Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top 10 Things Google Is Giving Away

Google and the Google Labs keep bringing new and exciting software and web-based applications to us. Here are a few that I use on a daily basis. Some are obvious, some might be new to you.
  1. Search. Yes, I know its to tie into their advertising but lets be honest, we don't really search anymore do we? No, we "Google it".
  2. Image Search. I'm going to pick on Image Search but Google gives you a lot of specific search capabilities (shopping, etc.). I just use the ability to search images most.
  3. Blogs. Well, it's pretty important to me and it's how you're reading this blog. Got something to say? You can set up your own free blog too.
  4. iGoogle. I used to write my own homepage and those for my family. But I had to host that somewhere. Now iGoogle lets me customize (TV Guide, Flixster, Gas Buddy, etc.) my start page and log into it from any computer. I still write web sites but I don't maintain a homepage outside of iGoogle anymore.
  5. GMail. There are a lot of free web based e-mail services out there but GMail links to my works Outlook server (through Mail Fetcher) and incorporates all that mail into one stream. I can also seamlessly send e-mail through GMail and it looks like it came from my work account. Great for when I'm on the road and can be added to my iGoogle homepage.
  6. GCal. A great web-based calendar system that again will pull data from my work (Outlook) calendar as well as other public calendars and host it all on one page. It too can be added to your iGoogle homepage.
  7. Maps. Others have maps too but with Streetview and Google Earth tie-ins, this is about the best of the bunch.
  8. Picassa. Web albums to store your photos, edit them and share with friends. There's not much to differentiate Picassa from the other free image hosting sites except it just always works.
  9. Groups. Those of us who have been on the web for any period of time remember the old Usenet newsgroups. These text based forums have probably passed their prime but Google now offers free access to those (as more and more ISPs cut that service to increase their profits). No access to some of the more interesting binary groups but still a way to step back into the past.
  10. You Tube. Okay, one they bought but they haven't spoilt it and it keeps all the teenagers happy.
Now not everything Google touches turns to gold. The Desktop is heavy handed, the Toolbar unnecessary and Chrome obviously a first generation release (doesn't even work on a mac yet - sheesh!!) but they all have the advantage of being free.

And there are many other things that Google offers that I haven't mentioned here.

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