Technology What's up with Google? 


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Google has a lot of products.  Some are useful.  They don't seem to polish the ease of use though.

One of the free services on the Cloud is Google Docs.  What is it?

Google Docs is a poor stand in for Microsoft Office.  It's free and you can reach it from Gmail or directly, if you have a Google email account.

Why bother?  Well one reason stems from people sending bad .doc and .docx files around for you to read.  Some of them have macros attached to them that can be infected.

If they want to send document files that are for reading only, ask them to send in pdf format, not .doc or .docx.  Microsoft Office will output any of the three.

With Google docs you can at least read what the sender intended.  You can also create original documents, spreadsheets and presentations.  I use the spreadsheet facility quite often.

Sadly, Google somehow does not seem to polish their user interface and you have to poke around to use Google Docs.

If you use Gmail, you'll notice that you can download an attachment normally or transfer it to the cloud and read it, if appropriate, with Google Docs.

On another subject, sometimes I use Gmail's ability to make free phone calls.  It works fine.  All you do is poke the little phone icon and dial away for any country.  It's a free call.

All of a sudden that handy facility stopped working telling me I had to download a plug-in.  That's annoying and happens all too often.

What plug-in and where do I get it? Ah, some instructions appear.  I read them carefully.  They say poke yet another icon on the upper left.  Hunting around for it in vain, I call it a day.

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

I look for help on the Internet.  The Guru's there offer complicated advice of dubious validity.  Two days later I try again.  Maybe they've updated Gmail and I won't need the plug-in.

This time my eye goes to the upper right.  There is the icon I need.  Poking it, I'm back in business.  Google had said left, when they meant right. Very poor quality control.  It's not a one time thing with them. 

Who is paying attention?  They are smart.  They know to keep an action icon close to the source, but alas, they are sloppy.

Google does some very good things and some things that are at best just bad practice.  For example, shouldn't it be easy to build an address group?  Not so fast in Gmail.  They make the easy hard.

Come on now Google!  You've got tons of money and people.  Let's not produce junk.  You are a huge company and you keep going into new markets like automatic drive cars.  How about the core technology?

The bottom line with Google Docs.  If you are a serious user, stick with Office.  Docs is rather basic and you may lose some things in translation.  If you are playing around with a personal spreadsheet, ok, but don't push your luck.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015