Sunday, February 25, 2007

More on Google and their Amazing Toys

I know that it is a rule not to apologize for not blogging but since I haven't blogged in about two months, I guess I should break that rule and apologize.

Recently, I have been very busy but have not made any Domino-related breakthroughs.

I have however, spent quite a bit of time playing with Google and the new toys they have provided for us.

I am going to talk about a number of Google tools but won't give URLs for all of them as you can access them via the More >> link on the front page of Google. The following page should contain them all.

Google calendar
At first, I couldn't see a good reason for using this. Eventually though, I decided to place a Google calendar control on my customized Google home page. This control displays upcoming events only, not the full calendar. Of course, you can click on it to access the full calendar. Why is this calendar any better from my notes calendar at work? Well, I guess the answer is that the Google calendar can be shared with the family while the work calendar really should not be.

To that end, my wife now also has the Google calendar control on her customized Google home page at her calendar control points to my calendar. This means that we now can schedule weekend events with friends without clashing. It also means that when I read my son's school newsletter online and it contains important dates, I can put them on the calendar immediately.

Google docs and spreadsheets
Once again, I couldn't see a good reason for using these. After all, even if we don't have Word and Excel, everyone seems to have some word processing and spreadsheet software. Realization came when I looked at the number of personal files that I have on my work computer and also on my home computer. There weren't many that existed in both locations, but those that did, generally needed to be kept in sync. I know that there are a lot of programs that synchronize files between laptops and desktops and probably do the same on memory sticks but I thought - what if the synchronization problem wasn't there at all?

Putting things into Google docs and spreadsheets means that they available in a single location for myself and perhaps for others, regardless of what our location is. The other exciting thing was that I found a control that allows you to place your Google docs and spreadsheets on your customized homepage.

Google Base
I have been searching for a long time, or a trustworthy file upload site. For example, blogger handles pictures very well, but will not accept most other file types. Google base allows you to upload files and provide descriptions to go with them. You can then share them with others or link them to your blog.

Picasa Online
To be frank, I have never liked Picasa. I can see where it is going, but the interface isn't as good as many of the products I can run locally. Once again, Google proved me wrong by providing a product that is superior to anything I have seen for uploading and storage of images. This tool is fantastic, very quick to use and has great potential. I have uploaded a whole heap of family photos to it.

Once again, there is a Google control available to display randomly a picture from Picasa Online on your customized Google home page.

Wrapping Up
I know that in this blog, I probably should be spending more time praising the Notes/Domino product rather than Google but to be honest, recently I've had all more fun with the latter.

In the meantime, we are in the middle of deploying our offsite domino cluster. I'll blog on that once it's complete.

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