3.23.2009

All I Want for Easter is Google Apps at Work (Thing 29)

Google is so integrated into my personal life that if there were ever a Dark Angel-style apocalypse and Google went under, my life would probably collapse along with it…or rather, I would simply swear a lot, accept my loss, and begrudgingly move on with life (kinda like when I killed both my laptop hard drive and both external backup hard drive at once, yeah, that was a bad day). The point is, I am very dependent on Google tools; they increase my productivity immensely and make life easier to organize. I could write an entire blog just on Google, but no one needs to witness that lovefest. So when I came to Thing 29, I expected to be able to do a quick been-there-done-that post, but to my surprise, there was one unfamiliar face in the list of tools to explore: SearchWiki.

So that’s what those icons do…

Turns out that I had in fact heard about SearchWiki and had long ago noticed the icons next to my search results, but I had mistakenly though SearchWiki was a Digg-type social ranking of websites. I had not realized that rearranging and removing results only affected my own searches, and even then only the specific query that I reorganized (e.g. if I remove a website from one search, it will still show up in others). Now that I know what SearchWiki really does, I think it could be a very useful tool.

There are times when I need to collect web pages for a project, but have no need to reference those pages after the project is complete; and, I don’t want to bookmark said pages, only to have to clean out my bookmarks later. For example, when I want to buy new hardware, I often compare different brands and models, and then compare stores for the best price on my chosen item. After I make a purchase, however, I have no need to know which store had the best price on said item at the time I bought it. Likewise, when looking for a code snippet plugin, I end up with a list of resources, but often forget to note which ones were the best. Using SearchWiki will allow me to make a temporary ranking of useful sites, without having to clutter my bookmarks or notebooks (digital or otherwise).

Sites Revisited


From the other list of tools to explore, I choose to take another look at Google Sites; I had test-driven Sites when they first premiered, but quickly decided they were too simple and nothing special, having originally been simply a drag & drop creator of static web pages. Pleasantly, Sites has immensely improved since my original passing glance. Rather than just another WYSIWYG webpage editor, Sites enables users to embed videos, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photo slide shows, and calendars from their Google account. It is also possible to add Google Gadgets, essentially making it possible to have a public iGoogle page (although, I would go with Netvibes for public personalized startpages). And, if all else fails and you need more control than WYSIWYG can offer, you can edit the HTML of your site for optimum customization. Additionally, attachment/file hosting and sharing options also give Sites wiki-like collaboration, making it a good solution for groups, perhaps even more so than Google Groups. While I would not use Google Sites for the front-end presence of any company or organization, I think that the easy yet feature-rich Google Sites is an great solution for sharing information, especially for those already taking advantage of other Google services.

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