Not one to shy away from a good read, I spent some of this last weekend reading Google Apps: The Missing Manual. Faced as I am with writing projects that span from Ohio to Tasmania with a brief stop off in London for morning coffee and Dubai for afternoon tea, the option to work with collaborative document sharing is of interest to me – but also threatens my editorial control, so it makes me nervous at the same time. I wanted to find out more.
It’s impossible to convey the look and feel of a 700-page text in a blog, but this book could be of some use to the reader who wants to go beyond Gmail and consider Google’s “suite” as a one of the viable alternatives to Microsoft Office. The problem for most people according to the book’s author Nancy Conner is that people don’t know how to ‘navigate’ their way around the various offerings, so she sets out to try and fix that.
There are plenty of, “oh, cool – I didn’t know that” things for even the casual reader. For example, did you know that you can set up your Gmail account so that messages sent to your other email accounts arrive in your Gmail inbox so that you can check all your email accounts in one place? I didn’t!
It has to be said that this book goes from the extremely simple to the rather more complex in fits and starts. One page she’ll be talking about cutting and pasting into Google chat, the next she’s talking about building web sites and the next she’s talking about application management and administration issues. I guess the publishers would defend this and say that the author is being, “comprehensive” – but it does make you question as to what level of reader the book is pitched at.
On the whole there are some really great TIPS and shortcuts in here, navigating between various replies in a Gmail message with P (for previous) and N (for next) for example – you are bound to find something that you like. I have to confess that it did get me finally using Google Documents and Calendar, so it must be pretty good.
If you like the sound of this volume, then it's easy to find on the web as is the rest of the ‘missing manual’ series. My wife is currently working through Your Brain: The Missing Manual and is threatening to perform psychoanalytical tests on me any day now. Watch this space.