Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Google-y world

For a change of focus, I thought I would tell the story of my gradual adoption of everything Google.

You see, 6 (or so) years ago, I used Yahoo as my search engine and had a Yahoo email account (two in fact). My grasp of Google was hazy.

About 3 years ago, I made the transition to using Google for web searches, but didn't know there was much more on offer. I then switched to Gmail for personal emails about 1.5 years ago, and have gone on to discover the world of Google apps and products.

And not looked back! In fact, in some areas, I could be said to have gone a little overboard.

First up: Google Docs

As a recorder, writer, logger and calculator, I fell instantly in love with the concept of an online-based, accessible-anywhere document system. Especially one that was free.

I also fell in love with the possibility of saving Google documents into an Office equivalent (Word / Excel / etc.), of imported Office documents into Google Docs, and of being able to save Google Docs into PDF format. Plus, you can share documents with others and work on them simultaneously.

In my initial excitement over the Google Docs concept, I started logging my running, my finances, books I read, my mortgage repayments (yes, separate to my overall finances), movies I see, activities I want to do, upcoming holiday plans, vegetable planting plans... Some of these I had previously logged in Excel, but quite a few were new additions.

I currently have 38 Google documents. And I have only been using Docs for a year or so. I think I should just call myself a Google Doc Addict and be done with it.

This is my most zealous area, though, so things do become less obsessive from here!

Picasa

I think with Picasa I may have struck a balanced relationship. I have the computer-based download on my laptop for managing (and sometimes editing) photos, and use the online Picasa Web Albums to share photos with non-facebook friends / family members.

The computer download is also great for creating collages and the like.



And the online version works as a bonus back-up system for photos I really don't want to lose (such as scanned baby and childhood photos).



Google Reader

Google Reader is my latest discovery and, frankly, I don't know how I lived with out it. Once upon a time (3 months ago...) I would check each of the blogs I follow separately, going to their bookmark in my "Blogs" bookmark folder. I had no way of knowing until I got to the site whether an update had occured since I last checked, so it wasn't the most efficient of methods.

Now, along with the many, many people who caught on to this concept before me, I have all of the blogs and websites I follow in my Google Reader list. I can see at a glance how many updates are available, and go through all blogs from one place. I can also keep up-to-date with sites I don't read every week, but check in on every now and then.

Screenshot 12/05/2011
So much simpler!

The problem with this effectiveness is that I'm tempted to go a bit overboard, and add anything I find even remotely interesting to my Reader list. I'm up to 34 blogs in my food / health / fitness category, whereas when I set Google Reader up, I had about 12. If I read all 34 religiously, it would start to become a full-time job!

Of course, the beauty of Google Reader is precisely that you don't have to follow everything religiously, because the information is gathered for you and you can attend to it or ignore at your whim. It does make me think, though, that I am entirely capable of drowning myself in Reader subscriptions.

Other products

I also use, although less reguarly, Google calendar, To Do lists, iGoogle (home page set up) and Translate.

Screenshot courtesy of Google
 
And there you are! Google-less to Googled over in just 6 years. And I have no doubt there is much more I am yet to discover.


What about you? Do you use any Google products or features? Are there are more I should know about?!

26 comments:

  1. What a useful summary! I am still learning about many of those :)

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  2. Oh man, I feel like such a tehnincompoop after reading this! All I really know and use is google reader!

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  3. It's easy with google isn't it. I use most of them as well. Love the google translate... although my blog isn't with them.
    Did you know there is google health? It can store all your medical info.

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  4. Fascinating to see what you are using - a blog reader was a revelation to me too months after I started blogging - I started on bloglines and moved to google reader - both had strengths.

    Have you signed your blog up to google analytics for stats - it is useful (and sometimes fun) to look at

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