Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Death of Lively

Lively, Google's foray into virtual worlds, hasn't been a success. As such, Google just announced that it is shutting down Lively at the end of 2008. (Scratch that chapter from my Googlepedia book!) Sorry, Lively fans.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Googlepedia Third Edition

Just released -- the new third edition of Googlepedia: The Ultimate Google Resource. Updated for all of Google's newest features, including Google Presentations, Google Gadgets, Google Gears, Android, and the Google Chrome web browser. Now available at bookstores everywhere for just $29.99 -- learn more on the Googlepedia page of my website.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Google Docs Interfaces

Google has introduced new interfaces for the Google Spreadsheets and Google Presentations components of the Google Docs suite. The new interfaces use a standard pull-down menu system instead of the odd tabbed operation system previously in pace. Insead of selecting the Edit tab to edit your spreadsheet, for example, you simply use the pull-down Edit menu. This approach standardizes all three applications of the Google Docs suite and makes it much more like Microsoft Office in operation.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Google Chrome

Google just made one of its biggest announcements in some time. The big news is a Google web browser, dubbed Google Chrome. 

As a web browser, Chrome is similar to Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. That said, Chrome is actually more than a web browser; some have compared it to a web-based operating system, or at the very least an operating container for web-based applications. I'll explain why in a few paragraphs.

First, let's examine Chrome as a web browser. The Chrome interface resembles that of Internet Explorer and other modern web browsers, complete with tabs for different web pages. Chrome is a bit sleeker than the other browsers, however, with no menu bar, search bar, status bar, or other extraneous bits and pieces. This makes the web page bigger in the window, which isn't a bad thing. In essence, it moves the business of the browser out of the way so that you can pay more attention to the web page itself.

Where Chrome really shines, however, becomes apparent when you use it to run a web-based application, such as Google Calendar or Google Docs. Select the right options, and your application appears in a window that resembles a traditional desktop application window rather than a browser; the tabs and the toolbars fade away so that all you see is the application itself. Even better, web-based applications run much faster in Chrome than they do in competing web browsers -- more than 50 times faster than with Internet Explorer, or at least that's what Google's engineers claim.

Chrome's speed is due partly to the stripped down interface, but more likely is a result of the modern JavaScript engine used to run the browser. Chrome's engine, dubbed "V8,"  is designed to improve the performance of complex applications -- just like the cloud computing applications that Google serves up to its millions of users.

Why is Google launching its own web browser? Isn't Microsoft Explorer (or Firefox or Safari or Opera) good enough? Apparently not -- at least when it comes to working from within the browser. The folks at Google, like many users, spend much of their computing time not working with traditional applications, but rather working inside the web browser. Whether it's reading email via Gmail, checking appointments in Google Calendar, or working on documents and presentations with Google Docs, there's a lot of work that gets done inside the browser. Unfortunately, today's major browsers are based on technology originally developed more than a dozen years ago -- and that technology was designed for the process of loading traditional HTML web pages, not for running dynamic web-based applications.

Thus Google's interest in developing a new type of web browser optimized for running cloud applications. As I stated previously, Chrome is more of a application container or web-based operating system than it is a browser. To this point, Chrome doesn't compete with Internet Explorer; it competes, instead, with Microsoft Windows itself. And that is something that Microsoft ought to be worried about.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Google Friend Connect

Want to turn your website into a social networking hub? Google Friend Connect lets you enhance your web pages with a variety of OpenSocial gadgets that add a variety of social features, no programming required on your part. With the gadgets installed, you'll be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends, as well as communicate with existing friends from social sites on the web like Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, LinkedIn, orkut, and Plaxo. Learn more and sign up for the preview release here: Google Friend Connect.

Google Maps Real Estate Search

Here's a good one if you're interested in purchasing a new house. Google Maps has added a Real Estate Search to its advanced search functions. Just click the Show Search Options link to display the Restrict Results list. Pull down this list and select Real Estate then enter an address, and Google will show all avaialble properties near that address. Neat!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Google Spreadsheets Features

Google has adds some useful new features to its Google Spreadsheets application. These new features include:

  • Email notifications when collaborators make changes to the spreadsheet in general, or edit specific cells.
  • Autocomplete for repetitive cell values
  • New gadgets you can add to use existing spreadsheet data, including interactive charts, timelines, filters, pivot tables, maps, and such

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Google Calendar Sync

Here's a great new tool -- I've been waiting for something like this for a long time. Google Calendar Sync is a utility that performs one-way or two-way syncing between your Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook. Read more and download it here.