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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Google rocks!

This is a very quiet week at work, as you may expect. That's precisely why I enjoy working the week between Christmas an New Year... all the peace and quiet.

It's given me quite a lot of time to play around on the web. What I've been playing with this week is a bunch of Google's new products.

You may have noticed that Google Blogger has come out of Beta. I haven't tested all the new functionality yet, but I must say I'm impressed so far. If you haven't upgraded yours yet, I suggest you do so.

I'm typing this post on Google Docs & Spreadsheets... Google's web-based word-processor/spreadsheet application. From here I can publish my documents to my blog, to a seperate, dedicated web page and invite collaborators to work on my documents with me!

I've also fallen in love with Google Reader... a web-based XML feed reader that allows me to keep track of all the updates on all my favourite blogs, webcomics and news sites from one page! It even has a Shared Items page where I can publish my favourite articles to a publicly viewable web-page that you guys can monitor using your Google Reader! (I've added a link to my Shared Items page on the right-hand side of this one).

I've also been playing with Google Books Search, where you can search the full content of thousands (if not millions) of public-domain books. It would be nice if a lot of the newer books were also in the public domain, but it's still a super cool resource for information.

The other one I've been playing with is Google Groups... Google's answer to the long-standing Yahoo Groups mailing list service. Although not yet as feature-rich as it's Yahoo counterpart, Google Groups does integrate nicely with the other Google products and it's far more configurable. I'm contemplating migrating my existing Yahoo groups over to Google, despite the effort that would entail.

At work I've been involved with a couple of internal projects that will facilitate a convergence of all work functions through a single interface: Microsoft SharePoint Portal. I've been very excited about it. These new Google products and the inter-connectedness they have presents an opportunity for me to integrate all my non-work stuff through a single portal as well... also a very exciting proposition.

My one dissapointment with Google's products is the Google Calendar. There's nothing wrong with it as such. It's very feature-rich and boasts all kinds of cool thingies, like SMS reminders and stuff. My problem is that I'm already trying to keep calendars updated in four different places, which currently involves a fair amount of manual work. Without some sort of real-time or regular synchronisation between Google Calendar, my Outlook (at work and at home), my cellphone or my PDA, I'm afraid it's just no use to me.

So what are you waiting for? Go play with all the cool thingies!