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Friday, July 13, 2007

All Googly eyed

No E3 commentary in this post I'm afraid. I just don't have time right now. If I had to start writing about E3, I'd probably keep going until Monday, and I really don't have time right now I'm afraid. What I can afford some time for while I'm waiting for builds (again) is two quick Google product user tips.

The other Google desktop

I love using Google Notebook, not just to grab references off the web that I might otherwise forget, but as a full GTD system for priority planning as described in this great lifehacker article. I also find Google Calendar to be an excellent all-round calendar tool (especially thanks to it's great quick-add functionality). The problem with web-based productivity tools is that they can be counter-productive simply because you have the distracting temptation of an open browser.

Well Windows XP has a nice way to avoid this temptation-web components on your desktop. This oft-forgotten feature is a simple way to always have these tools available.  To add them:

  1. Right-click on your desktop and select Properties
  2. The Display Properties dialog opens. In the Desktop click Customize Desktop.
  3. The Desktop Items dialog opens. In the Web tab, click New.
  4. The New Desktop Item dialog opens, enter the URL of the site (for example and click OK.
  5. The Add item to Active Desktop (TM) dialog appears, click OK.
  6. Wait for the Synchronize dialog to complete and disappear.
  7. Click OK in the Desktop Items dialog, and again in the Display Properties dialog.
  8. Move and resize the component to your liking.

Now to quickly switch to Notebook, Calendar or whatever you decide to use this way, just hit Windows Key + D on the keyboard.

Note that this will use the IE rendering engine, regardless of what browser you normally use, so it may not already have Google cookies for your ID, just sign in and you should be fine. This also means that your greasemonkey scripts won't be active on the page so you will have to make do with the standard pages.

Some other potentially great uses of active desktop with modern sites could be:

  • A Flickr slideshow as your background
  • Google custom home always available
  • A permanent alternative web OS like YouOS always available.

Any more good suggestions?

Google Notebook for Mobiles (almost)

One of the biggest missing features in Google Notebook for me is a mobile version. I want to be able to quickly jot down notes and always have them available-and view my existing notes. Now while Google has yet to make this feature available, they have created a Google notebook gadget for your custom homepage.

Depending on your phone browser's abilities, this gadget can be used as a read-only view of your notebook on your phone. Simply got to in your phone browser and you'll be able to look over your notes.

If someone figures out how to edit text that would be great-let me know ;)



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