Archive for April 21st, 2008


I tend to use Google a lot. It’s not because I have any particular love for the company – although I do have a little admiration – it is because whatever they seem to want to do, turns out to be something I want to do as well.

First of all, passwords. Google have simplified this so that you keep the same user name and password for each and every one of their applications. I tend to change my password every month as I am a heavy user of this company’s products.

When I fire up my Firefox browser, the home website it goes into is “iGoogle”. This is the “shell” which has links to all the Google applications I use, together with a number of their “widgets”. A “widget” is a useful utility that does a small thing. For example, I use Google Clocks which gives me the time in all the countries I phone from time to time to ensure I do not phone at awkward times. Another has the date, another has a countdown to a particular day. Another shows me the weather, there is an eBay search, and all my applications are also included as well.

The first application, and my start in my use of Google, is Gmail. I have mentioned this in a recent blog, so will skip too much explanation of this extremely useful function.

The last application I subscribed to was Google Reader and this is a real application killer! Many of us keep visiting websites to see if there have been many additions. If you visit a few every day and no new information has been added, you are wasting your valuable time. The next time you visit the website, copy the URL (web page address), and go into Google Reader. Click the “Subscribe” button on the top left-hand corner of the page, paste in the URL and click “Add”. In no time at all that web site will be on your Google Reader Page. You can add as many addresses as you like and each time you go into Google Reader it will show you any additional articles on all of your websites. Start by typing in ““and you will always be notified of my latest blog!

Google Groups. This is based a little on Usenet, but without the “plonkers” one tends to get on Usenet. You have full control of your group and can suspend or ban people from joining, make your group private or open to the public, and allow specific people only “posting privileges”.

Google Calendar. This is very useful. We have an office at home and, although my wife and I have our desks near each other, our calendars are with Google (probably in California). We have used the “permissions” facility to link our Calendars together. Now, if I am at my computer and Pam is out, and a friend phones up to arrange for us to see them, I check my calendar, click on Pam’s name on the left and her appointments are immediately superimposed on top of my calendar, but colour coded in a different colour. Now I can make an appointment that is convenient to both and after I have entered the details, I can click on “Add Guest” and an email will go to Pam’s email address. She can click on Accept or Deny on the email. If “accept” the information is immediately placed in her Calendar. She can also link to my calendar although this is not necessary if you want the facility to be one way only.

Google Talk. This is a clean simple alternative to MSN Messenger, Skype, or Yahoo Messenger and allows quick typed notes to be sent to other users. Can be very handy in a company. Pam and I use it as a noticeboard to send messages to each other if one of us is out.

Google Notes. This is where you can collect your notes. You can download a piece of software to connect to your Firefox or Internet Explorer so that your copy/cut and paste operations are copied to your notes. This can be looked at on your browser when convenient but the joy is, it is also on the Notes website under your sign-in on the web so can be checked from anywhere in the world.

Google Maps. Once again, a nice clean application. Once you sign in, you can keep a list of the maps you ask for if you so require so you can refer back later from anywhere in the world. And you can just type in the name of a Restaurant. For example, go to Google Maps and type in: Le Train Bleu, Paris. You go straight to Paris, in France, and it shows the address (it is in the Gare de Lyon). Of course you can print out the map and, unlike some other street map applications, it prints out on one page without all the rubbish and adverts. And, naturally, it has a facility of printing a map from where you are to the place you want to go.

Google Documents. This is a very good word processor, spreadsheet and presentation set of programs that allow you to work directly on the web from wherever you happen to be in the world. It also allows you to give permissions for others to not only read the documents, but if you so wish, to edit them as well. And, of course, You can have different people allowed different access to different documents.

Further information can be got direct from the Google Applications web page.



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