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Google Apps Hacks Paperback – Apr 27 2008
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About the Author
Born in 1977, Philipp Lenssen is a web developer, blogger and author from Germany. Since 2003, Philipp runs Google Blogoscoped at blogoscoped.com, a daily news source started in Malaysia covering all things Google, from Gmail, Orkut and web search to Google Docs, usability issues, YouTube and everything in-between. The blog also spawned a book called 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google. Philipp likes to tinker with programming, drawing, writing and game design, and has a special interest in the intersections among those areas.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Sometimes I wonder how Microsoft can presume to compete with Google in the Web world. So much depends on search nowadays -- the Internet is one big store of valuable information. Yet I have to use an unsupported freeware utility to search my little Windows XP hard drive because the search feature that comes with the operating system is so slow and inflexible.
**Google Apps Hacks** introduced me to a Google universe that was even bigger than I had expected. I expected --and got-- lots of material on plugging into Google maps (lots of people are taking advantage of the possibilities here) and lots of tips on using GMail, gadgets, calendars and news feeds.
The biggest surprises for me were contained in the chapters on Google Docs. Part of the material was basic "how-to" and "did you know that..." information to help get acquainted with the features of Google word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. In fact, it appears that this book itself was collaboratively composed by Philipp Lenssen along with O'Reilly staff with Google Docs.
I was most impressed by how easy and flexible the spreadsheet application is to use. The author provides a pile of tricks and tips useful for both the ordinary user and the programmer.
This book should attract programmers (and other Web citizens) who want to investigate and test drive the latest cool things that many people are having fun with -- and a bunch more are making money from.
Meet The Google Docs Family; The Google Docs Family - Google Documents; The Google Docs Family - Google Spreadsheets; The Google Docs Family - Google Presentation; Become a Gmail Power User; Customize Your Google Home Page; Manage Your Events With Google Calendar; Keep Up On News With Google Reader; Manage Your Photos And Videos With Picasa and YouTube; Create Your Own Home Page, Blog, or Group; Dive Into Google Maps, Google Earth, and Sketchup 3D; Google Analytics And Beyond - Market Your Site, Track Visitors
This book follows the same format as other O'Reilly Hack titles. For each of the chapters, you get a number of tricks, or "hacks", that show you how to do things that may not be intuitively obvious. There's a difficulty meter after each hack title that gives you a clue as to whether its something that is easy to pull off or something that takes a degree of technical skill. The first couple of hacks in each chapter tend to be introductory in nature. They explain the package and get you started. For instance, the first hack in the first chapter is "How to Get Your Google Account". Likewise, the first hack in the iGoogle chapter has you adding Google tools to your iGoogle home page. The hacks get more in-depth after that, such as "Backing Up Your Email" or "Create Google Maps Overlays On the Fly". I personally was intrigued by some of the possibilities in the Google Spreadsheets area. "Add Live Data to Your Spreadsheet" was interesting, as was "Automatically Complete Lists of Related Items". That one is completely unexpected, and shows the power of integration with the Google search engine results. There's also a way to import data from web sites into a Google spreadsheet. That has some particular interest for a project I'd like to do. Finally, there was a *really* cool hack to show how to track packages via RSS using Google Reader. That one will be getting some significant use with my next Amazon order...
The book spends the first 4 chapters going through the various applications within the Google Docs family--which is essentially an online, non-Microsoft version of the Office suite. Subsequent chapters are then dedicated to Gmail, iGoogle (a customization of the Google home page), Google Calendar, Google Reader, Picasa, blogging, Google Maps (and related programs), and analytics. Even with all this information, there are still Google applications that were left out--but I suppose that is to be expected, otherwise this book would be well above its current 400 pages.
I thought this was a great book that was well-written and easy to follow. It opened my eyes to many of the possibilities that currently exist within Google products. If you're looking to get more out of your Google experiences, this book is highly recommended.
All in all, well worth the money if you want all the information about using Google apps at your fingertips.
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