New Google Gadgets

I just logged into my homepage and click on my Gmail link, like I always do and it opened up in my Google Homepage instead of it’s own window like I’m used to. Seems that Google has redone their homepage to make access to the gadgets different. There is now a menu on the left with your gadgets – you click gadgets there and they open up in your Google homepage.

Learn more.

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Gmail Contacts

I just read that Gmail has improved their contact handling by not putting every address you ever contact into your contacts list.

We’ve heard from some of you that Gmail’s auto-added contacts can lead to too much address book clutter. One of the advantages of automatically creating contacts is that all of the addresses you email subsequently show up in auto-complete. We wanted to preserve this benefit while giving you the ability to have a clean, uncluttered contact list, and we’ve come up with a solution that’s rolling out this week. It separates your contacts into two groups: “My Contacts” and “Suggested Contacts.”

This is all well can good – but can you tell me how to send a message to someone on my contacts without typing their name first? When using Google Apps through work I have a button that lets me do this:

But when using my personal email account it looks different:

As for why my Gmail looks all dark and pretty – that’s because I’ve installed a neat skin.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Google Books – Too Good to be True

There is a discussion going on on the NGC4Lib List about using Google Books content in our OPACs. Today I read Tim’s post talking about the new Google terms of service for their Books API.

After some delay, Google has now posted–for the first time–a “Terms of Use” for the Google Book Search API ( If you’re planning to use GBS data, you should be sure to read it.

The back story is an interesting one. Soon after I wrote and spoke about the covers opportunity, a major cover supplier contacted me. They were miffed at me, and at Google. Apparently a large percentage of the Google covers were, in fact, licensed to Google by them. They never intended this to be a “back door” to their covers, undermining their core business. It was up to Google to protect their content appropriately, something they did not do. For starters, the GBS API appears to have gone live without any Terms of Service beyond the site-wide ones. The new Terms of Service is, I gather, the fruit of this situation.

It’s always too good to be true! I guess I should read the terms through.

Google Sites for All

Back in February I bookmarked Google Sites, but didn’t write about it because it was only available via Google Apps (which I get to use at work). Today I read that Google Sites is now available to all!

A few months ago, Google launched Google Sites, a hosted wiki product built on JotSpot technology. But until this week, Google Sites was only available to Google Apps users, which basically meant you needed to have your own domain name to set up a wiki. Now Google is opening Google Sites up to everyone.

You can sign up by logging into Google Sites using your Google ID, or by registering for a new free account. Your page will be created at If you want a custom domain, you can still sign up for the service through Google Apps.

I’m using Google Sites for several work sites and it’s a pretty darn handy tool. That said it seems to have a couple of downsides:

  1. When logged into my sites it logs me out of my docs
  2. There is a few missing levels of permissions, I want to be able to let people comment, but not edit pages
  3. It allows you to embed Google Docs (very cool) but then they’re not full text searchable.

I’m sure Google is working on upgrading this tool, so it’s well worth taking a look at for your organization’s shared site.

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Google Search for Macs

Oooo – this looks neat:

I haven’t played with it yet, but Google has a Mac search now.

If you run into a problem on a Windows computer, all you have to do is type a little description of the problem and Google takes care of the rest; Mac users, on the other hand, often need to include a little context in their search—instead of typing a query like text editor, you type text editor mac. Google’s Mac-specific portal, found at, now includes a Mac-specific search box. It’s not groundbreaking, but the guaranteed Mac-specific results could come in handy next time you’re looking for a specific application or you’re troubleshooting your Mac.

Found via Lifehacker.