Googlizing my Business

Some people spend a lifetime looking for perfection. For athletes it is that perfect game, perfect race, whatever. For me, my passion lies towards achieving more and more productivity out of my life. Technology has been the key to my pursuit of the productivity Holy Grail, and we are fortunate to live in a time where technology is just exploding. As a result of my job, my blog and my advocacy of technology, I am always getting invited to beta test some software or technology tool. I was recently invited to test Google Apps for your Domain, another profoundly interesting innovation by Google, that more or less allows you to move most of your domain functionality to Google. Since I was already using various other Google services, including Gmail, Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Google Calendar and Google Talk, on a limited basis, I decided to take the jump and see if I like it. I moved The Utopia Group’s email services to Google, and set up a portal for all of our team, as well as Google Talk. Changing the email settings was as simple as making some changes to the MX settings for my email servers. Then it was as simple as going to a Gmail like page to send and receive email. The email service is built on Gmail, with the same services, interface, pop and forwarding, search, etc. I then set up a personalized start page, that acts as a portal for all Utopia Associates. The page has a basic setup, and then can be customized by each associate.

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My goal is to standardize all of our work using a Portal Page. Google has done some stunning work here. The idea will be that eventually one will have an online workspace accessible from anywhere, that gives one access to calendar, addresses, documents, email, chat, etc. Google is building a desktop, piece by piece. It is interesting, and must be a bit “scary for the folks in Redmond,” to watch this happen. Most of the pieces are there already, but need some tuning. While it was a simple decision for me to move my email from The Utopia Group, over to Google’s mail platform, I am nowhere near ready to use Google Docs and Spreadsheets as my primary office applications, and I also declined moving my hosting over to Google. The mail piece was a slam dunk. After a recent archiving of several thousand emails in Outlook 2003, and recent problems FINDING emails in Outlook, I decided that it is better to let Google index my emails. Not discounting the risk involved. (I will also use POP access to continue to download my email), but keeping the messages stored on Google should provide me with an additional level of security/backup and ease search as the emails again start to build up. There were a few moments of fear today as the email addresses did not seem to be working, but after a few hours (no doubt the time it took for the new server address to propagate across the internet), all seems to be working fine. One of the things I hope Google decides to do, is to add an Xdrive type service, that will allow me to store attachments online as well. I often have to send large documents, and each time I send one to a new addressee, I have to wait while it uploads. This could be solved by adding an Xdrive like function to existing accounts. I have grown quite tired of Microsoft applications, and have been experimenting for months with Linux and other ways to escape the Microsoft world. Open Office has provided a wonderful alternative to Microsoft Office. This new mail platform will allow me to mostly wean myself off of Outlook. device_details.jpgOne of my major dependencies is my Palm Handheld applications. I am a rabbid user of both a Palm Lifedrive and a Treo 650. One of my biggest challenges in using Linux was the lack of a comparable to Outlook, sync client for my Palms on the Linux side. I found that Jpilot gave me the equivalent to the Palm Desktop, with about the same “ugly factor,” as Palm Desktop. As a heavy Agendus user, I had just become too attached to my Agendus for Outlook plug-in. I will be the first to admit, my productivity probably suffers more for my eternal search for more, than anything else. The Get Things Done advocates, would probably say that I over complicate things way too much, and that organization is a fetish for me… They would probably be right on many levels. This move to Google Domain apps is another in a long series of moves designed to try and squeeze as much efficiency as I can from my professional life. As it stands, one of the problems technorati like myself face, is the overwhelming amount of GOOD technology.

One of these days I am going to sit down for an afternoon and actually put together a technical strategy for myself and my companies… By the time I get to that stage, maybe Google will have created a decent synchronization tool for Google Calendar, and added tasks to it… They might also work out the bugs and deficiencies in Google Docs and Spreadsheets and added synchronization to those applications as well, and if they can throw in a couple of Gigs of Document Storage, and tie it all together… Well, you guessed it, they will have a solution worthy of a digital warrior like me…

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