My Google Shift

I’ve been slowly adopting using Google’s office-like tools more and more. I know, G-Mail is so last year, and it’s a bit silly to just now be talking about me getting into it. I have no real intention of just giving up my POP e-mail account or stopping my use of Outlook to manage e-mails on my desktop (I couldn’t at work if I wanted to). However, I am beginning to use Google’s Calender and Reader more and more. They both have adopted some nice features, although some further integration would be nice1

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Google Reader got a face-lift and it has really become a very nice RSS feed reader. One nice feature that Google Reader has is Sharing. Where as my Gregarious page makes either entire feeds public or private, with Google you can simply share any one item and it is added to your public share page (here’s mine), which has it’s own RSS feed. So now, you can have a link dump (like Del.icio.us or similar) built straight out of your RSS feeds. What’s more, the share page is very minimalist in design and doesn’t clash with one’s sense of aesthetics as much as many other Google web projects (kind of that Fischer-Price my-first-web2.0-project look). I have given up on Gregarious at this point and switched over to using Google Reader, although I am still waiting on some features to be integrated, such as search (yeah, I know. It’s Google and they don’t have a friggin’ search field!). Gina Trapani of Lifehacker appears to also have become a Google Reader convert and that site has tons of tricks and hacks for using it to its fullest.

Last week came the announcement of Google Docs, which is the combination of Google Spreadsheets and Writely in one place. Spreadsheets has undergone a few minor tweaks since it was introduced, but looks and behaves essentially the same. Google Docs has dropped the look and feel of Writely in favor of a more Google-like appearance (Writely wasn’t bad looking and I’m not a huge fan of Google’s Fisher-Price theme, personally). The interface is very similar to Spreadsheets now. I do wish they’d create a public share method for these as well, as it would be a great way for me to share some engineering resources (sorry, not corporate secrets, just some spreadsheets of mine I’d like to open-source). I think some copyright/creative commons integration into public documents would be a great step, if Google happens to be reading this.

While I do have a PicasaWeb account, I really don’t see myself leaving Flickr anytime soon. My Flickr account is well established (and paid for for months to come), plus I have a lot of friends there who wouldn’t necessarily make the leap with me. That’s not to mention all the practical reasons for keeping with the Yahoo! owned photo site: I can get one hour developing at the Target down the street with them and I can’t (yet) with Google. Having my online life interact with my meat-space life is a pretty big deal and makes all this stuff worthwhile at the end of the day.

Since I’m on the subject of all things Google, Jason J. even nearly had the two of us chatting it up VOIP-style on Google Talk, which you can even use a web-based version with Meebo (IM’img anyway). I still prefer Skype, even though no one else seems to use it. I had to convince JJ to install it on his new machine just so we could talk (not that it would have cost us anything over the land- or cell-lines).

It would seem my conversion to the do-no-evil side is nearly complete (and about as far as it’s going to go for sometime). Given this week’s news that Google is moving towards solar power for some of its energy needs, I can feel some of that do-no-evil myself by heating up their servers just a tad bit more.

  1. I do really like how G-Mail will pick up on address for Maps or appointment times for Calender, though. I still can’t believe that Office hasn’t found a good way to do just that (you can look up an address from a Word document, but not an e-mail? Come on! []

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