Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thing 29 Google Tools

It's almost scary to contemplate all the Google tools I use on a daily basis. What would I do without them? I have a iGoogle home page, use Google Reader, am overwhelmed daily by Google News (I've learned to hit delete without guilt), and frequent Google web search and Google Scholar and Book Search with hourly regularity. Google is a librarian's best friend, if you know how and when to use the tools they offer.

For this thing, I set up a number of Google Alerts: one for mention of my hometown, one each for mention of my favorite jazz artists, and one for my own name. It didn't create too many additional e-mail notices, but I did find the results interesting. It works much the same way Twilert worked when I used it to score a hard to come by Nintendo WiiFit at Christmas time. I was notified of the release date of both favored artists new albums and used that information to pre-order their music so I actually got it on the day it was released (not that I needed to, but it was nice to have.)The hometown alert brought up news stories from sources other than those I normally read in an RSS feed, and despite all my Web2.0 activities, my name didn't show up anywhere I didn't expect it to, easing fears of identity theft and privacy concerns.

For productivity, Gmail is a boon while traveling since it is so easily accessible. Recentl changes to gmail have made it even easier to find archived mail. I had set up an account for the original 23 Things program use, and have found it so handy, that it has become my default for mail I want to be sure I see. It's also easy to have that same mail sent to my main work account for my convenience as well. The best thing about it is their ability to identify spam as spam and not accidentally eliminate real messages that I would want to receive. I only wish my work ISP mail service could do as well. There legitimate messages are regularly flagged as spam when they are NOT.

I am very excited by Google Sites. It looks like it would be great for those of us who are HTML challenged with no time to study up on it, and would allow us to have a vital, easy to update website. I intend to investigate it further and keep an eye on this as a possible venue for our NCLC web page.I'd have made the change already, except for the fact that when I checked it did not support the use of forms which I use as part of our interlibrary loan service. If and when forms are supported, it would be perfect for us.

And the Google apps and features just keep on coming. While editing a post today, I learned that my Blogger blog's photos have their own album in Picasa Web Albums. I signed in, went and looked, and there they were. What a cool tool that is as well.

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