Tag Archives: google-docs

What's Up, Google Docs?

The Google Docs team announced preview versions today for the new Google document and spreadsheet editors. There is also a new standalone drawings editor. All of these were built with a larger focus towards speed and collaboration in mind.

With the document editor, Google has included the real-time editing experience you rely on in their spreadsheets. Now you can see changes the moment other collaborators make an edit. They’ve also included the sidebar chat feature from the spreadsheet side of things. You’ll be able to talk with others while you’re working on the document. Highly-requested features have now been added including better import/export capabilities, a new commenting system, real margins and tab stops and an improved image layout within your documents.

For spreadsheets, Google has created a back-end that helps your work load and run faster. “You’ll see significant speed and performance improvements — spreadsheets load faster, are more responsive and scroll more seamlessly.” Other new features include a formula bar to use when editing cells, auto-complete capability, drag-and-drop columns and easier navigation between sheets you’ve created.

The biggest news, of course, is the inclusion of a new collaborative drawing editor. The new tool lets you work in real time with others on things such as flow charts, designs and diagrams. You can copy your drawings into documents, spreadsheets or presentations using the web clipboard. You can also share or publish your drawings just like you do with other Google Docs you have created.

The drawings editor will be available later today, and preview versions of spreadsheets and documents will roll out to all individual users over the next few days. To try them out, click “New version” at the top of any spreadsheet or go to the ‘Document Settings’ page and select ‘New version of Google documents.’

These types of changes could mean an even larger share of the market for Google. Millions of us already use (and love) Google Docs. I have a feeling thousands more will jump into the fray and make this their preferred “document suite” of choice. Cloud Computing isn’t just a term that will soon disappear. It’s something very real – and very important. With so much of our lives spent online, working in the Cloud is nearly a necessity. Google Docs is just one way to get things done – whether you’re working from home or on the road.

Better Than Google Docs – Etherpad Alternatives

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I have been using TypeWith.me constantly since it became available. Having to collaborate with others on a document in real-time isn’t always easy to do. However, using TypeWith.Me is completely simple. The service can handle 16 people at a time, all editing and working together to create an amazing document.

If this looks like EtherPad… it’s not. It IS based on EtherPad’s open-source code, which has been released by Google. A lot of us liked the way EtherPad worked, even if we didn’t like the name. Since EtherPad may now disappear at any given time, Jake and I decided to work together to create TypeWith.Me. We believe we have come up with the perfect solution.

I KNOW many of you may complain and whine, and claim that Google Wave is better or easier. You are wrong, my friends. Google Wave requires you to register, and it’s not as simple for everyone to use. When you have people from all levels of computing needing to work together, TypeWith.Me provides the perfect solution.

If you take a look at a document, you’ll notice different colors in the text. Those represent the different authors who are working on the document at any given time. TypeWith.Me also gives you constant auto-saves, so that you can restore anytime you need to.

You can use lists, bolding, underlining, and more – just as you can with other popular document collaboration software. This one, though, is just easy to use. It’s a clean interface, and it’s not going to beg you to donate or register!

TypeWith.Me is perfect for office collaboration, or for classmates in a school or college setting!

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Do You Google the News?

A report released today says that about 44% of Google users simply skim through news headlines, and never click through to read the full stories. The report goes on to predict the continuing decline of print news in favor of being able to get it online. This doesn’t come as much surprise to me – or anyone else, really.

However, I don’t agree that that many people never bother to click through. Sure, I scan headlines, much like the rest of you. However, if something catches my eye then I cannot stop with just a few sentences in a Google search. I have to click through and read the rest of the article. I have a feeling most of you are the same way. The article states that 2,787 US news consumers were polled. That’s fine… but who did they poll? How do we know that very tiny number of the population truly represents us all? I don’t agree that they possibly could.

What are your thoughts? Do you turn to the Internet for your news? Do you scan and go, or click and read? What other sites do you enjoy reading articles on, to find out what’s happening in the World around you?

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What’s Better Than Microsoft PowerPoint?

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Did you ever know how most presentations suck? It’s bad enough that people doing them tend to suck, as well. It’s not their fault, though. Most of the presentation software is just not that good. A good presentation shows pictures, and don’t have much text. The worst ones to watch are where the speaker just reads every word from the slides! They drive me nuts! What do you use to create presentations? Tell me you aren’t using desktop software! Adobe has thrown their hat into the ring. They have a basic, online office suite and a new presentation software!

Acrobat Presentations is excellent. You have tons of options. Best of all, of course, is the ability using an online platform gives you to easily collaborate with others. When you create a presentation with desktop software, it’s very difficult to allow multiple people to work together on it. Using Presentations, it’s a simple process.

Presentations is a better way to create, edit, and share presentations with others online. Built on the Adobe Flash platform, Presentations looks and behaves like a desktop presentation application – but operates inside a web browser.

It’s free, and cross-platform. There’s no reason to not try it!

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Keep Warm with Geeks

Is it just me, or is it freezing outside? Suddenly, we’ve jumped from Fall – right into Winter. It’s not officially Winter yet! Why the heck is it so cold?! Is this another one of those “getting old” symptoms? Well, whatever. At least crappy weather gives me a great reason to stay inside and see what’s going on inside of both Lockergnome and Geeks.

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Geeks Posts

Do you use Gmail's New Features?

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Ah, yes… Gmail. It’s the free email service from Google, that can be accessed via the Web or by using a desktop client. They give you up to 6GB of space to use, pretty much for free. That’s beyond cool. There are a ton of free services that Google offers, such as Google Docs, which we’ve discussed before. Just the other night, they introduced us to Google Labs.

So what is this new feature, exactly? When you sign in to your Gmail account (or sign up for a new one), you’ll see “New! Gmail Labs!”. This resides as a tab within your Gmail settings. This allows you to add things like plugins, add-ons, Gmail widgets and the like to your account. They’re simply “hooks” that add to your experience with Gmail. They’re going to be slowly rolling these out, to test how they are received and used. For the more popular ones, they will eventually be made into full-on Gmail settings.

In essence, you have an opportunity to shape the future of Gmail. It’s pretty much the fastest web-based email out there, but I’ve never really liked the interface. Maybe they’ll come up with some interface tweaks. Check some of these out:

  • Google Code Search – allows you to search for public source code.
  • Google Page Creator – helps you create a Web page in minutes.
  • Google Dashboard Widgets for Mac – Quickly access Google products from within Dashboard.
  • Google News Alerts – Choose a topic and receive news alerts for it.
  • Google Notebook – Clip and collect information as you browse the web.

These are only a handful of the things you’ll find to play with in Google Labs. Give it a try today!


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Google Docs has a Community?!?!

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If you got an email from someone alledging to be on the “Google Docs Team”… would you believe it? I didn’t, because they were asking if I would like to post to the Google Docs blog to help other users. True enough… Google Docs is knocking on my Virtual door. Now they’ve started a YouTube channel.

I’m about to use Google Docs to engage the community. A few weeks ago, I announced my intention in developing an open-source platform where you can create your own little community, based on Drupal. At that point, it didn’t really have a name. Mike Arrington from TechCrunch ribbed me into finding a name. So… I went went Gnomepal. That’s kind of a little mix of my username, and the word Drupal. This will basically be a “community in a box”. This will be for non-technical people who want to create a community online. It’s not a blog or a forum… those are tools. It’s things like these all combined into one tidy little package.

As we’re assembling these resources, there is a list of questions we’re asking you to fill out in order to get your feedback on this project. These questions are based in an open Google Spreadsheet. The list of questions is for both community leaders… and members.

  • What do you want in a community site?
  • What are your top 5 most important components / tools / features of a community site?
  • What pieces “must” be in place for Gnomepal’s first milestone in order for you to start using it to build a community?
  • Are there any parts that, if they weren’t available, would keep you from using Gnomepal for your community needs?
  • What frustrates you about your current community site(s)?
  • What do you love about your current community site(s)?
  • What tool(s) do you currently use to organize your community?
  • Is limited customization (color, logos, etc.) important to you?
  • Do you want to be able to narrow your feature set down to only a few, or to have the whole range of features always available?
  • How long would you be willing to spend updating your site (its content) each week?
  • Is it important that you be able to generate revenue with your site?
  • Is sharing revenue with your community members important?
  • Do your members pay dues or make donations to the community?
  • How active is your community? In what way?
  • How likely are you to set up a new community site within the next month? Six months? Year?
  • If you build a new community site on Gnomepal, would you allow all of your members to contribute promoted content, only a few members, or only yourself?
  • Would your site be private, or open to the general public?
  • Do you anticipate your community would need live (video or audio) content, or possibly event coordination tools?
  • Would you host the community site software on your own server, or would you prefer a tiered hosted solution?
  • How important is it to you that you be able to view detailed stats about your community site? (very, somewhat, not at all)

You can find all of the information about Gnomepal on the site. The way we’re building it is with total modularity and flexibility. This way, you can add only the components you want or need. We want to set up a hosted service, so that you can just answer a few questions with clicks of the mouse and BAM! Your community is set up. Instead of us saying “you have to use these services”… we’ll have it set up to be customized to your needs. You’ll be able to build your community on your terms. It doesn’t get any better than that!


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How to use Google Docs for Live Polls and Quizzes

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Did you know you can create a live poll using Google Docs and Spreadsheets? It’s quite simple, really. I stumbled across this recently when I needed to do a poll for something in a hurry, and needed to keep it anonymous. Here are the steps you need to take, in order to create your own poll or quiz!

  • Click New>Spreadsheet in Google Docs.
  • Click the “share” tab, and then title your poll.
  • Select “invite” to invite people to fill out the form.
  • Create the form with your possible answers.
    • Put in however many choices you want people to have.
    • Add Help text if you want.
    • Question Type: You can choose from text, paragraph text, multiple choice
    • I populated with numbers, so I could get the Spreadsheet application to interpret the data.
  • Choose recipients… either by adding your contact list… or giving out the URL to others.
    • Set up a formula to interpret and see your data.
    • In the next available column, type: =countif(B2:B500, 1) (this is just an example… use the proper rows and columns from your particular sheet).
    • Continue to make formulas for each of your answer possibility. For my second one, the formula was: =countif(B2:B500, 2)
  • I then wanted to create a chart to show my data. I entered another formula (C2:C4) and clicked the Chart button.
  • Choose the type of chart, and what cells you want the chart to graph for you.
  • Title your Chart, and choose your axis points.
  • If you want, you can format the number cells to hide them. I just made the font white, so it didn’t show.
  • Now I’m ready to publish my chart with the poll results. You can even choose to automatically re-publish and update every five minutes… and then share the link via RSS feed, or URL.

Pretty cool, eh? The wonders of technology never fails to amaze me!

How to Make a Good PowerPoint Presentation

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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Gordon emailed to ask me if I’ve heard of Preezo.com. Preezo is a free website you can use to build presentations, much like with PowerPoint. You can easily build, share and email things with Preezo, so I decided to check it out.

Three of my friends joined me for this discussion: Kat, SC_Thor, and Wirelesspacket.

Preezo looks to be an excellent site! Not only is it free to use, the layout is very clean and simple. The design is very similar to PowerPoint… “click to add title”, and such. How much easier can it get?

Online document-type storage applications such as GoogleDocs are quickly gaining in popularity. According to Kat, it’s made her life much easier. She can quickly log in to any of her Google Docs, update it, and save it. She lets me know when there are changes I need to check on via a quick sentence on Yahoo IM. There’s nothing to save, upload and email as an attachment. All I have to do is log in myself, and I’m there.

Want to make your presentations better? Don’t use so much clutter. Keep your content, but don’t add so much distraction that the viewer loses sight of what you are trying to share with them. Always remember: KISS. You all know what that means.

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