Saturday, January 30, 2010

We're a Google Family

Google Inc.Image via Wikipedia
We're a hardcore Google Family. All Google applications are free and there is an online app for everything. Check out the list of available apps. You don't have to download software. All Google apps are available online, or to use the parlance of our time, "in the cloud".

We have four Gmail addresses between us -me, Jennifer, Fletch and a family email. Yes even Fletch has his own email address. I wanted to make sure he didn't get some crazy email address like fletchos4987 when he's old enough to use the computer, so we registered a Gmail address early. If you want to email him his email address is fletchshock at gmail dot com. Don't expect a prompt response or it to make any sense. He's a baby for God's sake! Do look for him to post to this blog in the near future. :)

We use Google Calendar to schedule our lives and for reminders. I have a personal calendar, Jenn has a personal and school schedule calendar, we have a family calendar and a bills calendar to keep track of when our bills are due. There are also cool public calendars like sports teams schedules (I subscribe to the Redskins calendar of course), moon phases, holidays and a calendar that will pull all your contacts birthdays and anniversaries. I don't think we could live without it.

We use Google Reader to follow our favorite blogs. It's handy if you follow lots of blogs that span multiple interests. You can use tags like 'personal', 'sports', 'finance' or 'hobbies' to organize your blogs into categories. My favorite blogs are personal (friends and family blogs), the Redskins, personal finance, music, life hacks, beard blogs (there are many), blogs about the movie The Big Lebowski, and Google blogs. Jenn's favorite blogs are family and friends, crafts, The People of Walmart, Cake Wrecks and Awkward Family Photos.

We use Google Docs to create and share our online documents, spreadsheets and presentations. It's like an online version of Microsoft Office. You can create documents or scan and upload. It's compatible with MS Office, Open Office and PDF document formats. Docs has many advantages. It's free and doesn't take up any space on your hard drive. It's green in that you can upload all your important documents and store them in the cloud reducing clutter and improving organization. You can share documents with anyone who has an email address. You can collaborate simultaneously on the same document will all the doc owners. Jennifer's family sends out an annual holiday gift list email. It was hard to maintain among 10 adults and numerous kids. Jennifer turned the gift list into a Google Docs spreadsheet, shared it with everybody and viola! - problem solved. Everyone had access and could make updates without worrying if the they were editing the latest draft.

Our blogs are written and hosted by Blogger, Google's blog application. It's not as robust as Wordpress, but it suits our needs.

We use Google Sites to build and host our our family website, chronic and shock dot  com.

Google Maps has replaced MapQuest as the map and directions website of choice. Before we got a GPS, we used Maps to get directions.

You can get Google products on your cellphone with Google Mobile. I can read my email, check my calendar, read blogs, find or create a document, make a call, send a text and get directions on my phone. You never have to leave home without Google apps.

The newest addition to our Google family is Google Voice. It gives you one phone number that can ring all your phones. It also transcribes your voicemail messages and sends you an email when you've got a new message. It links to your Gmail contact list. You can also send text messages from the website or email. I recently transitioned to a Google Voice number. Now when people call me, my cell phone, work phone and Jenn's phone all ring. The flexibility is amazing. You can have different settings per contact. If my mom calls, I can have it ring all my phones. If work calls, I can have it just ring my work phone. If you didn't receive the email with my new number the send me an email and I'll be happy to give it to you.

One Google app we don't use is Picasa, the photo website. We use Flickr instead. No particular reason. Flickr is just the more popular of the two.

Enough with the Google advertisement. I'm not a paid spokesperson. But I don't mind singing the praises of a forward thinking, creative company that has applications to make our life organized and easier. Just call us a digital family. We live in the cloud.
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