Google Apps or Living in The Cloud

Google Apps Deciphered

If your like me, always trying new things online you end up with a lot of information streams. I have some 5 e-mail addresses, a couple of websites, wikis, several calendars and address books I have to keep in sync, many e-mail clients (apple mail, thunderbird) and this blog.

When I came across this book: Google Apps, Deciphered, I started to learn about living in The Cloud and it’s benefits. Cloud Computing refers to Internet-centric software and services that are outsourced to someone else and in this case to Google. Everything is on the servers of google and you can access it from anywhere with a browser when connected to the Internet.

Other advantages of cloud computing with Google: it’s free or cheap, for 50 dollars a year you get support, back up, up time of 99%, just to name a few. Other advantages are platform and browser agnostic, constant improvements, someone els is responsible for the hardware, reliability, you can share your information.

After reading some chapters I liked the book. It is not just a bunch of information gathered from websites and FAQ. The author obviously has tried it himself. As he states in his preface: this book isn’t for the absolute beginner to Google Apps. He assumes you have the basic down and you’re looking for something more. So I decided to go along. You have to start with a domain name or you can get a new domain name via Google. That’s what I did. The book is very clear and instructive. It not only supports your decisions but it is also a hands on guide. He has been there, done it.

Each chapter has very good suggestions for further reading. Especially Gmail is very handy. Setting it up was a breeze, next directing other email addresses to this new email address was simple. The book shows you how to use labels and filters. For instance I use this filter to easily find emailed presentations: Has the words: filename:pps has:attachment Apply the label Presentations. I bought Spanning Sync to sync iCal and Addressbook from Apple with Contacts and Calendars. Busy building the website, will probably let you know when it’s finished.

The first part of the book is about migrating your email, contacts and calendars, actually these chapters are very good. Next, all the parts of Google App are explained: Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Sites, Google Docs. After explaining and advising about the proper set up the author does a very good job in explaining how to integrate these Google Apps with other software and services. The last chapters are about Goolge Talk, Google video, security, recovery and backing up.

No draw backs?
Sure, Google Sites is very primitive, you can’t make a start page (like iGoogle), you have to install software for notifications, Google Docs is still developing but that goes for most of the App services. I hope that Google will keep improving these services. According to the author they will. I had some fun time trying it all out and hope it will increase my productivity.

There is a companying website to the book: