Saturday, September 12, 2009

#8 iGoogle

Now this is a tool for me! Having all those commonly used sites and features customisable on my homepage really appeals to me. I had heard of iGoogle but not explored it before - I'm hooked already. News, weather, sports, quotes of the day, the odd quick game or two, facebook updates, maps, google docs .... and some of the fun gadgets I'll be having fun with! Not to mention the most used of all ... google search right there at the top ready to go! I like the tabs down the side which a quick click leads to lots of relevant sites to further explore.

One gadget I would use regularly at work, along with Google docs, is a Thesaurus search. I'm often stuck for the right word and having a quick search utility right there on the home page is great.

As for working at Google ... yes please! If the videos are to be believed, working in IT in a casual relaxed atmosphere full of happy workmates ... I can see myself there!

Thanks for introduction to iGoogle ... I'm off to delve a little deeper!


#7 Google Book Search

An interesting Google feature this one. Certainly a wonderful tool for sourcing any type of book imaginable, but in my experience by no means comprehensive. A random selection from my bookshelves revealed varying results, which probably says more about my taste in reading matter than the effectiveness of Google Books!

As a tool for education, I would say it's invaluable. To be able to source a range of books with options of previews, reviews, full text in the case of out of copyright books and the added bonus of being able to locate the book in a store or library, all from the one site makes it a winner.

Is Google the new Microsoft? Far more learned people than me have many an opinion on what I see as a rhetorical question. But one thought springs to mind... no one these days ever says "do an internet search" or "type it into a search engine" ... what we hear is "Google it!". And with the list of added features growing all the time there is no doubt Google holds a well deserved monopoly.

I've always been quite a fan and defender of Microsoft - their products are top rate market leaders in my humble opinion. They have set the benchmark for many products which companies like Google have then adapted and refaced (don't shoot me!). The big difference? Cost! These products are now available to everyone for the small inconvenience of a few ads. I'm not complaining!


#6 Google Maps

Another application I have used many times for necessities but never taken the time to explore for fun. Today I thought I'd locate a couple of the hotels I stayed at during an overseas trip 23 years (gulp!) ago. Oh the memories - such happy days - if only I'd appreciated them more at the time. And goodness me, did I really walk home alone through London's Hyde Park after an evening performance at the Royal Albert Hall? How am I still alive today to relive the folly??

Google Maps is an excellent feature that has so many uses, and I'm sorry Gregory's, but I doubt that old street directory of mine will ever be replaced (but hey, it was great in its day!).

Thanks for the memories!


#5 Google Docs

Funny how I've always been aware of all these added features of Google, but only ever take the time to investigate them when an urgent need arises, as has been the case previously with Google Maps, Calendar, Picasa and SketchUp.

So now I've had a play with Google Docs I can see some great uses. Can't wait to introduce my high school aged sons to this feature so they can no longer use the "I forgot to save it to my usb" line when working on assignments at school or home!

I had a bit of fun creating some new business cards for school and a daily planner/to do list for myself. This I thought I could share with my boss at work .. but had second thoughts on that ... way too dangerous if she's able to add jobs willy-nilly to my list of things to do! The template feature is great - although I hope I can figure out a way to weed out all the foreign language ones.

Anyway, I'm keen to investigate further so I'll be off...


#4 What is Web 2.0?

There's no denying that each generation feels that they have seen more changes in the world and how we live than any previous generation. The invention of the wheel, the engine, the telephone, the internet, the legendary sliced bread ..... an endless list of developments that have contributed positively to comfort and lifestyle.

Then comes Web 2.0 - "the second generation of web development and web design that facilitates information sharing and collaboration on the World Wide Web". What does this mean? To me, it means the internet is no longer just an information source that contains websites created by those in the know. We no longer need to have a degree in information technology, or pay someone who does, to share our knowledge or our life with the world. This is a simplistic view, but a crude summary of how I see Web 2.0.

We no longer have to leave the comfort of our homes to shop, bank, transact with government agencies, "meet" people, learn... who needs a library, a street directory, a travel agent, a car yard, a photo store, a newspaper, a bottle shop (oh no, wait, we still need one of those!!). But where do we go to meet people ... a bar? a nightclub? bingo? ... no, apparently we "go" to rsvp, or myspace, or facebook - virtual worlds where the selection is endless and everyone is suddenly td&h with a gsoh (which apparently means tall, dark and handsome with a good sense of humour).

So, does Web 2.0 fall into the 'positive contribution' category? Well there are certainly benefits - timesaving, less travel, no crowds. But what of SOCIAL SKILLS?? Trying to converse with todays teenagers .. (sorry, i have just typed a whole paragraph about the conversational skills and eye contact with teenagers and then deleted it because I was sounding ancient!). Suffice to say that whilst Web 2.0 is opening up a whole new world to all of us, there is no doubt that face to face interaction is a dying art. Then again, global interaction is another matter - with chatrooms and social networking removing the barriers of distance, our world is conversing like never before - maybe there is hope for world peace after all!

As the the concept of Education 2.0, I can see many benefits, especially living in a low soci0-economic rural area where the costs and distance are a formidable barrier to many considering higher education. However again, the social impact of such a revolution will make for an interesting change in acceptable communication styles.

Here endeth the rant!