Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Random Thoughts - I am a Google fanboy

Yes, I am unashamedly a Google fanboy.
This is mainly due to what I believe to be their secret to success - Parsimony.

My first exposure to search-engines was yahoo, and being a typical end-user, I stick with what works, but over time yahoo seemed to get cluttered with advertising / news etc. etc.
Enter Google: A textbox and a search button - Parsimony at it's best. Bye-bye Yahoo.
They have since repeated this recipe with number of their products.
Just compare GTalk vs MSN Messenger. Once again, I first started using MSN Messenger, but was soon won over by GTalk's simple and intuitive UI - bye-bye Messenger!

This leads me to what I've long held to be the difference between good developers and great developers: (and ultimately the difference between good software and great software)
A good developer is up to date with all the technologies / methodologies, and knows how to apply this knowledge to a given problem domain.
A great developer has all this, but understands that joe-soap-user out there doesn't need (or want) all the bells and whistles. A great developer knows that "all things being equal, the simplest solution is usually the best solution". Basically - just because you can, doesn't mean that you should.
In programmer speak, it means practicing self-restraint on those "wouldn't it be cool if..." thoughts.
In summary - a great developer understands the law of parsimony.

Google products this developer currently uses:
An evolution of the original google. Create a custom google home page. I've added weather, sticky notes, and todo list to my "home" tab, and Wikipedia and Babelfish to a "tools" tab.

While I do have a yahoo account, I was continually frustrated by the UI. GMail proved to be much more user-friendly (eg: when deleting mail, it doesn't reload the whole page - or sometimes not delete the mails you marked for deletion) The easy-to-implement POP-support (automating download of your e-mail to your desktop mail application) was also great. I used this tutorial for Outlook Express.

IMHO the best instant messenger. Get it if you haven't got it.

Google Desktop
I use this mainly for the quick-search of files on my PC. IMO the sidebar, though helpful, is a bit intrusive on the desktop. Cool blog about it.

Google Docs
Up until recently, I've pretty much ignored this Google product in favour of OpenOffice, but offline capabilties have just been added (Apr 2008), which means that you can have access to all of your documents on-line, and download them to your local drive in just about any format (Word / OpenOffice / Pdf), and upload again once you've made the changes off-line. schweeeet.

Google Earth
View satellite photos from just about anywhere in the world. Zoom and and have a look at details from just about any neighborhood. Good fun. I find it handy when I have to play at a golf course that I haven't been to - excellent to check out the course layout before-hand.

Like Paypal - manages on-line payments. I haven't used this extensively, but my experience thus far has been very good. Notifications and service every step of the purchasing process.

Google Analytics
Great FREE website monitoring tool. All sorts of stats as to who visited, for how long, from where etc. etc. Did I mention it's FREE?
PS: Remember to add your IP as an exclude filter, else all your blog editing / viewing will be registered as traffic.

Google-owned companies:
Host your own blog - very easy UI for maintaining your thoughts on-line

..and if you're blogging, then most certainly use feedburner. It's a great and easy way for people to subscribe to your blog, as well as view stats like which search bots have hit your site, how many people are subscribed etc.

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