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I think that anyone who has read my blogs in the past can tell, that I do like/love Google products. For the most part they are uncomplicated, accessible anywhere that there is Internet and there is an application for just about anything that you want or need to do. I don’t work for Google, but for a while I seemed to be doing almost all of my online “life” through Google. As part of looking at many things both online and offline over the past month, I have started to question if that is what I really want, to have all my eggs in one basket – Google’s basket or “going completely Google”.
I have used many of Google’s products almost daily and I do really like most of what is in their basket.
At the same time is it wise to rely upon a single provider for almost all of your online needs?
What happens when a corporation suddenly changes direction or management philosophies.
This may or may not happen at Google, but then again who knows, Google is a large corporation and their loyalty is to their shareholders and the bottom-line, not to the people who use their products. I simply don’t want to suddenly have to change how I do everything and search for alternatives on the fly. Below is a list of the major tool categories and which tools I am using and if there is a non-Google one that I can use.
Blogging – This was one of the factors, that I thought long and hard about when I changed back to WordPress.com as my personal blog host – My thought – too. There were other reasons, besides this one for switching back including that WordPress.com has made several improvements to its services over the past year, but moving to a non-Google account did weigh heavily into the decision-making process.
Even though they still don’t allow you to make money (not that I ever made a lot on Blogger either) on your blog or have certain widgets, it does enough of what I want the way that I want to use it as my primary blog host. I do plan to maintain my blogs on Blogger and might even go back to them someday, but right now I am happy with using WordPress as my personal blogging host.
Browser – I have switched to Firefox 4.0 as my primary browser, with Safari, Chrome and Opera on my machine as backup.
Start Page – I keep going back and forth between Symbaloo and iGoogle they both work, but the more I use the icon driven Symbaloo, the more natural it feels.
Notebook – I am using Evernote as my Notebook and Task Manager. Although Google doesn’t support their Notebook anymore, it did have a lot of great features and I still have it and would have continued to use it if they had continued to support it. I think Google missed out on this one and gave a leg up to OneNote, Evernote and Noteshare for notebook usage. I think I use the notebook function as much as I do anything at this time.
Mail – I feed my six (I think that is all I have) Google Apps and gMail.com accounts into one account and the use Apple Mail desktop to keep track of them and all the rest of my work and personal email accounts. I will continue to rely on gMail/Apple combo as my primary personal email tools.
Calendar – Same as the mail accounts, I sync my calendars between Google Calendar and iCal using Spanning Sync which works great for me, it gives me access to my calendar when I need it. So I will be staying with Google/Apple combination for maintaining my calendars.
Productivity – My school has a Google Apps account and I have one for each blog site that is hosted by Google, plus my gMail.com account. I find it easy, familiar and convenient to use Google Docs, but I do wish it was easier to have an umbrella account that you could put all of your Google apps under. gDocs does just about everything that I need it to do in a Productivity Suite, plus the sharing of documents is so easy.
I have Microsoft Office for Mac for my Special Education paperwork and iWorks for when students use those tools, because they prefer the iWorks suite of tools. The most dramatic shift would be if I went back to Zoho.com. I have always really liked their products, their customer service is world-class, but they are not really geared towards the education market and are more focused towards small businesses. However, I believe that I am really going to take a third and fourth look at the Zoho.com option for my personal use.
Website – I use Google Sites for my class and personal websites, but I am thinking about trying out some different website creation/hosts. If anyone has a great free website/creation/host that is easy to use, please let me know. Otherwise I will probably stay with Google Sites for now and re-visit setting up a different website during the summer.
Books – I have used Google Books to keep track of the books I have read, but think that over the next week or so, I will look more closely at returning to Shelfari or a desktop library option (probably the more I think on it the desktop option sounds the best).
Feed Reader – Nope no way, now how, I am keeping Google Reader – it is hands down the best feed reader out there for my purposes.
VOIP – I use Google Voice, because I like the option that I have a phone number that will always be the same and that some can get a hold of me by using that number, I know eventually that this will become a paid service, but for now it is free, so it meets the needs that I have for it.
Photo Management – I store a lot of my photos in Picassa and iPhoto, I figure between the two my photo needs are pretty well taken care of.
Looking back at it, I have moved from Google as my primary resources for my blogging host, browser, start page and am looking at some other changes in the future. However, these moves do not mean that I am going to stop using my Google tools completely, it just means that I want to diversify my online presence and portfolio to be more than just a Google user. I have started un-Googlizing a bit and will do some more, but Google is making it more and more difficult to not use their product because they are improving them and the prices are usually right.
What have you done to make a difference today?
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