When I was a graduate student at Cornell, I needed to go to the library with a reader (yes, an actual live human, not a computer:-)), find the relevant publications, and then arrange to have what I judged to be the most relevant articles read to me. Occasionally, I would scan the printed articles to OCR them and have my computer read it aloud to me. Mostly this was a failure since the articles I wanted to read were in the fields of math or computer science, and OCR dealt poorly, if at all, with technical material. More often than not, I would write to the authors of the publications in the hope of getting access to online versions so that I could save on reader time.
Turning the clock forward to today, equivalent access is a Google Scholar search away. What's more, thanks to publishers like the ACM who making journal publications available online, one can access the complete publication directly from within the search hits. Since the advent of Google Scholar, I have not had to send out email requests to authors asking for access to the electronic versions. And where authors have made these available from their websites, Google Scholar links to those as part of the result set.
So I wish I had had this as a graduate student. Though I have to say working at Google does feel like being in graduate school (but with better food and more money)—so maybe my wish has been granted.
"After Christmas, my son Sam wanted a turtle. We bought a Russian Tortoise instead and named him Rocky. Well, one day, we let Rocky out for a stroll around the house. We could not find him that night and into the afternoon the following day. After the boys went to school, my wife, Susan, and I were stumped. Did Rocky get out the front door? My wife told me I was crazy. Susan googled [how to find a Russian Tortoise] and bang -- we had a game plan. Russian Tortoises like warm, dark spaces. We started in the boys' bedroom, again. We pulled the bunk bed back and there was Rocky at the head of the bed. Case solved. When we tell friends and family about googling How to Find a Russian Tortoise, they bust a gut in laughter!