Tuesday, 31 August 2010

GMail Calling

Google announced that calls can be made (to the US) from within GMail. They hope to emulate Skype.
Will this challenge Skype?
Not sure but I do like the idea of convergence onto one system or device. I do not normally switch my Skype on unless I need to make a call, whereas I would be available for calls anytime I was on GMail.
In the middle of a presentation perhaps?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Groups in Google Apps - allowing bulk handling of sharing

Google Apps for Education is a powerful set of tools for collaboration.
Using "Groups" in Google Apps allows users to be assigned to their working or interest groups.
There are two ways to do this in Apps, and it is useful to point out the difference.
Contacts allows mailing lists to be made AT THE INDIVIDUAL'S LEVEL. Here you are able to name a list and assign people in your contacts to the list.
Groups, if properly set up, allows users to make a working or interest group at the institution level. This is really powerful because it allows permissions to be assigned for Google Docs or Google Sites by using Groups - no one-by-one individual assigning.
Additionally, changing the original Group list will change the permission for the Doc or Site - no need to go back to individual Docs or Sites to edit the permissions.
Fernando, our excellent Systems Manager, explained to me how Groups works at this school (we call our Apps system "dash net" to differentiate it from our previous mailing list system).

Monday, 23 August 2010

Apple marketing video for the i-Pad

This video provides a (hyped-up?) list of i-Pad functionality, and thus useful to try to get a measure of all that it can do.

Does it live up to this?
Generally yes. I was surprised since I did think of it as a larger i-Touch (which it is). But the larger screen and the ability to interact with it makes the experience a totally different one. Add to this apps which have been specially redesigned for it, the superb colour and definition of the lcd interactive screen, its battery power, and it really does make you say "wow".
Grumbles? Well, Flash does not work on it so some content unattainable. You cannot have that. And single-tasking is a pain...

Monday, 9 August 2010

New GApps control panel to manage domains and divisions

The new version of the Google Apps administrator's control panel allows users to be organised into multiple domains and divisions.
This will allow the owner of multiple domains to use each as a separate entity but allowing users to share calendars or documents in any part of the organisation. There are some restrictions.
Education edition GApps administrators will be able to define their organisational structure and divide users into divisions, determining which services are available to users in each division.
Since schools consists of obviously different groups (students, staff, parents, alumni, etc), it may be useful to have domains with names that make more sense; also, defining structures for divisions will again enable services to be switched on or off.
We are about to implement some of this and will write about what happens...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Google Apps to add more apps

Google announces that Blogger, Reader, Picasa Web Albums and other Google services will shortly be available directly from Google Apps accounts (business and education editions). It seems that it will involve "a significant overhaul to our underlying systems" and so are moving forward carefully. It is welcomed - although my Chrome browser seems to handle the new services and the old apps on different tabs, there are hiccups at times.
How will they manage transfer of existing services on other accounts? Will we be able to transfer or will it apply only to new content on applications to be offered on Google Apps?
LATER: there must be some transition work - trying to open GDocs on Apps from a link on the docs main page and getting "We are sorry but xxx does not have access to this account" on a document with only me having permission to view/edit whilst opening with no problems when opening another shared document! Very curious.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Waving no more

I did wonder if Google Wave was ever going to be useful. Apart from a go when it first came out and then a little flourish just a while ago, I hardly used it. Tried. Tried to stir some interest (as much in myself as well as in others) but Gmail was not replaced.
If Wave had happened at the beginning, then perhaps it might have been different. But there was no social media concept then.
Google state that it will not continue to develop Wave but will maintain the site "at least through the end of the year" and will extend the use of the technology to other Google products. This may be interesting since the instant and continuous editing in Wave is amazing.