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 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! []