Blogging, FUN, Productivity, Reviews, Technology June 7th, 2007
Almighty Google – It’s All About YOU!
If you don’t already have an account with Google, you should get one by clicking here. Why? Because Google has developed a powerhouse of technology applications that can benefit you in so many ways. And just about all of them are free. Presented here is a guide to the most useful applications Google offers and how YOU can use them everyday to improve your life.
Let’s Dive into the Google Juice!
The Basic Productivity Tools
GmailÂ Fast, searchable email with less spam. If all the techies love it, it must be the best! One of the nicest features is being able to label each email under multiple categories, which is essentially like being able to file it into multiple folders. And then you simply “Archive” all email that you are done processing. Searching for any email couldn’t be easier with the power of Google search. Here are some great articles on making the most of Gmail: 20 Ways to Use Gmailâ€™s Filters, Turn Gmail Into Your Personal Nerve Center, and Better Gmail with Greasemonkey. And you can alsoÂ add “Getting Things Done” functionality with GTDMail.
Calendar Organize your schedule and share events with friends. Sharing with friends, integration with Gmail, invitations, reminders (including to your mobile phone) and more. Here’s one open source application that allows some cell phones to sync with Gcal. I haven’t used it so I can’t vouch for its effectiveness, but I found it at WebWorkerDaily and they may have more information on it there. However if you have web on your phone, you won’t need this. Google Mobile (see below) allows you to see your calendar right on your phone!
Talk Instant Message (IM) and call your friends through your computer. Works great and it is integrated with Gmail. IM conversations automatically archived in Gmail.
Reader RSS news and feed aggregator. All your news and blog feeds in one place. Many reviews rate this the #1 reader including Lifehacker.com. Click here if you need to know what a Reader is.
iGoogle (Google Homepage) – I have written a review of iGoogle (Google Homepage) and I highly recommend this cool dashboard where you can have all kinds of gadgets, news and RSS feeds all in one place. Similar to MyYahoo, but better because it integrates with all Google tools as well as many many many others made by other vendors.
NotebookÂ “Clip and collect information as you surf the web.” Notebook has really great functionality: it’s simple, easy to use, searchable, and more.Â I use it in place of yellow stickies. I can type in a piece of code or email response that I use frequently and label it so I can find it easily anytime I need it. You could use it as a journal, recipe book, a goal list,or whatever you can dream up.
Desktop “Search and personalize your computer.” I totally love this. Google indexes your WHOLE computer and when you need something you type it into the search box at the bottom of your task bar and voila! Google finds any document, image, folder or application Instantly! And this is Free!
Pack (Google Pack ) A free collection of essential software. You can see my review of this awesome package here. It has since been updated to include even more goodies. I have this myself, I love it, and I highly recommend getting this FREE package! If you decide to get this please click on the link in the right hand sidebar. Thanks!
Google Bookmarks - Online bookmarking.
Docs & Spreadsheets “Create and share your projects online and access them from anywhere.” I am creating this article right now using Google Docs. It’s simple and Google Docs makes blog publishing a breeze. No more funky Microsoft formatting when I copy and paste into my blogging editor. I can access my documents from any computer and I don’t have to use up my hard drive space storing the documents. Check this out! I love Google Docs!
Blogger “Share your life online with a blog — it’s fast, easy, and free” Simplest way to start a quick blog. For more information check out my other articles on blogging.
Picasa “Find, edit and share your photos.” Makes photo management so easy. You didn’t realize how difficult managing your photos were until you use this and feel the relief! This comes with the Google Pack. I highly recommend it!
Page Creator – This is part of Google Labs which means it is in development.Â But it is 100% up and running. Need to put up a page or two on the web quickly and for free? Look no further. No hosting, no costs, no difficulty figuring out how to use it. Maybe you’re hosting an event and want a place to send people to. If so, you could use this. There are many potential uses. And it’s FREE.
Google Bookmarks – (Update) oops, left this one out originally. Online bookmarking.
Little Apps – Big Power
Translate Translate text or whole web pages into another language. Couldn’t be simpler or easier.
Maps for mobile “View maps and get directions on your phone.” Works great on my phone. Love it!
Mobile “Use Google on your mobile phone.” It doesn’t get much cooler than this. Or easier. You get full access to GMail, GCal, Reader, Maps, Search, News, SMS, and Blogger! Talk about integration!
SMS Use text messaging to search for quick info. Just send a text message to 466453. A message with your search result will be sent back to your phone in a matter of seconds. Very powerful, useful, and quick. There is nothing easier for getting information quickly when you’re on the go. Some example searches:
Toolbar This one is pretty self explanatory: Add a search box to your browser. It is very helpful. I can start a search from whatever page I’m on without having to go to a search page first. Handy.
SketchUp “3D modeling software tool thatâ€™s easy to learn, simple to use, and lets you place your models in Google Earth. Are you remodeling a kitchen, landscaping your back yard or adding a deck to your home? Google SketchUp makes it faster, easier and a lot more fun. From simple to complex, from conceptual to realistic, Google SketchUp helps you see your vision before you build it.” Haven’t tried it yet. I want to though. Sounds cool. And the basic version is free. The Pro version is $495.
EarthÂ Explore planet earth from your PC. Part of Google Pack. Very fun cool tool. Gotta try it!
Images Want to see a picture related to a news story you’re interested in? Whatever image you need, search for it directly with image search on Google. So easy!
YouTubeNew! You know this one! Find some cool videos!
Video I’m sure this will be integrated with YouTube at some point. They’re essentially the same thing. With both you can share them via email with friend or embed them into your website.
Alerts Get email updates on the topics of your choice. You can choose which medium you want the info from such as “blogs” or “news” or “Web.” You can get them daily, weekly or as they occur. Excellent way to stay on top of news in your particular field.
Blog Search Find blogs on your favorite topics. Technorati isn’t the only way to find cool blogs. What I like about Google Blog Search is that it is lightning fast and there are not a lot of distractions in the search results.
Book Search Search the full text of books if available. Results include links to purchasing sites, library, reviews, scholarly references, and more!
Patent SearchNew! Got an idea or new invention? Search the full text of US Patents to research if your idea is original.
Scholar Search solely in scholarly papers to ensure you find what you’re looking for.
Directory Browse the web by topic, kind of like what you would find over at Yahoo.com, but powered by Google!
Specialized Searches Search within specific topics. Includes: Public Service Search, University Search, U.S. Government, Linux, BSD, Apple Macintosh, and Microsoft.
Web Search Features Find movies, music, stocks, books, and more- Many specific areas to help you pinpoint what you’re searching for. Includes:
|Â||â€¢ Book Search||Use Google to search the full text of books.|
|Â||â€¢ Cached Links||View a snapshot of each page as it looked when we indexed it.|
|Â||â€¢ Calculator||Use Google to evaluate mathematical expressions.|
|Â||â€¢ Currency Conversion||Easily perform any currency conversion.|
|Â||â€¢ Definitions||Use Google to get glossary definitions gathered from various online sources.|
|Â||â€¢ File Types||Search for non-HTML file formats including PDF documents and others.|
|Â||â€¢ Groups||See relevant postings from Google Groups in your regular web search results.|
|Â||â€¢ I’m Feeling Lucky||Bypass our results and go to the first web page returned for your query.|
|Â||â€¢ Images||See relevant images in your regular web search results.|
|Â||â€¢ Local Search||Search for local businesses and services in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada.|
|Â||â€¢ Movies||Use Google to find reviews and showtimes for movies playing near you.|
|Â||â€¢ Music Search||Use Google to get quick access to a wide range of music information.|
|Â||â€¢ News Headlines||Enhances your search results with the latest related news stories.|
|Â||â€¢ PhoneBook||Look up U.S. street address and phone number information.|
|Â||â€¢ Product Search||To find a product for sale online, use Google Product Search.|
|Â||â€¢ Q&A||Use Google to get quick answers to straightforward questions.|
|Â||â€¢ Refine Your Search – New!||Add instant info and topic-specific links to your search in order to focus and improve your results.|
|Â||â€¢ Results Prefetching||Makes searching in Firefox faster.|
|Â||â€¢ Search By Number||Use Google to access package tracking information, US patents, and a variety of online databases.|
|Â||â€¢ Similar Pages||Display pages that are related to a particular result.|
|Â||â€¢ SiteÂ Search||Restrict your search to a specific site.|
|Â||â€¢ Spell Checker||Offers alternative spelling for queries.|
|Â||â€¢ Stock and Fund Quotes||Use Google to get up-to-date stock and mutual fund quotes and information.|
|Â||â€¢ Street Maps||Use Google to find U.S. street maps.|
|Â||â€¢ Travel Information||Check the status of an airline flight in the U.S. or view airport delays and weather conditions.|
|Â||â€¢ Weather||Check the current weather conditions and forecast for any location in the U.S.|
|Â||â€¢Â WebÂ PageÂ TranslationÂ||Provides you access to web pages in other languages.|
|Â||â€¢ WhoÂ LinksÂ ToÂ You?||Find pages that point to a specific URL.|
Search Tricks: try these quick searches on regular Google.com:
“Weather + your zipcode” – will give you weather for the next few days.
“Movies + your zipcode” – all the movie listings in your area. Click to drill down and buy tickets. Quick links to reviews too.
“address + zip code” – instant Google Map. One more click to “get directions to this destination.”
Analytics Track your web logs stats for any website for free. Very comprehensive!
Code “Download APIs and open source code.”
Co-op – now with Custom Search EngineNew! “Contribute your expertise and customize the web search experience.”
Labs “Explore Google’s technology playground.” Includes many applications including Reader, Experimental Search, Music Trends, Code Search, Google Mars, Google Sets, and more. If you like technology, swing by and check out some of these newbie projects.
Webmaster ToolsÂ - For getting your site indexed by Google.com. Helps with setting up a site index. Visit to learn more.
News & Information
Finance “Business info, news, and interactive charts.” You can set up portfolios of stocks and you can drill down for quite a bit of information on individual stocks.
News – now with archive searchNew! Search thousands of news stories. Pretty self explanatory. You can choose from many categories, and you can personalize it. Of course you can take the best from here and add it to your iGoogle (homepage.)
LocalÂ Find local businesses and get directions. This is a Map featured search.
Web History If you choose to enable this, Google will allow you to go back to every website you visited indexed by date and time. This way, if you are trying to remember that cool site you visited but forgot to bookmark, you’ll be able to find it. I like it. If you share a computer, your information will be private because you need to enter your password to view the information.
Groups Create mailing lists and discussion groups. The possible uses are endless. Swing by to see some examples: user groups, hobby groups, mommy groups, social groups, etc.
Orkut – “is an online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends.We are committed to providing an online meeting place for people to socialize, make new acquaintances and find others who share their interests. Join orkut now to create and connect with your own social circle.”
Catalogs Search or browse mail-order catalogs. I’m not a big shopper so I don’t have a lot of use for this. I took a peek and wasn’t too impressed. Let me know if you find something good about this one. Otherwise I recommend Product Search instead.
Checkout Complete online purchases more quickly and securely. The idea here is you buy from many places using one account to pay and track it all.
Product Search (formerly Froogle) Search for stuff to buy. This is for if you only want products in your search results. If you like to shop and browse, you should take a look. It allows you compare prices from multiple vendors.
Sellers & eCommerce
Base – Best way I can describe this is it’s like a cross between Craigslist (as in Free), Ebay (as in sell your stuff), and Groups (as in you can share anything here.) It’s also high tech so that you can upload multiple items at a time. Worth taking a look.
AdWords – Advertise with Google to find buyers searching for what you sell. There are a gazillion resources on how to use this best. Here is the link to Google’s guides on Adwords. And here is a commercial guide that comes highly recommended by The Snowflake Method Guy. and is free is the 5 day email course by Perry Marshall. He has a book to sell too, but I’ve heard that the email course is enough to get you started.
AdSense – Generate revenue by placing Google contextual ads on your website or blog. Pays per click. Again, there are many sources of guidance for how best to use Adsense. Here is Google’s online webinar. And here are a few more guides: The Ultimate Beginnerâ€™s Guide to Effective Adsense Link Units …(Dosh,Dosh), and Ultimate Adsense Guide – Video: Google AdSense Secrets (Joel Comm).
I’d like to address the concern about privacy. Google must abide by all the same privacy laws that any online provider must follow. If you use email or if you process transactions online, then you are putting a certain amount of trust in the vendors who provide those services. If you don’t trust Google, then you probably shouldn’t trust any vendor, and probably shouldn’t transact any business online. This is how I personally look at it: so much of our information is already out there in cyberspace and even in analog form, that this is something I’m not going to worry about unless I need to. This is how I look at it personally. I respect that others may have different feelings. If you have thoughts on this, please feel free to share them.
Are there any new Google apps that I’ve missed? Do you have any special uses for Google apps that you love? What are they? Please share!
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