Thursday, March 31, 2011

Transitioning Google Apps to new infrastructure

I've been waiting for this for years now ... to be able to use Google services like Picasa, Reader and Blogger from my personal Google Apps account where I run my family domain, cmcdonald.com.

Finally, Google has made this possible. I got notice last night and immediately began the transition to the new infrastructure.

The biggest issue I've come across is I can no longer log into my Google Apps personal email from the same browser as my regular Gmail account, where I happen to manage my work statesman.com email. (I was warned, so this was not a surprise.) It was nice to be logged into both accounts on different tabs in Firefox. I can't do that any longer, but I can switch back and forth using multiple sign-in. This hasn't been the end of the world ... at least not today. It's probably helps my work output as I don't have personal email pinging me all day.

(Update: I later found that I could log into two Google accounts at the same time for many applications, especially GMail. You can edit your Google Account settings to do that.)

Calendar and Docs are the two services I use the most beyond Gmail. I like having Docs on separate accounts, since I've been using my traditional Google account for work-related stuff. I can always share documents between the two accounts if needed. Calendar is a no-brainer ... all of those are shared to both accounts as well so it doesn't matter which account I'm in.

The service I've wanted this most in Apps is Picasa Web. I'm in the process of downloading my 1G+ worth of photos in order to re-upload into my cmcdonald.com version of Picasa. All of that content is personal so I've wanted to move it out of my now-work-related Google account into my personal Apps account. I may reconsider moving them if I lose all the dates, maps and such. It just may not be worth it.

Blogger is another service I've wanted to transition. Again ... personal content, personal account ... I just want to manage that from the "right" place. It's pretty simple to move: just use the traditional account to invite the Apps account as a contributor, and then make that Apps account an admin.

I'm waiting to deal with Reader, as I'm not sure what to do. I'm not a heavy RSS consumer, to be honest. I have lots of feeds set up, but I don't check them regularly. My Reader account is a mixture of industry stuff (news and technology) and personal stuff (mostly Scouting) so I'm not sure how to split the blend or even if I want to.

I don't have enough YouTube content to worry about moving it. We'll see. I don't use Voice much, either, but that might be one to consider.

Here are some other things others might have to deal with in transitioning to the new Google Apps infrastructure:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beluga is great fit for group events and breaking news


Last week during the the South by Southwest Interactive festival, I knew where all my friends and colleagues were and if their panel was a gem or a dud through a free group chat service call Beluga. The service was started by three former Google employees, and I hadn't heard of it before even though it had been in the news recently when it was bought by Facebook.

The group chat service (and there are others, like Yobongo and Groupme) is a great tool to use at a festival or other group event like SXSW, if for nothing else than to save all your Twitter followers from being flooded by massive amounts of tweets about a place where they wish they were but aren't, or never wanted to hear about in the first place.

The groups are called Pods, and it is very easy to set one up. When I created and Beluga account using Facebook Connect, the app found many of my friends that are on Beluga (probably my Facebook friends, but I didn't really think about it.) I could send a message to one of my friends, which creates a Pod, then add my other friends to the Pod.

When someone posts to a Pod you are in, you get a regular iPhone alert like a new text message, with the choice to view or close. (Beluga is available for Android as well.) When you are in the app, you can scroll back to see the chat log. You can mute a particular Pod or all alerts for an hour, until 8 a.m. or just turn them off. I found these mute options to be very handy as my SXSW buddies partied all night when I was at home with the kids.

A large pod can get pretty unwieldy, especially in the beginning as more and more people join or leave (you get a message each time.) I could see myself bailing quickly from a pod that was too large or active.

Our features editors at the Statesman used Beluga during the music festival when crowds dismantled a fence and rushed the stage at a free Stokes concert at Auditorium Shores. Editors and reporters were able to all quickly communicate with each other and deploy resources quickly and efficiently.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Looping Powerpoint presentation

It might seem easy to some of you, but I had never had to create a self-running PowerPoint presentation, so I thought I would share. (And be able to look it up myself again later :-)

If you have a PowerPoint presentation that you want to just loop over and over, it's pretty easy. I'm using {gasp} Office 2003.

  • Go the Slideshow menu to "Slide Transition." You get the right-pane window where you can set the "Advance slide" automatically at a set time.
  • If you want all the slides to move at the same speed, click "Apply to All Slides"
  • Now, under the Slide Show menu, go to "Set Up Show." Under "Show Type," choose "Browsed at a Kiosk" which will loop the show.
There's lots more about this here: Create a self-running presentation.

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