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Book Review - Google Apps Hacks by Philipp Lenssen

Category Book Review Philipp Lenssen Google Apps Hacks

A picture named M2

I happily take advantage of a number of Google applications such as Gmail, iGoogle, Google Calendar, and a few other things.  But there's more to the Google Apps family than that, and I know I'm not getting all I can out of the offerings.  After going through Google Apps Hacks by Philipp Lenssen, I have a number of new tricks to try out both on stuff I already use as well as a few other apps.  Fun stuff!

Contents:
Meet The Google Docs Family; The Google Docs Family - Google Documents; The Google Docs Family - Google Spreadsheets; The Google Docs Family - Google Presentation; Become a Gmail Power User; Customize Your Google Home Page; Manage Your Events With Google Calendar; Keep Up On News With Google Reader; Manage Your Photos And Videos With Picasa and YouTube; Create Your Own Home Page, Blog, or Group; Dive Into Google Maps, Google Earth, and Sketchup 3D; Google Analytics And Beyond - Market Your Site, Track Visitors
Credits; Index

This book follows the same format as other O'Reilly Hack titles.  For each of the chapters, you get a number of tricks, or "hacks", that show  you how to do things that may not be intuitively obvious.  There's a difficulty meter after each hack title that gives you a clue as to whether its something that is easy to pull off or something that takes a degree of technical skill.  The first couple of hacks in each chapter tend to be introductory in nature.  They explain the package and get you started.  For instance, the first hack in the first chapter is "How to Get Your Google Account".  Likewise, the first hack in the iGoogle chapter has you adding Google tools to your iGoogle home page.  The hacks get more in-depth after that, such as "Backing Up Your Email" or "Create Google Maps Overlays On the Fly".  I personally was intrigued by some of the possibilities in the Google Spreadsheets area.  "Add Live Data to Your Spreadsheet" was interesting, as was "Automatically Complete Lists of Related Items".  That one is completely unexpected, and shows the power of integration with the Google search engine results.  There's also a way to import data from web sites into a Google spreadsheet.  That has some particular interest for a project I'd like to do.  Finally, there was a *really* cool hack to show how to track packages via RSS using Google Reader.  That one will be getting some significant use with my next Amazon order...

As with all Hacks titles, some items will be absolute gems for you, while others will hold no interest.  That's OK, and it's to be expected.  All it takes is one or two hacks to make a radical change in the way you do things.  In terms of usefulness, Google Apps Hacks ranks up there with the best of the Hacks titles.

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