google meister I know is Leah Braemel. While I'm attempting to follow a link on a page of google links, she's found the answer and sent it to me with the link on chat. But it's not just speed, it's in HOW you search. When I taught computer at night extension class, I was always amazed at how naturally some students could find answers on the web. (The exception was a student who, after taking computer for two months, bought one, had her granddaughter set it up, then proceeded to type 'fish' on the keyboard without opening a browser and then waited for the world of fish to start speaking to her.)
Here are some of the tips Kilian suggested.
Set Preferences: Choose English, then 'search for pages in any language', 50 to 100 results per page, and open results in a new browser window.
Go to advanced search: www.google.com/advance_search?hl=en or just click on advanced search in the google window. Bookmark or drag the url to your toolbar or desktop for quick advanced searches.
Use exact phrase field to find word strings, he gives the example of Canadian freelance writing.
Use all of the words filed in addition to exact phrase to add other words related to the search. And without the words to exclude terms.
You can specify the file format on resulting web pages, such as Word, pdf, excel. And there are more options there like last updated, domain name, usage rights, filtered.
A page specific search will find pages similar to a page whose URL you know. Also look for Topic specific searches.
To search for synonyms put a tilde (~) before the term.
Find a flexible phrase: Place * as substitute for any word in a phrase such as * basketball.
Search for page that no longer exists. Click on cached under any result on the page that doesn't seem to work or type cache:www.lostsite.com where lost site is the url of the siteyou're searching for.
Search within a specific website or domain: Type "avian flu" site:www.guardian.co.uk
You can search web page titles, number ranges, from years to prices.
If you need more details on this you can check out Mr. Kilian's book or go to www.google.com/intl/en/help/features.html.