I realize this is hideously mainstream of me, but… wow, I love Google. I’m not talking about the search engine (though I love that too). Lately I’ve become so dependent on a few of their web applications, I am not sure how I got by without them all this time.
1. Google Reader: I have talked about this before, but seriously, Google Reader is solely responsible for my ability to keep up with what the rest of you are talking about every day. In the beginning, I actually used to just click things one by one from my blogroll, and when that eventually proved to be too cumbersome, I switched to using Safari to collect RSS feeds. But Google Reader… oh, Google Reader… it allows me to keep track of exactly what I’ve read and what is new from any of the three computers I use regularly, eliminating the need to add feeds to three different browsers or to waste time with things I’ve already seen. I’m also able to organize my subscribed feeds into different categories, such as “manga/comics” and “friends” to facilitate more focused reading. Google Reader, I love you.
2. Google Docs: It’s gotten to the point where I write basically everything in Google Docs, because it allows me to (again) access whatever I’m working on from multiple locations. It auto-saves every few minutes, which is awesome, and also allows me to share documents with others, for instance if I want someone to look something over for me, or if I want to collaborate on a document with another person (or multiple people). Yes, I still save copies of really important items to my hard drive (actually to more than one), but the fact that I no longer have to remember to carry a USB key with me everywhere I go is seriously awesome.
3. Google Calendar: This is a new addition for me, but boy has it become quickly indispensable! I use Google Calendar to keep track of important manga release dates, as well as all of my (largely self-imposed) review deadlines, for Manga Recon, Comics Should Be Good, and even here! I’m a person who works best if I have a firm deadline, so I tend to set them and stick to them almost 100% of the time. Also, I’m a fast reader but a very slow writer, so laying out my deadlines in a visual form helps me better understand and manage my time. Google Calendar lets me have a different color-coded calendar for each of these categories, which I can view all at once to see everything that I have coming up at a glance. Again, I can access this from any computer, and share each calendar with other users as desired.
Thus concludes my ode to Google applications. The day Google starts charging money for these things is the day I become a weeping puddle of goo. Let’s hope that day does not arrive soon.