Google Book Search Gets Personalization

On the official Google Book Search blog, the article My (own) library on Book Search announces the addition of a feature I’d noticed added recently, but hadn’t really checked out. Turns out the “My library” feature is a list of books that you personally own (or whatever books you want to add, really). You can search just within this list when you search Books, and you can rate books, write reviews, and label them for organization. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information, and Book Search, still in beta, is a huge step toward that. Publishers, libraries, and individual…

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More Google Docs Comments

Now that I’ve been using Google Docs for the better part of a week, I must say I’m pretty impressed with its capabilities. I can edit assignments from any computer, have other people review and edit them from anywhere, email directly from the composition window without saving a file to disk, and even edit at the same time as an advanced collaborator. Amazingly, Docs does not support charts, though you can insert them as PNGs exported from Google Spreadsheets, somewhat defeating the convenience. It’s either dummy spreadsheet or Word time for me, because I have an assignment that requires graphs……

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Gmail EXE Block Workaround

What I’m going to do, as a little short, is teach you to send EXE file attachments in Gmail. I’ve sent this workaround to many people (friends, family), but apparently have never published it in this blog. It’s probably useful for programmers emailing samples of their small apps to friends and family, or for sending system-saving programs to a non-techie whose computer is dead. The way Gmail filters attachments appears to be, at least now, by extension. This means the filter is tricked very easily. There are only a few steps to this workaround, and it’s reasonably straightforward. The only…

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School Email Sucks

Today’s generation of Web servers can do a lot of things: Run a store, provide static information, publish random writings (like mine), host sites anyone can edit (Wikipedia, specifically, and wikis in general), bring news updates instantly (RSS/Atom), and run schools. That’s right, run schools. Built on the Apache Tomcat server base, the Blackboard Learning System has been adopted by many schools, including Augsburg College (which has since switched to Moodle, mentioned below) and the notorious Houston, MN, School District, better known as MCoOL (those are the ones I know). Other platforms like Moodle don’t seem to be as popular,…

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GrandCentral Active

I just used a site called InviteShare to get an invitation to Google’s GrandCentral service. The site enables you to ring up to six phones from one number that will never change (unless they have a carrier problem like they did a couple weeks ago). Switch phones in the middle of a call, ListenIn™ on a voicemail, record calls… So many features! And everything’s free while the service is in beta period. I’d recommend it already. It has a few shortcomings (such as numbers disappearing from the availability list while searching and no contact integration with anything, even Gmail), but…

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Google Reader Graduates from Labs

I just noticed that Google Reader has graduated from Google’s Labs development area and has moved on to become a full-fledged service. Not only has the interface been tweaked, but they actually show you the exact number of unread items you have (instead of displaying “100+” once you surpass 100) and have finally implemented…a SEARCH BOX!!! This is a big day for Google Reader fans, and I expect this to generate some buzz in the blogosphere, if it hasn’t already started. Looks like all those feature requests to the Google Reader Group were being taken to heart after all.

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Google Docs Reviewed (Short)

I just completed a first draft of a document using Google Docs, the collaborative editing suite for the Web. I was editing with one other editor, and we were both making some quick changes, but Docs managed to keep up with 99% of them, only occasionally displaying a conflict notice. The system is pretty sturdy, and it tells you who’s editing with you, something MediaWiki won’t do (at least, not without an extension). The formatting options aren’t so great, but the suite is still in development, so such things are to be expected. Right now it won’t replace Microsoft Word…

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Google Desktop Reviewed

I just tried out Google Desktop and was rather disappointed. It comes preloaded with a monstrous sidebar that takes up about a quarter of the screen. You can set it to auto-hide, but even with that, it won’t if there are dialogs open. And it claims to index chats. That’s not true; it indexes chats in a cursory sort of way that’s buggy (often splits chats into multiple events) and incomplete (only indexes chats from after the program was installed). It most certainly doesn’t index chats archived in Gmail. It’s also a major risk for disk usage. Google Desktop creates…

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Gmail’s Down

Gmail went down a little over half an hour ago. I was signed in at the time, and I checked the status of Gmail when my Gmail Manager extension in Firefox displayed an error. Sure ‘nough, I couldn’t access anything in Gmail. All attempts to load Gmail were met with error code 767, which I couldn’t find any information on anywhere. I submitted a lockout report to Google after trying all the alternate URLs I could think of. Nothing works. I’m stuck with no email. Great. Update 8:48 PM: Gmail is back up again. Why can’t we have a stable…

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Mail Fetcher: Active

I just noticed today that Google added the long-awaited Mail Fetcher feature to my Gmail account. And they didn’t give me a “New Features!” link. Somehow, I feel cheated, but I also feel a great big w00t coming on. I HAVE MAIL FETCHER! YEAH! Now I can start ditching my other accounts’ stupid interfaces and bring everything together under the one account. I’ll be able to search and sort messages from all my other POP-enabled accounts just as I would messages to Gmail. This is absolutely GREAT!

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